Doo Bop

IMG_0668Today I went just-fishing, but I wanted fishing-plus. So I went Doo Bop! style. I began to interpret the river, to understand it and the wildlife within and around. I moved in harmony with the flow, blending with the weirs and pools. It wasn’t extreme, it was art. I became sensitive to a spectrum of colours and sounds, shadows and reflections, still doing the Doo Bop! The ordinary became the extraordinary. The Doo Bop! method worked. I was the jazz fisherman of Waterland. The Cool Catcher, the Reel Deel, the Hot Rod and the Doo Boperoonie!  Oh yes!

Express yourself….

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Waterland Dark

IMG_0378The light was blindingly brilliant as we occasionally and briefly emerged from yet another tunnel. We usually moved from darkness into darkness.

There was some accidental jostling on a particularly narrow footbridge, beneath one of the deeper, bleaker passages. The space around was cathedral-like. Whispers echoed for many seconds. It was all a little disorientating. Millions of damp and blackened bricks surrounded us. Last winter the roof above was covered by massive icicles, glass stalactites, that became dangerous as the temperature rose in spring.

Some of the tunnels and culverts were built to tame the Five Rivers. I’m not sure if this has happened. Their normally benign and benevolent waters can feel secret, sinister and malevolent in the deep black, as they flow inexorably to towards the Northern Sea.

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The White Artefact

IMG_0241Do the William Whizz along Wasser Strasse, and before you know it you’re in Wasserfeld. Built on and around seven hills, sliced by the Fünf Flüsse, there are more trees here than you can shake a stick at. Ja! This is Wasserfeld! In the post-industrial, microchip, nano-second, machine age.

We used to live in the Rostgürtel, Liebling, but now it’s up, up and away! Devastatingly schön, brutal and simple. From dereliction arises excellence. Nature – technology – humanity. Die Heilige Dreifeltigkeit!

Let’s bless this Altstadt in which we experience the highs and lows of life, and give thanks for all the unadulterated water flowing endlessly through it. We also pay our respects to the history of Die Weiβe Artefakt.


Welcome to Wasserland!

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Flying under the rodar (two)

IMG_0439Dippers dipping, dodging, ducking and diving, having a scrap on the S2 river in winter, one appearing to have the upper-wing. Take no notice of all this aggression, concentrate on the fish. Easy for you to say. Here they come, oblivious, flapping and fighting beneath your rod. A battling ball of brown, slate grey and white. One breaks free and attempts to stand its ground only to be immediately set upon by the other. The former dives to escape, and disappears into the water for a few relatively safe seconds. It bobs back to the surface and is promptly attacked, then chased upstream. A territorial dispute vanishes beneath a bridge, into shadows, and you resume fishing.

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Flying under the rodar (one)

IMG_0447A blur of orange-red beneath my father’s rod. It took a few micro-seconds to register that I’d seen something special. I turned to my right and then saw two times electric blue winging away straight and true, smoothly over the weir, disappearing swiftly along the curve of the Mother River. A perfect pair of kingfishers piping piercingly. They had flown through the triangle of rod, line and river, appearing like fractured light through a glass prism.

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IMG_0434Ghostly grey, with a strident voice and a slow-motion wing action. The sight and sound of an ancient heron at close quarters is unnerving, especially early in the morning, surrounded by nothing but flowing water, crooked trees, shafts of misted sunlight and long shadows. You were under the impression that humankind ruled the planet, but now best intentions temporarily disappear and boldness becomes hesitancy. Nog is here.

Nog’s harsh call heightens the primeval feel of the moment. The twenty-first century is a fading memory. Shock and delight invade your body’s cells in equal measure. You are awe-inspired. Nog is not a fussy eater. Anything edible by the waterside is at risk.

Sleep no more by the Five Rivers, your bones may be picked clean….

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T’ flood (a monument to?)

IMG_0351Look at the manicured lawns, the peaceful shimmering water and the solid dam wall.  This was the starting point of so much death and destruction one night in 1864….


It’s difficult, sometimes, to go fishing on the Five Rivers, especially the Loxley and the Don, and not think about the Sheffield Flood of 1864. We may not recognise the date, but thousands of people living in Sheffield today will have heard of t’ flood.

Over 250 people died as a result of the Dale Dyke Dam collapsing. A ‘three storey’ wall of water swept down the Loxley and Don Valleys. Death and destruction ensued. Water carried bodies and wreckage as far as Rotherham, Mexborough and Doncaster. The force of the flood was almost spent in Doncaster but, even there, some cellars were flooded – a distance of well over twenty miles from the stricken dam wall, a mile or so west of Low Bradfield.

In Peter Machan’s brilliant book* he says:

“The tumult caused as the flood swept down the valley that dismal night disturbed more than the bed of the river. It stirred the mud of mid-Victorian society, revealing its poverty, squalor and shame.”

It seems strange that the country’s greatest loss of life during peacetime, appears to be consistently ignored by any authority. There are monuments the length and breadth of the UK to unfortunate events resulting in death and destruction. Perhaps there ought to be a constructive discussion regarding the potential for a monument, somewhere in Sheffield, to the victims of events that happened on the night of 11th March 1864.

*Peter Machan, 1999, The Dramatic Story of the Sheffield Flood of March 11th 1864, 3rd Edition, Sheffield, ALD Design and Print.

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