Thursday 7th May 2015
I had held the rank of Sergeant for some years and had been employed on plain clothes vice duties in central London for around six years or so. I was
awaiting transfer to another squad at New Scotland Yard where I would remain for around eight years until my retirement.
My old boss and good friend, the chief Superintendent had asked me if I would go back into uniform for a couple of months to cover a shortage of experienced
sergeants. I had a good moan but agreed as he was such a nice bloke.
Saturday late turn (3pm-11pm) I was the patrol sergeant at a central London police station. I had just finished posting the lads and lassies to their allotted
beats and patrols when I was called to the phone, it was the information room at Scotland Yard. Apparently reliable information had been received from the flying
squad that a cash-in-transit van on route to pick the takings from a local dairy was about to be robbed by a gang of London's finest blaggers, they, the
flying squad, were unable to cover the incident so it was down to us. Fortunately I was an authorised firearms officer, as was the other sergeant on duty
with me, also a CID officer doing his turn in uniform, I will call him Jim, not his real name. I quickly got authorisation for both of us to draw firearms. We
consulted the area map and drew up our fiendish plan to bring the incident to a successful conclusion. Basically it was this. Jim and I would go the dairy and
liaise with the manager before hiding ourselves away and waiting for the bad guys to turn up, we would then round them up, hopefully without shooting anybody
or getting shot ourselves. Meantime several of my officers would be a few streets away in vehicles, ready to charge to the scene once we had control.
The dairy layout consisted of an outer area for parking cars, an inner area for the milk lorries and floats and a single story office with a covered approach.
On arrival at the dairy it was obvious the manager knew nothing of the impending robbery and almost passed out when we told him. The usual Saturday events at
the dairy followed a pretty well established pattern. The milkmen would go out on their round, deliver the goods and collect the cash for the weeks bills from
the customers before returning to the depot and handing it all in. The milkmen then went home leaving the manager to await the arrival of the cash-in-transit
van to pick up the money, several thousand pounds apparently. So far so good, we instructed the manager to act as normally as possible and meet the security man
when he arrived to pick up the cash, which he did from the office. Myself and Jim would be hidden from view waiting for events to unfold. I was hidden behind a
big fat fork lift truck with loads of metal to fend off any unfriendly bullets or other missiles that may come my way and Jim was behind a low wall on the other
side, now the anxious wait began. The clock ticked ominously towards the time the cash van was due, then I heard it, squeak, squeak, rattle, a little old lady
with a shopping trolley came slowly into the dairy, she stopped in front of me and in my immediate line of fire about fifteen feet away. The manager came rushing
out of his office to confront her, "Can I have a pint of milk please" said the lady. Please clear off I thought looking at my watch. The manager grabbed a bottle
and thrust it into her hand , "I just remembered" she said "I need some eggs". God, the cash van is now due any minute, please let it be late, what would happen
if the bad guys turn up just as she is trying to get eggs! The manger now doing a passable impression of an Olympic sprinter, rushed back inside and came out
with a carton of eggs "There you go love, have them on the house" not this lady, she's old school,
"Oh no, I have to pay, how much is it please?" she then fumbled
through her bag and purse before slowly counting out the money. By now I am almost melting, I can only imagine what Jim is going through. Finally the nightmare
is over, no little old lady is going to be killed or injured in crossfire between the police and the enemy. The squeak, squeak of her trolley slowly faded as
did the sound of my heart.
Thank God I thought. I was just about to call over to Jim when it happened! A blue Triumph 2000 containing four big men roared into the car park area and did a
handbrake turn on the gravel, at the same moment the cash vehicle began to turn in. Jim and I burst from cover and ran to the vehicle, weapons drawn and screaming
something along the lines of "Armed police! Get out the vehicle with your hands up!"
"Do it now!" The cash-in-transit vehicle started to reverse out as the men
climbed out of the car, "Get on the ground, face down" we yelled. Three did so right away but the one in front of me began to question my instructions in a very
bad tempered way despite looking down the pointy end of a gun. Nothing for it but to give him a bit of help, down he went, no more arguments.
I called up the reserves who appeared in a very short time and took control of the 'prisoners' whilst Jim and I searched the car for weapons, nothing found. The car
meantime smelled strongly of alcoholic beverages, as did the four men. One of the men, the one I had assisted to get on the ground, asked if he could speak. What
followed would do justice to a 'Carry On' film.
This is what he told me. He was a milkman employed by the dairy and had been so employed for a couple of years. Every Saturday he finished his round early, usually
around 12.30pm when he went to meet his three mates (not milkmen) in a local pub for 'a few beers' and some serious games of cards. On this particular day his wife
had given him strict orders to bring home a frozen chicken for Sunday lunch as her parents were visiting. Being a dutiful husband he had followed her instructions, bought
the chicken and placed it in the refrigerated compartment of his milk float. Having completed his round it was back to the dairy to check in, this is where it went
disastrously wrong. Excited by the prospect of meeting his mates for beer and cards he completely forgot poor old Henrietta the hen residing in his milk float and went
off to the pub. Several beers later the lights came on and he remembered the chicken. He had to get back to the dairy before the manger locked up and went home, fortunately
one of his boozy mates had a car! You know the rest.
In order to verify his tale I went to get the manager who had locked himself in his office (I don't blame him). After assuring him it was the police and not Dick Turpin
at the door he opened up. I explained the situation to him and asked him to confirm the man's story. Once outside I confronted the two men.
"Is this man employed here
as a milkman?" I asked the manager "Not anymore he isn't." came the reply.
"When did he leave?" I asked. "About five minutes ago and I would appreciate him leaving
the premises." "What about my chicken?" Mr manager explained that the refrigerated units on the milk floats were turned off when they returned to the dairy, his chicken
would have defrosted and he would kindly throw it away for him!
To make matters worse the lads told the driver he was too inebriated to drive, and they would park his car for him on a side street and he could collect the keys from
the police station the following day. Mr Milkman wandered off home on foot minus a chicken, I can't imagine what he told his wife, she would never have believed
what really happened.
Did the real robbers show up? We will never know. If they had they would have seen the next best thing to a passing out parade at the police college and driven away.
Jim and I went back to the nick for a nice cup of tea, job done.
Sunday 5th April 2015
Do you remember my tales about my little grandson James? Those magical days spent teaching him to fly fish, the joy of his first fish, the way his face lit
up when I said we could go fishing.
Fast forward fifteen or so years and 'little James' is now a six foot something almost 21 year old man with a beard. Last Thursday the phone rang and as per
usual my wife answered it, as I suspect like most blokes, I usually ignore it, anyway it was 'little James'.
“Hi Nan” said James “Is it okay if I come down after work on Friday? I thought maybe I could go fishing with Granddad”. "I'm sure Granddad would love to” she
replied. I knew nothing of this until informed by her who must at all times be obeyed. I immediately rushed to my trusty computer and logged onto the Hastings
Fly Fishers website and weather forecast. Horror of horrors it did not look good, high winds and rain forecast, urgh! Still, can't let 'little James' down. Duly
picked James up from Ashford International on Friday evening, popped into Tesco while Mrs M. bought major survival rations to feed 'little James'
Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny, I wish!! It was overcast, windy and wet.
Never mind, a promise is a promise. At 09.30 I rang 'Dry Flies' Vic the
bailiff, “Morning Vic, any boats left?" waited while the laughter died down; “Many people there?” More laughter. Boat booked and off we went.
On arrival at the fishery the weather looked even more gloomy and only four cars in the car park. Geoff Piltcher, steadfastly unloading his little car and tackling
up. If he can brave it then so can we, I thought. Into the clubhouse to show 'little James' the lovely wood burning stove churning out heat and contentment, the
nice comfy chairs and coffee making paraphernalia. “Shall I take the gear down the boat?” says Grandson, nothing for it, I have to get on with it.
This is where it gets embarrassing, I thought I would row to the corner of the West arm where I had my limit a day or so previously, let James chuck a few flies
at the water, get cold and fed up, I would then step in, catch my bag and we could go home. How very different events proved to be. James had not forgotten anything
he had learnt over the years, his casting was immaculate, his concentration superb and his ability to catch fish even better. After he caught four beautiful fish
he decided to let me have a go while he ate all the grub (he did pour me a coffee). I very quickly caught and released two fine fish, easy I thought. Not so, the
wind got really blustery and the fish decided to go back and play around somewhere else. I sat down to eat what was left of the grub, up gets James, bang! Fish on
and off again, more takes and misses before two more in the bag for 'little James'. My turn to thrash around, one more fish taken and released, then nothing. Tried
the West arm, East arm, North bank reed bed and under the willow. Now numb with cold and totally humiliated we headed back to the boat park.
“Nevermind Grandad” said 'little James' “There's always another day” (snigger).
“Why does nobody love James?” says me.
“I know, a smarta**e, still it's your fault for teaching me so well” James replied.
How very true, why didn't I think of that, feel much better now!!!
Or do I?
