Saturday, 22 December 2012

Wow! I’m still alive!

Courtesy of and Matt
Like Y2K a bit over a decade ago, 11.11 GMT, 21 12 2012 was a bit of a damp squib. 

The roll over to the Year 2000 was supposed to be lethal because chips lacked digits.  I was more concerned because EU legislation left chips lacking lashings of salt and vinegar and us Brits were no longer allowed to wrap them, along with a generous portion of cod caught in our waters and battered in the greasy vats of an honest chippie, in the unread pages of Socialist Worker.

As we all know, Y2K was an exercise in screwing the gullible, fortunes were made by consultancy firms and all they truly succeeded in achieving was buggering up a lot of people’s Millennium celebration including mine.  Instead of partying like mad with my family in Cape Town, I spent my night alone in the server room of BHP Petroleum in Angola.  Fearing disaster, management had refused permission for my family, who were Angolan, to come back to Angola for Christmas and New Year as they ‘could not be responsible for them’. 

I did not make any special preparations for the end of the world this time.  I neither stocked up on supplies or dug a shelter in which to secure them. I didn’t mutter ancient Mayan incantations or sit in a group hug with my family. The only thing I did was to bring forward the inauguration of my pond.  I dug that months ago and have been stocking it ever since.  Some of the local fishermen have been kind enough (in exchange for the odd bottle of wine) to bring back live river fish and dump them in the pond.  They haven’t just survived, they have thrived.  All I did in response to imminent immolation was to go fishing.  After all, if the world was going to end, it would be a shame to waste all those fish and all the effort that had gone into creating their new home and putting them there.

I like sport fishing.  I like thundering out to sea, twenty miles or more at over twenty knots in a boat powered by 500 horse power, crashing over the waves hanging on for dear life until we get to the fishing grounds and then start trolling.  But it is hardly an activity that can include the whole family, especially if one has a phobia for boats (Marcia tells me not even to think about trying to get her in one) and a four year old non-swimmer who could hardly be expected to be strong enough to hold on tight enough to avoid being rattled among the Tuna tower stanchions like a fragile ball in a pin ball machine.  It is an exhilarating sport but it can be a bit rough and, occasionally dangerous.  Only last month a boat capsized making its way through the breakers that mark the mouth of the river spilling its unfortunate South African occupants into the sea.

A pond, however, is benign.  Unless you fall in, lake fishing presents little to concern the aquaphobic, especially if there are nice firm banks to stand on.  And, if I was forced to choose between sport fishing without the family and lake fishing with the family, guess which I would settle for?  It is certainly cheaper; one decent second hand sportfisher, $150K and then depreciation; one pond, $3K and appreciation.

Yesterday, doomsday, Rico’s wife Theresa came over with their two children Vincent and Salena with their rods and tackle box and, since I was doing everything a few days early, I brought out the new rods and reels I had bought as Christmas presents for my boys and I rigged them up for float fishing.  In comparison to the size hooks we use for sport fishing, the ones I was tying on now were miniscule.  In fact the eyes were so small I had to ask Dominic to thread the lines for me so that I could tie them on.  When beach casting, the weights are heavy enough to knock a man out if he were hit by one, these weights were no bigger than small pearls and just as light.  I had a Dourado in the freezer so I cut a chunk of that off to cut up for bait.

Waiting for the End
At 11.11 GMT (not the best time of day for fishing the pond I admit), there we were, the six of us, a cool box stuffed with cold drinks and a bagful of snacks, fishing the pond for the first and possibly last time.  You would never get Rico to fish a pond, he is so mad keen on sport fishing he now makes his comfortable living out of his fishing lodge and recently flew all the way to Guatemala to fish the Pacific.  Marcia preferred to go shopping but promised to give it a go assuming the Mayans were wrong and we were blessed with another opportunity.

A little boy, his first time fishing
I had only put a few yards of line onto Alex’s reel.  He is only four, has never handled a rod and reel before so this way he could ‘cast’ without ending up with a bird’s nest of a reel.  He was a little frustrated at first, ‘Daddy!  I want it out there!’ he exclaimed pointing to where everyone else was casting.  What he did not realize, of course, was that he had a secret weapon.  Me.  While I let everyone else get on with it, only intervening when lines were tangled or hooks needed rebaiting, I stuck to little Alex and, just as I saw his float dip, nudged the rod up ever so slightly.

‘Alex!  I think you have caught a fish!’

And he had.  It’s a magnificent specimen, isn’t it? (study the photo carefully and you might spot it)  Just look at the grin on his face, his delight.  Alex at four years old had caught his very first fish, the very first fish ever to come out of his pond. 

Look closely now...
One of those New Age types trying to get up some well patrolled French mountain to witness the apocalypse was quoted in the Telegraph describing the coming ‘passing’ as being akin to a ‘thousand orgasms’.  ‘Bring it on’ said a witty passing skeptic.  Well I think little Alex has had his own passing of sorts and he is all over me this morning yelling, ‘Daddy, let’s go fish!’. 

I think he is hooked.

