Thursday, 9 April 2020

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.*** - Plump Pillows and Planetology

The supermoon was a bit of a disappointment, for me anyway, it's a full moon where the moon is just a little bit closer to Earth than usual, so it looks a little bit bigger and a little bit brighter.

Now a supermoon happens when the moon reaches the closest point to Earth in its 27-day orbit and it happens to be full, which occurs approximately once a year. While the moon will be around 40,000km closer to Earth, some of the photos doing the rounds of enormous moons in the sky are simply optical illusions.


The best I could get last night was this above, and it certainly wasn't pink in my neck of the woods where elsewhere the same moon appeared like God ( Insert your God here ) had been holding it with his ( or her ) nicotine fingers. 
It was 10% closer and 20% bigger in area and brightness, to be honest I'd seen bigger moons in a recent visit to Tesco, the jeans just about bearing up under the strain.


Although it’s called “pink”, it is just a name, like “blue moon”. It simply means the April full moon and it will probably still be silver or yellow-tinged in the sky. The only time that we get unusual colours for the moon is if say, we’re looking at it through smoky or dusty skies like we had last summer, or in a lunar eclipse.

However it's still worth venturing into your garden or gazing at it out the window. The moon is a really rewarding astronomical object to look at. Even with the unaided eye, you can see the dark blotches on it which are the basalt plains.


If you have a decent set of binoculars or a cheap telescope, you can see craters and some of the mountains. It’s a good opportunity to just take a look and appreciate the moon for what it is and give trying to gaze in the neighbours window a bit of a rest, the chance glimpse of some plump pillows can wait.

Ok it helps I've access to some of my own !!!!

Now with a  £100 telescope you can see the rings of Saturn and the clouds of Jupiter, so it’s certainly something one can undertake while stuck at home, a rewarding family quarantine activity.


So nearly three weeks in to the lockdown the routine still in place, the family coping thus far. It's be a struggle for sure being contained in the house for days but the weather has been fair the walks about helping with the mind.

Still when I dip in and out of the news occasionally, we've got it pretty good to be honest.


Weekdays's I'm 'WFH' so it's passing pretty quickly, and working hours are flexible too, because I've  two kids to entertain as well. To be fair considering we've not done a huge amount for three weeks it's gone pretty quick.

Even the home schooling better than expected, Sam commandeering ones iMac aiming to boost his class dojo's. A domain I hasn't really much involvement in till now.


We have begun to walk the same walks, tread the same steps, but up till now, they haven't got that repetitive as yes, maybe ask me again in two weeks if the lockdown continues in similar fashion.

The spring blossom in full bloom, the sun strong enough for shorts and t-shirts.


Now being in lockdown as had one advantage so far and that is my firm belief I have and that is I hardly go anywhere near social media.Some of the comments on Facebook from the sanctimonious  finger pointers, calling people out for the smallest of 'misdemeanours', is frankly quite scary to be honest.

I'm quite happy to let the keyboard warriors get on with it and argue amongst themselves and some random person or persons who they will never meet and never put a face to a name.

Even LinkedIn the job networking site not free from arguments and disagreements some thousands of replies long, so I dread to think what other platforms are like.

Now I listened to a podcast the other day and one of the presenters used to spend hours a night replying to comments on Twitter, his life taken over big time and ended up being determent to his health.

Sleep patterns all over the shop, his mind active such the need to reply, the need to get typing post notifications.

Luckily a trigger for him was needed to break the cycle and his life transformed once the app on his phone was deleted, his mind back in a good place again. The trigger many will I'm sure will be thankful for.

I'm glad I've held off all these platforms because I'd probably get myself in to similar situations, similar spats and scuffles because having the need to put someone 'right' where they are clearly in the wrong.

Still if your mission and your earning are made from growing your audience then you need to appease the masses these worrying times with many sat on their backsides with more time on their hands than normal are to be lapped up at the minute .

Create a divide and opinions on completely different sides, even universes apart to get those hits up, those subscribers scribbling and those subscribers sharing.

All I can say is you're welcome do it, I don't think I'm missing out.

Anyway back to the fishing, in progress is a rod mount for the Suzuki Jimny. The purpose is that I don't need to break down the rods going from one canal to the other, one stretch of river to the other.

It's coming on ok so far I'm just waiting for the odd bits and pieces from Ebay to turn up to finish it off and I'll post some better pictures.

I've not even driven the car for ten days, typically the petrol prices at the pumps at the lowest level I can remember for a good while, cheap as chips.

Still it's be nice having an extended period at home with the kids, the bouncy castle dusted off from the garage, the realisation just how big the kids are getting.

Where did that time go ?, scarily fast that's where.

Also judging by ones aching bones and sore joints my days as a trapeze artist are long gone, I'll just have to stick to one beginning with 'P' I seem to be good at that.

