Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Friday, 19 November 2010

French Market Chaos In Leek

Sorry about this but...

In the current economic climate, you'd think that it would be the responsibility of local councils and of local organisations such as chambers of trade to think incredibly seriously about how its actions affect local trade. Over the past couple of years events within our town centre have seemed to be a popular route that the chamber of trade in particular seem to have chosen in a bid to improve the town's trade. Their thinking is that if you bring thousands of extra people into the town, they will automatically spend money in it. Put a funfair in the market place and families will pour into the local shops and spend extra dosh...have a living nativity in the town, and after singing a song or two, the choir will quickly make its way through every establishment in town, spending as it goes. Even better still, close the whole town off, bring traffic to a standstill, make parking almost impossible, bring a few stalls in under the banner of 'French Market', shut our streets and hey presto...all the happy shoppers that visit it will be the making of Leek's Christmas 2010, oh and don't forget to be grateful shop keepers, we've brought the extra footfall in, it's your responsibility to get them spending.

And so, we've just witnessed our worst Friday's trade ever since we took over The Wine Shop in Leek in 2002. Russell Street is closed to traffic because traders in Sheep Market and Stanley Street wanted the market...NIMBY but in busy thoroughfare Derby Street...necessitating the closure of Russell Street... are there are no important traders down there....?

This was Russell Street just after 12 noon today. Usually cars would line the street. People stopping for 15 minutes to run to the bank, or go to the butchers, stopping for a quick lunch or to visit our independent shops. Russell Street is about the only place the shopper can do this in the town centre. Close Russell Street and we lose our one is able to carry a case of wine through the streets of Leek to their far away car. This event is over 3 days so a closed street is what we are having to put up with on Friday 19th Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st November.

I thought I'd better have a look at the market and hoped that, given our sacrifice of trade in this incredibly tough time in retail, that at least there would be a bustle of many people in was empty and we're seriously p@ssed off about the fact that we should be grateful for the council's, and the chamber of trade's efforts to show us how business is done and improved....just leave us alone and let us do what we know how to do...let our customers get to our shops and leave us to get on with doing our business and endeavouring to survive. Christmas is the most important time for many retailers, it is when we take most of our yearly turnover. Start taking 3 days out of our Christmas trade and we're talking about the loss of thousands of pounds in turnover.

After making various enquiries, I've discovered that these stall traders, as well as obviously not paying rates, are not even required to pay rent for their pitch.

What concerns me is that most of the people who have endorsed the coming of the French market, are also the ones making terrified protests about Sainsburys building an edge of town complex that will be bringing many jobs, housing and let's face it, a much more enjoyable shopping experience than any of the supermarkets than Leek already has. Is it acceptable for a small market like this to choke our town in such an important trading period, and for the money that it does manage to take to be taken out of  Leek, and further afield as far as France?

I agree with the council and the Chamber of Trade that these events do bring lots of extra people into town, but......if I'm visiting Leek to attend a Leek 800 charter event, a living nativity, a french market, a St Georges Day celebration, a Club Day, all of which involve the mandatory closure of Russell Street, then I'm visiting Leek to visit that event, why should or why would I shop in the local establishments...I can do that any time. Why not hold these events at Brough Park or California car park so that they are a success in themselves and local traders benefit because our customers are able to get to us?

The most important point of all that I would like to make in this rare Angling and Dramming rant is this....this isn't a game, we're not sitting outside the front of our house selling rose petal perfume or knackered toys, we're trying to run our businesses in the way we know how to....we do know how to run our business.....don't ask traders to be grateful for any of the work you do for the town because if events continue in this vein you will kill Leek town's not Sainsburys we should be scared of...many more occasions of closed streets in Leek will mean closed shops...for good.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Windy, Wet yet Wonderful Wiver Wye with JC

I get to meet up a couple of times a year with Johnny Colemans, usually, I tend to get called away from the fishing session early, or it's raining cats and dogs...the latter was the order of the day last Tuesday, along with a good gust of wind too....not nearly enough bad weather to put these two eager anglers off so it was an early meet up at the car park and on to the river by 10am.

I hadn't fished this stretch for a couple of weeks and it is amazing how long it can take to get your eye back in after being away for a wee whiley. I was getting dozens of takes....pretty furious ones too...but struggled to hook in to many of these angry Grayling. I reckon I managed to land a fish for every 6 takes I missed.