PS.  I have to thank George who, through his blog The Flee & Float, inspired me to dig the lake in the first place.  George, I will tidy up the banks, plant lots of nice plants and smooth out the surrounding terrain.  It will be nice.


  1. Nice lake! I'd be tempted to put the cruiser in the background onto it and razz around in doughnuts - just to water the plants on the bank of course, being practical ...

    Like you I've never forgiven the meddling EU nutters for outlawing the wrapping of my chips in newspaper. It was safe, practical and ecologically sound - I suppose the Belgians didn't like it because the mayo on their "fries" would have made the paper too soggy. Time we told the EU where to shove itself, and then helped it to do so.

    Congrats on the catch! In a year or two that will have grown in the telling to be enormous ...

  2. Can you put that cruiser into the pond for my first visit, I do like a bit of pampering from time to time, Just leave me in there with a few tins & I will be happy. Looking good mate it really is, a few trees planted to encourage the fly life & you will be quids in.

    Nice wee fishy. that him hooked for life now :)

  3. A smashing first catch! What better way to inaugurate the new age than with the three Fs: family, friends, and fish.

  4. A see a fishing/canoe dock project on the horizon, complete with a six 55 gallon drum floating island off shore.

    What a swimming/fishing hole paradise!

    Maybe a length of thick rope, hanging off a tree limb, near the bank for practicing tarzan moves into the drink.

    You're a lucky man Tom!

    With that crew of kids in the neighborhood, you should get plenty of support.

  5. That really is a great fishing hole. A few trees on the bank, bar nearby, and a comfy chair or two; heaven.

    I much prefer river, pond, or lake fishing to the sea. My only problem is when I catch something; for some strange reason it always makes me feel 'guilty'.

  6. Ah ! recall a Devonian or Cornwallian beach and magnificent beach caster. and cast...!

  7. Sounds like a lovely day all around, and Alex must have been thrilled! Catching snakes with you one day, fishing the next...if it had been the end of the world, can't think of a way to make a young boy happier.

    Like Cro, i always felt bad for the fish. Also felt bad for the worms when we stabbed them to get them to stay on the hooks.

  8. Oh. I thought the world had ended. That's a bit disappointing. I thought I was the only one left. That'll explain all those other cars on the road.

    Have you thought about drugging Marcia and letting her come to on a boat? That sort of thinking always worked for the A-Team when they had to get the fat one on a plane!

  9. Sir Owl

    It is a pond really, The photo was taken with a 14-24mm Lens so it looks bigger than it actually is. That plastic heap of shit gas guzzling caravan of the sea is not mine. I'd like to tow it out to see and get rid of the last of the 200gm TNT blocks I have left over from mine clearance days by blowing the bottom out of its hull and starting off an artificial reef.


    I will plant the trees, provide the cans and ensure you are pampered from head to toe by nubian hand maidens but if we go out on the water together, it will be on a sport fishing boat!

    Ninja San,

    The three F's. Yes Master, the route to true happiness.

    John D,

    Marcia would be right behind you on that. She wants a bridge and a thatch covered platform in the middle. Maybe with these land wars I can at least negotiate the right to build a canal with lock gates so that I can run my boat in and out of the lake at high tide. Designs for lock gates on a post card, please!

    Mr Cro,

    Your vision for the pond coincide exactly with mine. For the reasons I stated, I too now prefer river or lake fishing but, the boys also need to experience the thrill of sport fishing.

    You would not be normal if you did not think about the death of the creature that provided you such sport. This is why we release anything we are not going to eat.


    You surface again! Camping and fishing on West Country beaches and getting smashed on Bishop's Tipple, heaven indeed! Especially at an age when we would dismiss a financial advisor with, 'Pension Plan? Pension Plan? We don' need no stinking pension plan!'


    Yesterday was even better, I'll include it all in the next post. Like I said to Cro, you would not be normal if you didn't feel some regret for any animal you kill. It is a fact of survival though.


    An idea worthy of serious consideration except for the fact that the last place on earth I would want to be is trapped on a small boat with Marcia when she came to her senses!

    As you know, and I notice you kindly and sensibly did not post my comment on your blog, I prepared for the end of the world by getting stoned. Hell, if that's where I was going, I didn't want some Mayan God getting my hard grown and lovingly tended stash! Mind you, I am glad the world didn't end. Imagine me waking up on the scales of Amighty judgement and saying, 'WOW MAN! You EXIST! That's just SO cool! Got any munchies?'

    After the end of the world, there will still be cars on the road mapping for the updated Google maps and view.

  10. A lovely way to christen Hippo Lake. The look on your little son's face is priceless. Have a wonderful Xmas Cap'n Tom! Best regards from Yorkshire.

  11. YP,

    we will make the best of it, thank you, but how can it be a REAL christmas without REAL Yorkshire Pudding?

    Sniff, boo hoo!

  12. Do you know Mayan incantations? Have a very Merry Xmas. Just listening to Band-Aid's song "Feed the World...Do they Know it's Xmas"...thought of Hippo's on the Lawn.

  13. Make a few dugout canoes for the annual canoe races. Probably easier and a lot less expensive then the locks and more African.


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