Thursday 2nd April 2015
During the 60's and 70's, bank robbery and wage snatches (blags as they are known to the ungodly) were a thorn in the side of the Police service
with Thursdays and Fridays being the most popular days for these attacks. Rarely did one of those days pass without a robbery taking place somewhere
in the UK. Most people were paid in cash on a weekly basis and cash-in-transit vehicles were commonplace. The advances in security and technology has
pretty much consigned these types of crime to the history books. The modern curse of drugs and cybercrime having taken over.
By the 1970's after many months of driver training I had climbed to the dizzy heights of a qualified Police fast response vehicle driver. I had been
entrusted with a nice shinny white S-Type Jaguar fitted with lots of lights, claxons and other exciting goodies. It was a beautiful hot summers day
sometime in early 1970's, the time just after 2.15pm, I was driving my patrol vehicle with my co driver through a busy area of South London when the
call came, 'Raid alarm operating xxx bank' the location being some three quarters of a mile from our current position, away we went on the 'blues and twos'. Before
I take this tale any further it is worth mentioning that this type of call was fairly regular as bank clerks were in the habit of stepping on the raid
button and triggering the alarm, however the calls were always taken seriously. Arriving outside the bank we leapt from the vehicle and ran towards
the bank. As the driver I had ended up closest to the door and reached it ahead of my colleague, silly me! As I reached the door I was confronted by
a man pointing a sawn off shotgun at my face, 'stand still, don't f#$@ing move' he screamed, what a good idea I thought, I would have sung to him if he
had asked! The really scary thing was the look in his eyes, he was terrified, a frightened blagger with a loaded sawn off shotgun equals extreme danger. We
sort of edged past one another and then he ran. I just stood there for a few seconds before this rage took over, that f#$@er pointed a gun at me!!!
Off we went in hot pursuit through some residential buildings. I forgot to mention that the robber wasn't the sharpest knife in the box as he was wearing a
red top and no mask. As I rounded a corner there was a man jumping up and down in his front garden and pointing at the ground in front of him, yup, Mr
Silly Blagger had dumped the gun, 'Don't touch it, we will be back' I yelled. I saw Mr Red Top about 50 yards ahead as he ran over a railway bridge
towards a housing estate. There was a row of houses facing the bridge, I watched as he reached one of the houses, the door opened and he disappeared
inside. We bashed on the door, it was opened by a woman with bleached blonde hair, 'Where did that bloke go?' 'What bloke' she replied, pushing her
aside in I went, there was a closed door in the hallway, good start I thought. Heaving the door open with a shoulder barge there was a loud thump and
poor old red top was on the floor holding his face, shame! Despite the smack in the face by the door he didn't appear to want to give up, we ended
up rolling about on the floor until I managed to wheeze 'For god's sake we are all knackered, just give up' and to my surprise he did.
We conveyed him and the gun (recovered from Mr Garden Man) to the local Police station. A short time later the Sweeney (Flying Squad) turned up. They
had a chat with Mr Red Top and after pointing out the advantage of co-operation to him he sought refuge in that old cliché 'honour among thieves' and
dropped the rest of the gang in the mire by giving away the 'counting house' where the gang had fled to share the loot. Imagine their surprise, just as
they were finishing the 'one for me, one for you' routine Regan and Carter burst in screaming 'We're the Sweeney, you're all nicked!'
Months later at No.1 Court; The Old Bailey, surprise surprise, Mr Red Top and his friends all pleaded 'Not Guilty' to the robbery. Mr Red Top claimed he
had just been out running when we burst in and beat him up, he was unable to explain his finger prints all over the shotgun or the fact that witnesses
in the bank picked him out. I had to endure a couple of hours being called a liar and other assaults on my integrity, just part of the job really, although
I did smile quietly when Red Top got eight years.
Fly fishing at Powdermill is far less stressful and the people much nicer! Tight lines.
Saturday 28th March 2015
In January 1962 I was one of only two probationary constables to arrive at this south London Police station for very many years, it was
situated on the edge of a huge 1920s council estate. The majority of the officers serving there at the time were veterans of the Second
World War. One such officer was on my shift, I will never ever forget him. He was known to one and all as 'Rocky' (not his real name).
'Rocky' had been born and raised on the local estate and had joined the Army as a boy. He was a very big man and went on to become the British
army heavyweight boxing champion. On leaving the army he joined the Metropolitan Police, in I believe around 1937. He was posted to the very
South London station in the area he had grown up. The advantage of this was that he knew everybody, and they all knew him.
At the outbreak of Second World War 'Rocky' rejoined the army. Sadly he was captured at the fall of Singapore and spent the remainder of the
war as a POW under the brutal regime of the Japanese. At the conclusion of hostilities he rejoined the Police and resumed his posting at the
When I first met him he was in his late forties and the teddy boy era was just drawing to a close. Now 'Rocky' had a unique way of dealing with
the yobbo's and young tearaways, he lined them all up, told them he knew their fathers and grandfathers, then gave them a good old fashioned
clump. Did they go running home and tell Dad, no they did not, the result would have been another good clump as the last thing 'Daddy' wanted
was the old bill poking their noses in and upsetting their own nefarious activities such as handling stolen property and 'ringing' cars.
The years spent as a POW had left its indelible mark on 'Rocky' and sadly he had developed a strong liking for alcohol, I imagine to deal
with the horrors of the past.
Who remembers the winter of 1962? I do for several reasons. Firstly it was then that I had to trudge through three feet of snow in a blizzard
having just been thrown out of the maternity hospital where my poor wife was due to give birth to our first born. None of that standing around
watching the wonders of nature in those days.
The first snow had fallen on the 28th December. I remember it well. I was on night duty (10pm-6am) and by the time we booked off duty it took
me over an hour to travel the couple of miles to my home. The snow and ice remained with us until March 1963. Our son couldn't wait that long
and put in an appearance the following day. The Metropolitan Police graciously let me have the night off.
Back on late shift (2pm-10pm) by 31st December, still freezing with heavy snowfall. Sitting in the canteen on my meal break and trying to generate
some blood flow to my lower extremities when in walked the sergeant. Spotting myself and fellow probationer he made straight for us, completely
ignoring anyone with medal ribbons and hair growing out their noses, “You two, my office now”.
We scampered after 'God’; who took us through to the front office where we met a man with a blue nose and ears. Apparently he was a delivery
driver for one of the major breweries. Travelling down a steep hill he had lost control in the snow and ice and skidded off the road, the lorry
ending up on its side, depositing hundreds of bottles of beer into the snow. The poor old driver had trudged through the blizzard to report the
matter to the police (no mobile phones in those days).
Our nice kind sergeant fearing that the opportunity to help themselves to some free booze for New Years eve would prove too much for the local
residents had decided to mount a guard on the bounty until the owners' could make suitable arrangements. We two fine examples of the British Police
had been granted the honour. Together we set off. It was freezing cold with a heavy snowfall. The streets were deserted, anyone with a modicum of
sense and a will for survival were safely indoors. After struggling through the snow, and looking like a couple of Yeti we reached the scene, all
appeared correct, quite pretty in fact, the snow had begun to bury the lorry and the drivers footprints had disappeared.
Suddenly we noticed them; fist sized holes in the snow and rapidly disappearing. Immediately adopting our highly trained 'tracker mode' we followed
the trail across the waste land until we reached some undergrowth and bushes. There to my amazement sat 'Rocky' surrounded by several empties and drinking
from a bottle of beer, “Hello lads, fancy a drink?”
Wherever you are now mate, I hope you enjoy the rest.
More about poor old ‘Rocky’ in later tales.
Tuesday 17th March 2015
Many years ago back in the 1960s I was a young uniformed Police Constable serving at a south London Police station.
In those far off days the plumb posting was to be the radio operator on the 'wireless car'. I think nowadays they are called response vehicle, the ones you see
tearing about with lots of coloured lights on the roof and making strange hee haw noises. Anyway, to get the posting you had to be in the duty Sergeants good
books, otherwise it was point duty in the rain. No nice high viz yellow jacket in those days either.
For some unknown reason my turn came after only four years on the beat and countless traffic points (Must have been all the cups of tea I made him). I had been
on the statutory course learning how to say things like 'all received over' 'show us dealing', and prove I could write without breaking my pencil whilst being
chauffeured at 90mph, really exciting stuff.
Late shift on Sunday (3pm to 11pm) there she was, a big shiny black Wolsey 6/110 with its pretty little blue rotating lamp on the roof and a big silver bell
on the front. The driver, suitably adorned with two rows of WW2 medal ribbons, announced that it was his job to drive and my job to do all the writing and menial
tasks. Off we went to patrol our area. Not very busy at all, a few calls came over the radio but none anywhere near us. Then it came, a call for us, with shaking
hands I wrote down the message and recorded the time, I seem to recall it was around 8.15pm and still broad daylight on this warm midsummer's day.
