This week we have had guests staying for a full week, luckily for us they are really nice people and have stayed for dinner twice so far, my own home caught and smoked trout has gone down very well, yet again. I have also been asked again if I have plans to run cooking workshops, I have had it in mind for some time but at the moment have no where suitable to run them, our own kitchen would accommodate 3 people but the oven and hob are not really suitable for the purpose, if I could find a small commercial unit at a price I could afford to rent on an ad-hoc basis it would be ideal.

This week I have made roast pork with braised red cabbage and apples which goes really well with the richness of the pork, our own home grown beans are proving very popular but are nearly finished, we have some in the freezer which will be welcome for us in the dead of winter.  For pudding I made Pear and almond tarts with Chantilly cream, I really love these tarts myself, and made as individual tarts with a sweet pastry base is a sure winner.  The last meal I did for them was Moroccan spiced lamb with oven baked ratatouille and couscous.  Then they had Menopausal blackberry and apple crumble.  This si made using lots of seeds which are supposed to be good for ladies with flushes, whatever it tastes good!

I have a couple coming for casting tuition tonight for 2 days so that will be the last of the guests that are booked at the moment. I am trying to catch up on accounts and getting the garden cleared over the next 4 days as I am then off to Yorkshire to see my family en-route to Bedfordshire to give a spinning workshop and then to Reading to see daughters and grandsons, then to Wales for AAPGAI weekend then to Kendal for another spinning workshop. I will be back home arouind the 20th October and then over to Tynedale for another spinning workshop.  The salmon season doesn’t finish here until the end of November so will probably get a last minute flurry of folks wanting days out.  Winter is a long time coming then a long time here so am making the most of the mild weather whilst I can.  We have lots to do in the garden still, with clearing all of the raspberry canes to another part of it and then building up the edges of the raised beds to make them deeper. I have done three of the beds today and still have masses to do.I get too knackered to just keep at it like I used to, I don’t know how my mum has been able to keep doing hers for so long, she is 78 and still does much of her veg growing though she does get some help in now for the digging and prep work. If I am anything like as able as she is when that age I will be amazed. Too many accidents off horses has done me no favours.  Still I seem to have masses of energy, just get worn out quicker.

It has been suggested that I put in a little info on what I have done to be a qualified instructor, there is a complete list of the casts required both on http://www.aapgai.co.uk and also more info on my website http://www.damselflyfishing.co.uk

Annie Champion and myself are the only 2 ladies in the UK with the advanced trout qualification with AAPGAI, I also have the Salmon advanced qualification.

The exams are without doubt very involved and all of the casts have to be well understood and performed well, though the teaching aspect is at the forefront of these exams. We not only have to be able to do the casts properly but also recognise and correct faults and be able to teach both from a technical angle and also in a down to earth understandable manner.

I approach teaching casting in the same way as I do my wool spinning, view what is being done already for those with some experience, correct faults where possible without changing totally what the client is doing unless they are coming for prolonged lessons with a view to being an instructor.  Sometimes the client is getting nowhere at all and needs to have his/her cast totally deconstructed, I feel it is only right to be truthful and explain that forward improvement can sometimes only be gained by going backwards first.  I love seeing the improvement made after a couple of hours when the client may have been on the point of giving up with frustration when really it has taken little time to correct something.  Fishing is the other side of casting that is often hard to get across, the casts we have just improved then need to be used for fishing too not just for practicing,  it is easy to slip back into the old methods when the excitement of a rising fish makes us just want to chuck the fly at it. To practice for too long with wool tags for beginners can be counter productive too, it makes them sloppy because they don’t get the snags when the line drops too low behind, I get a fly on as quick as I think is safe.

The process of qualifying can be long, and expensive it is not something to be rushed into without thought.  I became an instructor because I was helping out at a local fishery and I have a number of people ask if I could help them with their casting, I decided that if I was going to teach anyone I wanted to make sure that I was doing it properly.  Level 2 had just been introduced and I was the first lady in the country and also one of the first classes to do the exam.  I have to say it had developmental problems and was not as rigorous as it should have been.  The casting side of things was sadly neglected with none of us having our casting assessed formally until the week before the exam.  Luckily I was very much influenced by both Phil White and Steve Peterson, both really lovely casters who worked at Sportfish Reading at the time. They both gave me lessons and encouragement and made me realise that I wanted to be as good as them one day.

