Paul's Diary

  • Thursday 1st September 2016 - Harvest time

    No sport of note during this busy time. The sea-trout season is almost at an end and the river is full of very small sewin (or finnock, or herling). I had an hour at dusk a couple of days ago, catching a few, but more interested in the seven flocks of Canada geese that went over well within gunshot. Perhaps that's where I should be this evening.
    I have very mixed feelings about the Game Fair. I was stricken by a bug and spent the entire time feeling rotten and watching while my admirable staff did all the work. Our stand in the fishing area, isolated from the rest of the fair, was a waste of time. There was a reasonable footfall at the shooting stand, but I've already talked to the organisers about next year and they are demanding more for stand rent that we took this year, so the 2016 Game Fair might well have been our last.
    Luke and I have just returned from the Irish Game Fair in Birr - a very different kettle of fishing books. We were flat-out all weekend, mostly selling inexpensive books, but it felt good to be busy, and to travel home without the van being overweight!
    August is tomato time - actually it is a very short season; we usually have plenty in time for the Game Fair at the end of July, and now, at the end of August, the main crops are already coming to an end. It's been a poor summer and my later plants were afflicted by blight, so I'm not sure how I can extend the season in future. I grew about a dozen varieties this year, but two were outstanding for taste - Black Opal and White Rabbit. I won't bother with some of the others next year - just those two, plus Shirley and Gardener's Delight.
    We've had several sea-fishing trips cancelled because of the weather, just managing one wrecking trip and one for bream. Almost no mackerel yet, but I hope to rectify that this morning as my staff and I leave for a half-day mackerel and bream trip in a few minutes...

    Spot the white rabbit. Spot the white rabbit.

  • Monday 25th July 2016 - Goshawks & Game Fairs

    Came home yesterday to find this gos sitting on one of my silkie hens. Somehow she had squeezed through a small gap in the roof of the pen. I may regret letting her go - this morning she was jumping all over Jack's cage and didn't fly off until I chased her. No hens outside now - they're all terrified. I guess we now know what happened to the doves.
    No fishing - we've been busy preparing for the Game Fair in Ragley, and entertaining Bethan and Dewi who are visiting from France. Today Ken arrives from the US, I collect the hire-van from Aberystwyth, and I can start loading up for the fair.

    Goshawk kills silkie hen Goshawk kills silkie hen

  • Saturday 16th July 2016 - sea-trout time

    On my way home from Scone I picked up a collection of angling books that included a seven-weight Sage flyrod. We've had heavy water this week so I tried it out on the river on Wednesday afternoon; as I sat on a high bank to tie on a fly, then flicked my flies out, preparatory to standing up and casting, a sea-trout took under the rod tip. No landing net so I hand-tailed it 100 yards downstream. So the rod caught a sea-trout before I'd even cast it! An hour later this nice five-pounder grabbed the #14 copper spider on the dropper. Again off a high bank and I had to tail it 80 yards below. Must start carrying a net! I found the rod pretty stiff, but it cast my WF8 line brilliantly and will be getting a lot of work on the river.
    There are not nearly as many sea-trout around as there were last year, but there are pockets of them spread through the river. We've had a lot of rain this week and I've managed a fish or two most days - largest over ten pounds, and several fat four- and five-pounders. It is still raining, so it looks as though I'll be able to enjoy another week of good water before we go off to the Game Fair at Ragley.

    July sea-trout July sea-trout

  • Tuesday 28th June 2016 - Game Fairs, politics & turbot

    The drought is over! Over the last two weekends I have attended the Welsh and Northern Ireland game fairs, and both suffered from poor attendance and bad weather. Tomorrow morning I'm off to the Scottish Game Fair at Scone Palace, and the weather forecast is pretty grim again. (Incidentally I've just heard that the Welsh Government have appointed a UKIP MP as chair of the climate change committee. UKIP deny the existence of man-influenced climate change. Great choice.) Sea-trout must be running now, but I'm not going to have a chance to chase them until I return from Scone.
    Last weekend wasn't improved by the news of the referendum result. I've never mentioned politics here, but just for the record I regard Coch-y-Bonddu Books as internationalist, and in particular European (as well as Welsh), and I applaud the conservation and social measures achieved through European cooperation in recent years. I was shocked by the result.

    Cornish Arms turbot Cornish Arms turbot

    The three doves are now two. We've had one or two visiting racing pigeons, so whether the lonely spinster went off with one of them, or whether the sparrowhawk took her, I don't know.
    The proposed UK Game Fair at Stoneleigh has been cancelled, and an arrangement has been made with the organisers of the Ragley fair to take their trade stands and honour tickets bought for Stoneleigh. It all sounds dodgy to me, but no surprise there. At any rate, the Ragley Game Fair should now be well-attended, with plenty of good trade stands. If it is not a great deal better than the last one at Harewood (organised by the same people) then it will probably be the last. We will be making a big effort, with two stands, one on Gamekeeper's Row and one in the Fisherman's Village, and are have a number of book launches on our stands.
    Highlight of the Welsh Game Fair was supper at the Cornish Arms in Burry Port. After a plateful of crispy cockles I ordered a whole turbot, and this is what I got... It would have fed the Morgans for a week.

  • Monday 6th June 2016 - Flaming June

    Thunderstorms at the Dutch Flyfair, floods in Paris, but drought and hot sun here in Machynlleth. The doves seemed settled so I removed the net after just a week. They promptly headed south at a great height and I thought they were gone for good. After being away all day they returned in the evening and have hardly left the garden since. It's a shame I got three - there is always an odd one out!
    I made my first trip to Llyn Gwyddior last night, thinking the sedges might be on after such a hot day. The rise usually occurs about 10.30pm, but not last night. I think the prevailing westerlies usually blow the big caddis flies from the horsetail beds along the lake, but the easterly last night blew them ashore instead. Despite that I managed one nice trout of just over two pounds.
    Breakfasted this morning on the first strawberries of the year from the greenhouse. Everything is growing like crazy right now - lettuce three times a day!