The call was to a very large sports pavilion owned by one of the major high street banks. It was situated within extensive grounds and surrounded by a brick wall
some six feet or so in height, the large double gates were firmly padlocked. The building was protected by a 'central station alarm' this type of alarm was
connected to Scotland Yard and when activated it remained silent for around five minutes, giving us, the good guys, time to creep up on the baddies before they
knew they had been rumbled. This type of alarm normally resulted; Police 1. Burglars Nil.
On arrival there were already two beat officers on scene. Those were the days when Policemen walked about and said hello to people, we hoisted them over the wall, I
was about to follow when my decorated driver instructed me to contact information room (Scotland Yard) and request the attendance of the key holder of the premises
and a Police dog unit to search the building.
Now by this time we had quite an audience as families had come out of the houses opposite to watch the fun and offer helpful advice. Shortly after requesting
assistance a police dog van came racing to the scene. Out jumped the police dog handler brushing the large amounts of dog hair from his tunic. He ran up to me and
asked what it was all about before explaining that his dog was only out of police dog school a couple of weeks previously, this he declared would be good experience for the dog.
Problem, locked gates, no key holder and a six foot high brick wall. Dog handlers laugh at such minor difficulties, they and their charges are highly trained to
deal incidences such as this. Watch and learn he said before bending forward with his hands on his knees to provide a spring board for the animal. It would appear
that Fido wasn't paying attention during that lesson, it joyfully ran up behind him, placed its front legs round his waist and with his tongue hanging out and a big
smile on its face attempted to copulate with the unfortunate handler. The watching residents loved it, loud cheers and clapping followed the spectacle. The situation
was rescued by the arrival of the caretaker with the keys to the gates, in we all went.
Sitting on the flat roof of the building was a fully paid up member of the burglary underclass, begging that the dog did not consume him if he came down. When asked
if there was anyone with him he immediately resorted to the criminals code of honour and told us his accomplice was still inside.
Now came Fido's chance to redeem himself, in he went teeth bared, fur on end and barking his head off. The barking reached a crescendo, we followed after being reassured
that Fido was too busy to attack us, there he was by some under counter cupboards with sliding doors, the animal was in a frenzy. Now I know that sports locker rooms
sometimes smell, this was a very different type of smell coming from the cupboard, it was accompanied by a loud sobbing noise and a voice pleading for the dog to be held off.
Fido was restrained and placed on a leash, however he was determined to let the whole of south London know he was still very much on the case. Out came this magnificent
specimen of the premier league of burglars, aged about twenty six, tear streaked face and stinking of you know what, in case that was not enough he had peed himself.
Final score; Police 2. Burglars Nil.
Fido went back to doggy school to tell his mates how clever he was.
Monday 22nd December 2014
The other day, whilst wandering about the dam looking for a photographic opportunity, I paused to study the half buried mill wheel at its eastern
end. How did it get there I wondered. Now that got me thinking.
The Club website history page informs us that the reservoir was constructed on the site of the Old Sanders Estate, which at one time was a Black Powder (gunpowder)
mill. The man responsible for the construction being Sidney Little (aka; 'The Concrete King'). More of him shortly.
The area had operated as an iron work blast furnace since the mid 16th century. In the early 1700s serious drought affected the water supply to the furnaces and
several ponds were dammed to protect the supply. In May 1729 a hurricane destroyed the buildings and trees around them.
The gunpowder mill began operations in 1769 and continued until 1825. During that time three major explosions occurred. In 1787 an explosion resulted in the death
of one James Gurfel, who was so badly burnt he immersed himself in one of the ponds before staggering home to die the following day.
The final massive explosion took place on the 7th March 1808 which resulted in the death of William Sinden age 39 years. According to reports poor old William was
blown into five 'named parts'.
That explosion effectively spelt the end of gunpowder production for that Mill. Was the mill wheel hurled to its final resting place by the explosion? Or was it put
there later, I haven't as yet discovered the answer. Most Mills operated at least two grinding wheels so what happened to the others? Are they buried under the
reservoir?, Who knows.
From about 1825 the area was returned to farmland for Powdermill Farm; and used to grow hops along with many fruits and potatoes.
By the 1920s demand for water in the Hastings had begun to outstrip the supply. The low lying land of the Great Sanders Estate and surrounding spring fed streams
flowing from the surrounding woodlands were identified as a suitable location for a reservoir. In 1928 Hasting Borough Council purchased the Great Sanders
Estate. Enter Sidney Little.
Sidney Little (1885-1961)
Sidney Little was born Carlisle Cumbria in 1885. I am afraid I know very little of his early life. He qualified as a civil engineer and worked for several years as the
Borough engineer for Ipswich. I believe he married Zoe Kelsey in 1933 when he would have been 48 years old.
In 1926 Little (then aged 41) applied for the post of Borough and water engineer for Hastings. Prior to his interview he walked around the town and was dismayed at what
he found. Hastings and St Leonards were sleepy Victorian Towns. He told the interview panel that if appointed he would bring the Town up-to-date. Once appointed he set
out with a firm resolve to do just that.
Those members who reside in the Towns will no doubt be aware of his many remarkable achievements;
The outdoor swimming pool or lido is believed to be one of the greatest. By now Little was well versed in the techniques of reinforced concrete and that was the medium he
employed. He became known as The Concrete King.
Little was also responsible for the Castle Road underground car park. Apparently the first in the world. Several shelters, Bottle Alley and Marine Court. He was also
responsible for the provision of sewers in Hastings. Many of these buildings remain to this day.
For us he will be remembered for our reservoir and the huge dam. (He also built Darwell). Work on its construction began in 1929. Below is an extract from the Hastings Observer;
Hastings and St. Leonards Observer
Saturday 20th September 1930
DEVELOPMENTS AT GREAT SANDERS. MAMMOTH RESERVOIR UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Big strides are being made in the construction of the huge artificial lake on the Great Sanders estate, three miles from Sedlescombe, which is to supply
Hastings with the bulk of its water in years to come. The problem of the necessity of finding a new source of supply for the town other than the Ashdown
sands, from which the present supply is derived, led to the resources of Great Sanders being investigated. Finally it was decided to impound the Powdermill
stream by an embankment thrown across the broad valley, and so form a reservoir which will hold approximately 200 million gallons. Work was begun just over
a year ago; the valley, which had been planted with fruit trees, was cleared, 30,000 roots being grubbed up by mechanical means in the process, and the
work of constructing the dam, which will be 1,100 feet across and 39 feet high, begun.
To this work, however, there are important preliminaries, and these are now occupying the attention of the 120 or so men employed on the scheme. The embankment
is to be built of earth obtained from the vicinity, and to render it water-tight it will have a central core of clay, extending deep into the earth until it
reaches a strata impervious to water. Thus, before the embankment is raised, a deep trench has to be sunk right across the valley and filled with puddled clay.
When I visited the spot this week, writes an "Observer" reporter, I found half the trench excavated and the filling-in process in progress. Away in the woods
a mechanical excavator was digging out the Wadhurst clay, which forms the top strata of the soil of a great part of Sussex, and loading it into trucks on a
light railway. The rough clay was then transported to a puddling machine, from which it emerged in heavy, solid cubes, and was conveyed on another light
railway to the trench. Here, 35 to 50 feet below the level of the ground, in a narrow crevasse walled in with an intricate arrangement of timbers to prevent
collapse, men were at work pounding in the clay, which will harden into solid barrier, absolutely impervious to water.
On top of all that clay went thousands of tons of Mr Little's reinforced concrete. The job was finally completed in 1932.
Hastings and St. Leonards Observer
Saturday 7th January 1933
I had opportunity recently of making a thorough inspection of the new reservoir at Powder Mill Farm, on the Great Sanders Estate, which during the coming spring is
to receive its first stocking with trout by the Hastings Flyfishers' Club under their lease from the Corporation. There is little doubt, however, that already it has
received from the tributary streams a number of trout, a fact established by observation. When full it will be a magnificent sheet of water, and as time goes on its
picturesqueness will enhanced the afforestation scheme on the surrounding fields now in progress under the capable direction of Captain Percy Woodhams. The filling
of the reservoir necessarily proceeds slowly, because spates caused by heavy rains have been allowed to flow away below the impounding dam (a fine example of civil
engineering work), and only the normal flow of the small feeding brooks is being utilised to fill the lake, but well before Easter we should see the whole fifty acres
of its watery expanse complete. It is an interesting fact that already the wild duck have resorted to it, though on the occasion of my visit only a solitary mallard was
to be seen. - WALTON JUNIOR
(You will no doubt note that there is no mention of Cormorants)
Some eighty two years later many fly fishermen's feet have traversed that dam and enjoyed the sport we all love and cherish. I doubt many of us have ever given much thought to
how it all came about. What is not very well known about Mr Little is that during the period 1940-1944 he was engaged by the Ministry of Defence. During that time he used his
expertise assisting with the construction of the huge concrete Mulberry Harbours which were used in aiding the allies to invade the Normandy beaches in 1944, eventually overthrowing
Mr Hitler and his cronies, in doing so made the United Kingdom and Europe the places they are today.
