For those of you who haven’t yet had the excitement of visiting ‘Chateau Howard’, we have a covered driveway (I know! Very swanky!) It is cloaked with a plastic roof. Plastic roofs make a lovely sound when it rains and can make light spitting rain sound like a monsoon…
I awoke after feeling the pillow move beneath me as Matilda the cat walked across my face to get a drink from last nights cup of tea on the bedside table. I smiled at the gentle lapping sound and opened one eye to look at her. “Oh, Jeez cat!” How can something so small and cute know how to place it’s rear end (known in the Howard household as ‘The Starfish’) so as to completely freak me out first thing in the morning? I should be used to it but….
I got up but my shoulders dropped as that sound of pelting rain filled my ears from the roof outside. I’d better get my waterproofs. As many might know, I am not that fond of rain. But now that I have been fully dipped and galvanised with new ‘proofs’, I’m not so bothered. The same may not said of some of the juniors and long-suffering entourage, however.
I’m glad that I could start this blog with a little humour. There hasn’t been much of it around Trudie and I in the last week or so… Spring is always a tricky time of year for her with the pollen increasing and air quality decreasing as the weather begins to warm. Most of us will delight at seeing the sun again. But for severe Asthmatics, Spring can be a nightmare. The problem this time was not the Asthma though. She is in a period of extreme exhaustion leaving her feeling wiped out and totally empty which had me very worried last week. At the time of writing she is a little better although still very weak. She has been talking about ‘getting up to her desk’ today. Only because stubbornly resisting chronic illness that would floor most of us is her superpower…
With ‘M’Lady’ feeling so rough it has been touch-and-go whether the event today would go ahead at all. Add to that Jerry’s ‘M’Lady’ Julie, getting the dreaded lurgy along with Copp senior meaning Copp junior would not be coming. Mike’s (Mr Pants) truck even caught Covid. Even though it was feeling poorly he still forced it to go and get him a Chinese take-a-way. The man has no sympathy…. No truck meant no Faith. Two down, eight remaining. Chris Holding called to say that he wasn’t going to make it today either. No Noah. Three down, seven to go… After lengthy WhatsApp chats with the team and me completely forgetting that Chris Ward even existed, it was decided that I would come start the day, bore kids to death with vital information that they would not be able to fish ever again without, and get them started. After which I would go home to be with M’Lady…
During the tutorial, and a welcome break from me droning on about hooks, The Cheerleader (Anna-mama) received a phone call from a very lost Oram family. Anna thrust the phone at me to ‘find Tim’. Tim told me where he was by telling me so many village and road names that I suddenly panicked. Even though I was where I was supposed to be, I had become more lost than he was… They arrived, on fire, and missed my sage-like meanderings. Much to jealousy of the others. Two things to unpack from that last bit… 1. How could I have forgotten The Captain? I mean, I was only with him at Sharnhill a day earlier! I think he has forgiven me. But I wouldn’t blame him if he flipped me some ‘V’s’ behind my back as I apologised for the 542nd time. 2. I will be bringing small fruits like tangerines or apples to the tutorials from now on. Anyone that yawns at me when I’m talking ‘gets fruited’… The Mudmonster would have looked like a hamster by the end of it. I did Shout a question up to the dizzying heights of Daddy Longus (Father of James Oram) later in the day about how you keep kids interested during something ‘not as interesting as they might have wished for at 10:30 on a Saturday morning when all they want to do is go fishing’ seeing as he is a teacher and all. His advice was to give ‘em something to do or just keep going. I didn’t ask him if using fruit was a good idea. I might just try that one out for myself.
I didn’t spend much time with any of the Shrimps today, but my wonderful coaches sent me reports after the event. Facts will come from them, lies and embellishments will come from somewhere else. I have no idea what the peg numbers are on the Top Lake, so I’ll start at the gate and go anti-clockwise.
James Oram (Puppy Longus) Now that I have got used to a kid of around 12 years old being able to look me square in the eye, I was able to knuckle down to some hardcore coaching about whips and feeders. At only his second session and with much to learn, James is picking it all up well. The glazed look remains in Tim’s eyes at the alchemy unfolding before him however… I will try to arrange a casting session soon so we can get these newbies casting better. Then we will see some fireworks… Good to see James on his new Re-Gen seat box too. Happy days!
