Friday, 25 February 2011

Butterflies & Bossyboots

Hi all,
Wasn't Thursdayday 24th of February just beautiful, and one in the eye for the doom and gloom merchants who predicted that this month would be worse than December.
In Stafford, the sun shone for most of the day and our back garden was extremely pleasant. In fact, it was so nice that not only did I have my elevenses in the garden, but also my lunch. It may have only been a chicken sandwich and a bag of crisps but they tasted delicious in that early spring sunshine. The only thing that marred it was the noise from the M6 motorway that is always at its worst when the wind comes from the south.

It wasn't just me that was enjoying the brief spell of warm weather either. I witnessed five honey bees, who were all trying to extract every possible drop of nectar from a small bunch of crocuses. All at the same time I hasten to add. To top it all, we also had a visitation from a peacock butterfly. It must have hatched that day because the colours were so clean and vivid. What a treat for February and hopefully a taster of things to come.

On the writing front, those of you who follow this post will know that my first novel Bossyboots has been available for a couple of weeks, but only in a kindle format. So I am pleased to report that it is now also available in a print version. click for details.
It is also possible to read a lengthy preview of 8 chapters by clicking here.

Beyond that, Bossyboots is now also available in almost every electronic format. At the following website, you can download the whole book or just some free samples.please click here
The download cost of the complete book, which is over 103,000 words long, is a bargain at only $2.99, which is approximatly £2.14 in real money. If you want more information about me or my other books, click here In my next post I will continue with my tour of Scotland.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

River Sow Chub

In my last fishing post I was telling my readers about the old angler who was fishing for chub in the river sow about half a mile below Great Bridgeford. I'd fished this stretch of river many times when I was a teenager, but hadn't caught much except the odd kamikaze perch. The picture below was taken when I was a comparative youngster..

Anyway, I was interested to see if this chap was catching anything, so I crouched in low and sat quietly alongside him while he showed me what he was doing. The actual place he had picked to fish was very important. It was on the outside of a bend where the river was deeper than average. However, the most important thing was that there was a bush growing out of the bank and that it was causing an obstruction. This meant that all the bits of weed and twigs that came floating down the river got caught up in the branches of the bush. Overtime, the bush had trapped quite a lot of rubbish and a raft of bits and pieces had built up in front of it. This, the old angler assured me, was the perfect place for big chub.

His tackle was simple: 5lb line, stickfloat, which was set slightly over depth, and an AA shot about a foot from a size ten hook. Then he showed me his secret weapon; a big lump of cheddar cheese. According to him chub can't resist cheese and cheddar is the right consistency for putting the hook. Anyway he moulded a lump around his hook and then cast it out gently so that it landed level with the bush, out in the mid stream. Then he slowly reeled the line back upstream, so that his terminal tackle went under the floating raft of debris, while his float came to the front edge of the raft so that it could be easily seen.

I'd never seen anybody put so much thought into applying the right method to suit the species and the conditions. So I wasn't at all surprised when a few minutes later his float disappeared and he was bending into a good chub. And bend into it he did, he wouldn't let the fish have an inch of line. I guess I would have let the fish have a little line, but he said if he did that the fish would either go downstream and spook the rest of the shoal or bolt into the branches of the tree and snag his line. So he bent into the chub for all he was worth and made the rod do the job it was made for.

A few minutes later we were standing in the field, several yards away from the water, looking at a chub that weighed about three pounds. This was was one of the nicest fish I have ever seen, big and clean with large, nicely formed scales. The chub is a very handsome fish of perfect proportion, so that is one of the reasons why the chub hits my number two spot.

My father had introduced me to angling, and from that day I realised that his chuck it and chance it method left a lot to be desired. The old angler that I watched catching chub in the river Sow was a complete contrast and he taught me to think more about the species and the condition when fishing, and what methods would be most likely to succeed.
I regularly used the tactics he'd shown me to catch some specimen chub of my own. I also believe that one of the reason that I did so well during my match fishing career was because the old chap had got me thinking. My success might have only been local, but I did win a hell of a lot of trophies. I can be seen in the photo on the left modestly picking up another bit of silverware

If you want to find out more about me, my fishing books, please click here

Tuesday, 15 February 2011


We are now at number two, in my favourite fish top 10, and I guess a lot of people will be surprised to find that the place is filled with the chub. So what is it about the chub that makes me rate it so highly, after all it isn't the best fighting fish in the world. Well firstly, the chub is a good looking fish and it feels solid in the hand. The chub is also the right shape and isn't covered in horrible slime like some species. The fact that it isn't edible doesn't come into the equation because only barbarians eat coarse fish.
Having said all that, the real reason I like the chub is because it was the first decent sized fish I ever caught. .
When I got my first set of wheels in the early seventies (pictured on the right is my beloved first car, a MKI Cortina 1500 Super) it meant that I could fish further afield. Up until that time my fishing had been mainly confined to farmer Brown's pit, in the village of Seighford, nr Stafford.

Anyway, one day I was driving along the Eccleshall Road towards Great Bridgeford, when I looked across the field and saw a chap fishing the little river sow. Now, I kid you not, but the traffic was not so heavy in those days, so I parked up at the side of the road and went to see how he was doing. Those who know the Eccleshall Road between Stafford and Great Bridgeford will not believe it was possible to park along that road without being flattened by a truck, but I did.

So, having parked up, I walked across the field and approached the angler with some caution. As I got close he motioned for me to stay low and proceed quietly to his upstream side. I did this and crouched down low beside him.