Mulberry Harbour 'Phoenix caisson' off Littlestone Beach
In conclusion good old Sid Little not only built the dam on which we walk he also played no small part in making sure we all were able to still use it and not have to converse in German!
Next time you walk the dam, give old Sid a salute.
Yawohl mein herr!
Now, do we let slip where the other mill wheel is located and spoil the mystery? Or shall we let the super sleuth from the ‘Met’ continue enjoying his search for clues? What’s the
going rate for an informer these days?
The real mystery (which could easily be solved) :- ....... Is “the half buried mill wheel at its eastern end” actually whole? Many have asked the question, but none have bothered to
actually find out. We believe it is and would rather not know if it isn’t.
Some have suggested that we move it to a more prominent position near the lodge. Good idea. And those of you that know our intrepid reporter are only too aware that he never needs to
be asked twice when some jolly jape is suggested. But when asked his view of this harebrained scheme his reply was - Count Me Out!
Thursday 18th December 2014
BERNIE MEADEN'S TRAVEL DIARY
22nd September to 17th October 2014
Monday 22nd - Monday 29th September.
5am what a great time to get up! quick bite of breakfast then try and force the cases into the car, spend the next couple of hours panicking
about securing the house, checking passports, tickets and suchlike before setting off for Southampton and the P&O cruise ship Arcadia. We have
never sailed on this particular vessel before so all a bit strange at first, very nice nonetheless.
The next seven days were spent sailing across the North Atlantic to our first destination of New York. It was a pretty uneventful crossing so
I won't bore you with the daily routine which consisted mainly of eating, sleeping and having a jolly good time! People told us they had seen
dolphins but we must have been indulging in one of the aforementioned activities as we didn't even see a bird.
Tuesday 30th September.
New York - Day 1
The captain had informed us we would be sailing down the Hudson river in the early hours and if we wished to see the Brooklyn Bridge and statue
of liberty we should be on deck at around 4.45am!! well as we are never likely to repeat the trip we decided it would be rude not to make the
effort. I duly dragged myself out of bed and made us a cuppa before plucking up the courage to wake Mrs M. I peeped out from the balcony to discover
the Hudson River enveloped in mist and some black stuff called darkness. We made our way up onto the open deck, our cabin was on the starboard
side of the ship and the best view was on the port side (note the nautical language), I have to say it was worth the effort as we gracefully
sailed under the Brooklyn Bridge (apparently there is only a couple of meters clearance) and eventually the Statue of liberty emerged from the mist.
We docked in the Manhattan cruise terminal around mid morning but the US border control authorities insisted that every person on board, including
crew, were processed before we could enter the U.S. The whole exercise was very slick and we were free to go into New York before lunchtime. As
we were waiting the emergency services decided to drag a dead body out the Hudson river close to the ship, the fire department river boat and NYPD
helicopter put on a great show. I should add that it was not a P&O passenger.
Things about New York I would have known if I had paid more attention at school:
- The first settlers arrived in 1624 when the Dutch East India Company sent thirty families and christened it New Amsterdam.
- In 1626 Governor purchased Manhattan Island from the resident Lenape residents for 60 guilders.
- In 1664 good old King Charles 2nd decided he wanted it for the Brits so he sent the army off with instructions to take it for the crown. On the 18th August of that year the then Dutch governor Peter Stuyvesant surrendered to Colonel Richard Nicholls.
- King Charles then ceded the place to his brother the Duke of York (later James 2nd) and renamed it New York in his honour. Colonel Nicholls became the first governor of colonial New York whilst poor old Pete Stuyvesant had some fags named after him.
We spent the remainder of the day wandering around acting like tourists, staring at a map and trying (a) not to get run over (b) trip over the exceedingly high kerbs (c) find Times Square.
Times Square!! I'm sure I've seen this bloke at Powdermill! (no names).
Wednesday 1st October.
New York - Day 2
9/11 Ground Zero and Memorial Gardens
I defy anyone to visit this place and not swallow hard, it is a truly emotional experience. I imagine that, like me, you can remember exactly where
and what you were doing when that dreadful event took place with the full horror being played out on our television screens. The Americans have done
an absolutely amazing job creating this memorial to all who lost their lives that awful day. What follows is just a snapshot into the memorial as I
do not wish to spoil it for anyone who intends to visit.
We left the ship after breakfast and planned to get a taxi to ground zero. On exiting the cruise terminal we noticed a structure resembling a bust
stop, however this one was marked 'Taxis' and there was a small queue. For some strange reason the Americans have not got round to driving on the
proper side of the road and the taxi station was on the opposite side of a four lane dual carriageway. An introduction to the US style crossing
followed, (1) wait for the lights to change in favour of pedestrians, this can take a considerable time as endless traffic thunders past. (2) When the
traffic eventually stops you are confronted with a white flashing hand accompanied by a seconds counting down from about twenty. (3) Now run for your
life before the hand turns red and the traffic does a F1 start.
Having gained the other side of the road in one piece we joined the queue for a cab. This operation was controlled by a huge black guy with a whistle. He
stood in the road, blew his whistle and impersonated a windmill whenever he spotted a yellow vehicle that remotely resembled a taxi, The system seemed
to work well and we shared a cab with another couple for the journey to ground zero, it seemed more like a slow moving car park than a road, New York
traffic was horrendous.
On arrival the first sight that greets you is the newly completed Freedom Tower which seems to disappear into the sky, its huge.
The Freedom Tower
There are two memorial fountains representing the twin towers and each is the exact dimensions of the fallen tower. They are inscribed with the names
of every person that perished on that awful day, some have a white rose placed into the name, presumably by a friend or relative.
The gardens surrounding the site have been completely and sensitively replanted and include the 'survivor tree'. This tree was the only one to come
through the devastation that followed the collapse of the towers and was broken off at around three feet from the ground, it was removed and taken to
a nursery where it was kept for nine years until being brought back and replanted in its present location, it is possible to see where the tree was
severed and the new growth started. It now stand around thirty feet tall.
The Survivor Tree
Before entering the museum I spoke with several NYPD police officers who on learning that I was a retired detective from Scotland Yard all seemed to respond as follows,
"Gee sir that's awesome"
Not sure why the guy on my right is hanging onto his gun!!
Whilst on the subject of the NYPD have a look at this.
Never did get round to asking what it is used for, maybe Vic could use one as buggy on his Powdermill one hole golf course.
This place is a truly moving experience and one not to be missed, both my wife and I would have liked to have spent more time inside. It is not
somewhere that can be adequately described and no words of mine will do it justice.
On entering you travel down into what are effectively the foundations of the original twin towers, these are situated immediately beneath the memorial
fountains above and give and impression of just how vast an undertaking to create the site must have been. I will just mention two exhibits. I make
no comment as I believe the pictures speak far louder than I ever could.
Ladder Company 3 Fire Appliance
Thursday 2nd October.
Newport Rhode Island
The U.S. state of Rhode Island (1790) is believed to be the smallest state by land area measuring some 1545 square miles. By comparison the
total land area of Kent is 1442 square miles.
Large cruise ships, such as the Arcadia, are too big to berth in the port so we were put ashore by the ships tenders (lifeboats). Saw these
two on route to shore. Rhode Island being on the east coast is just west of Martha's Vineyard in the state of Massachusetts and terrifyingly
close to the very place where they filmed 'Jaws' in 1975. Large sharks are frequently spotted in the area. Sure beats a one pound eight ounce
Rainbow!! Tight lines lads.
Newport is a seaside city on Aquidneck Island in Newport County, Rhode Island, United States. It is located 23 miles (37km) south of Providence, and
61 miles (98km) south of Boston. Known as a New England summer resort and for the famous Newport Mansions. After the New York experience it is almost
rural. We just did the tourist thing, had a bite to eat and went back on board.
Friday 3rd October.
Absolutely loved Boston. Being unable to get a cup of tea was the only downside (joke).
Boston was founded on the Shawmut Peninsula in 1630 by Puritan colonists from England so in many ways it seems quite British. Several buildings and
churches still survive from those long gone days.
Now I bet you thought he wasn't on this cruise, Wrong!!
You didn't really think we would leave him behind.
You really need more than just a day to get to grips with Boston so we just crammed in all we could in the time available. Who remembers the TV programme 'Cheers'
Apparently it was based on this place. We went for a spot of lunch. When it arrived I thought they were joking, it was big enough for at least three
people! a glass of cola (or soda as they call it) comes in a pint jug.
Who remembers a TV programme called 'Starsky and Hutch'
Saturday 4th October.
Portland is the largest city in the U.S. state of Maine
Portland is believed to have the most restaurants per capita of any city in the United States.
That's about it really. Pretty place, but unless you want to eat lobsters all day not much else to do, (apart from shopping). It was a fairly overcast
day so we didn't stay ashore for too long. Again just the tourist thing, staring at street maps and taking pictures of things that you later say to
yourself 'why on earth did I photograph that!'
Ted hates Lobsters!!
Wednesday 8th October.
During our whole time in Canada we never saw any 'Mounties'.
We approached Quebec via the Gulf of St Lawrence and St Lawrence river.
