Avid readers (that’s all three of you) will be aware that the previous blog hinted about a fishy story – and who am I to deprive such a faithful, committed and ever-eager readership?
As anyone who has yet ventured far from home to take their exercise will now realise, public facilities (for which read ‘conveniences’) are understandably closed while Covid-19 continues its unabated dominion over worldwide human activity. So it is with some small satisfied smugness that we can take our toilet (and other self-contained mobile facilities, of course) with us when we either exercise or fish, both of which are now authorised by HMG for personal and socially-distanced indulgence.
The Navigating Chief Map-Reading Troutess had previously turned her hand to a spot of research and discovered a trout fishery not far from home – of which we were surprised not to have had any prior knowledge. Patshull Park appeared to comprise Hotel, Golf-Course & Trout Fishery all in one; a holy trinity of delights just over an hour’s drive away from home. Adding the twenty minutes it also takes us to navigate out of our little back-lane, we thus arrived mid-morning at a delightful fishing lodge set in the grounds of a Covidly-closed Hotel, alongside an open and functioning golf-course at the head of an allegedly Capability-Brown-enhanced lake approximating – we were told – a whopping great 75 acres.
Large amounts pf paraphernalia were thus enthusiastically unloaded from the Knumptywagen into a punt-like fishing boat, pre-hired for our exclusive use, such paraphernalia including our electric outboard motor along with various layers of weatherproof clothing and fishing tackle aplenty. Off we set, toodling (that’s marine terminology, OK?) amongst other fisherpeople who themselves were toodling in their own boats, all of us seeking that elusive spot where fish might be gathered beneath the increasingly rippling surface of this vast lake.
And therein lies the necessary jeopardy without which this wouldn’t be a tale to tell. As we gently pootled, (there’s another one tossed in for free, OK?) the wind was gathering pace and our comparatively high-sided craft – abetted by two well-wrapped bulky bodies each offering up unintentional sail-like resistance – was blown at cartoon-like speed across open water into the weedy tail of the lake – as far away from the shelter of the Lodge as it was possible to get.
Our genteel electric outboard sadly proved no match for what turned out to be a 35mph headwind but at least the experienced foresight of the Warden had furnished us with a pair of oars (and a spare battery, God-bless’im). Logic therefore suggested that we take to the oars, set the motor to Warp Factor Eight and head back to port.
Not a bit of it. At full motive power and straining at both oars as if pursued by Vikings intent on rape and pillage, we made absolutely no headway whatsoever. Waves were now slapping against the prow; grunted expletives blew from our mouths like chaff and with as much effort as we could muster between us, we were blown ignominiously sideways into a lakeside reed bed, where we came to grateful rest. And here we remained for the time it took for our laboured breathing to normalise and for a tangled bale of water-weed to be unwound from the propeller.
Other anglers could be espied dotted across a wind-lashed distance, each happily anchored and hunkered down in their favourite spots, clearly still managing to catch fish. Here we were – effectively marooned, fishless and without anything to sustain ourselves, since our picnic lunch remained safe from harm in the Knumptywagen fridge, where we had forgotten it in the bustling excitement of our maiden voyage.
After half-an-hour or so, the gusting wind took on a more contemplative demeanour, at which point we bent to our oars again; squeezed a couple more watts of power into the outboard from the thoughtfully-provided spare battery and forged our way, ripple by ripple, out of the reeds and back into the body of the lake.
It became clear from later inspection of a large aerial photo hanging in the Lodge that we had cruised unknowingly into a narrow venturi where well-wooded lakeshores converged to funnel the already powerful wind into the maelstrom which cast us away for the afternoon.
Thankfully, the day was not a complete write-off as – moored within safe striking distance of the Lodge and in the lee of a low dam wall – we were both able to chalk up a catch each before heading back to the shelter of the Knumptywagen – and a very late, very welcome lunch.