My father had always taught me the need to be quiet when fishing and this angler confirmed what he'd said. If you are going to catch big chub in a small river then you've just got to use some river craft because if you spook fish like the chub you will be fishless all day.

Anyway, this old fellow, who spoke in whispers, showed me how he went about catching big chub on a small river and I was very impressed. Whilst I sat at his side he caught 3 chub all going close to the 4lb mark and my relationship with the chub and my love affair with the craft of angling was born.

I will tell you more about the old man, and how he went about catching those big chub in my next post.
However, I'd just like to share with you a photo that I came across whilst looking for the one of the Cortina.You can see it on the left and it shows how proud I was of my match fishing successes. The photo is of the wall in my lounge where I used to put my fishing trophies. Clearly, at some point I ran out of room on the shelves and started nailing them to the lounge wall. No wonder my first Mrs pissed off and left me. My new wife wouldn't put up with it that's for sure.

If you want any further information about me or my books, please click here.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Dawyck & Destruction

Hi All,
We are now half-way through our holiday in the Border town of Peebles, and after spending the previous day walking around Melrose and its wonderful abbey, a trip to a garden was now in order.

And so it was that my wife and I set off for Dawyck Botanical Gardens. The gardens are situated near the village of Stobo, in Upper Tweeddale, and although it is only about six miles from Peebles, a nicer six miles would be hard to find. I'm pleased to report that the gardens were extremely peaceful, which suits us down to the ground because I've found that noisy places are rarely beautiful. Dawyck gardens can be described as a series of pathways that climb and descend through a magnificent landscape of trees and bushes. There are flowers, in fact, there are lots of them spread throughout the garden for visitors to enjoy. However, those expecting to find sweeping herbaceous borders full of delphiniums and agapanthus will be disappointed.

This is a garden to wander about slowly; to take one's time and appreciate the variety of trees and bushes. Some of the trees were planted a long while ago, so are now of specimen proportions. By the time we'd walked every path in the garden it was mid-afternoon, so we decided that we'd used up enough energy for one day and went back to our caravan and recuperate.

As soon as we got into the caravan Terry Anne put the kettle on while I went into the lounge and switched on the tv. Now, it is very seldom that I have the urge to watch any daytime telly , but I thought I'd just take a look to see what was on offer whilst I drank my tea.

Now then, have you ever had one of those moments when your brain can't understand what your eyes are seeing? Well, this was when I had such a moment. The television screen showed a jet airliner flying straight into a skyscraper. At first I thought it must be a film, but the sound track that came with the images told me that I was witnessing something terrible. I called my wife to come and look and we slowly began to understand that terrorists had hijacked some planes and flown them into various buildings in the USA. It was a real shock to the senses, how human beings can do such terrible things to one another is totally beyond my comprehension.

People say that they can remember where they were when certain things happened in their lives. Many can recall where they were, for instance, when they heard about the murders of JF Kennedy or John Lennon. As it happens I can't recall where I was when either of those two people died, but I can recall two others in great detail. I was in my lounge at home when I saw the news about the death of Elvis Presley on the telly and I was in the same room when my sister told me of the death of the great Harry Chapin.

And so the lovely day spent at Dawyck Gardens will, for me, always be associated with murder and mayhem.

On a brighter note, we spent the next day taking in some more of the Border's famous abbeys and I will tell you more about that in my next Scottish post.

If you want more information about me, my books or my writing services, Please click here.

Friday, 4 February 2011


Hi, I've had a very busy January, but between writing and proofreading commitments I have managed to spend some time proofreading my first novel, Boosyboots. The story covers a few weeks in the life of Michael Riley, the manager of a pottery factory, who is forced into a midlife crisis when his wife walks out on him. However, the blurb about boosyboots is not the purpose of this post.
What I want to talk about is the use of phone numbers in fiction, so please stay with me for a minute and all will be revealed. In my novel, poor old Michael Riley, goes on a quest to find another partner and have lots of rampant sex along the way. He puts adverts in the lonely hearts column of his local paper and joins a dating agency, but he finishes up disappointed and in some dire situations.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I had to use a lot of phone numbers in the book, so that Michael could get in touch with his various dates. So where did I get them from? Well, I just made them up. I have absolutely no idea what would happen if anybody tried calling them. I thought all authors made them up; what else can you do? Well, when I was half-way through proofreading, Bossyboots, I read an article that covered the issue of phone numbers and discovered there is a proper solution.

Apparently, the use of phone numbers in fiction and on the telly has been an issue for years. Some sad people can't help but ring the numbers that appear on the telly and in books. They see 'Street Cars' phone number on the top of a taxi in Coronation Street and ring up expecting to speak to Steve McDonald or Clare Peacock. I know that can't happen now because Clare's cleared off to France. Not that I think she did it, I reckon it was somebody from the prison where Tracy was banged up, but she's too scared to come clean, so she's letting Clare take the rap. Sorry, I digress, let's get back to the plot.

Because this problem has been known about for a long time, special numbers have been made available. If you go to ofcom'w website, click here and follow the links through to drama you will find a whole range of numbers that can be used when writing fiction. There are blocks of a 1000 numbers that even have an authentic area code. For instance if you want a number for Manchester, you can use area code 0161 and then pick a number anywhere from the following range 4960000-4960999. Lots of cities are covered, except of course, Stoke-on-Trent, where Bossyboots is set. I guess I'll just have to use the closest code and that's Birmingham.

That's it for this post, but if you want to find out more about me, my books or writing services, please click here.