Really boring geography stuff;
The St. Lawrence River originates at the outflow of Lake Ontario between Kingston, Ontario, on the north bank, Wolfe Island in mid-stream, and Cape
Vincent, New York. From there, it passes Gananoque, Brockville, Morristown, Ogdensburg, Massena, Cornwall, Montreal, Trois-Rivières, and Quebec City
before draining into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, one of the largest estuaries in the world. The estuary portion begins at the eastern tip of Île d'Orléans,
just downstream from Quebec City. The river becomes tidal in the vicinity of Quebec City. The river is 1,900 miles long with the trip from the Gulf
to Quebec being just over 600 miles. I'm afraid it makes good old father Thames look like a stream.
To travel the St Lawrence during the fall is amazing, we were around a week to ten days too early for the true splendour, but hey it was beautiful anyway.
The first and prettiest part of the trip was early morning, sadly it was misty in places. I hope the pictures give some impression of the
stunning beauty which goes on for mile after mile.
We didn't berth in Quebec until around 1pm so we were late getting ashore. First impression of Quebec City, not good. Everywhere and everything
is in French. I said to my wife we could have got the ferry from Dover to Calais for £34.00 and saved several thousand pounds, she told me to
stop being an old misery, she's probably right, so I thought chin up and look like a happy tourist. We turned into a pretty little square, much nicer
I thought, then suddenly it was full of Japanese, talk about an Oriental camera club! I did manage to get a couple of quick snaps.
This is a close up of the picture above. Hard to believe but these are actually painted on the flank wall of the building.
Decided to call it a day, go back on board and practice some more lounging about and eating whatever yummy concoctions the chef's had
produced, be rude not to really. Another day tomorrow.
Thursday 9th October.
We decided to give the good old 'hop on hop off' buses a go and enquired at the helpful tourist office ashore, why do people say " it's about a
ten minute walk" when in truth you need hiking boots, rucksack and packed meal to make the journey. The really good news was that the buses left
from close to the Chateau Frontenac Hotel which is essentially at the top of a mountain!. To reach this very beautiful building you have to take
the Funicular, we have one of those things in Folkestone, it's called a 'cliff lift! The first challenge was to find the thing as it's hidden
away in a shop front. Up we went.
Once we had safely negotiated this heart stopping adventure we reached the boardwalk by the hotel, guess what? yup, it started to pour with
rain. Big queues for the hop on hop off buses so we decided contribute to Mr. Starbuck's holiday fund and have a coffee in the hotel, trouble
was so did everybody else.
The rain finally gave up and let it's mate the freezing cold wind have a go, we decided to do the touristy shopping thing and look round the
nice warm shops.
Hotel boardwalk, note the lovely sunshine!!
Arcadia from Boardwalk.
We repeated the eye watering journey back down the Funicular (just why the first part of the adjective is 'Fun' is beyond me) and went
out to enjoy the shopping, well my wife did.
Mainly gift shops and some expensive looking clothes shops. Not the place for a grumpy old male shopper. There were however a few lighter
moments to brighten my day.
Quebec shop, No comment!
Quebec City, very French.
After what seemed like a half marathon round the Town we went back on board for some more food.
The Arcadia set sail for its return journey up the St Lawrence river.
Goodbye to Chateau Frontenac.
Saturday 11th October.
Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
We were told that that this was the first time that P&O had visited this particular port. The local dignitaries boarded the ship and subjected
the Captain and his senior bridge crew to an initiation ceremony. Apparently this involved dressing them in sow' westers and anointing them
with swords. This procedure apparently made them and the ship honourable citizens of Sydney. Sadly we were ashore when this happened so missed
out. Sydney has the largest metal fiddle in the world, why?
As we were disembarking to go ashore we noticed a group of new crew members waiting to come aboard. We were told that P&O Southampton
had sent them to Sydney Australia by mistake and had to scuttle them back to Canada to join the ship! true or not I found it quite amusing.
Sydney is a pretty place but quite rural with very little to see unless you went on a tour further inland.
Again Lobster features highly on the agenda.
Ted and mate.
We went for a little wander outside the port and had a look round this rather pretty little Town.
Now believe it or not as I took this silly picture of Ted in Sydney we were approached by a male passenger from the ship who
had been watching and smiling. During the conversation that followed it turned out he was from Tyne and Weir and was taking
some pictures for his grandchildren (like us).
He then introduced us to 'The bairn and Hippo' that he brought out from his bag. Ted was delighted to meet them!
Ted, Hippo and the Bairn. (How sad are we!!)
It was nice to know that we (or me really) are not the only silly old sods on board. The Grandkids probably think so as well. After
the statutory trip to the harbour tourist shop and more stuff that we didn't really want it was back on board for yet more food and
relaxation, OR SO WE THOUGHT!!!!!!
Saturday evening passed quite normally as we sailed away to start our five day trans Atlantic crossing and home. We went for our usual
pre dinner drink in the crow's nest bar. Dinner at 8.30pm then the show and bed around midnight, all pretty normal. Oh boy were things
about to change!.
Saturday 4th October.
I was awoken at around 3.00am Sunday morning by the sound of loud banging and the screaming wind. At that point the movement of the ship
wasn't too bad. My wife had now woken up so I made us a cup of tea. For me further sleep became impossible. At just after 6.30am the
Captain came over the cabin public address system (never a good sign) to announce that we were on the edges of a deep Atlantic depression and were
experiencing hurricane force winds of Force 12 on the beaufort scale across the ship, this in turn was creating severe sea conditions and
waves in excess of 65feet. He went on to explain that they were altering course to a more Northerly direction in an attempt to circumnavigate
the storm but anticipated the current conditions would prevail for 36 to 48 hours (yipee?), we were also being monitored by the UK and
USA coast guard services, lovely!. Mrs M decided to stay in bed and sleep her way through the storm, I went up for breakfast at 7am. By now
the movement of the ship was 'interesting' and walking with a tray of food was a bit of a challenge. Our cabin was on the starboard side
of the ship and the main force of the wind and sea was to port. I went to the only covered open deck and took this picture.
This was taken on deck 10 which is at least ninety feet above sea level, the waves appear to coming straight at you. We were on deck 9 and
later found out that cabins on deck 7 and below had water come into the cabins via the balcony doors.
Happily by Tuesday the weather had abated to a mere storm force 8, absolute luxury!. I am reliably informed that only 10% of the inhabitants
of the UK have ever sailed through a hurricane (not sure were that comes from) my wife and I are now members of that exclusive club, on
reflection we would rather be with the remaining 90%.
The remainder of our voyage was peaceful and unremarkable. Amazingly even having sailed through a hurricane and taken a detour almost to
Greenland, Arcadia arrived back in Southampton port on time. (British rail take note, leaves on the line!!)
Farwell until the next time. (December 2015)
Monday 15th December 2014
A BLESSING OR AN EXORCISM
About five years or so ago I went to the reservoir with my Grandson James for a days fishing. Sadly James has now discovered shaving, work and females; so fishing
now takes a back seat. However, on this particular day we opted to take one of the larger boats and for some reason boat No 9 was chosen.
Boat 9 'Resting' on Thursday 11th December 2014
Once the usual formalities were complete James and I made our way to the jetty and boat 9. Several boats were already out so there was plenty of room. We stowed all
our gear and climbed aboard, James unhooked the mooring rope and I pushed us off. Well, the boat moved about two feet before banging back into the jetty. I checked
that James had done his job properly and unhooked the mooring; no problem there, I tried again to push away from the jetty with same result as before, bang! Back against
the jetty. This time I got out the boat and checked all round for any attachments or obstructions, absolutely nothing. Back in the boat we tried several times more with
exactly the same result, spooky!!, it was as if there was some kind of magnet holding the boat against the jetty. After a few more abortive attempts whatever force was
holding the boat let go and we were free.
After an enjoyable
and fruitful day on the water we headed for shore. On reaching the jetty there was still plenty of space to moor the boat. We got within about two
feet from the jetty and could go no further, it was as if some invisible hand was pushing us back out, poor old James was freaking out, he was convinced there was some
hideous monster hiding under the jetty waiting to eat him. It took about half a dozen goes before I could get close to the jetty, grab the rail and pull the boat close
enough to tie it up. Needless to say I will never take boat 9 again. The only conclusion I could reach was that some long gone ghostly member had somehow managed to put
a reserved notice on the thing.
There have always been concerns and rumours surrounding Boat No 9. This boat used to be almost the exclusive preserve of the old Club
Secretary, the late Captain Tack, who was permitted to catch an unlimited number of trout and regularly took around 300 in a season. His love of boat No 9 was
inherited by a Club Director (now retired) who also treats it as his own. There is something about this boat which some say is influenced by the Devil and this
is why only those who have made a pact with him can safely use it. But heaven help those that have not become his disciples but try to set sail in it. So thank
goodness that Bernie’s grandson James has a Guardian Angel or the story could have had a different ending.
