The extra bits...(Under construction).

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Sea dogs .....

     It is funny how the mind works, well in my case perhaps that should read 'it is funny how that sometimes, upon occasion, the mind manages to switch on and work!'. But seriously sometimes just one little thing can bring back memories long buried in the mists of time. It could be a softly spoken word, a piece of music, a fleeting glimpse of something forgotten or even a scarcely noticed whiff of odour and you find yourself lost in memories of the past, all present worries forgotten for awhile.

     It happened to me just the other day as I was toiling away laying a slabbed seating area from which to sit and enjoy a small wildlife garden that I've been invited to design and build. Why the hell I should be entrusted with this venture I have not the foggiest of ideas, probability being I was the last resort, certainly the cheapest aka free. As I lent on a rake wondering how many other places in that I could possibly ache I caught the faint but distinctive call of gulls high above me in the vivid blue sky and suddenly I was not in that garden but a hundred miles away on the western edges of the Welsh coast.

     There were three of us there that day, my brother, Eddie Yates and myself. We were fishing in a secluded bay 'bout hundred yards offshore in a boat called the 'Lord Baltimore'...a terrible name but distinctive and I'd never rename a boat once christened, something's just don't feel right.... Her lordship was a cracking boat, a sixteen foot long Falmouth bass boat, and she rode the waves like she was made from the sea. And yes I know.... her lordship and she, well that's another thing that's an unsaid rule a boat is always a lady to me, no matter what name she carries. 

     Anyway I'm meandering once more, back to the distant memory. As mentioned the three of us were there that day, pink from the sun and absolutely sick and tired of pulling doggies off the sand some thirty feet below us into the boat and having the hassle of unhooking the writhing little buggers to chuck them back to the mill pond calm sea. I'm bloody sure we were just hooking the same fish over and over again! We'd tried different baits from rag to lug, from squid to mackerel, Christ I even think that I tried half a stale pork pie out of desperation....all to no avail as doggie after doggie were hailed aboard. Stubborn bastards that we were we refused to quit and carried on until the light began to fail, myself and Pete brought our tackle in and made ready to head back to the jetty and the promise of steak n chips which would of course be washed down with the odd pint or three of finist grog. 

     But we'd not figured on Mr. Yates being even more stubborn than an Ass that's taken stubborn pills! Whilst we'd been making ready for the off, to the point of hauling the anchor from its sandy slumber, young Yatesie hung over his rod murmuring sweet nothings to something he'd snagged on his clever mixed offering of all baits available, well apart from the stale pork pie which had long found a resting place in my by now rumbling stomach. As he slowly reeled with proclamations of 'this is different' being uttered to our 'just cut the bloody line' the sea had darkened under the ever more gloomy sky as night chased had the sun over the horizon. We peered over as the beginnings of the terminal tackle came through the water's surface but couldn't make out what kept the line taught. Finally our thinly stretched patience snapped and together we grabbed his rod upwards expected the slithering of yet another doggie to be flapping around on the deck....oh bugger!

     From three would be hunters in their boat, lords of the oceans deep, the scene now takes a turn to be more like an Ealing comedy of yore. For in the prow of the Baltimore there is now about twenty to thirty pounds of very pissed of Conger eel and our three idiots heroes scrambling hell for leather towards the stern! The trouble with is small boats, especially when upon their natural environment, i.e. water, is a little thing called weight distribution and as our intrepid sea farers (I really do not know why I'm trying to ham up the idiots roles in all of this) scrambled sternwards, adding their weight to that of the outboard motor, the bow of the boat began lifting skywards....oh bugger again!

     So there is now twenty to thirty pounds of still pissed off Conger eel now slithering but in a downwards direction towards the stern of the boat. Fortunately the prow of the boat suddenly slaps down on the smooth black surface of the water causing the only ripples to be seen and the eel's downward slither is brought to a halt, unfortunately the reason that the prow does come down is that our three would be Ahabs have thrown themselves overboard and are now clinging to the sides of the boat for dear life, which in my case was certainly true because I couldn't swim in them days and health n safety, err life jackets, were an optional extra which we'd opted out for the lure of a rather nice Shakespeare ugly stick and mitchell beach castor combo...I was beginning to doubt the wisdom of that choice at that precise moment in time....oh thrice bugger!

      Thing is the sea of night takes on a whole new feeling, more dark (obviously) and brooding and the fear of the unseen grows large in the mind, especially when you're hanging on to a boat listening to the slithering of a pissed off eel and wondering if his older brother is lurking somewhere below you. The arguments were tossed back and too between us, each laying blame and each refusing to clamber aboard and eject the eel. Talk turned to sea monsters, sharks, the movie Jaws and unseen tentacled thingy ma bobs all in efforts to scare one of us to face the task in hand. Suddenly Pete shot torpedo like into the boat and after a few seconds of cursing, whimpering and what sounded suspiciously like the sound of a pissed off eel been smacked overboard with an oar....hang on 'eel overboard'...two more human torpedoes emerged from the water and crashed into the boat. After a few moments to catch breath and collect our wits I asked Pete at which point did the tales make being in the water the more fearful choice? To which he replied 'the point when something grabbed my leg!'. There was a stony silence for awhile whilst we all digested this statement, well stony until Mr. Yates nearly peed himself with mirth and between gasps for breath he managed to blurt out that he'd grabbed Pete's leg...just for a laugh.... A couple of hours later the three were dry, warm and repleat with steak and the odd vessel of grog. 

