The curse of the blogger remains the recap post. You know the one I mean: the 'I've been so busy doing the thing that I've not had time to write about the thing' post. Or else the 'I've been so busy with the family / DIY / job that I've not even had time to do the thing, let alone write about it' post.
When you do finally find yourself sitting down at the keyboard after a time away, what you end up doing is a quick recap of the last few days / weeks / months - sketchy at best, and inevitable full of missing bits as the memory fails.
It's bad enough after a few weeks, so just imagine how bad this 'it's been a busy old year' post is going to be. I probably wouldn't bother reading on if I were you.
Despite a lack of time to sit down and write about it, the last 12 months or so have had some real fishing, birding and general outdoors-y highlights, some of which I want to record here for my own benefit as much as any other - this being the longest continuous record of such activity that I have. So if you'll excuse the inelegant listing format:
1. My first fish on the fly - four of them to be precise, all rainbow trout from a super-productive day at Bushyleaze fishery (the day after a super unproductive day of course fishing at a very stormy Lemington Lakes, but that's another story). Superb sport, great eating, a great day, and all thanks to my highly-skilled friend Richie. Full report and picture here.
2. My first barbel. At 5lb 5oz, it looked (and felt) bigger, taken alongside the bonus of my first 'decent' chub - 2lb 10oz - on a River Wye trip organised by my friend Howard (who out caught me 3-1)
3. A change of River Leam approach. Having been unable to find the time, skill and inclination required to properly tackle the new (to me) upper Leam, I relinquished for now that card and tackled the slow town waters for the first time. My sole trip to date resulted ina gutsy little tench, one of my best Leam fish to date. I'll be spending more time on these convenient waters in the future.
4. Getting a lure into the sea at long last, having had the spinning rod for the job for nearly four years. No bass, or indeed anything else, but a start was made on the Dorset coast and I shall be back. Oh yes, I also returned from a mackerel trip with a BBQ full of fish, which was nice.
5. Settling back into commercials after a long spell focused on the rivers. The realisation that I fish for relatively short periods of relaxation has led me inexorably back to the more comfortable and assured surroundings of the commercial fisheries at the expense of the fun, but often demanding, river banks. Now I just need to stop apologising for it :-)
6. Father and son fishing. As challenging as any fishing I've ever done, but definitely among the most rewarding. A hyperactive eight year old takes some settling down, but a few 45 minute sessions have produced plenty of small roach and perch, some nice small carp and a cracking tench - not too mention the odd smile and some welcome time away from video games.
7. Father and son and mum, birding. If you think fishing might be a hard sell to an eight year old, try birding. But with a bit of encouragement, and some well-timed chocolate bribery, we've managed a few good family trips this year and C is developing a good eye for how to tell one bird from another.
8. Bird song from the saddle. A growing interest in cycling means that I hear as many farmland birds as I see these days. Skylarks, yellowhammer, bullfinch and linnet are all reasonably regular sounds as I flash by at (as close to) 20mph (as I can managed).
9. A definite leaning back towards birding. After three years in which fishing has taken up most spare moments I am gradually finding my leisure time being more evenly once more between my various interests - fishing, birding, cycling and photography. We've had a couple of good family trips to Brandon lately, and I even popped into Leam Valley briefly today to remind myself what my patch looks like. So perhaps it is safe to expect more birding posts over the coming weeks... assuming I don't just disappear without trace for another 14 months of course.