It was good to catch up with Johnny..he clearly needed a fix of the river after such a busy time at work with new jobs and at home with new children. He said he'd be happy just to be near the river to chill out a little. I knew that was code for he'd like to land a few ladies though....

We moved around a few favourite swims and had a good few fish between us, nothing huge but fantastic sport just the same....

Cheers for a great day JC....


Friday, 22 October 2010

Monday, 18 October 2010

The Dee @ Balmoral

David Wood, The Wine Shop, Leek 01538 382408. Mob 07875 405 980.

A Room With A View

Arrived at our hotel in Ballater in Royal Deeside last night. The meal was fantastic...Ravioli of Woodpidgeon followed by venison washed down with Sancerre and Pouilly Fume.

After dinner it was in to dramming mode with the terrific Talisker 25 year old and Rare Malts Linkwood 26 years old, finishing off with a classic Lagavulin 16 years old.

Just getting ready to meet Donald Renwick for a day at Royal Lochnagar Distillery at Balmoral.....

David Wood, The Wine Shop, Leek 01538 382408. Mob 07875 405 980.

Sunday, 17 October 2010


I'm currently sitting in a mini bus travelling from Aberdeen airport on the way to a hotel in the heart of the highlands. We're driving upstream on the banks of the Dee and I'm passing some of the most expensive water to fish in the world.

Posts on this blog have become more 'angling' than 'dramming' and so it's time to throw the spotlight back on to whisky for a wee while. During the next few days I hope to post a few pics from my travels which shall take me to some gems of distillerys including Lochnagar, Glen Ord and all the way over to Skye for Talisker.

I've been lucky enough to be invited on the Diageo Malt Advocate course and it promises to be a few days packed with nosing and tasting many a wee dram of the amber nectar....


David Wood, The Wine Shop, Leek 01538 382408. Mob 07875 405 980.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Looking for the Lunking Ladies on the Wye

I was desperate to get out fishing again this week as I'm away in Scotland and then London with work for a good couple of weeks quite soon. Earlier in the week, Jan, one of the river keepers, very kindly showed me around one or two spots on this lovely Derbyshire river. I remember swearing every few yards or so as I came across fishy looking swims over and over again. Other anglers reading this will know exactly what I mean about Tourettes syndrome setting in as you round a bend and find a deep glide, or a fast riffle dropping into a deep trench, or rippled moving water that has fish written all over it. If you'd have heard me a couple of days ago, when first visiting this stretch of river, you'd have thought I'd turned into Glen Pointon, or worse still Roger Mellie (the man on the telly).

I put up a pic on the previous post of my first decent sized grayling of October on this particular river. Having seen the pic, one or two readers have given me a pound and a half for it...any advance on that? I'll certainly be wanting more than that for the lovely fish I caught early this afternoon which is shown in the two pics on this post.

I started out fairly early today. I got the car packed up even before the kids were up and ready for school. It was a cool and completely overcast morning and I thought it looked almost perfect for grayling fishing. There was a spot of rain in the air and at first, I had a job to get organised and my OCD started to kick in when I realised that, because of the low air temperature and the threat of rain, I may have to wear a coat. Those that have fished with me know how my head goes if everything isn't just how it ought to be....

And so I made my way down the river, trying desperately to remember all of the spots that I'd fished a few days ago and where Jan had pointed out features, swims and runs to me. Once again I was completely taken aback by the beauty of the place, the river and the whole valley really. It reminds me so much of Pitlochry in the Highlands, you're never far away from a dipping dipper, a fleeting kingfisher or the eerie scream of a buzzard above the trees. There's many a spot that wouldn't be out of place in a Turner. The banks are a pleasure to fish, yes it can be a challenge to the angler to get the right cast in without wading, but all the more rewarding when the take comes and a fish ends up in the net. I've found that, even with my 10ft 4wt Streamflex, it's nearly always possible to make that cast whenever, and wherever you want to.

I was taking fish all the way down the stretch and once at the end, I sat down and tucked into my lunch and took in the surroundings once more. I had a leisurely stroll back and had a particular spot in mind. I'd fished it in the morning and dropped a couple of fish but was sure that it was holding a good few more. I'd got an hour before I was to leave in time for the school run so I had enough time to get a few casts in before heading off back to the car. I was dropping fish again and was getting a little frustrating and started to think about my last cast. This time I'd cast just that little bit further, and nearer to an overhanging branch. No sooner had the drift began than the tip of the line shot away and a good fish was on. I new it was a decent fish immediately and I was desperate not to drop this one as I knew it would be a perfect end to the day.