     A flutter of movement catches my eye as a Dunnock bobs around the recently placed log pile which will form the backdrop to a wildlife pool and the spell is broken. I turn, bending, to hump the next slap into place and just for a moment I thought that I could taste the sea air once more, yes it's funny how the mind works.

Till the next time, take care..

John





      



    

29 comments:

  1. Probably not very funny then, but hilarious now. Great story.

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    1. Too be honest I was scared witless at the time Mark, thankfully we lived to be fools upon numerous other occasions!

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  2. Hi John ,always a pleasure to go back in time with you whilst you express yourself so well within your stories and memories. .
    looking forward to seeing a photo of the finest wildlife pool around. .Sounds like a great project for you ...well done. , Enjoy !
    BW ** TAKE CARE

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  3. Your writing has changed a lot since I first came across you several years ago. I like it even better!

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    1. Thank you Mr. Smythe...I guess everything changes in time.

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  4. Yaaarrrr, yee been ta sea John. You do know that's one heck of a fish tale you wrote. Brilliant writing by the way and full of chuckles. Congratulations helping with the wildlife garden. That will be a treasure !

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    1. Aye shiver me timbers n baste me barnacles Cheryl, high praise indeed.

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  5. I thought both Dogfish and Congar were good to eat. No?

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    1. Haven't tried Doggie Cro but Congar is ok. I recall tales that the hide of Dogfish was use the clean wooden decks of yore, not surprising if true as being a small shark its hide is cover in what are basically tiny teeth....I still remember the sandpaper like texture from then wrapping themselves around me arms whilst trying to unhook em

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    2. Both fish probably have a nasty bite too!

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    3. Congers certainly do but doggies are pussy cats....seem to recall that Dogfish are more scavanger than hunter and have very small if any teeth

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  6. Well I was expecting "I was lent on a rake" to have led to a comical bang on the head. No life jackets, not taking your mobile phone with you when out walking...........I see a pattern here x

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    1. Well I suppose I can be excused the odd oversight me dear....being just a humble man and all that ;-) x

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  7. Cracking tale my dear, and well-written. I really enjoyed reading it. Funnily enough M and I were discussing conger eels last night in relation to lobstering in Cornwall, where there is a hole that has an enormous conger in it and a lobster too. He told me about a friend of his who reached in to persuade the conger out, got bitten on the arm and the eel then wrapped itself around the rest of the arm. The eel was dispatched, but the jaws remained locked and had to be prised off the arm! I said I thought the man was a fool who deserved to get bitten and that the hole was best left to the eel! I may do a post about our lobstering :-)

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    1. Thank you CT, I heard a similar tail in relation to Conger eels, but this was of one hauled aboard a fishing boat. Again teeth were locked and allegedly the head had to be removed in hospital and later the man lost his leg through the infected bite...urban legend perchance but they do have a cracking set of teeth. Would love to hear about your lobster exploits, something I always fancied having a go at.

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  8. Is this what they call a salty tale? EEK -- EEL!!! Glad it was you, not me! (Now, isn't that terrible...)

    Been thinking (too much? or not enough?), but memories could be a quite affordable way to while away the time...

    And back to today, it is awesome that you are creating a wildlife garden. Good on you.

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  9. Yes I think sometimes memories can help us remember what made us as we are now.
    Quite a challenge the garden..especially with my limited knowledge, good learning curve though

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  10. Think you have got something there John. You should get a collection of your tales together and send them to a book publisher. You paint some wonderful word pictures.

    Your tale reminded me of that old Play For Today 'The Fishing Party' from the 1970's (it's on You Tube) starring Brian Glover. Have you seen it?

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    1. Steady on Dave, high praise indeed, I thank you and appreciate the sentiment but really?

      Haven't seen that, I'll have to be looking it up my man.

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  11. Great tales john! Didn't they also bound shark skin on swords for grip? anon x

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  12. I think you may be right but not a hundred per cent sure! Thanks for the comment Anon

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    1. You're welcome! I enjoy reading your post's! Sometimes it feels like I'm chatting with a friend! anon x

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  13. Methinks you need more of these fun days to reminisce about. However, rock pooling would be a lot safer ( I like my feet on terra firma I am such a wuss. I would have drowned probably from hysterical laughter) You certainly have a way with words and as above said write all your tales down.
    Looking forward to pictures of wildflower gardens as they are my favourite.

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    1. Oh I love rock pooling....Thank you for the encouragement Annie

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  14. Oh bugger, my sodding comment disappeared yet again. You know, I reckon there are more of my comments floating around in cyberspace than there are odd socks in odd-sock heaven. Anyway, IF this bloody thing goes through, just wanted to say your story was a hoot. You are a gifted story teller. Cheers. Anna

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    1. Lol...odd sock heaven, so there is such a place. Thank you for your kind words Anna

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  15. I was directed here by Countryside Tales after commenting about my dads close encounter with a conger eel. This had me chuckling so much, the thought of you all in the water with the eel sat smugly in the boat ! Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. I'm glad that you enjoyed this Chickpea.

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