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Sports and Outdoors

The Great Outdoors by Alastair Agurtter

The Great Outdoors Author's Diary

Dear All, a very big welcome to more of my news and updates for the "The Great Outdoors" all about caring and celebrating our Wild Life and Countryside, managing to co-exist with our Sporting Pursuits, Pastimes and Interests.

Our Wonderful Weather

One thing that has always had a bearing on our activities outdoors is the weather, and without getting political, but factual, this year again, we have seen more extreme weather changes, and conditions. These current events now through the seasons that are becoming forever more frequent, are affecting us now even month on month, a normal week, and even by the day!

I remember around last Easter, in just one day, we had gail force winds in the early morning, hail stones, rain, sunshine at midday, and then topped off with sleet and snow in the evening.

Even today, this past week in late July, I have seen blossom again appearing on Apple and Pear Trees in the Garden. Again also this year, there has been a really poor show of Honey Bees, and I would say, only around 30 to 40% of my vegetables and fruit including tomato crops, now in flower in the garden, along with the runner beans, will be successfully pollinated this year!

Pesticides have really taken their toll on our Wild Life, especially Bees and other critical insects for pollination. So perhaps you can join me this year, and become an eco-warrior, by avoiding these commercial products, that have had a long term irreversible effect.

I welcome the recent efforts by the RSPB (Grow Flowers that Bees Love) trying to encourage more folk to plant and grow more cottage gardens containing high pollinator plants. These havens later in the year also provide great protection areas, where eggs have been laid by many insects including our Butterflies.

New Feathered Friend Arrivals

In the early morning today a new arrival turned up for a drink of water and some bird seed, it was the Green Finch, a bird species that is without doubt low in numbers, as this is the first Green Finch I have seen this year, and more than a year since the last.

Schools Out for the Holidays

As a parent myself over the years to five Children, Alexander, Daniel, Robert, Christopher and Ellenna. School holidays can be a challenging time, and especially these days, as more cutbacks happen, leaving Schools and Charities unable to participate in the holidays with events for the Children to participate in and enjoy!

So what can be done and arranged for our Children and of all ages. Well as I always say, from a negative can you find a positive, and our Children today are far smarter, and far more educated and savvy about our World and Environment that we give them credit for. And in fact, very often our Children know more about certain subjects than we do, one being the environment!

This may sound a little crazy to some parents, but one of the ideas I would suggest for free healthy exercise and getting out into "The Great Outdoors" is to organize between Mums and Dads an Eco-Warriors Group, and become part of our efforts to clean up our Countryside and Coastline. You can become Social Media active amongst your friends, telling them of your group and plans. Then where to meet up, along with plenty of drinks, bags to place the plastic and rubbish in, and of course, we mustn't forget the sandwiches.

You can tell Sky Ocean Rescue about your plans and heroics, you can also set up a free Facebook page for your Group, and a Twitter Feed account to keep folk up to date by the minute.

Such activities can be a great family and friends adventure, with members of all ages enjoying the fresh air and participating. Remember to brief the Children on certain things not to pick up, and designate certain members of the group to collect such hazardous items with protective gloves, in relation to glass and needles etc.

The great thing about all these activities being suggested is they are all free with the exception of a few normal expenses in the way of food, drinks and travel :)

Schools Out Visiting Museums

With the recent hit movies series "The Night at the Museum" these venues have again become particularly kool for all the family and especially with younger members seeking to explore. At the time of writing this feature administration to our Museums still remain free! However, you can buy a guide book at many of the big museums detailing special features of each venue, and this money is then invested towards the upkeep the museums.

Three of the most popular Museums that can be found in London are; The British Museum, The Natural History Museum and The Science Museum. It is worth checking out these Museums web sites, as they normally have a great many activities for the Children, especially in the School holidays, and where you can co-ordinate your visit to coincide with an activity that appeals to you in addition to exploring the many wonders that can be found in each venue.

Two other Museums of interest the other side of the River Thames are; The National Maritime Museums and The Imperial War Museums. Both sets of venues again are free to enter and the grounds to each venue allows families and friends to eat and drink packed lunches outside. All venues do have restaurants and cafeterias, but the costs for beverages and snacks are very high in price and not good value for money, hitting you hard in the pocket!

Other Museums to consider are; The National Imperial War Museum at Duxford (South Cambridgeshire), but you do have to pay for a ticket here, but Children and family special rates are available and with big discounts.

The London Transport Museum is a worthwhile visit and where Children still go free and adult tickets for parents, are relatively priced for a great family day out, including steam for Railway enthusiasts and hobbyists.

Schools Out Coastal Beach and Pier Fishing

As a parent, I have been extremely fortunate with my Children, and especially regarding my youngest Daughter, for it was in fact Ellenna, who asked me, if I would teach and take her fishing. This is a good few years back now, as Ellenna today, is as tall, if not taller than her Mum. Ellenna was about the same age as myself, when my Father first took me fishing, when I was only about 7 years of age, spooky hey!

My activities to go Fishing by some may find this to be a contradiction, based on my life's dedication for conservation and fish care efforts over the decades. But as I often say and remind folk, in the realms of Natural Law, Mother Nature, it demands common sense and balance from us, as we evolve.

At the end of the day, we all have to eat, and any fish I catch, as our Northern American and French Indian Ancestors would say, "The fish I catch have a noble death", as I cook and eat them.

Most Children take to fishing like a duck to water, and such activities outside in the fresh air is not only very healthy, but helps to develop hand coordination skills, that are critical through ones life time.

Fishing today is cheaper than years gone bye, you can in fact get a sensible kit for £20.00 ($30.00) or less these days. Ellenna has a couple of Fishing Rods and Reels that she uses when we go fishing throughout the seasons and year. Suitable for catching Whiting, Cod, and Dabs in the Winter, to then catching Mackerel, Garfish, Mullet and Sea Bass in the hotter spring, summer and autumn months.