Maybe The Reverent Streeter should conduct an exorcism at the same time as blessing the new jetty. In the meantime, visitors are strongly advised to avoid boat No 9.
Tuesday 23rd September 2014
THE (VERY) EARLY DAYS
Do you, like me, sometimes sit quietly in a reflective frame of mind and wonder where it has all gone? Do faces and events come back as if it were yesterday? I
bet you do, I know I do.
This set me pondering on fishing, why do we do it? When did it start and why am I still so absorbed by it.
For me it all started as a snotty nosed kid just after the Second World War, sadly I even remember bits of that. In those day the summer always seemed warm and
sunny and it rarely seemed to rain, so off we would go to the nearest stream with little nets, a jam jar with string round the neck and scoop up the odd
stickleback. Bored with that we would skim stones or fall in. Later we moved on to homemade rods which usually consisted of a piece of bamboo cane pinched
from my granddad's shed with thin string from the same venue, a bent pin or paper clip and sometimes even a real hook, some stale bread completed the outfit. Arriving
at the river, or what passed for one, we attempted to catch anything that was stupid enough to have a go.
When I was around eleven or twelve I somehow ended up with a proper rod, a little cane thing and a centre pin reel, now I was a real fisherman. Off we went to
Keston Ponds which is home to some proper fish, we even heard tales of monster fish called Pike which we were told ate ducks, small dogs and even children, terrifying
stuff. We sat all in a row waiting for our floats to move (and praying we were not eaten by a Pike) sometimes they did and we were rewarded with a little unfortunate
roach, to us they were magnificent, absolute show stoppers.
Some of you will recall the favoured bait for these monsters were maggots, they were cheap and you could buy them by the pint in the tackle shop. I recall that having
spent most of the school summer break attempting to catch even smaller fish it was back to school and our studies. I completely forgot the little bait box full of
maggots under my bed. At the time I was living with my grandparents. Arriving home from school several weeks into the new term I was met by my grandmother, a four
foot ten Glaswegian fire ball "get in here ye dirty wee Midden" she yelled and whacked me with her wet tea towel, you certainly didn't argue with Granny in that
mood. Once she had calmed down I crept back out from behind the sofa and meekly enquired as to what mortal sin I had obviously committed and how many 'Hail Marys' I
would have to recite. Apparently dear old grandma had decided to sanitize my bedroom and had heard a loud buzzing coming from under the bed, she discovered my little
bait box, the source of the noise, removing the lid the room was immediately filled with bluebottles, no fly spray in those days! There ended my trips to Keston with
pints of maggots. Now my fishing time was replaced by being an altar boy and grandma's little helper.
Inevitably girls came into the equation and fishing took a back seat. My army service consisted of three years in Libya and the good old Sahara desert, not much fishing
there then. Eventually with my wife and three young children my fishing resumed on the Royal Military Canal (we had a holiday caravan nearby) teaching the kids to catch
little roach with maggots, the story had gone full circle.
I was introduced to fly fishing by my good friend and neighbour Tony who was a member at Bough Beech reservoir near Edenbridge in Kent, I just loved it and spent many
happy seasons there firstly as a guest and later as a member. Fellow members at the time were John Goddard and Cliff Henry, the creators of one of my favourite dry flies
the G&H sedge. Oh boy could they catch fish. Do you remember the absolute elation of catching your first fish on a fly you had tied for yourself? Stunning.
Since then I have fly fished pretty much all over SE England and for the last ten years Powdermill has been my home from home. I have to say it is the most beautiful venue
of all with some of the most friendly fellow anglers anyone could wish for, the fishing's not bad either!!
To answer my original question, why am I still totally absorbed by it? Probably for the same reason you all are. As our dear old bailiff once said to me "every day is different" and
long may it remain so.
Friday 15th August 2014
'GID EM UP, MOVE EM OUT RAWHIDE'
Following the recent awful weather, yesterday afternoon, Wednesday, seemed a much better day so I decided to pop into Powdermill for a spot of fishing. On arrival there were
only two cars in the car park. I dropped into the lodge to pay my respects to the last of the summer wine team before embarking on my mission to hunt down the sometimes elusive
Oncorhynchus mykiss. Only two of the team were in residence, Vic 'dryflies' Partridge and John 'the cake tester' Thackray. During the conversation I raised the subject of poor
old 'dryflies' labouring away with a strimmer to clear ever present weed from the new sundeck/wheelie boat area and suggested it would be much easier if a dose of Roundup could
be applied, however I imagine this would not be allowed due to the proximity of the water. This reminded me of an incident many years ago.
It happened in my then local public house, I was discussing a problem I was having with perennial bindweed in my garden, one of the group, a keen very experienced gardener
suggested 'Roundup' informing me it would kill just about anything. Now this was early in the evening and feeling sure I would forget the name of the product by the time I left
I did my usual trick and chose a memory hook. At that time a popular TV programme was 'Rawhide' (it was that long ago) featuring a young Clint Eastwood and was all about rounding
up cattle, that'll do I thought.
The following day I found myself in the local branch of a major gardening centre but try as I might I could not locate the stuff, in desperation I turned to a young staff member
and asked him where I could find the weed killer called 'Rustler' he looked at me with a pitying expression and said “if you mean Roundup sir it's on the shelf marked pesticides
over there”. Can you make yourself very small and scuttle away like a beetle? I can!
There were only two other boats out on the water, a visitor and Geoff 'MBVT' Piltcher, both were firmly on the bubble. I had seen fish showing close in to the dam. As there were
no bank fishermen I tied up on the centre buoy and enjoyed a pleasant evening fishing with plenty of action with surface feeding fish. Took two on small green Shipman's and hooked
and lost a couple more.
Saturday 21st June 2014
BERNIE MEADEN'S TRAVEL DIARY
The latest article is a departure from his past submissions and takes the form of a brief daily outline 'diary' of
his recent P&O cruise to northern waters.
To The Land of the Midnight Sun
Follow Me Round
Saturday 31st May 2014.
1200hrs Embarked MV Aurora QE11 terminal Southampton. Our cabin had been upgraded to ‘very posh’ what a couple of posers!
P&O Oceana and Princess Cruise ship ‘Independence of the Sea’ following Aurora down Southampton water.
Day 1. Sunday 1st June 2014.
Oil rig and supply ship. Sea conditions are flat calm.
Day 2. Monday 2nd June 2014.
Day 3. Tuesday 3rd June 2014.
0530hrs, entered Fjord en route to Olden. What an amazing, stunning and jaw dropping place Norway can be, nature at it’s very best.
Olden is a small fishing village at the southern end of the Nordfjord; however it has now evolved to the cruise industry with many ships visiting each season.
Out of season the fishing industry helps to sustain the economy and it is still a favoured pastime.
Can’t see Vic being
too happy about
Last of the summer wine crew
returning from the wheelie boat?
(Sorry about the flash meant to turn it off)
Day 4. Wednesday 4th June 2014.
The midnight sun. Picture taken at 2340hrs at sea en route to Trondheim. Now just what would that mean to the H.F.F.C. rule “Fishing to finish half an hour after sunset” we’d be there all night!
Not my favourite place, just a big city really albeit a very pretty place. Trondheim is our last port of call before we enter the Arctic Circle and more or less constant daylight.
Trondheim from Aurora at just before midnight.
Day 5. Thursday 5th June.
At sea. A very boring picture.
Flat calm Arctic Sea.
Day 6. Friday 6th June.
Lofoten Islands, Norway.
Hands up all those who have never heard of them (I hadn’t), I thought so, perhaps we should have paid more attention during geography classes. Now
sit up straight and pay attention.
The Lofoten archipelago consists of seven main Islands off the Northwest coast of Norway; they extend for some 70 Miles and are well within the
Arctic Circle. The earliest inhabitants were nomadic hunters and Archaeological evidence suggests they arrived some 6,000 years ago. They were
renowned for long voyages and apparently founded Dublin in 836, not sure if they had anything to do with Guinness. The climate is uncharacteristically
warm for that far North as it is warmed by the Gulf Stream. The consequence of this is that cod fishing is arguably amongst the best in the world
and is the mainstay of the Islands. The fishing is at its very best from January to April when the fish migrate from the Barents Sea to spawn. The
locals say you should only eat cod caught when there is an ‘R’ in the month as it is then at its very best. They also specialise in dried cod and
export a large amount to Italy. I could tell you more about that and the Lofoten Archipelago but that is quite enough for one lesson as I can see
some of you nodding off.
The Islands feature some lovely venues but some inhabited parts are pretty remote, especially when you consider the almost total darkness of winter. There
are some very pretty beaches that attract tourists from all over Europe and caravan tourism seems popular.
Below is a photo of one of the beaches. It also features ‘Ted’ our travelling companion who likes to be photographed in each place we visit, sad or
what!! Other photographs of ‘Ted’ on his Northern adventure are available to anyone as sad as us, just ask.
Don’t ever be tempted to swim, the water is freezing!
Day 7. Saturday 7th June.
