Regular readers (and indeed anyone imbued with personal acquaintance) will be well aware that the Chief Navigating Troutess revels in her solid reputation as a happy-go-lucky socialite, comfortable with engagement across all levels of human social strata. This perfectly innocent inclination is often heightened in times of need and – having dismally failed to find any recent opportunity for casting her own fishing line – was about to be unashamedly directed at an unsuspecting stranger whom she perceived to be in a position to fill our current piscatorial vacuum (which nature so abhors.)
Arriving at the poetically named Oysterhaven, due south of Cork and east of Kinsale, we passingly acknowledge a characterful-looking gentleman in the process of donning seafaring gear from the chaotic interior of his parked van.
We ease past and manoeuvre ourselves into a scrubby car-park adjacent to a tiny stone slipway which dipped gently into a sheltered boat-bobbed estuary. There is just room for our incongruous bulk alongside the classic Irish car-park accoutrement, an abandoned horse-box and, even before the handbrake has been applied, her Worshipful Troutess has slipped her moorings and disembarked the vehicle.
Thus we are introduced to Vincent.
Calmly minding his own business up until this point, he is quickly befriended. We learn that he is shortly off in his boat, along with his nameless dog for a spot of early-evening fishing. With most of his gentle contribution to the conversation muffled by a suitably sea-faring beard, we waved the shyly-spoken Vincent off, to find another boater arriving and setting about more preparation for his own fishing trip. A shipmate arrived soon after and so again, craic was had as we sat on the harbour wall with crisps, beer and small cigars. From this vantage point we were thus able to also wave off the saintly Michael and Peter, almost as if they were en-route to Philadelphia, never to return.
With the local seafarers now disappeared beyond the point, we returned to the van as light rain began to fall and set about preparing our own seafood spectacular, all somewhat disappointingly acquired from an earlier-passed Lidl, but nevertheless a triumph of in-van catering. Dublin Bay prawns, smoked salmon and crayfish tails accompanied by hot Irish potato salad, assorted leaves (thankfully of the edible variety) and three types of mayonnaise (none of which I’ve annotated so can only wonder why and which these could possibly be.)
Chilled glasses of Sauvignon Blanc are being swirled as we espy Vincent returning in his little boat – with Dog standing like an unarmed Kate Winslett in the prow. At much the same time, our saintly pair also make landfall to unload a surprisingly hefty haul of pollack, these to be combined with Vincent’s slightly lighter offering of freshly gleaming blue-barred silver mackerel.
More lugubrious craic ensues in the gloaming as fish are cleaned and filleted on the quayside, whence our new very best friends present The Beaming Troutess with two sides of mackerel, which are adjudged light enough to form a second fish course and therefore promptly pan-fried in butter. It’s unlikely that fresher fish could be had for love or money and as our three apostolic fishermen puttered off into the evening, we savoured the unique taste of meatily-textured sea. Washing-up; seagulls fed what little remained; van interior blessed with softly-smoking incense; sun setting beyond the edge of the sea; rain pattering like a thousand insects on the roof of the van and hopefully washing off some of the squashed variety (along with a fortnight’s worth of road-dust) into the gently lapping, darkening waves.
Aah, grand-so. Truly grand-so.