Anyway I need to sign off, good work to do, so the Easter weekend looks to be nice to hopefully all the blog readers are in good spirits and fingers crossed we can get back out fishing again, I for one need it back in my life. Ones resolve is starting to be tested.

Monday, 6 April 2020

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.*** - Hasty Puddings and Handpans

So can I eat that mushroom or what ? well I know the answer and I ain't telling you, it could be everyman for himself soon. You see many moons ago when I was serving my apprenticeship I attended a survival course hosted by none other than John 'Lofty' Wiseman. 

Now John “Lofty” Wiseman joined the Parachute Regiment in 1958. He applied for service with the Special Air Service Regiment in 1959 and set a record as the youngest person ever to pass selection at the age of 18.


John served with 22 SAS for 26 years and he saw active service worldwide, in every theatre of operations and special operations required of the British Army between 1959 and 1985.

He also set up the SAS Counter-Terrorist Team (you know…those chaps who ended the Iranian Embassy siege) and trained the first members of the US Green Berets to return to the USA to form the famous Delta Force (US Special Forces).


Lets just say he knows his s**t and his SAS survival book has sold millions round the world such the fountain of knowledge that he is.

It was a good while ago when I met him and even back then 'lofty' really was a presence, certainly not some one you'd mess with, just from his demeanour and statue you would know you'd be on the losing side.


Trapping of rabbits, how to make sure water is good to drink, night navigation, shelter building, fire making that sort of thing. The two day course an eyeopener really and given the choice get stuck on a desert island it wouldn't be something with boobs I'd be asking to join me, but 'Lofty'.

In his 80's now I think, I bet still as tough as old boots.


Now talking of old boots we'd not been here for a while. In-fact considering we are in stone throwing distance and lived in the village for years this nature reserve hasn't really been on our radar.

I'm not sure why either, because it's a habit where Great Crested Newts welcome you with open arms. Ben loves trees especially when the wind picks up like it was for this short walk out. What has helped though is a recent clearing of the thicket and removal of trees has really opened it out so it's more appealing.


Butterflies in-particular seem to like it here and also the deer which frequent it's off track areas. Not small deer either, proper deer, you know with antlers and stuff.

As expected post Sunday dinner the place was deserted so we had the wood to ourselves. Ben bouncing around like he does with his cat toy 'worm'  that he carries everywhere with him to stimulate those bits of his brain than need constant stimulus. He is on the go ALL day and his 'worm' wriggled and wriggled once more, then put on repeat.


Sam was adding to the tree piles, wondering exactly what each and every noise was, and where the yeti would be hiding out now his habitat has been hacked back a bit. Not so much now but he was obsessed with them, a Sasquatch obsessive at one point.

My mind turning to canal Zander and the recent hacking and butchery of the canal stretches I fish and asking the exact same question. Where exactly would the big Zeds likely hold up now.


Then oddly changing thought process altogether as the sun was starting to set and wondering when I'd get back to Ibiza again, the 'White Isle' a place I've been to countless times and a little like being waterside be it canal, river or stream, I belong there.

Their season buggered I'd imagine, who would have thought that would happen a few months ago. So the money saved will be put away for 2021 and put to good use that's for sure.


Luckily the tools at our disposal in 2020 is ridiculous, and in a lock-down situation where crawling up the walls is best avoided, they are a Godsend.

YouTube often comes to the rescue when I'm feeling a bit Blaaaaaaahhhhhhhh, good music, good wine = good vibes. Remind me why I sold my decks again ? they may well have been the answer right now. Fishing ? yeah be nice to do some of that sometime wouldn't it, fingers crossed, fingers crossed.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.*** - Church Work and Carvel's Rings

A steaming pile of poo this cabin fever, now cabin fever is often associated with being cooped up on a rainy weekend or stuck inside during a heavy dumping of snow.

In reality, though, it can actually occur anytime you feel isolated or disconnected from the outside world. Indeed, cabin fever is a series of emotions or symptoms people experience when they’re confined to their homes for extended periods of time.

This may be due to a variety of circumstances, such as a natural disaster, lack of transportation, or even social distancing for pandemics like this COVID-19. Recognising the symptoms of cabin fever and finding ways to cope may help make the isolation easier to deal with.


Now in popular expressions, cabin fever is used to explain feeling bored or listless because you’ve been stuck inside for a few hours or days. But that’s not the reality of the symptoms. Instead, cabin fever is a series of negative emotions and distressing sensations people may face if they’re isolated or feeling cut off from the world.

These feelings of isolation and loneliness are more likely in times of social distancing, self-quarantining during a pandemic, or sheltering in place because of severe weather.

Cabin fever isn’t a recognised psychological disorder, there’s no standard “treatment.” , but that doesn’t mean the feelings aren’t real. The distress is very real. It can make fulfilling the requirements of everyday life difficult.


