On a recent work trip to Perth managed to visit the port of Fremantle. Fremantle is roughly 45 minutes by cab from the Perth CBD.
The first port of call was the Little Creatures brewery which is situated on Fremantle Harbour. We sat out the back of the brewery in what could be described as beer garden on the water’s edge. Interestingly there were a number of patrons in the beer garden where a large sandpit kept a number of small children entertained whilst their parents could have a quiet couple of beers. We had a great view of a variety of yachts and all type’s of boats coming and going from the harbour, the beer of choice for me was pale ale, my colleagues (Rob and Yardy) opted for the Pilsner and the Rogers. All beers where of excellent quality and a trip to the brewery is one of highlights of a trip to Perth.
We walked a short distance to Freo’s cosmopolitan “Cappacino Strip”. This area is full of restaurants, bars and as the name would suggest cafes. We visited a microbrewer called the Monk Brewery and Kitchen. A great variety of beers, the Kolsch beer was very good, Yardy and Rob both tried out the tasting trays – the Chief was strongest at 6%, but Yardy preferred the Kolsch. Interestingly we were asked not to stand and drink beers at our tables as the Monk is licenced as a restaurant (apparently you should not stand). Good place, friendly staff, good beers on the main strip in Freo and a place to watch the world go by.
We flew home to Sydney on Friday and with it being the last weekend of the month, it was Harbord Bowlo Fishing Comp for me. Not the best time of the year for fishing, the water still has to warm up a bit and the weather and sea conditions were less than ideal (onshore winds with a reasonable sea bump). Fished Dee Why beach on Saturday and Sunday mornings to catch 15+ whiting of which 3 were legal (over 27cms) and 1 bream. Flogged Curly beach from 10pm to 2am Saturday without getting a single bite. (Un)fortunately most other anglers also struggled.
Son has a school history project to complete when we get back to Oz. He decided the topic would be the Roman Baths. A trip round the Baths with audio guide was required and we learnt all about Aquae Sulis and the Roman goddess Sulis Minerva.
After the trip we went to the nearby Westgate pub for lunch. On the beer front there are plenty of cask strong ciders which caught the eye, but not wanting anything to strong I picked the St. Austell Tribute Cornish Pale Ale (4.2%). A very easy drinking beer, you could easily have a few of these, a very good session beer. The pub itself dates back to 1677 and was originally a coach inn, it now has a modern decor, larger interior than you would expect and friendly staff. The pub has a reasonable food menu, a large array of different lagers, beers and strong ciders; being close to the Baths there was a mixture of tourists and locals.
The following day spent I time chasing trout on boat in Blagdon Lake, in the Mendip Hills, with my brother. Weather has been mild on this trip home but on this day the wind was a bit raw and from the east (summer wind usually from the south west). It was hard work on the oars but we managed to eek out six trout all around 2-3lb, mainly on floating lines, nymphs and I managed 3 on dry flies, a claret fly called Bobs Bits. With family and friends already stocked up with trout, we stopped off on the way home at the Winford Arms. I have blogged this before but we managed to exchange trout for beers. I chose one of my favourite beers the Bath Gem Ale. I expect Blagdon Trout will be on the specials board.
This is my final blog for this UK trip, one of my favourite pubs is the Hunters Rest which is a great country pub with favourite beers and ciders on tap. I have been playing around with the iphone camera, not sure how the panorama shot looks but here it is anyway. Whilst typing this up I have just watched some TV footage of Sydney and the Naval festival, weather looks good and will back at work (great!) and on the back of the ferry shortly.
We decided to embark on a day trip around Wiltshire, home to Salisbury plain, numerous army bases, crystal clear chalk streams and Stonehenge. We have often driven past Stonehenge, which is in between 2 busy main roads, but this time decided we would stop and have a good look around. An understatement to say a lot of history and mystique surrounds Stonehenge – another interesting place for the blog. There were plenty of other punters here and amusingly a druid (with small set of antlers for a hat) recounting a time she was in Australia meeting aboriginal elders and also talking about unique forces apparently at Stonehenge.
From Stonehenge we travelled to the market town of Marlborough. Marlborough is home to a number of posh public (expensive private in Oz) schools, a number of current royals have reputedly been pupils including the future queen, Kate. A scout round the shops in the High Street and we dropped into the Green Dragon pub for lunch.
