Sports

Fishing-Breaks-header-image-2016

As you may have heard I was a guest on the Radio 4 Saturday Live show hosted by the Rev. Richard Coles. Frankly, as my first time live on national radio, I was fully expecting to be scared out of my wits but it is a huge tribute to the production team at Broadcasting House that I felt nothing of the sort.

Simon Cooper of Fishing Breaks with presenters Laura and Richard Guests Lady Carnarvon Daniel O'Donnel me and Samantha Renke

Presenters: Laura & Richard. Guests: Lady Carnarvon, Daniel O’Donnell, me & Samantha Renke.

 

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Fishing-Breaks-header-image-2016

On my various perambulations in the writing The Otters’ Tale I came across some unexpected reactions. For the most part people were incredibly supportive, helpful and encouraging. After all the otter is regularly polled as one of Britain’s favourite animals. It even has a world-encompassing cheerleader in J K Rowling.  She featured our native otter in the Harry Potter series, plus I think I read somewhere that she said that if she has to come back in another life it would be as an otter.  But not everyone is quite as enthusiastic about these lithe and secretive creatures.

Simon Cooper of Fishing Breaks with Topaz the Otter

Simon Cooper with Topaz

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Simon Cooper of Fishing Breaks Newsletter Heading

 

Someone asked me an interesting question last week: what would you do if given precisely 5 years to live, assuming your death was to be neither traumatic or fearful (a big ask I know). My immediate answer was to do more fishing. Then I considered the question again – family, travel, money – well, they all crowded in but in the end I circled back to fishing. As former Liverpool football manager Bill Shankley replied when asked whether football was life and death, “No, it’s more important than that.”

Well, I’m not intending to die just yet (make that my epitaph) but I’m beginning to think Bill may have had a point. Let’s face it you’ll never be able to re-live the year again. Once the days are gone, they are gone. The cadence of the summer months can’t be jammed into single day or week. So, having decided on the principle of more fishing I think I better set a few parameters.

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Chalet St Peres in St Martin de Belleville

The Vintage Magazine, that is the editor and his wife, two daughters with accompanying husbands and their respective two children apiece recently spent a fabulous week skiing at St. Martin de Belleville, actually that is not technically correct, we stayed in St. Martin but skiied in the vast area of the Three Valleys (aka Les Trois Vallées if you are French) which incorporates,  Courcheval, Val Thorens, Méribel, Les Menuires, Saint Martin De Belleville, La Tania, Orelle and Brides les Bains; that makes 600 kilometres of slopes to explore and a resort to suit every taste and budget and every level of skiing ability from wonderfully groomed blue pistes to vertiginous couloirs.  There are in fact 321 Alpine ski runs made up of 51 green, 132 blue, 106 red and 32 black making this area perfect for families.

We chose St. Martin de Belleville as we had stayed here about 12 years ago and had fallen in love with the authentic charm of this Savoie region village but also because of the high speed gondolas and chairlifts which whisked us off and up into all the other ski areas.

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Simon Cooper of Fishing Breaks Newsletter Header Image

After my last Twitter storm I hesitate to write anything about pike, but Bill Heavey’s article Spear and Trembling: The Ancient Art of Stabbing Pike Through the Ice in the latest edition of US outdoors magazine Field & Stream makes for fascinating reading. The piece is far too long to reproduce here but you may read it on-line but I’ll give you the brief bones of it.

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Perdix Perdix The English Grey Partridge

In 1958, when I was a young boy of eight, I lived in the officers’ quarters where my father was stationed at the Central Ammunition Depot, (CAD) at Bramley, in Hampshire where he also ran the shoot.  We were conveniently sandwiched between the Duke of Wellington’s Estate at Stratfield Saye and The Vyne, now a National Trust property, and of course we benefitted from the numbers of birds they put down!

However, they only put down pheasants, because there were still at that time plenty of wild English partridges to shoot, although they declined dramatically in subsequent years, mainly as a result of pesticides, and modern farming  practices.

I was fascinated by all aspects of the shoot, and spent every spare minute with the two gamekeepers, helping them with all their tasks, and I learned a lot about what goes on behind the scenes on a shoot, including the introduction, by my father, of the first incubators, which enabled us to rear much larger numbers of our own pheasants.

Having shot from an early age, in recent years, I have become increasingly enamoured with the concept of sustainable shooting, encouraged,  in particular by the various ‘wild partridge’ projects, which are taking place up and down the country.

I therefore decided to write this article for the many keen shots who share my enthusiasm for the concept of ‘sustainable shooting’, using the success of these Partridge Projects as an example of what can be achieved with the intelligent management of habitat, and constant vermin control, which is what these partridge projects are all about.

To understand the achievement of designing and implementing a successful partridge project, we first need to know more about the species.

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River-Nether-Wallop

Dear Santa,

I know I have denied your existence in the past but please forgive my letter; I require help.

My family claim I am difficult to buy for; apparently they believe I have everything I need or at best I am failing to express preferences on which we can all agree. It is a sorry state of affairs but I am hoping to enlist your expertise as some sort of celestial interlocutor.

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River-Nether-WallopThe headlines in the past few days for hedgehogs have been pretty stark – their numbers have apparently halved in the past 15 years. As is often the case the facts behind these sorts of headlines, generated by a pressure group, aren’t always as rigorous as maybe they should be. You will find the press coverage caveated by plenty of phrases along the lines of ‘reliable estimates of hedgehog numbers are hard to come by …… ‘.

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River-Nether-WallopI have a pet swan; his name is Arthur the Arthritic on account of a gammy leg. He is of indeterminate age, though clearly getting on a bit and lives on the lake here at Nether Wallop Mill. I must admit I never set out to have a swan for a pet – they are not the friendliest of creatures and are, in truth, a bit messy. That said we have reached a sort of amiable compromise over the past four or five years.

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This month Orvis celebrates 30 years on the English high street and it is an odd thought but I write this from the very same room from which the Orvis operation was run in 1985, the American firm having acquired Nether Wallop Mill and Dermot Wilson’s famous mail order company four years earlier.

River-nether-Wallop

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