Monday, 21 March 2016

God its been a while!!!

Yes its been too long since I last sat down and wrote a Blog post. Time seems to just fly by, I thought you were supposed to be bored when you had retired, I am far from it and the days are just not long enough.

Well today, Biffy and I set off on a nostalgia walk. For those of you who are not aware who Biff is she is my beautiful Jack Russell terrier and my new best mate. She is just 18 months old now and I love her bones.

Here's Biff.

We went to see my old stomping ground in Aylestone, as a kid I spent most of my youth around this area,fishing, egging etc it was a wonderful place to hang out. I had made the odd trip back but not for many many years, so off we set to show Biff my old haunts.

I have to say it has changed in many ways, the litter and dog mess was the first thing I noticed, why? I went and looked at "The Showcase" a section of the river that met the Grand Union canal. It was unrecognisable to when my Uncle Ray and me fished here when I was a fourteen year old. It was overgrown and looked only half the size it did fifty plus years ago.

The Showcase.

Ray used to sit on the left tight to the bridge and I was on the right, we baited a swim in the middle and both cast to the it. The Roach we caught were exceptional, the fishing was excellent, no one fishes it anymore. It is shallow and so overgrown its almost impossible to do so.

This is where I used to fish from.

The old Roman Packhorse Bridge can be seen from the first image of the Showcase, here is another. It is fascinating how it was built to allow folk to stand to one side when horses were crossing. The bridge dates from the 15th century, with later additions and alterations. It was built to provide a dry route for horses laden with packs on their backs to safely carry cargo across the swampy ground of the river floodplain.

The arches of the bridge.

Walking across the bridge bring us to what was locally known as the "Frying Pan" a small area of water formed under one of the arches on the right of the bridge. I remember catching a small Perch here on my bare hook as I was setting my float up, a feat never to be repeated. Again the frying pan is overgrown and does not resemble the looks it did back in the day, but I am pleased to say it is still there. Maybe one day funds will be available to make this area beautiful again. I hope so anyway.

The Frying Pan.

Here are a few more images of the River/Backwater and Flood relief before we move on.

Flood relief.

Moving along to the Grand Union canal, I remember Uncle Ray telling me there was a Pike in there that was that big it had to go down to the basin to turn around, how this fired my interest in fishing, I was hooked for life.

I wonder if that Pike is still in here!!

Kings Lock bridge, a well known landmark along the canal.

The Lock House here no longer belongs to the waterways but is privately owned and is open at certain times during the Summer months as a cafe.

As we continue along the canal we come to a place called "The Pylon Hole" for obvious reasons. This is where I was amazed at a fish caught in the backwater when I was fishing the canal, some friends of mine shouted me to look at a fish one of them had caught. I ran across to the wooden bridge that they were fishing from and saw a wondrous site, it was a Gudgen and was huge, we just stared at it for what seems ages, this was a huge fish, well it was compared to the Gudgeon I had caught from there. If you asked me at that time how big this fish was I would have said at least three pounds. It was a few years later that I learned that the British record weight for a Gudgen was 4 ounces and  4 drams. It just shows how the young mind works aye.

The Pylon Hole.

The site of the capture of the huge Gudgeon, you can see the concrete base of the wooden bridge.

There is a place along this stretch locally known as Peewit Hollow, it used to be a mass of Lapwings/Peewits in Summer and to watch this wonderful flyer was a real treat, we would look for the nests and watch the chicks being reared. Today it is a sad reflection of our time, if you are lucky you may see a dozen birds at best.

Peewit Hollow.

Hmm, might nip into town Lol.

Further along we come to a new road bridge, I say new its probably at least twenty five years since it was built. It used to be a single lane road, it is now a three lane road leading to the M1 and the Fosse Park shopping centre. This part of the canal was a great spot for Tench and I remember once sitting under my brolly during an horrific thunder and lightning storm. That was bad enough, but in those days I has a 14 foot metal Apollo fishing rod. Not the best idea to have it up in the air during a storm.

Anyway, back to the new road bridge, why do people want to write graffiti over everything?

New Road Bridge

We head towards a place called Glen Parva, about as far as I used to travel in those days along the canal. This is a lovely stretch as you will see from the images.

We had a chat with the only fisherman we came across and reminisced about days past and how good the fishing used tho be, he had caught three small Roach. After fifteen minutes or so we wished him well and headed back.

I never like to return the way I have come so we crossed the bridge and headed for The Great Central Way, an old disused railway line, now used as a cycling/walking track, nice and flat walking, just like the canals.

The Great Central Way.

Back at Aylestone and the Black Horse, or as we called it the Black Oss. I remember many a time when me and Uncle Ray would pack up fishing and head to the Oss, he would go in the bar and meet up with his mates while he left me out in the yard looking through a bob hole with my Vimto and Crisps, so many great memories with Ray who was my hero and a great fisherman. We nipped in for a quick half and a bowl of water for Biff and sat in the bar, even though she was under age.