We had a decent feed, cauliflower soup and chicken madras for me. The bar staff were very friendly, the pub has a few patrons, there were plenty of beers on tap and being in Wiltshire, the Wadworth’s brews (Devizes based) were to the fore. I tried the Wadworth Horizon Golden Ale for a change, a light golden summer style beer, fruity citrus taste. It was OK to drink but as I prefer darker style beers, not really one for me. The pub was good, had some history on the walls regarding the great fire of Marlborough in the 1600’s and mention of a beer fest, unfortunately not when we were there and also a venue for bands.
The last stop of this trip was to Manningford Trout fishery near Pewsey. Crystal clear water feeds the lake, lots of trout, this is a good spot for my son to fly fish. We caught a couple around 2lb. During the fishing, the distant rumble of guns could be heard, also a few army Apache helicopters buzzed low across the lake as we fished to the amusement of young and old.
We went on a trip to Wookey Hole and the Somerset medieval city of Wells. Wookey Hole is a set of caves in the Mendip hills near Wells. The caves are formed by the river Axe (the word Axe is Celtic for water) which runs under the limestone hills and out into the Bristol Channel. A tour of the caves kept the kids entertained for a half hour and for anyone interested Wookey Hole is advertising a job vacancy via the Heart radio station for a new Witch who must have “hexfactor” (wonder what the interview process is?).
The medieval city of Wells is named after the springs that bubble up out of the Mendips. Running down the high street is a small stream of water.
We went to the Kings Head pub for lunch, in the main street, a ploughman’s lunch for me and chips for the kids. On the beer front there were a few good ones on tap, I was very tempted to go with the Thatchers Heritage cider or Potholer from Cheddar Ales but chose a beer I had not seen before – Merlin’s Magic by the local, Langport brewery of Moors. The barmaid explained that this was a vegetarian beer and was cloudy. Apparently this beer has no Findings which are used to reduce the cloudiness of beer. The barmaid said that the ingredients in Findings include fish guts and hence a cloudy vegetarian beer. The beer is itself was very rich, fruity, dark and unsurprisingly cloudy. A good beer but the richness would probably mean that one or two would be enough, although not too strong at 4.3%. The Kings Head pub was a very pleasant venue with a wide selection of beers and I particularly liked one of the phrases written on a beam “I spent a lot of my money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I squandered” (I am sure many readers know who said this).
The cathedral in the city of Wells is worth a visit. This is the diocese for the Bishop of Bath and Wells, the cathedral dates back to the 12/13th century. There is plenty of history to see, from moat outside, the medieval architecture, graves and tombs and the clock.
That evening went to Barrow tanks for hour or two of fishing at dusk. A great location, a beautiful still night, with plenty of fish rising, a few missed takes but managed 1 trout of about 1½ lb on a small black buzzer. The trout in the tanks are also called locally Barrow Bullets.
I am back blogging in Blighty and from Bath. Kids wanted to go and have a look around the Georgian town, although they have been there numerous times. After the initial walkabout, my 16 year old daughter likes to wander round looking in the many clothes/fashion shops so we decided that we would split up for a hour. We headed off in different directions or rather left the daughter looking at clothes in the HMV shop. After building up a thirst we dropped into one of the local pubs.
The pub we chose was “the Grapes” in Westgate Street. This small intimate pub had the typical Georgian style exterior design, with period decor, wooden beams and usual mix of beers on tap.
On one of the beams was the following “There has been a building on this site since 1302. The present facade was added in around the 17th century”. A few locals in the pub, horse racing on sky TV. I decided to have a West Country Real Ale, Wadworth’ s 6X from Devizes (orange juice and lemonade for son). I have blogged this beer before but it is a good one.
We met up with daughter at the Roman Baths, not too many shopping bags in tow. We went for a bite to eat at another local pub, the Sam Wellers. This pub is also a small pub, and with a range of local beers. Again there were not many people inside, a few locals and tourists. At this pub tried a new draught beer for me, although not from the West Country, this one is from Yorkshire – Timothy Taylor Landlord. Not a bad beer, usual English style bitter/real ale. I did see a few bottles of this beer also for sale in Tesco.