Yesterday ‘D’ day was very much in everyone’s thoughts, can’t be much longer before there are none of those fine men left, mores the pity. Mind
you when they look around today’s world they must ask themselves what it was all about and what did all their mates die for. I salute you gentlemen, thank you.
Had a ‘posh lunch’ today with a bridge officer at our table, he told us there were whales breaching regularly, didn’t see any. Bit like Powdermill, everyone
sees fish before me!! Sea conditions flat calm with very heavy sea fog, ship’s hooter going most of the day.
Day 8. Sunday 8th June.
Alesund dates from the 9th centaury. It lies on seven islands which are connected by bridges and a sub sea tunnel. It is Norway’s leading fishing port. Alesund
was occupied by the German army during WW2. A pretty town with a mixture of ancient and modern buildings.
Reflections of Alesund from Aurora.
Day 9. Monday 9th June.
Greiranger Fjord, Norway.
Photo Taken from Aurora 0600hrs in Greiranger Fjord on the run in to Greiranger, probably one of the most beautiful places in Norway if not the world, wow!
Geirangerfjord is 16 kilometres long, 258 meters deep and 500 meters at its narrowest. The mountains either side rise to 1,899 meters. The water falls on
each side are spectacular, not the least of which are the De Syv Sostre (seven sisters).
Geiranger town sits at the end of the Fjord and is visited by over 160 cruise ships a year. Other than tourism sheep farming is the mainstay of the small
community, that plus rivers and waterfalls!
Don’t forget Ted.
Day 10. Tuesday 10th June.
Bergen is known as the gateway to the fjords and was the birthplace of Edvard Greig. 1843-1907 and one or two other pretty clever people; sadly Ted’s not one of them.
Edvard Grieg and his new best mate Ted.
Day 11. Wednesday 11th June.
Last formal night. Sea day again tomorrow, Southampton early Friday morning.
Who’s that in the background?
That’s it then, our journeys end; I hope you enjoyed the trip, we most certainly did. See you at Powdermill; unfortunately Ted will not be there as he has yet to master casting.
Sunday 25th May 2014
A SLOW NEWS DAY?
for most of Saturday morning was pleasant but the torrential showers in the afternoon must have been enough to drive the hardiest soul from the water. As
usual, your intrepid reporter was nowhere to be seen as he prefers to enjoy himself at weekends, which keeps him well away from the reservoir and, more importantly,
ensures that he has a break from having to be polite to those of you who have nothing better to do, or who cannot escape to enjoy a bit of fishing during the week.
Sunday's weather is supposed to be better, but who knows? And as for the Bank Holiday Monday - it's anyone's guess!
So, given that your reporter has no first-hand news, your editorial team are pleased to publish the latest email from our favourite 'super sleuth' Bernie Meaden:
Excalibur - Part Three
The Saga Continues
Friday 23rd May 2014.
I arrived at the fishery bright and early (for me anyway) and duly entered the clubhouse to pay my respects to the venerable members of the last of
the summer wine club. Much to my surprise the only ones present were the honourable bailiff Vic 'dryflies' Partridge and John our website master, photographer,
Gardner and cake taster. After the usual pleasantries and insults Vic wandered casually out of the room, I presumed it was for his nicotine fix, but no,
eureka!! He reappeared carrying my lost rod. Wonder of wonders it had been dredged up by the anchor of one of our visiting anglers very close to where it
vanished beneath the water. Apart from the obvious grime it looked fine considering it had lived on the bottom for just over four weeks. Sadly I had just
spent all of my paper round money on a new reel.
Now then, was this meant to be, was it part of some mysterious happening? I don't think so, I think Lady Nimue got the hump when she discovered the rod I
had so selflessly offered up as a gift in place of the one had failed to be returned in 2008 was in fact a modestly priced Greys and not the mega expensive
Sage that started this all off. If anyone fancies chucking a £500.00 Sage rod into the water near the East arm cut out maybe she will be satisfied, otherwise
hang on to your tackle and don't look down!
I have always thought that the King Arthur’s Lady of the Lake was “Viviane” and did not appreciate that she had a variety of names in literature. Serves
me right for being such a philistine!
Thursday 24th April 2014
by Bernard Meaden
Some of you may recall that about twelve months ago I wrote a short account of my strange 'Excalibur' moment in 2008. For the unfortunate
few who missed this riveting piece of literary nonsense a short resume follows.
In late October 2008 I decided to go out in a boat for a few hours and arriving at the fishery found I was the only person silly enough to
brave the conditions. I decided to start fishing close to the entrance to the East arm, where I had been successful a few days previously. I
was using an intermediate line and cast in under the trees on the NE corner, I let the line sink for around ten seconds and began to retrieve,
the line immediately went tight but there was no movement from my intended prey. It must be a branch or root I thought and began an attempt
to recover my line, however it was putting an enormous strain on the rod so I decided to hand line, gradually there was slow movement and
suddenly the tip of what I assumed was a thin branch began to emerge from the depths, by now the sun had broken through and had shed an eerie
light on the scene, slowly but surely the 'branch' began to take shape and eureka! it was a fishing rod, sadly there was no slender female
arm holding it aloft. Eventually I managed to take hold of the rod and haul it into the boat and found I had hooked it about halfway down
it length. The rod was covered in slime but was a complete outfit with a reel and line [no fish]. At this point I made no connection with
the June incident.
I cleaned the rod and found it was a Sage and in remarkable condition considering it had lived on the bottom of the reservoir for several
months, sadly the same could not be said for the reel and line. I realised that this was possibly the rod lost in June and took it to Vic, our
bailiff. Sadly the owner has never been seen since the loss and to my knowledge has not been back since, maybe he gave up fishing, who knows.
Sadly this is not the end of the story as in February 2010 the clubhouse received a nocturnal visit from the ungodly, who ransacked the premises
and broke into Vic's store room stealing whatever they could find. Unfortunately this included the luckless 'Excalibur' Sage. Clearly the miscreant
who committed this act did not possess the morals or noble intentions of Sir Bedivere as he did not return Excalibur to the lake.
Now let's fast forward to 22nd April 2014. A fine sunny day dawned and Powdermill beckoned, after arrival and the usual pleasantries with the
last of the summer wine crew in the clubhouse I set out in my little boat and headed for the East arm, this is where it all gets very strange. I
dropped my anchor in very close proximity to the spot that all those years previously had led to the Excalibur experience. I poured myself a
coffee before casting my line onto the water, having done so I very foolishly put the rod down and reached for the cup, yup, you've guessed it,
bang! a massive take and over went the rod, I sat mesmerised as the rod slowly disappeared like a submarine periscope.
Lady Nimue has finally got her Excalibur back ( alright a copy) and Sir Bedivere has been honoured.
Feeling suitably stupid and crestfallen I made my way back to the clubhouse to own up to our bailiff who kindly lent me a reel, I had a spare rod
but no reel. Back I went to the same spot in the East arm and about an hour later returned to the clubhouse with my six fish!!
I am currently trying to get a paper round to pay for a replacement rod and reel. If you see me at the reservoir please feel free to take the
Mickey as I probably deserve it.
How many times do we have to caution anglers about leaving their flies in the water while not retaining a firm grip on their rod? Therefore, much
as we love Bernie, your reporter has no sympathy for him. My concern is entirely directed at the poor unfortunate fish which could well have
swallowed the unattended fly before tearing off, only to suffer a lingering and miserable death. Your reporter has the perfect solution. He
only uses reels which when combined with the rod's cork handle ensures that the butt end floats. One can then enjoy the incredibly exciting
sport of “Trout Chasing” as the fish rampages around the reservoir. If you are sufficiently popular to have a boat partner you can press them
into franticly rowing the boat while you desperately shout out directions. Fortunately for your reporter, he has only managed to experience
this heart-stopping and very stressful activity on one occasion as the trauma of chasing a couple of hundred pounds worth of equipment around
the reservoir could easily bring on another heart attack.
Saturday 1st February 2014
LOOK AFTER YOUR TACKLE (FISHING THAT IS)
by Bernie Meaden
Enton Lakes in Witley, Surrey are sadly no longer a trout fishing club. The venue consists of two man-made lakes. The larger or upper lake is
around two thirds the length and roughly the same width as the west arm at Powdermill, the lower lake is slightly smaller. The lakes are separated
by a grass dam with the lower lake being at about the level of the grassland behind the dam at Powdermill, got the picture?
The club was formed in the early 1900's and functioned as such until its demise around 2005. I was a fairly regular visitor. In 2003 I paid a visit
with my 8 year old grandson James, a regular fishing buddy). It was a pleasant early spring morning although the ground underfoot was very wet. We
fished the upper lake from the dam without a great deal of success and decided to try our luck on the lower lake. There are steps leading between
the two but thinking I was clever I attempted to descend via the grass bank, Big mistake!! the grass was very wet and carrying my rods and fishing
bag I slipped and went head over heels to the bottom, I looked up and saw a little white face peering down at me, "come down the steps and be
careful" I called to James (why didn't I do the same) James arrived at my side and asked if I was okay, I told him I was and that instinct had
made me protect my rods which happily were unscathed. James just looked at me and said "Is it okay to laugh now?" we both had a jolly good laugh.