    Free-range doves at Coedcae Free-range doves at Coedcae

    Two's company... Two's company...

  • Thursday 26th May 2016 - Off to Holland.

    Little fishing - I've been busy attending shows, trying to sell books, and, of course, gardening. I've had a couple of evenings in the hills, but have not ventured out for a sea-trout yet.
    Mr and Mrs Morgan attended the Smallholder's Festival at Builth Wells last Saturday. It was lots of fun to act as punters for a change. So much so that, despite taking a pocketful of money, by the time we left we couldn't even afford an ice-cream. Here is our favourite buy - bought Saturday, erected Monday, stocked on Tuesday. The net is temporary until the birds are hefted to the Coedcae garden.
    This morning I have a long drive ahead of me - heading for Dover en route for the Dutch Fly fair.

    Coedcae dovecote Coedcae dovecote

  • Tuesday 19th April 2016 - back to work

    Just back from a long and sandy road-trip in Namibia and Botswana: Windhoek - Maun - Savuti - Kasane - Katima Mulelo - Caprivi - Etosha - Windhoek. Saw over 150 species of birds, plus all the usual game. High-points were wild dogs on the Chobe riverside and cheetahs in Etosha. I tried fishing on the Chobe, Zambezi and Okavango, but high water made it difficult. I was expecting to have problems with floods en route for Savuti, but instead had to cope with deep soft sand.

    Namibia traffic jam 1 Namibia traffic jam 1

    Namibia traffic jam 2 Namibia traffic jam 2











    Back home to spring-time. The silkie hen that I set on eggs a couple of days before I went bought off ten chicks this morning, and I planted potatoes and onion sets this afternoon.

  • Friday 1st April 2016 - Game Fairs and Africa

    I managed my usual early-season day at Clywedog a couple of weeks ago. Dropping on a mild calm morning, trout were rising close to where I parked as I bought my permit. They were in a shallow bay so I got my river four-weight from the van and chucked a couple of nymphs at them. As I made my first cast the first osprey of the season glided overhead - a good sign. Stockies are always hungry, so I was kept busy for an hour before I headed home to fire up the smoker.

    The various summer game fair organisers have woken up to the fact that they need some decent trade stands to attract the right sort of customers. Several of them are still asking ridiculous prices for stands, so it wasn't difficult to make my choice. The Game Fair at Ragley have pegged their prices at 2010 rates, and seem to be attracting the right kind of traders. It is good to get out and meet my customers once or twice during the summer, so I've plumped for Ragley - it's a nice site in a good area. If nothing else, we'll have a good barbecue and a pint or two with friends.

    The monographs have been well-received and my customers are clamouring for more. I have at least another four in the pipeline for October, but it's time I had a break from the computer so I've booked a Land-Cruiser camper in Windhoek and I'm off to circumnavigate the Okavango for a couple of weeks. If the roads are OK I'll drive from Maun to Chobe, via Moremi and Savuti (where the lions hunt elephant!) and finish up looking for tigerfish on the Zambezi. But who knows? Wherever I finish up, it should be fun!

  • Monday 14th March 2016 - Fishing!

    The long wet winter wasn't conducive  to sport - it never even got cold enough for my sort of wildfowling.  However, the days are lengthening, and I've been tidying the garden and sowing a few seeds. I had an afternoon foraging molluscs on the estuary a couple of weeks ago, while Rico raced around and got in the way. He must have spiked his foot somehow because twenty-four hours later he was flat on the floor with a poisoned leg. Antibiotics soon stopped the infection and he is fine now - apart from a hole in his foot.

    Rico feeling very sorry for himself! Rico feeling very sorry for himself!

    Yesterday was the last day of the coarse fishing season, and overlapped with the beginning of the trout season, so Luke, Duncan and myself headed over the mountain to catch a grayling. The Severn can be dour in the early Spring, and a cold East wind didn't help. I did manage one of each, both good fish, though the trout was still a bit on the lean side. Early Spring is  a quiet time here, though I may pinch a day to chase Clywedog stockies. I'm threatening to have a couple of weeks driving / paddling round some wet places in Africa, looking for tigerfish and nembwe, but I've got the West Country Game Fair to deal with first.

    Hafren grayling Hafren grayling

    March trout March trout

  • Wednesday 17th February 2016 - Monographs - Made in Wales!

    We launched five books at the BFFI last weekend (four monographs and Philip White's Observation), and were joined by four of the authors. All went amazingly smoothly and we got all of the limited edition books signed and numbered. The monographs have turned out very well indeed - everyone was pleased with them, thank goodness! Saturday was pretty manic with all four authors signing books on the stand, but Sunday was steadier, and overall it was a great success.
    It occurs to me that I ought to make it known that all of these books were wholly produced in Wales - originated and published by ourselves in Machynlleth, designed by Pete Mackenzie in Gladestry (just about in Wales!), and printed in Welshpool and Llandysul!

    Colin Innes, Paul Morgan and Keith Harwood at the launch of the Angling Monographs Series, BFFI, Stafford, 2016. Colin Innes, Paul Morgan and Keith Harwood at the launch of the Angling Monographs Series, BFFI, Stafford, 2016.

    Authors Philip White and Peter Hayes on the Coch-y-Bonddu Books stand at the BFFI. Authors Philip White and Peter Hayes on the Coch-y-Bonddu Books stand at the BFFI.

    Chris Sandford takes a peek at the new Coch-y-Bonddu Monographs. Chris Sandford takes a peek at the new Coch-y-Bonddu Monographs.

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