After a decent scrap, this lovely fish came to the net. It had taken the point fly which I was surprised by given that almost all of the others had taken the dropper.

Another superb day's fishing on the Wye. I'm hoping the grayling just keep getting bigger and bigger....


Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Great Grayling Sport in Derbyshire

Had a couple of hours on a new stretch of water that I'm fishing over winter yesterday and had some fine grayling sport. This lovely fish was the best of the day and one which I shall endeavour to beat during the next few occasions that I visit this fantastic river.....


Monday, 11 October 2010

A Few Fine Autumnal Hours on the Wye with Pointon....

Enjoyed a few hours on the Wye with Glen yesterday. I called round to Pointon Palace at around 2pm to find him collapsed in his living room with piles of paper all over the floor along with an upturned child's size desk and chairs. A used, and unemptied potty sat in the corner and it basically looked very much as if he'd been burgled by angry toddlers. Amongst the debris and empty Benson & Hedges packs was one Tarquin Pointon who I'd clearly woken up when I knocked on the door. He swore at me in his strongest Liverpudlian accent, asked me what time of day it was, I think, swore at me again and slowly began to get his act together to eventually leave the house and get off to do some fishing....

Things must be on the up for 'The Vital Spark'  because the first thing I noticed was that the space on the drive that is usually occupied by the knackered old VW van was now occupied by a snazzy looking Porsche Cayenne.....and so, this turned out to be our choice of transport for the day. I half expected to find a tray or two of Ferrero Rocher and a bottle or two of Asti Spumante on the back seat to accompany our arrrfternun fa*king tea.

And so, it was on to the river with a couple of hours of day light to spare and Pointon was straight into the Grayling. The fish were hammering the dry fly and great sport was had for the rest of the day. The rivers in Derbyshire and Staffordshire have benefited from the much needed rainfall that we've had in the last couple of weeks and now that the warmer weather has returned, the fly life has gone bonkers with the many hatches that are coming off during the day. On the last day of the season I had one of those mental days at Dovedale where hungry fish are rising everywhere and nailing every fly that they can in preparation for the winter to come. Many of the bigger brownies came out to play, each taking olive patterns and sedges.

The pic below shows Glen's biggest fish of the afternoon session. I don't know why he has got the expression on his face but he went down hill after that, he gets tired in the early evening, and so It was time to get him back in to the Porsche and back to the sheltered accommodation.

On the way back, Glen and I agreed that we'd had a fine afternoon and that we'd enjoyed travelling in style in the Porsche....but, at the end of the was no LDV.....


Wednesday, 6 October 2010

A Few More Islay Trip Pics.......

Just a few more pics to wet the appetite of those anglers joining me on our next trip to Islay. This time the pics have been very kindly donated by Mark Williams.

The pic above was taken on the last day on Islay as some of the lads decided they'd fished enough and wanted to see a bit of Islay. This particular bit of Islay is the still house at Laphroaig distillery.

The second day's fishing on Islay took place on Loch Gorm. I've fished it with some success from the bank a few times but this time we had booked boats and I have to say that I didn't enjoy being restricted by the boat and felt the urge to climb out and start wading. My head dropped very quickly and my fishing was never going to be any good as my confidence was low and I was getting more and more frustrated by the many tangles that I was finding myself in. Anyhow, whilst I was throwing all of my toys out of the pram. Peter "Pollock" was simply chilling and catching one or two lovely wee Gorm brownies all of which had the buttery colours that are typical of the fish caught in this huge machir loch.

I'll be bank fishing it next time. You can keep your boats.

I'm more at home, and more confident on Loch Finlaggan and on future trips, especially if we are based at Finlaggan House, I'll be creating an itinerary that includes at least a couple of day's fishing on this large, wild and beautiful loch. The fishing can be quite rewarding. Fishing the Northern end of the loch, particularly on the visitor centre shore, many small fish of less than 1/2 lb can be caught in a couple of ours on small sedges and F flies. For those that decide to invest the time in walking all the way down either shore, the fish tend to get bigger, they're angrier and generally much more fun to catch. If it's a lunker you want, get yourself down to the reeds at the southern end of the lock where the river Sorn makes it's way out towards Bridgend. The odd Sea Trout makes it's way up this wee river into Loch Finlaggan.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Jase Snape's Pics from our Sept 2010 Islay Trip

My good pal Jason Snape has kindly made some fab pics available for me to be able to pinch and post on Angling and Dramming. They were all taken during our recent trip to Islay and I hope that they are enough to persuade one or two of my fishing buddies to join us on one of our trips in 2011. Those of you who are booked on our trip in May 2011 have this fantastic scenery to look forward to.

