I found myself down by the river yesterday in the company of lave net fishermen. A traditional local industry that ceased to be viable about 50 years ago there are only a handful of men who keep the tradition alive today.
The Severn is only a few miles away but our farm is about 500 feet above sea level and the short trip to the river makes a big difference. Everything flowers about two weeks before we get it. We have plenty of Dog Rose around the farm but it doesn’t even have buds yet.
This is an extraordinary phenomenon that I first noticed with the Blackthorn that flowered here weeks before we saw it and this is only a fifteen minute bus ride from the farm but the bus is like a time machine that takes me to the future.
I get it because that is the way that I feel about the forest and the lands around and as soon as I started talking to one of them and he started telling me about the tides and the sand banks and how they spot a fish by the way that the birds behave and so much other stuff, it was just like the way that I walk through the fields and see where an animal has been and what it has been doing. Their love of the river comes across.
I hope to have the opportunity to take you out fishing with these men but the season starts on June the first, unless that falls on a Sunday, you are not allowed to lave net fish on a Sunday and in that case it would start on the Monday.
Lave net fishing involves wading out in the estuary with big nets held on a “Y” shaped wooden pole and scooping up Salmon that have been stranded in pools by the tide. Very few fish are caught these days and it is really just about knowing and loving the river.
While I was with them one man tried to point out to me a fish about a mile away and underwater obviously, I could see the birds but I couldn’t see anything else but so certain was he in his knowledge that he set out on the mile long hike into the river to collect the fish.
The fish that these men catch are already doomed, stranded in pools by the tide they are destined to be pecked to death by birds and so there is no cruelty involved when a fisherman gets to the fish first and dispatches it with a quick blow to the head.
So now I am just going to download a stock photograph of a Salmon just to show you what such a fish would look like if one was taken from the river.
That fish could be sold for £80 but catches are so rare that it is the custom of these men to share anything that comes their way and so if they found a fish like this they would share it out and eat it but of course the season hasn’t begun yet and you can’t eat a stock photograph.
So candy floss.
It is flowers and fishes because of where I am, you get that don’t you?
Rosa canina, you always get candy floss when you go to the seaside.