Off to Kenilworth this morning by a new route - the new M40 all the way to Warwick. This also gave us a chance to see how easy it will be to get to Oxford when, eventually, we move there.
It was Stratford Mop today and we promised Emma she'd be able to go to a fair. She asked us if we were near the fair every five miles all the way there. We had lunch at McDonalds and then set off around the town to see the fair, but Emma didn't want to go on any of the more exciting rides which I thought was a shame. But she went on lots of roundabouts and we went in the hall of mirrors which she enjoyed. Linda meanwhile had gone to Laura Ashley and had somehow managed to get lost between there and Waterstones.
With Emma tucked up in bed with Grandad and Grandma to look after her, Linda and I could go off for a meal in Stratford at The Opposition restaurant in Sheep St. I am still not fully fit and found the evening quite exhausting, but Linda was full of beans and, as often happens after a nice meal with wine, really horny
Addendum 2010 - we eventually moved to Oxford in 2004. I hadn't realised we had been planning it so long before. Emma was 3 1/2 at the time and perhaps too little for the fairground rides. The Opposition is still there.
Late morning we have the idea of going to Millets to get Sooty a lead so we can take him outside for a treat. Emma and I went and got one as well as more bulbs for the garden. Sooty doesn't like the collar of course but was pleased to go outside. But then there is a shriek from Emma as the knot slips open and Sooty is free. Emma is frantic with worry that Sooty is lost but he had run into Emma's garden where Linda picked him up. Emma was terribly upset and was trembling with fear that he might have disappeared. She has become very fond of him though she still disturbs him when he is trying to sleep. Emma doesn't want him to go outside again, but we re-do the knots and it is fine next time.
Around 4:30 I departed for an evening's fishing at Ducklington. Conditions seem to have deteriorated following the recent cold snap but there did seem to be some good fish about. In the top deep hole there were six barbel, with the biggest being perhaps 7 or 8 lbs, the biggest I've seen on the Windrush. I baited up the various swims from well upstream and didn't seem to disturb the barbel I could see and by about 5:30 was settled in one of the upstream swims. No barbel from this swim but a relatively large Windrush chub at just under 4lbs. Back downstream as the sun is setting and a typical barbel bite on the first cast into the next swim - a smallish fish of about 3lbs. I thought things looked really promising at this point and I was certainly very excited as I settled in the swim where I have seen the big fish earlier. But a small chub comes out first, which is bad news as it disturbed the swim and might also mean that the barbel weren't there any more. A quick re-bait and a move to another swim, but no bites there at all. It all went rather quiet and though I stayed for another two hours moving between the three swims and constantly re-baiting each, I didn't have another bite. Quite a disappointment really - things had looked so promising
Linda was surprised to see me back as early as I was. Tomorrow's plan to fish down at Newbury might also be on hold now. I'm thinking I might have a full day at Ducklington instead.
Addendum 2010 - Sooty was our first cat - a tiny black one we got from the neighbours, and Emma's first pet after her rodent phase. He died in a car accident a few years later.
This diary entry is from the year after we first moved to Oxfordshire when I had a couple of years of fishing virtually all my spare time. My main focus was barbel on the Windrush and I had some really good trips, catching upwards of 200 barbel with a best of over 8lbs. I even had a article published in a fishing magazine about "small river barbel". I did fish for 10 hours the next day, but caught nothing - which I attributed to the cold snap we had just had. I really should go fishing more often - maybe as the trading settles down, I will be able to go more. I am thinking about chub on the Evenlode in the run up to season end in March