Both these pubs are worth a visit (as well as the many others in Bath) and both beers would have again, in particular the Wadworth’s 6X – although this may not transpire on this trip as there are plenty of others to try.
This week, the last of my trip to my UK home has flown past far too quickly. Wednesday, saw a visit to Lechlade Trout Fishery, Gloucestershire to hunt for big trout with my brother and son. Weather was not too bad, overcast and threatening rain without actually precipitating. Difficult conditions for stalking trout but I managed to peer into the murky water and pick out a target. Trout normally have a very specific patrol routes around a certain piece of water, this one was no different as nymphs, hare ears, pheasant tails and stalking bugs were all rejected. Finally a gawdy yellow and white tadpole was strategically placed, attacked and a 10lb 4oz rainbow trout was brought to the bank. Not a brilliant fight if I am honest for a monster like this. We ended up catching 4 fish with two over 5 lb which my son landed and a 9lb 3oz to my brother. The Trout Master cup is over for another year (there maybe another round at Christmas).
We travelled past the Wadworth Brewery in Devizes, Wiltshire which is in these parts is famous for its 6X beer. Found a new beer for me to try – the Wadworth Swordfish, this is a blend of 6X and Pussers Rum. This beer is “a heartwarming salute” to Naval aviation, the crews of the Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers in WW2. A dark beer, but not a stout, and I would definitely buy again. Other footnote, a visit to Jamie Oliver’s Bristol restaurant is also recommended.
Manningford trout fishery is situated near the village of Pewsey in Wiltshire. The lake is fed by the chalk stream, river Avon, which runs from nearby Salisbury plain. Salisbury plain is home to a number of military bases and the distant rumbling of artillery guns was very audible in the afternoon. I have fished this lake many times before, it is a picturesque and the water is gin clear. Fishing is not too difficult and it is often a matter of trying not to catch, a good place for a day out and a young fly fisherman.
A walk round the bank, we spotted a pod of rainbow trout, hare’s ear nymph on 8lb tippet and floating line soon had their attention and the fish were charging towards the fly. We pulled fly quickly away, decided we would look for something bigger. Kept walking the bank, plenty of casting practice and we hook up, not a big one but a short fight and 1st fish is on the bank. The ticket we had was to catch a limit of 3 fish, and we ended with the best trout being 3 ½ lb (with two others about 2lb each). All flies seemed to interest the trout, but nymphs, hare’s ears, green damsel and black buzzers were the pick.
That evening visited the Coronation Tap (Cori tap) in Clifton for a couple of jars with my brother. This pub is famous, at least in Bristol, not sure why we had not visited in quite a few years, as it has a great atmosphere and unique range of ciders. Clifton is one of the oldest parts of Bristol with a lot of Georgian and earlier period architecture. This pub dates back to the 1700’s, close to the Down’s (a large common land area in the centre Bristol) and is a favourite with locals and students (Clifton is in the heart of student land) . A venue for bands, Chris Jagger(Mick’s brother) was playing later on, but we were not hanging round. On to the beers, a number of real ales including Bath Gem Ale and good range of ciders, with my favourite’s Thatchers Traditional on tap – described on the board as the 1904 recipe, hazy and uncarbonated. There is also a cider, the Exhibition which is only available at the Cori Tap. The barman told me this cider is also from Thatchers brewery and is sold in half pints as its strength is 8.4%.
A couple of ciders and we each decided to take a couple of pints of Thatchers home, filled from the keg, and for me unique carry out vessels (recycled plastic bottles, but I am not complaining).
Fished Blagdon lake last Monday in showery conditions with younger brother and my son. Winds were from south west with strong squalls of wind and rain keeping it suitably fresh with small interludes of sunshine. The boats at Blagdon have no motors, which means a bit of a workout with the oars, although we noted and cursed some anglers with their own electric motors.
Over to the far side of the lake, we anchored up in Butcombe Bay. It was happy days with the 1st fish coming quickly to me on a Diawl Bach nymph. However that was the last fish I saw for quite a few hours. Brother fished an intermediate line getting the flies down in the water and steadily caught fish on a white marabou lure, myself only having a floating line, the fish were down deep. We moved around Butcombe bay to get out of the wind, closer to the bank, a gold head black buzzer got my flies to the right depth and was to the trouts liking. All of a sudden we started catching fish fairly regularly, all up we caught 14 between us (3 for me, my son had 4 and brother had 7). All the fish were between 2-3lb in weight. We kept a dozen fish which have all been given away to various family friends.
