4 November 2002

Ullswater: Fishing and my Mother.

When we lived at Sharrow Bay in the summer evenings we would sometimes go for a walk with our mother down into the wood and round the lake edge. One of our stopping places was a stone built landing stage for boats now unused. This was the time of WW2 , dig for Victory and exploit any food source lying dormant. One exploited food source by the government was the fish in the lakes of the UK and Ullswater was one of them. Fish traps were placed in the lake and after a day or two a boat with empty fish boxes would visit, haul in the traps, extract the fish, bait and reset the traps. Full boxes were heavy and cumbersome in small boats so the full fish boxes were off loaded at fixed points to be picked up later by a larger boat.

One of the off loading points was our landing stage. Often on our walks 2-3 fish boxes were waiting on the landing stage for pickup along with a sack or two of eels. My mother would open the fish boxes until she found the last box filled and then she would look for live fish, then she would instruct us to take the stronger fish, hold them in the water until they regained their strength and let them go. It was never more than 3 or 4 fish.

Later in life I occasionally would wonder why she did this, she was a farmers daughter and well used to taking and preparing fowl and animals for food. What I do remember is my mother was compassionate. Our male dog Gyp used to wander and often come home worse for wear from fights with the larger local farm dogs, usually torn and bleeding. He always went looking for my mother who after scolding him would drop immediately what she was doing, head for the first aid cupboard and patch Gyp up---still scolding him. She was compassionate with animals.
It never occurred to us to take any of the fish from the boxes. Times differed then in British country life, this was a time when doors could be left open, people as a rule did not usually steal just as it was here in NZ in later bygone years.

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