Category: Other bits and bobs

Steve Lawler forwarded me a remarkable photograph of a peregrine falcon having just struck down, midair, a short-toed snake eagle. Like most people, I am aware of the peregrine´s extraordinary diving speed (the maximum recorded was over 240mph) but I was not aware that it would take on a prey species of the size of an eagle.

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A bit of a legend my arse!

On Friday night the Channel 5 people broadcast “our” episode of their series “Worlds most Scenic River Journeys” featuring the Río Guadalquivir. I was aware that it was about to be aired but still managed to tell everyone at work the wrong time to tune in and so they are likely to have switched on the telly an hour after the episode was broadcast and seen only the final credits!

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Towards the end of last month I got an email from Ed Booth who is a series producer with BriteSpark films. He is working on a series for Channel 5 on scenic rivers of the world. He had come across me through reading this blog and was kind enough to say some very nice things about it. He was even kinder when he invited me to participate in the programme currently being filmed on the Guadalquivir river. Needless to say I jumped at the chance!

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I just discovered a little story I wrote some time back but never put on the blog. It seems a shame to let it go to waste, so here it is:

A few years ago we went into a big hardware shop called Leroy Merlin down on the coast and, as we were wandering around the various aisles, I bumped into the strongest man in Spain. As you might expect, he was massive. I reckoned he was about the size of a barn. It looked as though a human head had been placed on the top of a sac of boulders.

I had no idea what the strongest man in Spain was doing in the hardware store. Maybe he had run out of rawl plugs or needed some drill bits, or maybe he was going to head towards the gardening section to get stakes for growing his tomatoes.

But then I discovered he was there for a very specific purpose. As it happens, some kind of miracle superglue had been developed and this giant had been commissioned to demonstrate just how strong and fast-acting it was. In the demonstration they applied this bionic adhesive to cement two metal plates together. A chain from one plate was attached to a fridge and a chain from the other plate was attached one end of a pole. There were two fridges set up this way, each attached to opposite ends of the pole. The strongest man in Spain was going to hoist the two fridges up into the air. But before this happened he spoke to two attractive young ladies who just happened to be standing nearby and he said to them “why don´t each of you ladies take a seat on a fridge?”

I suspect that sitting on fridges may not have been on their minds but the two young ladies meekly acquiesced (as might anybody who is asked to do anything by a person who looks like they could tear them limb from limb using their little fingers). They dutifully took their seats on the two fridges. And that´s when the real magic happened. Hercules puts some talc on his hands, limbers up, does a little stretch or two, makes a few neanderthal grunts, stretches the pole across his massive shoulders and stands up and lifting the women and fridges clean off the ground.

We were all mesmerised! There was a man the size of a horse supporting two fridges and a couple of eye-catching young ladies. And, man, how good was that glue?! We were bowled over. We hadn´t been counting on seeing anything remotely like this between the plumbing isle and exterior and interior paints.

After he had returned the fridges and the women safely to the surface of the earth, the giant asked us if anyone wanted to have a photo taken with him. Of course we did!  We duly formed an orderly queue. I was the easiest person to spot in this queue because, as it happens, I was the only adult. Everyone else was about 7 years old.

When my turn came the giant and exchanged a few words and he told me a little about his status in the world of strong men. These are the guys who pull trucks and lift stones the size of small planets and put a thousand eggs in their omelettes. Trinny took our photo on her phone to mark the occasion and then we parted ways. It was only later that I regretted not having asked for his phone number. After all, you never know when you might need to have heavy furniture to move around.

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Here´s me with the strongest man in Spain (I´m the one on the right!)

Two drunk men on a horse

Steve Lawler and I made a little trip to a town near Córdoba the other day. The town is called Montoro and the Río Guadalquivir approaching it from the west begins to wrap itself around the northern half of the town before changing its mind and continuing on its eastward journey downstream towards Córdoba.

As you might imagine, I live a life luxury and excess but Steve, frankly, lives in abject squalor. There are no silk sheets for him! Instead he beds down on an old mattress and covers himself in a mouldy blanket.

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Paul Reddish has been fishing all over the place and has been adding one species after another to his tick list. He pointed out to me one time that he had managed to cross paths successfully with all the salmonid species of North America except for one. That elusive critter was the pink salmon. There is no shame in that since pink salmon elude everyone every other year since they only run upriver to spawn every two years. Curiously, independent populations spawn in even and odd years. In southern parts of their range they spawn mainly in odd years. Odd indeed!

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Yesterday there were three of us launching our float tubes in the reservoir at Istán. This is the largest conglomeration of tubers that I have ever seen. I have often fished alone, sometime with a companion. But three?! It seemed such an occasion that we decided that we should launch ourselves as a brand new organisation before we launched ourselves more literally into the reservoir. Thus was born, in a moment of high drama, the International Float Tube Association or some such thing.

We even had a photo taken to commemorate the occasion. Sadly, I had decided to wear a pair of my wife´s cheap reading glasses so that I wouldn´t allow my proper pair to accidentally sink into the depths and so I am quite embarrassed by my own image in our inaugural photograph. Not only do my glasses look silly but I have a particularly confused looking facial expression which is entirely the result of me being particularly confused, in this instance about how the three of us could squeeze into a photograph taken at arms length.

I am pleased to say though that Steve Lawler standing to my right and Johan Terblanche on my left both contrived to look effortlessly cool. Here is the photo. You can judge for yourself.

Oh God

The aim of our expedition was to extract a few black bass from the reservoir and then to put them back in again. Many people ridicule activities like this and I can sort of understand why. But such an outcome is entirely laudable in the the eyes of a float tuber, or better still, an international float tuber.

Anyway, we all caught a few fish. There are big bass in Istán and the reservoir provides all the necessary ingredients to grow them big but we had no particularly big ones yesterday. But that´s the way things go sometimes. Nobody was complaining.

I can never resist hopping out of the tube and stalking the shallows where the Río Verde, now little more than a trickle, spills in to the reservoir. I was rewarded with a gypsy barbel and a little carp and a half dozen little bass that inhaled the nymph so fully that each had to be disgorged by forceps before being popped back, quite unharmed, into the water. The other guys however stuck with the bass tactics which was the stated mission. Fair play to them.

After the outing the international float tubers transformed themselves effortlessly into international beer drinkers as we pored over the events of the morning and the wider events of the world at large.

Here the boys are having a natter shortly before we packed it in for the day.
It´s always worth a look in the shallows
It´s ages since I had a carp. This was just a little one but maybe a sign my luck might be changing?

The skipper of Impi is out on the water most days but every time he leaves the the marina he never knows quite what to expect. Every outing is different. The sea is full of surprises.

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I normally fish a four weight fly rod on a river you can wade across without getting wet above your knees and so fishing for marlin in the ocean was unfamiliar territory for me as well as for many of my fishing friends who have not experienced fishing of this kind. Needless to say, this is a specialised business and I was very interested in the tackle and the whole approach taken by the boat.

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I managed to catch a blue marlin on my second day aboard Impi. I had hooked one the previous day and it was lost close to the boat after an exhausting battle. The marlin I succeeded in landing was a very obliging fish and did not put me through the torment of the previous day. It struck the trolling lure on the far right and the reel was steadily paying out line against the drag as the rod was handed to me. It was then a matter of finding my way to the chair and clipping the reel on left and right and placing the but of the rod into the rest.

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