I love the double handed work that I do, spey casting is magical and at last I have rivers near to me that allow me to use these skills to their full potential.  I am happy to just spend a few hours casting if there are no fish showing.  There is something very sexy about controling a long loop of line with a big rod.

the past week seems to have passed in a blur, I have done 5 half days fly fishing tuition and cooked 24 evening meals. We have had some rain, but luckily mostly after our lessons have finished. Colin Jenny and I got absolutely drenched at the end of our first lesson, the heavens opened after a beautiful warm day with blue skies and fluffy clouds, the drops were enormous. I had to go to the dentist straight after so luckily had a dry T shirt in the car and went into the local supermarket, stripped off in the ladies and got dryish under the hand dryer.  One of the puddings I have made this week was a summer pudding made with pureed plums, blackberries,raspberries,blackcurrants and strawberries, they all came from my garden or the local hedges and was really delicious, mixed up with a little brown sugar and some Creme de Cassis definitely one to do again.

The plums are all picked, bottled, frozen, pureed and eaten and I think we only lost a dozen or so to birds and wasps, the wind blew most of the damaged ones off the tree.  My wasps nest decoy worked very well, it has now completely disintegrated due to being made out of paper and it raining really heavily off and on, I will definitely make another for next year and hopefully it will last a little longer, will probably make it out of used and washed Disinfectant cloths.

The potatos have been disappointing this year, plenty of them but tiny, I got too busy to remember to water them often enough.  Everything else though has been very good. Next week have two more guests coming to stay and have casting lessons, we also have 2 Aussie guests with Italian friends coming for one night, I am cooking dinner for them, they want pasta, so no pressure there then!!!  I caught a good trout a few days ago so smoked it and one of the guests had some for breakfast, it went down really well so I seem to have cracked the method.

I am starting to prepare for my trip South in October, I am going to deliver a workshop at the AAPGAI (www.aapgai.co.uk) open day on the subject of  how muscle tone affects ability to cast. I have lots of wool washing to do for the spinning workshops I am doing in Bedfordshire and Kendal and then back home for some serious salmon fishing I hope.

Simon has been off work for the first week so we have taken advantage and been out for a few days in the car, it has been quiet on the B&B and fishing side too so we have had some lazy days at home too.

I have made hazelnut meringues for guests coming on the 7th and they are in the freezer ready, I have also picked and bottled 1  1/2 kilos of plums in brandy syrup for xmas presents. Also frozen another kilo, there are at least another 20 kilos on the tree.  I have hung a large paper lamp shade in the shape of an enormous wasps nest in the lower branches and so far there has been no wasp damage to be seen! The tomatoes are ripening at a rate of knots so have picked roasted and pureed some for soup for the next guests, have bagged all of the onions and also frozen another batch of French beans.  I love all of this preparation for winter and storing things for later, it makes me feel a bit like a squirrel.

I have found a great avenue of hazel nuts so they will be ready in a few weeks too. Will pick more brambles and then make Bramble and apple crumbles for the freezer and probably have some puree in ice cubes too for sauces, it goes great with venison.

I am back to having guests again tomorrow, so 5 nights of dinners coming up with 2 half days fishing.  Better go and finish ironing.

Wow, August what a month!

As you can see, I have been living the month rather than writing about it.

from the last post I had a family of four (originally from Hong Kong), out for a casting half day, the kids were great and even though mum was very dubious and even said she expected to be bored stiff she really enjoyed herself.  The whole family took to casting like ducks to water and I had a great time too, the river was really low, but the windy weather prvented us going to the reservoir. The same day we had a couple of sisters arrived at the B&B for 2 nights and had dinner so had to rush back and get that prepared. We also had another guest arrived out of the blue for one night.

Rachel has been a great help weeding the garden and cleaning the guest rooms and kitchen.  I would have been absolutely knackered without her help.  Tuesday 17th was the Twynholm WRI show, I had quite a lot of entries so spent Monday evening baking and then after cooking breakfast for our 4 guests I rushed down to the hall and got everything displayed. Kyle had made a picture with shells I had collected from our local beaches and some from my Spanish trip.  I ended up helping with the stewarding as we had a couple had to drop out. I had a sneak preview of the results and couldn’t wait to see Kyles face when he saw that he had won first prize.  He looked stunned, then kept correcting all the ladies who said how much they liked his fish. Very indignant that they didn’t recognise that it was a SHARK!

I won 9 firsts 2 seconds and a few other placed.  I was amazed to find I came 2nd overall with just 2 points between me and the overall cup winner. I was particularly happy to find that I had won 2 of the baking classes and a preserves one. My handspun cashmere lace shawl won a first as well.