Sadly this will have to be the last tale involving my expeditions with James as he is now a 19 year old and has discovered the female species, this
unfortunately seems to take precedence over fly fishing.
If only we were nineteen again!!!.
Mill Pond at Enton Mill, Witley, Surrey
Friday 31st January 2014
PADDLING WITH GRANDAD
by Bernie Meaden
Prior to relocating to New Romney in 2005 I had spent my whole life in Bromley having been born there just prior to England's
most recent armed conflict with Germany (not my fault).
My twin Grandsons Callum and James were in the habit of spending most weekends with my wife and I. James the younger of the
twins was, as I have already mentioned in a previous tale, the keener of the two as far as fly fishing was concerned and would
happily accompany me whenever the opportunity arose. He had by this time (aged around 8 years) mastered the art of casting a
ten foot rod a reasonable distance. There is a small fishery in Hayes which consists of a manmade lake of around 2 acres and
stocked with rainbow trout. It was ideal water for someone as small as James and gave him the chance (and me!) to catch and
play a few fish.
JAMES ON PREVIOUS WARMER VISITS
by Bernie Meaden
One crisp early autumn morning in around 2003 the boys were staying with us and James decided he wanted to go fishing. There was
a very cold NE wind blowing and as the fishery is very open I knew it would be pretty chilly. Suitably attired in warm clothing
and hot drinks we set off with the usual sense of anticipation that accompanies these outings. Arriving at the water my worst
fears were confirmed, we were the only fishermen brave (or stupid) enough take on the conditions.
I set up the rods and we began to fish. After about an hour we were still fishless. I had noticed that fish were showing further
round the lake and just out of casting range, fortunately the ground is pretty level for around ten feet and not very deep so
without giving the matter proper thought and wearing stout wellies I stepped in and cast towards the rising fish. Horror of
horrors it was at this point I realised James had followed me in and with his legs being about half the length of mine his
little green wellies had very quickly filled with ice cold water. 'James' I cried 'get back on the bank' another stupid mistake
as I realised to late the bottom was soft mud, the poor lad tried to step back but his feet were stuck in the mud causing him
to promptly sit down with a horrible splash. I threw my rod down and turned round to find him lying full length on his back with
just his head and shoulders above water. I managed to grab him up and pull him from the water. I now had a very wet and shivering
small boy, two rods and a fishing bag to carry as I sploshed my way back to the car ( my wellies were also full by now). On arrival
I sat James on the floor under the heater, started the engine and headed for home which was only about five minutes or so away.
The story ends with James sitting in a nice warm bath with a bright red face and a large mug a hot tomato soup (tragically I have
mislaid the photo) and asking me if we could go back when he had warmed up a bit!!!
Friday 11th October 2013
A VERY BIG FISHY TAIL
Written by Bernie Meaden
I Don't Remember Vic Stocking This One
Back in August my granddaughter Anna Meaden travelled to Ascension Island in the South Atlantic to visit her father who is serving there as a
police officer. As you probably know Ascension is famous for two things, one, Being an RAF base and stopover for our troops travelling to the
Falklands Islands during the 1982 conflict with Argentina and two, an amazing place for big game fishing.
Anna's fishing experience only extends to fly fishing with her dad so game fishing was never high on her agenda, however, her dad persuaded
her to take a trip out with a friend of his who operates a deep sea charter fishing boat, she reluctantly agreed thinking it would be a great
way to top up her tan, oh boy how wrong she was!! This is what Anna said.
three rods set up and we got bites on two of them. Craig [the skipper] tried to reel one in but it broke free after about five
minutes. A tiny American woman took the other rod and attempted to reel it in, she was really struggling and wore herself out after only a
couple of minutes. She later said it was more difficult than giving birth to her two children.
"I took over and strapped myself into the harness with the rod in a holster in a metal plate in front of me. The fish then took around 400m
of line and I kept having to reel in whenever there was a bit of slack, it was the hardest thing I have ever done. It took me an hour and
fifteen minutes to reel it in. I've got bruises up my arm from banging against the reel and bruises on my legs from the metal plates."
Eventually Anna was able to overpower the fish and the crew managed to drag it on board.
Back in the island capital Georgetown the fish had to be lifted off the boat by a US military crane. Anna arranged for the fish to be filleted
and divided into hundreds of portions which were distributed among the islanders. Well done Anna, your male cousins are not the least bit
Anna Meaden (In Pink); Age 16, Height 5ft 4" ; Tuna 250lbs, No Contest!!
Sunday 2nd June 2013
JAMES AND THE FISHERMAN
by Bernard Meaden
As fly fishers we all wish to pass on our skill and enthusiasm to the next generation in the hope they will get as much pleasure [and frustration] from it as we have, I am no exception.
Ben Ross at Dever Springs aged 10
James aged around 7 years at Hayes Fishery
I started to teach my Grandson James to cast a fly when he was five years old, although I have to admit I did most of the casting and he just did the exciting bit. The pure joy and
exhilaration he experienced on catching his first trout had to be seen to be believed.
I am sure you will agree a vital aspect of handing on our craft is to pass on the niceties of a day at the fishery and how to respect the environment you enjoy by not leaving discarded
line and other detritus behind. One of the tips I handed on to James concerned bank fishing, and how when you move along the bank, be sure to have your net handy as sods law states that
if you do not you will immediately contact a fish.
Callum Meaden at Tenterden Trout Fishery
James Meaden aged 11 at Tenterden
Now for the fun bit. One bright early spring day when James was about eight years old, we went to have a look around Lakedown, the fishery consists of four lakes in a very pretty
setting. As we walked around the water I spotted an elderly gent fishing, it was clear that he had moved along the bank as his bag and other paraphernalia [including his net] were
some distance from where he was actually fishing. As we approached he struck into a fish, here's what happened next. I stayed at a suitable distance but James decided to go and
stand beside him, the conversation went like this;
James; "You haven't got your net have you?"
Fisherman, a grunt.
James; "My Grandad says that you should always have your net handy if you move."
Fisherman; "Tell you what son, I'll do you a favour."
James; "Okay what?"
Fisherman in a very broad Irish accent; "You get my net and I won't throw you in."
James got his net and made a new friend, I tried to fade into the background.
Friday 17th May 2013
MY EXCALIBUR MOMENT
By Bernard Meaden
With apologies to Merlin and Lady Nimue.
To be truthful I had almost forgotten this tale until mentioning it to the 'Last of the summer wine' players in the clubhouse the other morning.
The story begins in early June 2008 when a nameless club member was boat fishing close to the Willow tree, apparently he decided to pour himself a cup of coffee
and in so doing left his line in the water [we've all done it] it was at this point he got his only take of the day and over the side went his treasured Sage
rod, it was last seen disappearing in the direction of the old road.
This unfortunate incident was well documented in the June 2008 issue of 'latest news' on the HFFC website.
Now comes my part in this tale. In late October 2008 I decided to go out in a boat for a few hours and arriving at the fishery found I was the only person
silly enough to brave the conditions. I decided to start fishing close to the entrance to the East arm, where I had been successful a few days previously. I
was using an intermediate line and cast in under the trees on the NE corner, I let the line sink for around ten seconds and began to retrieve, the line
immediately went tight but there was no movement from my intended prey. It must be a branch or root I thought and began an attempt to recover my line, however
it was putting an enormous strain on the rod so I decided to hand line, gradually there was slow movement and suddenly the tip of what I assumed was a thin
branch began to emerge from the depths.
By now the sun had broken through and had shed an eerie light on the scene, slowly but surely the 'branch' began to take shape and eureka! it
was a fishing rod, sadly there was no slender female arm holding it aloft. Eventually I managed to take hold of the rod and haul it into the
boat and found I had hooked it about halfway down it length. The rod was covered in slime but was a complete outfit with a reel and line [no fish]. At
this point I made no connection with the June incident.
At home I cleaned the rod and found it was a Sage and in remarkable condition considering it had lived on the bottom of the reservoir for several months, sadly
the same could not be said for the reel and line. I realised that this was possibly the rod lost in June and took it to Vic, our bailiff. Sadly the owner has
never been seen since the loss and to my knowledge has not been back since, maybe he gave up fishing, who knows.
Sadly this is not the end of the story as in February 2010 the clubhouse received a nocturnal visit from the ungodly, who ransacked the premises and broke
into Vic's store room stealing whatever they could find. Unfortunately this included the luckless 'Excalibur' Sage. Clearly the miscreant who committed
this act did not possess the morals or noble intentions of Sir Bedivere as he did not return Excalibur to the lake.
Editor’s Note. Did you know that Hastings Flyfishers is full of interesting and unassuming Club members. Well, among the Honorary Freemen
of the City of London are such notables as Pitt the Younger, Nelson, Wellington, David Livingstone, Florence Nightingale, Baden Powell, Winston Churchill
and Bernard Arthur Charles Meaden.