The coping mechanism that works best for you will have a lot to do with your personal situation and the reason you’re secluded in the first place. Finding meaningful ways to engage your brain and occupy your time can help alleviate the distress and irritability that cabin fever brings.

For me electronic dance music does to me that many get from reading a good book.

Also carve out some ‘me time’


If you live with others that can be difficult, but feelings of cabin fever may be intensified by the nearness of other individuals. Parents have responsibilities to children; partners have responsibilities to one another. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any time on your own.

Give yourself time “away” from others to relax. Find a quiet place to read that book, take a bath or pop in some earbuds for an engaging podcast.


Cabin fever is often a fleeting feeling. You may feel irritable or frustrated for a few hours, but having a virtual chat with a friend or finding a task to distract your mind may help erase the frustrations you felt earlier. Sometimes, however, the feelings may grow stronger, and no coping mechanisms may be able to successfully help you eliminate your feelings of isolation, sadness, or depression.


Fishing is off limits sadly, I love my canal Zander.
What’s more, if your time indoors is prolonged by outside forces, like weather or extended shelter-in-place orders from your local government, feelings of anxiety and fear are valid.

In fact, anxiety may be at the root of some cabin fever symptoms. This may make symptoms worse. 

So just do what you have to do in this difficult time. 

You need to keep your mind on track because if you're like me it can go wayward quite easily. So nearly 6 miles on my mountain bike this morning to see if it has avoided the butchery that others stretches I fish have sadly succumbed to because of the overactive CRT contractors.
What a lovely day though, the mercury reaching 19 degrees later in the day. Now usually this area is devoid of people, the odd dog walker and jogger but that's about it, but for this trip I saw more people than ever.

Ok not quite the 3000 that 'apparently' descended on Brockwell Park in London but they seem to do as they please, I'm taking maybe 7 or 8 people on the towpath, and as usual countless fair weather cyclists on the road, so nothing new there.

There are a few carp spots along this stretch but I didn't hang around to see if they were showing themselves, I have this to myself usually, sadly not today.

Still it was nice to be out and yes sadly more cover has been removed in large quantities here. A proper No.1 with the clippers.

I certainly won't rush back to fish, I will give one particular swim a go though, one where a recently fallen tree has created a nice canopy over the water for a predator to hide out.


In-fact any swim where a tangled mass of branches extend out and in to the water is well worth a deadbait, well worth dropping in a lure. It seems to be where the big ladies hang out.

The canal is shallow on the most part and anywhere that provides a vantage point for this top dog is likely to be a holding spot. It's not rocket science I suppose, but then neither is fishing for big canal Zeds, you just need to find out where they are, and that takes effort and dedication. It's that big hurdle the most difficult to navigate.


The Close Season Zander Quest Pt.*** - Self-Takes and Shag-Bags

Two weeks in like many I'm going stir-crazy, the days becoming repetitive, the routine of home schooling, walking for exercise and plundering the pottering its Groundhog Day. Yesterday things got that bad I cleaned the garage floor, the highlight I discovered some of the biggest spiders and cobwebs ever to be seen in the Newey household.

I'm lucky though because during the week working from home as an automotive design engineer is a Godsend. I can hide myself away in the office with the Skullcandy Crushers donned, the Mixcloud app opened on the iPhone, "What has been uploaded today then ?"


CATIA fired up, beats good, head down, mouse moved, buttons clicked, boss happy. I really did struggle yesterday though, the reality hit home big time, I want to go fishing but I cannot.

Phones are effectively computers these days, now used for all manner of things, speaking to people secondary to the main use. Now my iPhone 7 max I've had for a while now, the camera still pretty good and I've resisted an upgrade and it's used for the majority of pictures on my bumbling blog.


I use it for all the self-takes as well, a cheapo phone mount bought off Ebay fitted with a bankstick adapter providing a nice secure mount which you need if you are to take decent pictures.

The front camera on the phone good enough to get decent pictures when you find yourself having to do the duties when a decent fishing is caught. No third party to make sure your noggin is in the frame, the screen can do that for you.


Switch to the 10 second timer within the camera app, jobs a good'un. The phone also home to a fiver because a certain stretch I fish from time to time is leased by a club, a day ticket available if the bailiff turns up.

The front flash on the iPhone, well mine anyway is effectively the screen itself which goes really bright and vibrant the same time as the picture is taken. It's 'ok' but not brilliant. I certainly wouldn't want to take a trophy picture of a 16lb Barbel on it.


For those eventualities I've a simple battery powered LED light that offers just the right amount of light that simply screws on to the male to male adapter.

10 pictures are taken when you use the 10 second timer so you can choose the best picture from them. I've not used the video still capture myself, but I know that is another option that could well work for you. If you're a solo solitude seeker like me and fish on your own, self-takes are not hard to achieve.

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