A casting lesson on the Border Esk, on the Buccleuch estates, taken in blissful silence save for mewing buzzards, silkily rippling water and the irreverent plop of a jiving salmon. Plus the odd over-enthusiastic smack of line on water as pupil confuses vigorously cracking a hunting whip with gently wielding a salmon rod.
The sign of a good lesson, whether it’s in skiing or Latin verbs, is to come away with one brilliantly simple instruction that sticks; I went to sleep with my line in a perfect ‘D’ shape behind me. Kevin, our instructor, has never travelled north of Howick nor south of Blackburn in Lancashire. On this glorious day, it seems a sensible rule. He only goes to Blackburn ‘I don’t like not being able to see the stars’ to visit his tattooist.
We don’t often talk tattoos in Country Life, but Kevin’s are exquisite. He has his wire-haired pointer, a fox, a roe buck, a spaniel retrieving a pheasant, a fishing fly, a leopard ‘that was a mistake, it’s coming off’-birds traced from a Thorburn book and an entire grouse-moor scene across his back. Happily, he’s still got spare skin for more.
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