When I first took up fishing in the 1960's, we were spoilt for choice around Britain regarding the very many Great Victorian Piers that you could fish. Some of my fondest venue memories were Southend Pier, Bournemouth Pier, Clacton Pier, Walton Pier, Weymouth Pier Arm, Folkestone Pier, Hastings Pier, Dover Admiralty Pier, Newhaven Pier, Barge Pier, Torquay Pier and the Brixham Harbour Arm.

Sadly over the years, we have lost a great many of our piers and jetties, due to Local Council cutbacks, and a lack of investment and long term vision, leaving piers to fall into rack and ruin. John Betjeman the Poet, was once recorded to say "The Pier is Southend, and Southend is the Pier", but sadly today, a Victorian Wonder of the World to which it is, as the Longest Pleasure Pier in the World, has been very sadly neglected by the Local Southend Council, and have never re-instated Southend Pier back to the Grand Old Lady's former glory of the late 1800's, as a Victorian icon. But instead, seen the same typical maintenance we often see today in our society of quick fixes and make do!

You can still fish Southend Pier, and so I will provide you with a few hot spots for details, as you could fish the Southend Pier for years without finding out where to catch fish, as it is so large. Full details for fishing and the prices of tickets to fish Southend Pier is here, from the Local Councils official web site.

In the School holidays and summer months on Southend Pier, you can catch an array of fish species. These include; Flounders, Bass, Mullet, Garfish, Scad (Horse Mackerel), Mackerel, Shad (Twaite and Allis), Plaice, Dabs, Eels and on rare occasions, Turbot and Brill.

Along the straight, or stem of Southend Pier, Shelter One is good for Flounders, Plaice and Small Bass. Further up on the stem of the Pier, Shelter Three will catch Flounders, Plaice, the odd Garfish, Shad (Twaite and Allis), Small Bass and Mackerel. Shelter Four, has always been good for catching Mackerel and Garfish through the tide.

Remember Southend is tidal, and so check the tides before you go, but you can get in on the stem at least eight hours fishing, 4 hours on the flood and 4 hours on the ebb. The Pier station at the end and near the Old Pier Head, has always been a hot spot also for Mackerel and Garfish in the corner area. Along the stem of the pier in between shelter three and four, there is "The Gut" that runs through under the Pier straigh,t and the Pier peg numbers are between 276, 277 and 278. On the flood tide, the east bay is good for Mackerel and Scad (Horse Mackerel). The East Point is good for Dabs, Plaice, Eels, the odd Brill and Turbot. On the ebb of the tide the West Point at the other end of the Pier Head, is good for Flounders, Plaice, Dabs, Pouting, Bass and Eels. On the ebb of the East Bay, we use to fish for mullet down by the pillions, using sausage meat, herring and mackerel flesh, not the skin.

There are still thankfully many Piers around our coastline, and one particular pier I can recommend that caters for Anglers, and good to fish all year round is Walton Pier in Essex, located at Walton on the Naze. The Pier at Walton has decent sized sensible rails for safety reasons, for one thing we all need to remember, and especially our young folk, water and tides can be hazardous and fatal.

At Walton Pier in the summer months and holidays, you have a chance of catching Flounders, Plaice, Mackerel, Garfish, Smooth hound, Dog Fish, Skate, Rays and Bass, anywhere along the stem of the Pier, and at the end of the Pier. Full details of Fishing Walton Pier here!

Folkestone Pier and Wall is another venue I have fished over the years, and had inter-club competition meets here against Alan Yates for Kent, when I use to fish for Essex. In the summer you can catch plaice, flounders, pouting and the odd pollock. If you are fortunate and use very small hooks around size 6 to 8, you can catch the odd Dover Sole, using lug worm, or peeler crab legs. Details of Folkestone Pier and Arm!

Another Pier I used to fish down on the South Coast years ago, was Hastings Pier, in East Sussex. In the spring and summer months of May, June, July, August and September, you use to get a good run of Mackerel through their on feathers, and can catch Dog Fish, Plaice and Bass at the end.

I understand in 2017, the Pier maybe temporarily closed for maintenance and repairs. So please check Hastings Pier for details. Fishing is at the end of the Pier, and in August and September especially, you can get a run of Rays and Skate, by using a beach caster from the end of the Pier, casting out off to the left of the Pier. Paul's Fishing Tackle is the best place on the web for details.

Beach fishing these days can seem a lost effort, but there are hot spots around Blighty to enjoy and catch fish. The River Crouch for one out at Wallesea Island in Essex in Winter and Summer months is full of fish, and of good size. In the Summer you can catch Bass, by gently casting out over the weed along the wall, using a small lead of around 2 ounces, or a large pike bung float. Best baits to use are; peeler, or jelly crab. In the month of September when fishing for Bass, use king Rag worm whole, trailing from the hook. I have caught Bass up to 9 lbs 2-1/2 oz from Barrington Point along the River Crouch, it's a bit of a hike, so make it into an adventure, and take plenty of food and water please! More details on Fishing the River Crouch here >>

Fishing for Skate at Hythe and Sandgate, can be an enjoyable experience near the golf course eastwards, best baits I have found over the years is peeler crab for casting, or eel tails. However many anglers hump out sides of mackerel and herring and claim to do well. Details of where to fish here and a fabulous web site full of detail and history!

More Great Outdoors Fishing News, Football Coaching and Fly Fishing to come soon. Please remember to bookmark "Ctrl + D" and check back soon  :)

Written by Alastair R Agutter
Last Modified and Updated: 30th July 2017
Alastair Agutter Author and Writer

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