PART I – In these times of austerity and looming Brexit fears, Charles Dickens’ novel A Christmas Carol seems like a good starting point for the next three Carppuzzle carplife blogs this festive month.
I’m no Scourge when it comes to Christmas so I don’t think the ghost of Christmas Past, Marley, will be visiting me but I can still look back on wonderful old Christmas’ when my parents were alive and everything was rosey to my young eyes.
I fished as a kid with my big brother and we holidayed on narrow boats as my Dad worked for the British Waterways now the Canal and River Trust.
Money was tight at times, and only now as a parent myself do some of those Christmas gifts have a special significance.
There was the Lego train set that wound its way around the tree one Christmas morning – not wrapped and not a box or instructions in sight! My brother and I were so delighted we rushed upstairs gathered the rest of our Lego and set about making houses and cars.
Another Christmas I got a camera, nothing special, and again I didn’t blink an eye when it was not boxed – just wrapped in paper. It was only later in life I realised it was second hand but that still made it a treasure piece of kit.
Another year I asked for a new fishing rod, my brother had got one the previous year and I had spent that year fishing with his old six foot solid fibreglass rod, looking on enviously as he cast to the horizon – we’ll the far side of the canal!
Now my Dad was one for buying well when quality and longevity were required therefore my brothers rod was a bespoke build from our local tackle shop, Simpson’s of Turnford, in Hertfordshire, and probably pricey in old money.
Therefore we returned to Simpson’s in the run up to this particular Christmas. That was a treat in itself, rows of rods, glass cases full of floats and flies, reel boxes to the ceiling and that distinctive smell of saw dust and maggots.
We chose an 11ft blank, 1lb test curve Avon action, cork handle and black and orange whippings – an all rounder, much like my fishing at that time.
Now it was over to Santa’s (Simpson’s) elves to deliver it for Christmas.
I’ll never forget the day, a long slender object clad in Christmas paper lent against the tree. Even though I know what is was, seeing the blank transformed into ‘my’ rod was magic.
My brother and I had to wait a couple of weeks before I could christen my rod. We chose our usual haunt the Lee navigation at Waltham Cross.
It was January and we didn’t catch a thing. In fact the canal was partly iced over and towards the end of the day as the temperature dropped further water droplets froze on the rod rings.
I loved every minute, and still smile to myself when I look at the old warrior and all our adventures together.
Tightlines and good times.
Next up, Christmas Present(s), watch this blog space!