Caught by the River

Wind In The Willows

John Andrews | 24th August 2007


parsnips on the bird table – dig for victory. every car boot here is like a harvest festival. deformed roots and cans of baked beans left by the altar. a feast in a time of famine. lost time, lost fish, the theme of the season so far. having bumped that common at bushy i went to the wasing estate on the kennet as a guest of roy, who has a weakness for good floats and a nose for barbel. never fished that stretch of the kennet before. what a contrast to bushy, a private estate rather than a public park, a wildwood with downed trees, reed beds, water meadows and moss covered bridges. no sawdust specimen hunters here, just the wind in the leaves. the river twice the width of the loddon with half the depth in places. didn’t know whether to trot for dace, or weedle out chub with breadflake and lobs. went for the chub and lost a good ‘un in the tree roots. then i lost the afternoon as the rain came down in a deluge. put up my b james kennet perfection, a john richardson avon and managed a perch, my first fish of the season, only a few ounces but celebrated nonetheless. in the swim with the fallen tree, then a chub no bigger than my little finger, a fat headed circus freak gudgeon that swallowed a lob and after that a couple more perch. it rained and rained and rained. a few claps of thunder. roy had a barbel and lost another. the river came up by a foot and by the time we left in the gloom the track was flooded. corsa just made it through and i never wanted a land rover so much in my life. a pint in the pub by the railway crossing and then the drive back into town. took three days for my gear to dry out.

mick walker came to the stall yesterday for a cuppa – good to meet him, he was trying to persuade me to get on the ferry but i’ve got pieces to write and an autumn of auctions. not to mention the london book. reading sinclair’s edge of the orison, ‘in 1841 the poet john clare fled an asylum in epping forest and walked eighty miles to his home in northborough. he was searching for his lost love, mary joyce – a woman three years dead.’ the new victorian big emptiness. just like bushy park once the holidays are over and the carp’s fins are turning orange. tell bob to look out for the stove pipe hat. northerlies for three days here, first fire of the autumn last night and august isn’t out, old coal and the summer’s corks.

phoenix on the birdtable