The pic above is taken from the west shore of Loch Finlaggan looking towards the Paps of Jura. Finlaggan House which, since the closure of the Bunnahabhain Cottages, is now Angling and Dramming's preferred retreat, is just off the left of the picture.

Ian Gould (of Errwood) and I sit on a Wade Bridge on our way to the ferry to Islay....the reason we don't look too happy is that we're not yet on Islay.

Ian and I were desperate to tackle up when we spotted this lovely burn.....

Jase started to get all arty farty on the ferry and took this lovely pic over the sea to Islay.

Me on Calmac's Isle of Arran.

Our home for 5 days, Finlaggan House.

Ian of Errwood wades into the depths of Loch Finlaggan for the very first time. Neoprene waders were his wise choice, due to the cool conditions.

I have the craic with Ian whilst making our way to some of my favourite swims on Loch Finlaggan.

Fishing the east shore of the loch.

David Morris turns up to show us how it's done.

Ian tries to convince David Morris and I that he's just dropped a 6lb wild brownie.

Views over Loch Finlaggan.....not bad eh?

Fancy joining us next year....get in touch ASAP!


Thursday, 30 September 2010

Best Finlaggan Brownie of the Week

Not big fish but beautiful in colour and markings. This one came to a large red-tailed muddler twitched gently through the Finlaggan ripple.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Islay Anglers Return

From back to front...Jase Snape, Mark Williams, Ian Gould and last but by no means least...Peter 'Pollock' Dracup on Calmac's Isle of Arran nearing Kennacraig on Kintyre....
David Wood, The Wine Shop, Leek 01538 382408. Mob 07875 405 980.

Another Fine Trip to Islay

I've not had chance to update on Angling and Dramming, we've never really stopped for more than 5 minutes between each fishing session.
On Monday morning we set off for Dunlossit estate office to buy tickets to fish Loch Ballygrant. We used two boats on the loch and set our drifts so as to cover as much of the water as possible. Ballygrant is a stunning location, totally tree lined with the Paps of Jura as the backdrop.
We set up with various teams of traditional wet patterns but the fishing proved to be quite difficult and it was only down to the skill employed by Peter Pollock and a wee black sedgehog, that a few brown trout were managed.
Peter and Ian decided that it might be a better idea to get in a spot of sea fishing so it was off to Bunnahabhain to enjoy some fine pollock sport from the rocks beside the wrecked trawler 'Wyre Majestic' . Between them they managed no less than a dozen of these hard fighting fish from racing waters in the rocky depths in front of the distillery.
Mark and I made our way back to Loch Finlaggan. I felt that we'd not taken advantage of the loch, particularly as it had been literally on our doorstep and Mark, writing an article for a fishing publication, needed more pics of the stunning location. So we made our way up the West bank, past the visitor centre and the remains of the ancient causeway that once was the only way of reaching the fortifications on the two islands at Finlaggan.
Once again the fishing was tough and the wind was strong and fresh in our faces but we managed a few fish on our way around the loch. We decided to make our way over to the East bank in search of more favourable conditions and this involved crossing the narrow but incredibly deep burn that flows out of the loch towards Ballygrant and Loch Indaal. We made our way through the trees and high reeds and picked up many a tick on the way and eventually found the tiny footbridge over the burn constructed of just two planks. As soon as I saw it I thought we would have to turn around and return the way we had came as the footings of the bridge on our bank had given way and it was a gamble as to whether we'd make it across without getting wet but Mark convinced me that it could be done and with a little swearing and a bit of a adrenalin rush, I was eventually over and we battled our way through the incedibly tough terrain and fished the other bank in much better conditions and winkled out a few more wee broon troots.
We returned to the house and tucked into a huge lamb stew that Pollock had kindly put together and washed it down with several pints of Saligo Ale.
Yesterday was a chance to show a couple of the lads some favourite spots on Islay, and so, after delivering one or two cases of wine to customers on the island, we made our way to Lagavulin distillery where we enjoyed a dram of the distillery only limited edition.
Lunch was had at Kilchoman distillery and we had the chance to taste their fantastic summer release along with the famous Kilchoman Victoria sponge. It was good to catch up with John Mac and tony, my pal on a free transfer from Bunnahabhain.
Last night we enjoyed great food and the best pint (Saligo Ale) I've ever had on Islay at the Port Charlotte hotel.
And now we're on the boat awaiting a Calmac full breakfast and preparing ourselves for the mainland and the dreaded M6. It will be good to be home but it has been another wonderful trip to Islay in great company and we've stayed in sheer luxury at Finlaggan House.
Our next angling trip will be in April followed by a visit in May during Feis Ile 2011. Places are still available for both trips so please get in touch ASAP if you would like to join us on the magical Isle of Islay.

