Currently hanging out to dry in the garden are a landing net and weigh sling, while an unhooking mat lies airing on the gravel, damp side uppermost. An angler will know the significance of this. A birdwatcher, meanwhile, will know the significance of this:
A Robin. More specifically, a starving Robin on the scrounge. Look how thin it is. It's late December, deep into that period when our garden birds want us to supplement their diet with nutritious freebies. This garden bird was a very long way from a garden, but that didn't prevent it holding out its bony little hand. "Oi! Where's me maggots?!" Robins know that anglers all fester somewhat, and are therefore likely to harbour maggots. Frequently they are correct, but this one yesterday was out of luck. A few weeks ago I bought some mealworms for just this scenario but had forgotten to pack them. Ridiculously I felt guilty. So guilty that I tore off some of my cheese roll and crumbled it into appropriately tiny pieces. Mildly outraged, the Robin tutted loudly and bobbed up and down a bit. It then cocked an eye at my apologetic offering and checked for anything wriggly. Eventually, with a melodramatic sigh of resignation, it dropped onto the grass and grabbed a crumb.
A frustrating highlight of yesterday's trip was a brief view of what I am 99% sure was an eared owl sp. Rob saw it too and even he, with his very unpractised eye, thought it was an owl. It was right on dusk and I had no bins. Anyway, never mind. After all, this is now an angling/cycling blog, so we can allow decent birds to get away from us willy-nilly without batting an eyelid. Therefore ignore that adjective in the first sentence - not frustrating. No, perfectly acceptable.
Well then, for the benefit of the two anglers who read this blog, why the wet net et al? More pike is why. A little jack of 4lb or so plus a nice low double of 11lb 10oz. The little one was absolutely pristine and gorgeous, the most vivid green with cream spots and stripes, while the bigger one had an amazing golden hue, the like of which I have never seen...