We then entered Borgue show the following week and not only did Kyle win again but Rachel also won 3 firsts with her photos, a number of seconds and thirds too.  I won first with my shawl and 2nd to Simon with my bread.  So all told a very successful show season. Luckily we didn’t have any guests in that night so we spent the day keeping Kyle entertained.

Thursday 19th was an incredibly busy day, I was teaching fishing to 2 folks for a half day and we also had a triple changeover at the B&B again Rachel came through, cleaning and changing beds.  Sunday we had more guests and Monday I was teaching a father and son who also stayed with us, I had them and another couple in for dinner too so another late night.  Back to fishing the following day, Dave was an absolute natural and had great timing he caught the first rainbow and was desperate for his son Alex to catch one too, the fish had moved away from the bank and were a bit further out than Alex could cast so I chucked the fly out for him and handed him the rod, almost instantaneously a good blue trout grabbed the fly and took off. Luckily with lots of encouragement Alex got his fish to the net.  He was desperate to take the fish home but they were going separate ways at the end of their trip so we reached a compromise, I took the fish home and hot smoked them, got them vaccuum packed and sent them to Alex at his Grannies.  It is great when it all comes together!

Wednesday was a Spey casting lesson for two friends staying at Mochrum park, one was from the Orkneys and turns out he knows my Great cousin(uncle) Roy! we started on the Dee as it is good and wide, but within an hour it was obvious that the Hydro board had opened the barrage and the water was rising fast. I could see that the guys were looking a little uncomfortable as the water got higher very quickly and still had some way to go so we abandoned the Dee and got in the car to make the trip to the Urr. Not nearly so convenient and as the water was low could have done with more width, but still, plenty of techniques to learn and also better as could get to cast off both shoulders.

Lesson finished it was back home to cook dinner for us all and the guests.  Rachel had been out picking blackberries too so we washed and froze them until we had more time to make Jelly.

Thurday we had only one couple in and no dinner to cook, then Friday was back to the Urr for more Spey casting, this time for a local chap.  He will come back for another when he has had time to practice.

Saturday we had no guests in and it was the Macmillan cancer fundraiser competition run by Newton Stewart angling association so I decided to go. I woke up unable to speak for no apparent reason, couldn’t utter a word!!!!!  It was quite funny in a way, Kyle kept whispering to me, he obviously thought it was some kind of game.  I got to the loch and after less than an hour realised that actually I didn’t feel very well so left and came home. The rest of the family were in Kirkcudbright for the last of the summer festivities gala day so we spent some time there and then went home.

Sunday we had more guests and dinner to cook for them too, I taught Rachel how to make bread, and then we made Blackberry jelly. Monday Simon showed her how to make Pizza dough and his oat crunch biscuits and in the afternoon I had a photographer arrived to do a piece about my spinning for a book he is publishing on expert craftsmen. We then went to Cream of Galloway for Kyle to have his last day out before going home on Tuesday.

My eldest daughter and Kyle have arrived for a 2 week holiday, already Rachel has weeded one of my veg beds!!!!! We took them to Borgue for the village fete and Kyle threw a wobbly because he couldn’t do something and wouldn’t accept help. he has a big temper!

We then went to the sailpast at Kirkcudbright, it has been a gloriously hot day and unfortunately the house is plagued with wasps, I must look to see if I can find a nest somewhere. We also found a huge hawksmoth caterpillar and a Wood wasp, which apparently are harmless though look like they could kill with a sting.  The chickens have laid 3 eggs today which is a bit better and they have almost stopped moulting, even the one which was in a strop the other day seems to have cheered up somewhat, maybe something to do with muttering “casserole” at her.

I have just finished running a 2 day workshop here at Linthorpe for 3 ladies who I met through Ravelry, Ros who has been twice before and Lisa who came for one day as she was on holiday with her family and Jo who stayed with us overnight.

We covered carding with some lovely soft Shetland wool and then did some American Longdraw spinning or what I call point of draw spinning. Then we moved on to traditional English woolen long draw spinning, all went well and all three were spinning good yarn by the end of the day.  We went into Kirkcudbright for a pub meal and took Jo to see the Scottish night in the harbour square. There was an amazing rainbow and very dramatic sky, just the kind of light that artists dream of and what makes the area so popular with artists and photographers.  Today Jo and Ros did more longdraw spinning, getting a thicker yarn and then spun some black Zwartbles fleece short draw from combed roving so that they could ply making a bullion type yarn with the Zwartbles as the core yarn, they looked very successful, we had a really fun couple of days with lots of chat and cake.