David Wood, The Wine Shop, Leek 01538 382408. Mob 07875 405 980.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

David Morris, Ian Gould and Me @ Finlaggan

Nice pic of Ian Gould trying to convince David and I that he'd just dropped a 6lb wild brownie @ Finaggan....
David Wood, The Wine Shop, Leek 01538 382408. Mob 07875 405 980.

A Tad of Frost @ Finlaggan and The Prospect of a Great Day's Fishing on Loch Gorm.

What a day our first full one on Islay turned out to be. Our journey to this beautiful island was a nightmare. An overturned lorry at Lochgair on the A83 not far from Lochgilphead meant that the road was closed and we had to turn around and make our way North to Oban before arriving at the ferry in the desperate hope that, having missed the 1pm ferry, that there would be space for us on the 6pm Calmac.

We're staying at Finlaggan House and all that I can say is that it is simply stunning in terms of the quality of the accomodation, and it's amazing location..I cannot recommend it enough.

On Friday night, Peter, Mark, Barny, Jason and Ian of Errwood and I tucked into the 2 barrells of beer kindly delivered to the house by Islay Brewery. One cask of Saligo Ale and one of Black Rock Ale. Plans for the fishing were made, tales were told and one or two wee drams were enjoyed before we retired after our mammoth 18 hour journey.

Yesterday the fishing began and Ian, David Morris and I fished Loch Finlaggan. Conditions were bright and breezy but the troots were eager to come to our muddlers, black pennels and snatchers and I managed my best day on the loch yet with 18 fish.

Today we have boats waiting for us on Loch Gorm. The weather is glorious and we're not sure whether this is a good or bad thing in terms of the fishing but either way, I'm looking forward to steadily drifting accross the loch and having the craic with the lads.
David Wood, The Wine Shop, Leek 01538 382408. Mob 07875 405 980.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Islay Bound

David Wood, The Wine Shop, Leek 01538 382408. Mob 07875 405 980.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Islay and Finlaggan House....Here We Come.....

That's it. The car is packed, all the final arrangements have been made, ferries booked, fishing boats sorted, and we're off to the wonderful Hebridean Isle of Islay once more.

This trip is more than anything, an angling outing and I will be joined by a couple of familiar faces and some lucky folks for whom the trip is the first to this magical Island. The weather looks set to be good, and if it is anything like what Glen, Peter and I had this time last year, we're all in for a treat.

I've ordered a cask of each of Saligo Ale and Black Rock Ale from the Islay Brewery, that should see us through the weekend until Monday, and Peter (aka Pollock) has kindly agreed to be chef for the week. I'm looking forward to his superb cooking as much as I am to the fishing.

On Saturday, we have boats booked on Loch Ballygrant and on Sunday, on Loch Gorm. We'll also be fishing Loch Finlaggan and may even have the chance to get on to the River Laggan as I'm told by my David Morris that there is some water in it and the salmon are running.

I'll be posting pics from my mobile of all of the action and a full report upon our return.....


David, Peter, Ian, Barnaby, Jason and Mark

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Don't Tell 'em Pike!.jpg

@ Goodwood.

David Wood, The Wine Shop, Leek 01538 382408. Mob 07875 405 980.

Tesco Take World Domination One Step Further....jpg

and travel back in time to the 1960's at Goodwood Revival....whatever next...
David Wood, The Wine Shop, Leek 01538 382408. Mob 07875 405 980.

Medicated Izal @ Goodwood!.jpg

David Wood, The Wine Shop, Leek 01538 382408. Mob 07875 405 980.

Friday, 17 September 2010