Saturday 18 January 2020

Warwickshire Avon - Soggy Dollars and Shy Cocks

Rum never really featured in ones alcohol consumption, booze intake, ok the odd Bacardi and Coke here and there and then on a two week sail around the BVI's with some friends I was introduced to the Painkiller cocktail that the volcanic archipelago in the Caribbean really did embrace with a passion.

Now the Painkiller is an easy drinking mix of pineapple juice, orange juice, coconut milk, and a good old glug of Pussers Rum and was apparently conceived by the Soggy Dollar Bar in the 1970s.

The Soggy Dollar bar is still there today and when we anchored our dingy after getting off the catamaran (Lagoon 440) at the island of Jost Van Dyke, you need to disembark, and get wet basically. It's a wade in the sea to get bar side, hence the name I suppose.

The British Virgin Islands are a land that time forgot and probably my favourite holiday. It had everything, fishing, snorkelling, fresh lobsters, mixing with actors, salvaging a boat that lost its mooring, a nighttime search for a lost crew member and then culminating with us winning the flotilla race it really was a holiday I always look back to.

The BVI's are so different in character to the unforgettable U.S Virgin Islands I've also visited, in-fact chalk and cheese. We even circled Necker Island, what a place to call your home, lucky git.

Now the painkiller typically calls for "Navy Strength" rum, which is high-proof and often a blend of rums from multiple Caribbean islands. It was developed when the British Royal Navy patrolled the seas and sailors were allowed a daily rum ration.

Because of the strength and the flavour the rum despite being masked by the other ingredients, the rum really did shine through and I still make painkillers to this day from time to time for others to enjoy.

Easy drinking though, so take it easy on it because you might have trouble standing up after two or three.

Up till now a cask strength single malt (60%) was the feet up chilled out drink of choice until a year or so ago a friend Simon introduced me to Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva, a fabulous Venezuelan dark golden rum, distilled from molasses in a copper pot still before it's aged for up to 12 years.

Drank neat like any good rum should be, my palate started to change, so much so at the moment when I entered the secure lock on the under-stairs booze cupboard, I'm reaching for the Rum not the Whisky.

After trying a good few different rums now Plantation XO ended up as my default rum of choice as it was ridiculously smooth, a proper good depth of flavour to it without some of the sweetness of some rums. So every now and again when I need a reward for my weeks endeavours to the automotive industry a good measure is poured, a decent dark chocolate often opened to accompany it.

As I've said before, life's simple pleasures are often the most rewarding, in my time of life, these need to be embraced more and more. As I type this I'm looking forward to getting stuck in to a selection of Plantation rums the good Wife bought me for Christmas. 

No half arsed small measures either, the Cigar Box Rum Collection contains a single 100ml bottle each of the following 6 rums. The 3 Stars White Rum, Trinidad 2001, Jamaica 2001, Guatemala Gran Anejo, Barbados 5 years and the Barbados Extra Old.

You've got to have a decent measure to appreciate rums like this, and the quality of decent rums means they are there to be sipped, not downed.

An open fire on the go, a decent film, a good drink, a shared pleasure.... talking of life's simple pleasures for this early morning session down at a new section of the Warwickshire Avon I'd not fished before, chub were the target.

Simple roving tactics are where my allegiances lie and this gave me an opportunity to have a nose at this new stretch and also to try and winkle out a chub or two, or maybe even a Barbel. I did think about talking a predator float sleeper rod with me to try and fish any slacks for Zander or maybe a Pike, but I wanted to travel as light as possible for this inaugural visit. The lightweight chair really is a revelation, no quiver, a small rucksack, jobs a good'un.

After the recent mild temperatures this was a cold start, with a hard frost overnight it was just above freezing when I got bankside but the sun was rising strongly in the clear skies it was a pleasure to be out when others were still tucked up in bed.

As I'd never been here before I used the lead to feel the bottom of the bed to see where it was clear. When it's the height of summer I bet this stretch looks completely different.

And that is the problem fishing a river for the first time, those holding spots you can see when the river is low and clear, or where the reeds and where the river usually starts and finishes is very useful information for the angler.

Meat on one rod, lobworms on the other I fished 4 swims, the river was up and boiling in places but there was some nice slower swims and also some slacks I could fish no problem.

A fantastic morning to be out, crisp under foot and when the sun came up behind me it illuminated the river in all its winter glory. A clear blue sky, air fresh and clean, bird life prevalent.  The problem was someone should have told the fish to feed because I ended up biteless throughout the session, maybe a maggot feeder might have been the better option for a bite, but I was after a proper bend in the rod from something.

The river is dropping and also clearing so I might try for a better Pike than I've managed so far in the Bloggers Challenge. There was some nice spots here to try, so I'll be back I'm sure.


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