Since joining Barton Court in Autumn 2017, I have been made welcome and know that I am part of an amazing team. I have been a member of teams that had to be tight because of the stuff raining down on them. At Barton Court we are tight because we are happy and like one another. More importantly, we all know that we are here because Sir Terence and his family want us to be here.
Growing up in West Wales, I only started to fish as a part of my wider curiosity about wildlife. I had caught minnows in my little nets but there were some enormous fish that I only ever saw as fleeting shadows in the streams. I gathered advice from every adult I could find who had ever fished and begged and borrowed all manner of broken fishing tackle. Despite this information and equipment, I eventually caught one of these giants of the stream. A brown trout of at least 6 inches/very nearly 6 inches.
I have a clear memory of my life changing at that moment. After 9 long, aimless years of life I finally had a purpose. I still love fishing for trout.
A little while later I read ‘The Keeper of the Stream’ and, for the last 20 years, my life has been the rivers. There were a few bits in between these 2 stages.
I have a very simple philosophy about river management. If I manage the river for wild trout and for native wildlife in general, the visiting rods will find themselves on a great fishery and go home with memories of more than just the fishing to keep them warm on a winter evening.
I would love to see the Kennet rise from the status of Princess to become the Queen of the Chalk Streams.
I have been fortunate to live on the banks of the River Kennet since 1993 when we moved to Barton Court .
At the time I was 13 years old. We moved here from the south of France where I would be out fishing at any opportunity albeit the catch was limited to small Mediterranean fish using a short pole and bread paste for bait. Imagine my excitement to find my new home had a river full of fish at the bottom of the garden. Excitement quickly turned to frustration when I found out the fishing rights did not come with the house.
Fortunately, there was some respite in its former use as a prep school, complete with a river fed swimming pool at the bottom of the garden. By the time I moved in it was heavily silted and a fine home for a few perch, roach and the occasional small pike. I would often drag a spinner through the pool, hoping for a pike, but if nothing showed any interest a few “stray casts” would end up in the river proper, often earning me the wrath of the riparian owner.
This is where I caught my first trout. At the time I was disappointed it wasn’t a massive pike, but it was truly the most beautiful fish I had ever seen. It’s the angry red spots I remember the most vividly, set within its burnished copper flanks.
And so I got the the trout fishing bug and fly fishing became a serious hobby of mine. Thankfully, my errant and excitable casts as a youngster didn't earn me a lifetime ban and I have enjoyed many successful seasons fishing here at Barton Court since.