Wow, what a wonderful summer we’ve been enjoying, lovely for fishing, for wild flowers, for all the butterflies and other sun worshipping critters out there and of course, for us!
By way of celebration I thought I’d compile a collection of photos, not just from the riverbank but from our lovely garden too. Sue does the flowers and I look after the watery bits and the rest of the jungle.
|fishless now but still magical|
|winter seems far off now|
|it used to be a fish pond|
Despite our love of the sun, the dramatic seasonal variations provide much of the appeal of living in England and I’ll attempt to give an impression of our year here in sunny Dorset.
|our 'swale' provides a home for birds and amphibians|
|the magic of the seasons|
|camellias even flower at Christmas|
Famous travel writer and friend Brian Jackman described our garden as “spiralling into wilderness” and though this appropriate description makes it the perfect wildlife garden, our attempts to gain some control indicates why I haven’t got much time to go fishing.
|dawn from my office desk - I sure am lucky|
We just love gardening and even if two acres of wooded wetland is too big to cope with on our own, we do enjoy trying. Mind you, in the height of the summer it was too hot for much digging so I just had to go and wet a line once in a while, didn’t I …
|2/12 of splendid perch - I was hoping for a roach|
Spring colour is exceptional in the garden because of our numerous camellias and other flowering trees and shrubs … Wisley eat your heart out.
|spring - what a lovely time of year - and there's all that bird song too|
|our damp acid soil makes for camellia heaven|
|azalea or rhodo - we must look it up next year|
This spring our palette was added to by a pair of exotic mandarin ducks.
|the pair became very tame - what a treat|
|four males competed for the females attention - there were some good dogfights between the trees|
|I'm not sure the robins approved|
They were often joined by three other males and they nested just outside the garden, visiting the ponds and bird-table twice a day. Every year we enjoy the company of nesting mallards and ducklings so at times the garden resembles Slimbridge.
|we are blessed with two or three broods a year - this is one of our largest|
|egret on minnow or frog hunt|
|I've included this pic from Olympic year because a kingfisher used the string of flags as a fishing perch|
Being close to the South coast, our patch is wonderful for bird life and in our 33 years here we have recorded 107 different species, highlights being osprey, red kites and hawfinch. Being blessed with a stream and five ponds we have dug, waterbirds are frequent visitors, including herons, kingfishers and even little egrets, though now the otter has eaten all the fish there is nothing for them to eat.
|our once rich fish pond|
|fish gone - lilies trashed|
|one of our 'playful' otters doing what it does best|
Creating habitat and attracting otters is a mixed blessing. On the one hand it’s an honour. On the other it’s deeply depressing to see our ponds destroyed by otters that are so hungry that they even eat the tiny minnows – but I won’t rant on about the state of our predator/prey relationships again here.
|the morning after a raid|
|foxes regularly patrol for fish remains at dawn|
May was holiday time so our great friends Michael and Penny joined us in a little cabin on a Bryher beach in the Scilly Isles and though we were battered by an Atlantic storm on a couple of days, our lovely summer didn’t let us down and we had lots of long walks birding in the sunshine.
|Michael, Penny and Sue on top of Tresco with our home island Bryher across the sound|
|view across to Tresco from above our cabin|
|our cabin is the left one, sunk in a sea of flowers|
|golden pheasant in Tresco's famous Abbey Gardens|
|fiesty ballan wrasse from outside our cabin|
|St.Martins - beaches to die for and no people|
|pristine two pounder|
Roach fishing became a priority on return, along with enjoying our wonderful wisterias decorating our cottage.
|laying all that paving seriously damaged my fishing time|
|a pretty view from my desk|
|what a welcome sight on returning home from my travels|
Early June has become our week of ‘Dorset Doddles’ and like last year, we were blessed by clear skies and warm sunshine.