The beer of choice from the local Butcombe brewery was the Adam Henson’s Rare Breed Best Bitter. Adam Henson is a local famer and presenter on the BBC program Country File and Farming Today. This beer is a traditional English bitter beer, had a very strong smell about it similar to some of my home brews of the past whether that is the hops or fuggles. A very distinctive rich hop smell. Easy drinking and very much like a beer that would be served on tap rather than a bottle. The beer was fine but probably one I would have on tap. Not the first Butcombe beer of this trip, a few Butcombe Bitters sampled in a variety of pubs, this fine beer reviewed in a past blog.
Back in the UK, a while since my last blog, the first week back in Bristol was fairly wet, on the first full day there was a month’s worth of rain in a day causing a fair bit flooding, so much for the hoped for Indian summer.
With water levels high in the lakes, fishing was put on the back burner. We had an interview at local school for my middle daughter who wishes to spend a school year here and now starts this Wednesday, all good.
Visit to Tesco, where as usual cheap beers where on offer – picked 3 out for 5 pounds, all local and ones which I have not had before. The first one is Beachcomber from the Teignworthy Brewery, Newton Abbot in Devon. This is a very fruity golden beer, a good one for summer although the current weather is more autumnal. According to the label this beer is made with water from Dartmoor, English aromatic hops with citrus and blackcurrant. Would buy and drink again. Will blog the others shortly and hopefully a few pubs.
Saturday managed the first fishing trip out to Chew Valley with my younger brother. Overcast conditions, wind brisk from the north east, a chilly wind. The advice from Woodford Lodge was to fish around Villice Bay with nymphs. Fishing was hard, water clarity not good from all the rain. Twitching the nymphs on a floating line, managed to eek out 3 rainbows, best about 2 ½ lb, all on red ribbed Diawl Bach nymphs. Hard and frustrating fishing, at dusk water glassed off and fished started on the surface moving but not on to any of our flies. Talking to other anglers, a number struggled, but some did well, so not too bad for first trip out.
Weather is not looking the best for next few days but planning a trip out to the renown Blagdon Lake.
It has been a while since my last BOTF blog and with it being the last weekend of June, it was the final round the 2011/2012 HBFC monthly fishing comp. Opportunities to fish was limited to early Saturday morning and Saturday evening, high tide was 10.45am(1.3m height) and 10.50 pm(1.7m).
Arrived at Curl Curl beach at 6am, it was still dark with the winter solstice/shortest day having only just passed a few days ago. It required three layers of clothes to keep me insulated from the cold, I must be getting soft but there not a sign of anyone else on the beach. The swell was small, maybe 1ft, no wind and it was still a few hours away from high tide.
My first rod was rigged up one up and one down (1 hook above and 1 below a star sinker weight) with half a pillie for bait on both hooks. Was not long before I got my first bite, before I had finished rigging my second rod, a good bite on the rod was converted into a small salmon around 50 cm’s in length. The magical orange glow started to grow as the sun came up. Over the next half hour managed another salmon and a small tailor. Walkers, runners, other fisherman and surfers began invading the beach, the tide was still coming in, and the warming sun was now up but no more fish. Called it a day at 7.30am
The evening fishing session started around 8.30pm at the same spot on Curly beach. Again with three layers of clothes to ward off the cold, there was not another soul on the beach. The swell had picked up a little from the morning, but still small, a light south-westerly breeze, and clear sky. Three rods cast out, including my favourite Zziplex HSM beach caster rod, all rigged one up and one down with half pillies for bait. The catch for night was one salmon and one better than average tailor, with a few bite off’s and a few shooting stars keeping me amused.
At the weigh in not many other anglers had braved the cold weather, quite a few tailor, snapper and trevally were also weighed.
Managed to exchange my catch for a schooner of VB, not bad value for the purchaser, he explained his wife would make fish cakes. On the beer front, the aptly named real ale from the Northern Beaches Brewery “SumFink Fishy” was a bit of a surprise, copper colour and one to try although it might be hard to find.