Austin Scott-Kennedy (Camouflage) Austin was under the watchful gaze of Mr Jon Bass for most of the day and Jon noted that there was a little improvement needed in Austin’s casting skills. We will work on that for him but, in the meantime, Jon said he had not realised just how many times one can cast onto a foliage covered island and only lose one feeder? Our very own David Tattersall has already asked for Austin’s phone number to get some useful tips. I had heard that that resident Rats that inhabit the island have bought some tin helmets from Amazon in time for Austin’s next visit. *Disclaimer #1* There may or may not be rats on the island at Whitemoor. *Disclaimer #2* Rats may or may not wear tin helmets. *Disclaimer #3* Rats may or may not use the internet. (Other shopping websites are available)
Oliver Smith (Aquaboy/Inspector Gadget) It was with a mixture of triumph and pride that Anna announced to the world that, not only was Ollie pushing his own equipment to his peg, but that he was setting it up too! There may or may not have been mumbles of ‘about time’ coming from somewhere, details are hazy on that one. Fair play to the lad though, he was indeed doing it for himself. Not only that but he is constantly pushing himself skill-wise. Fishing an 11-metre pole is tricky for a small person but, after some tackle alterations, some body posture adjustments, some rig adjustments, bait refinement, re plumbing and a quick go by yours truly, Ollie was battering Carplets when I left (Catching loads, not hitting them. Just for the record).
Jake Taylor (Mudmonster) Once I’d got over the urge to drop grapes and other small fruit into Jakes ever widening yawning mouth earlier, I was impressed to see just how many fish he was catching on the feeder before I left. Jon said that, if it had been a match, Jake may have won due to the proper Carp that he was landing. None of the above means that you won’t get the ‘Doughnut of the day’ unofficial award for stepping off the side of the wooden platform, however. Fortunately for Jake he was next to Anna-mama who, being the mother of Aquaboy, had several changes of clothing in case Ollie decided he was going to have ‘a wet day’.
One of the best parts of doing what I do is seeing the friendships develop between the Shrimps as they get to know each other. Ollie and Jake have become firm friends and, with Jack Copp, are the veterans of the Juniors.
Josiah Parkes-Wells (His Lordship) I have a close affinity with Jo because he faces similar problems to those of M’lady. Like Trudie, he faces them with a smile and it’s always a pleasure to coach him. Jo had Si Wag, Master of Corrections, looking after him today and it looked like the coaching was paying off too. Fishing at narrow venues like the Top Lake can be awkward when you don’t have or cannot use a pole. These waters are designed for long pole and make short chucks with a feeder challenging. Jo was doing well considering he is a newbie. I think he will also benefit from a casting session again.
Jack Grassby (Quiet Jack) Like James, Jack is still new to fishing and learning along with his granddad. Austin, James, Jo, and Jack all possess the one thing that you can never buy at a tackle shop. Enthusiasm. I told David to ‘make Chris’s ears bleed with questions’… I have heard from Chris, but not as early as normal. I assume a dark room, soft music and cushions were involved. In all seriousness, no one will ever ask too many questions of either me or my coaches unless it’s about the biggest fish we have caught, or our favourite make of maggot saddles.
Max Faulkner (Silage Sam) It was great to see Max and James back at one of our junior events again. Max is a very hard-working young man with a mature head on his shoulders. He said that he felt a bit rusty not having been fishing that often due to work. I gave him some solid coaching by telling him to hold the rod where the reel is and point it at the lake. Max has a great work ethic, but I hope he still finds some time for fishing.
It was the first time that I have had to leave a junior event early. To be honest, I am surprised that it hasn’t happened before now. I must report that it felt horrible, but the right thing to do. I look forward to these events as much as the Shrimps do. The great thing is that I have an extremely capable group of coaches that had the situation well under control. My thanks go out to Si, Chris, and Jon for their work today.
So, another great session in the company of some great people.
Big thank you to everyone for their words of understanding and support today, especially for the love to send to Trudie. All very much appreciated.
Many thanks to Tom at Whitemoor for the use of this exceptional little lake.
The next event is on the 7th of May at Revels for our first match of the year.
Take care everyone,