I had a great day showing Biff where I used to hang out, not sure she was too impressed with what I was saying, but I do know this, we had a great time today.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Romanian Bear Trip

During the 10 days Jak's and I spent in Romania as part of our invite to judge the Romanian      Baby & Young bird budgerigar show, we were treated to some fantastic trips which Catalin (our host) had arranged for us to enjoy, one of them was a trip of a lifetime at the very top of the mountains in an attempt to try and photograph some wild bears. We had a professional guide complete with a rifle and live ammo for our protection. 

Here is the first short video of us climbing the mounting track, the noise you will here is the water from the river that was constantly at the side of the road. You will see GHQ, our hotel, you might even here Jak's hyperventilating when she first saw our accommodation. We met the Shepherd and his family who live on the Alpine meadows where they make cheese and graze and milk their herd of sheep, talk about remote and basic living. I have never before and will probably never again be in such a wild remote place. The only thing that worried me (well apart from being eaten by a bear) was if one of us was taken ill, we would have had to cope without any emergency services, stay tuned to see if we survived.

Video 1.

The location is the Parang Mountains near the City of Petrosani. GHQ is a remote and basic huntsmen cabin without electricity or sewage system. One thing to remember this is a very remote cabin, not for tourists and when I say huntsmen, the emphasis is on men not women, so I was not surprised when I saw Jackie breathing heavily into a paper bag when she first saw our accommodation for a few days.

Jak having a warm before our meal.
 Our meal on the first night.
We were taken to see a family of Shepherds who graze their sheep at the very top of the mountain on the fantastic Alpine meadows. There are sixteen people in an extended family that take care of around 300 sheep. They mild 300 litres three times a day so around 1000 litres of milk a day from which they make cheese and send down the mountain once a week. Two members of the family live 24/7 with the sheep to protect them from predators, mainly Wolves.

Basic Living, all 16 family members lived in this hut.

 Milk waiting to be strained through a very basic strainer.
 The Shepherd wanted to show me part of his herd.

 As I said, basic living.
 See the pop bottle near the Shepherds head? Washing facility Lol.

Here is another video of our trip, I think it shows how remote we were at times (all the time) and how we got lost on top of the mountain due to a fallen tree, we were about 2000 feet above sea level. How did we find our way? Well there is bound to be someone walking a dog somewhere, isn't there? Apologies for the odd swear word during filming.

Video 2
Bear trip 2 from Mick Freakley on Vimeo.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

My first film.

Sorry its been a while since I updated this blog, its been a busy time for me to be honest with the end of the Evo-Stik football season the games have been coming thick and fast. I would just like to say well done to the boys at Bedford Town FC for a great season and if you would like to see how they did and view my images and videos of their games just go to Facebook "Bedford Town FC (The Eagles)"

Back to this blog, as I say I have had little time over the past month, but I can bring you a few birdie images and a preview of my first attempt at a film Lol. I am only playing at it as a bit of fun, but I have enjoyed it. So what images do I have for you?

I was talking to Pete at the farm and asked him if the Swallows had returned, he said they had, there is one pair that return to the exact same nest each year, but this time he thought something was amiss. The nest looked different, the entrance hole had been altered some and he suggested a Wren may have taken up residence in the old Swallows nest, see what you think?

Pete was showing me his latest piece of salvage he had acquired, an old marble topped table, very exciting I thought, It was leaning against a shed with no door on, being a nosey sod I decided to have a look around inside to see if there was anything in there that would interest me, I wasn't disappointed as I spotted an old Sainsbury's carrier bag hanging up.

So whats exiting about a carrier bag with some old dried flowers in? Look closely at the next image, you might see a Robins nest, it contained six eggs.

Not the best image I agree but the female Robin was getting stressed at us being there so we made a hasty retreat and left her to continue incubating her eggs.

As we stood chatting we were aware of a pair of Pied Wagtails flitting around the yard and paying particular  attention to an old trailer Pete had on loan, it was due to be returned later in the week. The Wagtails were looking for a nesting site and it appears that they had chosen the trailer.

While we had no objections to them nesting on/in the trailer, we thought it might be a bit of a ball-ache for them once the trailer had been returned travelling eight miles or so to feed their offspring.

Now onto my film. I recently spent a few days on my boat Ruby Tuesday in North Norfolk, it is  moored in a lovely spot and within easy access to some wonderful birding country. One favourite of mine is the RSPB reserve at Strumpshaw Fen about a mile from my mooring. The film shows footage of the reserve and also of Ranworth Broad.  Ranworth Broad is split, one half is navigable by motor cruisers, while the inner Broad as it is known is private and only accessible by booking a trip in small boat at the visitor centre. 

The following film has been rated 15 and contains a lot of noise from birds vying for some territory.

A few images from Strumpshaw Fen.


Chiff Chaff

Marsh Harrier.

Back at the boat yard there is an area where all the timber and oil drums etc are stored ready for use when boats are removed from the water for the Winter. With little natural cover around boat yards, its any port in a storm as it were. Who lives in a house like this?

I do.

This Cinnamon Mallard Hen bird has lived around the boat yard for the past 3 years and has bred on the site each year, she is very tame and very tolerant to people.