Years ago, and in the early nineties, I was running a piece of business for GrandMet, and working from the UK HQ in Harlow New Town in Essex. The Whitbread business (then into brewing and pubs, wines and spirits, as well as retail, restaurants and off licences, and much unlike today’s hospitality group) owned the Threshers chain, and latterly Victoria Wine and other acquired chains, such as Ashe & Nephew.

The company was run by the legendary Gerry Walton and Ralph Hayward, and they, understanding the value of trading relationships, annually would host a special evening of , dining and entertainment (unusual for a client company!), which in the year in question, was at Blenheim Palace, home of the Marlboroughs, and latterly the seat of the Churchills.

I mused…’there’s a decent trout stream nearby, n’est-ce pas?’ and, ‘doesn’t The Bull at Fairford manage a stretch of it?’  Thank you Trout & Salmon’ classifieds!

Sometime in the 90’s – the Coln

It was June and with the Black Tie beckoning, an early afternoon arrival at the hotel, meant only some three hours fishing, but this was pre-Mission, and recreational.  The day was sunny and the river above the Bull beat looked promising because it did not include the children, dog walkers and the many locals enjoying their riverside on my beat, below the road bridge.

Amongst flowing weed, only a few fish rose in the bright light and distractions, and mine (and for a couple of other anglers) was an exasperating two and a half hours…..until, and whilst walking back to the hotel , I casually cast into a carrier and hooked and netted a ten inch fish, for my Gloucestershire trout!