Category: Other bits and bobs

My brother Sean and our friend Mark have been fishing together on and off since we were kids and this weekend we went fishing together and were kids all over again. Mark often comes out to spend a few days in Marbella but Sean has not been out here for years but he contrived to add a few days to a trip to attend a science conference in Sevilla and jumped on a train to Málaga. This was the first time that all three of us wet a line together in Spain.

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My river is in flood at the moment, receding but still pretty coloured, and the best way I could describe it is as a continuous shallow stream the colour of a cafe con leche. If you wanted to match it for speed, to keep up perhaps with a drifting leaf, you would need to walk downstream at a pretty brisk pace.

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Steve Lawler and I are experienced fishermen. Both of us understand that it is not worth embarking on a day of fishing without a very clear sense of purpose. A clearly identified aim must be established at the outset against which the success of the day can be measured. I don´t think either of us clearly articulated this but yesterday we both set out with the same unspoken aim which was to catch absolutely nothing and we can each feel fulfilled in having succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.

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“Crap” is, not only an anagram of of the word “carp” but it is a pretty apt descriptor of my own success, over the last season or two, in the pursuit of that particular fish. I have managed to connect myself to a couple of fine specimens but each returned my nymph to me after setting my pulse racing. They didn´t have to do that. I had done all of the hard work. They were just being mean.

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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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