|wonderful wild flowers overlooking the Jurassic coast at Golden Cap - a perfect place for a picnic breakfast|
|taking advantage of the summer sun|
|Lyme Regis for seafood soup and a glass of otter ale - perfect|
|Arne's magical heathland - heading for a gorse bush breakfast|
|Dartford warblers and dragonflies flew around our ears just here|
|Corfe Castle viewed from a pub with good beer|
|Kingcombe - not much need for these this summer|
|how many of us agree with this caption?!|
|Hook River - home to trout and otters|
Long walks in some of England’s loveliest countryside not only served to remind us just how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful spot but also the value of exploring your local patch instead of suffering long traffic queues and airport nightmares.
|the bluebells were especially floriferous this year.|
|an impressive ancient oak|
|hundreds of guillemots below the Jurassic cliffs at Durlston|
A welcome home after our walks and birding trips from our flowery doorways is always appreciated.
|roses round the door|
|'homes and gardens'|
|Albertine - an old rose but still difficult to beat|
|size of a large dinner plate - don't you just love it|
|wren with an artistic touch - only blue clematis petals would do|
|top lawn - more mowing! - but the wisteria scent is intense|
The garden continues to reward us for our efforts but one of our joys is our front ‘lawn’ which has become a wild flower meadow by doing nothing! Ain’t it amazing how nature doesn’t miss a trick if you provide the right conditions for growth.
|win, win - no mowing - more flowers|
|southern marsh orchids grow more numerous every year|
We didn’t plant a single seed but now we have hundreds of lovely ‘weeds’, including three species of orchid, especially an increasing number of spikes of southern marsh orchid. We started with three just four years ago and this year we had 136ish. Counting them is tricky now and I need to get a life!
|a perfect tench swim ...|
|... and a perfect pole caught tench - nearly six pounds too|
|Mr.Yates on hand to snap this 2/7 crucian|
|opening day gold bar of 2/9|
|happy Trev - with or without fish|
|Chris lost in a world of green|
|friend and computer guru Chris Wild with a PB tench of 5/8|
Come June 16th it was time for some fishing with friends, so tench and crucians were the first priority, along with enjoying the bank-side flowers and insects … and weren’t they spectacular this summer.
|pink campion was thick|
|Friend Gary Newman with an Anglers Mail feature crucian of two plus - job done|
|don't arm wrestle with Mr.Yates|
|scarlet tiger moth guarding my tench swim|
|very yellow flag|
I’d promised friends Gary Newman and Gerry Higham a go at the crucians and luckily these often tricky fish obliged.
|a happy Gerry with a PB crucian of 2/8|
One highlight, apart from a glorious rudd or two was a bee swarm found in a waterside tree. I haven’t seen one of those for years.
|wild bee swarm - an increasingly rare sight and one to be treasured|
|watersides covered with wild flowers|
|aren't rudd gorgeous|
Mullet madness struck in the warm estuary at Christchurch and with several friends, enjoyed many hours of rod bending action and screams to the fish to show us mercy.
|sunrise anticipation of the battles ahead|
|just a little one but still providing rod bending action|
|Steve with a big one of an ounce shy of six pounds|
My birthday followed and a BBQ on Michael and Penny’s farm with his family was the perfect way to celebrate it, even if I wished I wasn’t growing older!
|what a tasty looking Pimms|
|happy days and lots more I hope|
August was upon us, the sun continued to shine and hundreds of butterflies, dragon and damselflies filled the garden.
|summer sunrises just kept on shining|
|silver washed fritillaries are a rare treat|
|so many butterflies this year - best ever maybe|
The warm weather allowed me to find a splendid rudd, the most beautiful fish I have ever caught, totally unblemished, the epitome of summer.
|2/8 of the most perfect rudd you'll ever see - absolutely pristine|
|God's rays seemed appropriate after that fish|
With the daylight hours closing in, hundreds of swallows and sand martins have been gathering for their long journeys to Africa and early on Friday 23rd, thisimpressive flock set off south.
|packed and ready to travel|
|haven't seen so many sand martins for years|
The garden is showing clear signs that autumn is with us but today, September 1st, the sun is still warm … so I’d better get out there and try to control the wilderness – again, though come to think of it, where are those barbel rods?
|is our summer over yet - not by the looks of today|