Outdoor intentions succumb to Christmas laziness

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The Independent Online

Today I was to regale you with tales of my aprés Christmas fishing exploits where I went and blew away the festive laziness with bracing walks and elegant casting to subservient fish.

Today I was to regale you with tales of my aprés Christmas fishing exploits where I went and blew away the festive laziness with bracing walks and elegant casting to subservient fish. Sadly, no. I had to have a bit of a minor operation, quite unexpectedly, so have been unable to do very much at all, let alone anything as energetic as fly-fishing can be. I had to be surgically removed from the armchair, you see, as I had fused with it over the Christmas period and my movement was cut down to the odd shuffle to the bathroom, kitchen, or dipping down into the obligatory holiday Quality Street box.

All of this took me completely by surprise as I had approached December in peak physical condition and in a tsunami of organisation. As far as I was concerned, Christmas was to be but a one-day pit stop in a circuit of brisk activity. But then my batteries just ran out and I just crashed into the armchair. Luckily I had purchased four sets of Lureflash How to Tie... which I had seen advertised in the December issue of a fishing magazine (the company ask you to fill in the mail order application form in order to buy the kits but as the magazine is no longer on sale I can't see how they can turn good money away, so call: 01709 580081 or email: sales@lureflash.co.uk). And they arrived just before Christmas.

These are excellent kits. For £2.99 a piece you get a How to tie... pack of either 10 Ally's Shrimps; Irish Shrimp Clarets; Bann Shrimp Special or Silver Stoat's Tail. You get instructions – which I have to say could do with being more detailed – and the more or less exact measured out materials you will need for making said fly. They are just like those sponge mix packs you get for cakes, but for fishing flies – everything you could need is in there you just have to open the packet and get down to it. And I fully aim to do this, soon.

The really great thing about them is that unless you tie a lot of your own flies, some of the materials can be quite expensive as you have to buy a whole cape of feathers when you might only need one, or an entire reel of tinsel when you just want a smidgen. They would make an excellent present for a fisherman (yes I know I should have told you about them in time for Christmas but I hadn't seen them then).

This time of year, when so many of us voluntarily give up the use of our arms and legs in favour of flopping and lolling, sounds great in principle, doesn't it? But I hate the way it turns me into an indoor bunny instead of the strident, outdoors hare I fancy myself as. In 48 hours I – I say I but this has happened to my fellow fishermen too (I know because we just about have the energy to text message each other) – become all weedy and too comfortable by the fire or central heating. How can it happen so quickly? The thought of standing by the river's bank spotting fish, wading in cold, fast water or having to squat down behind a bush to go to the toilet seems like something a madder me did once upon a long, long time ago. Now, just standing up to brush the fleece blanket from my knees to fix myself a balanced meal seems a chore of wading-the-Tay in January proportions (oh my GOD, did I really ever do that?)

One of my Dorset fisher-friends sent me a text the day after Boxing Day. "There's a long stick-like thing with a line by the front door [he had packed to go fishing the night before], what's it for? Is it for lasso-ing Christmas chocolates from under the tree?" Another texted to say that she had developed an allergy to wearing anything other than brushed cotton pyjamas and couldn't possibly consider getting into "itchy fleece pants and waterproofs". Oops, sorry that was me texting an excuse to my Boxing Day fishing friends who, I later discovered, decided that they all had fisherman's elbow and retired instead to the pub for a hearty lunch and elbow bending with a different purpose.

There will of course be a large proportion of you that will regard this all with snorting and derision and have been out enjoying the outdoors with gusto. Well good luck to you, I say. There will be other fishermen, I will wager, to whom all this makes perfect, disgusting sense. I like to think we are closer to nature, hibernating and laying down fat stores for the hard fishing days ahead in January. In fact we are not being lazy at all. We are practising the art of being very, very still which, all good fishermen know, is an essential skill. Happy New Year!

a.barbieri@independent.co.uk

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