Peter Rhodes on budget angling, the joy of gin and the enduring appeal of a village show

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Mortimer & Whitehouse – cheap fishing
Mortimer & Whitehouse – cheap fishing

Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing (BBC2) proved it really doesn't matter how much you spend on tackle because all the fish sees is the bait. Bob and Paul landed a magnificent tench on a short child's rod (I mean the rod was short, not the child).

I was transported back to Scotland in the 1970s when we fished in Loch Long. The biggest thing we ever caught was an 8lb cod, landed on a Little Laddy rod which still had the price label attached. It had cost 7/11 which, for reasons far too complicated to explain to younger readers, was a smidgeon under 40p.

And off to the village show, a celebration of cakes, pies, and rude-shaped vegetables which has been going for more than a century and seems to get better every year. The standard of some exhibits was stunning, including a superb photo of a kingfisher exploding in a cloud of water droplets, as good as anything on the Countryfile calendar. It is reassuring that village shows still produce not only great exhibitors but expert judges prepared to solemnly inspect a swede resembling a bottom and declare it Highly Commended.

On what may have been the last sunny Sunday of 2021, friends invited us around for gin on the lawn. Artisan gin with aromatic tonic and slices of cucumber, to be precise. One of the best freebies (sorry, research trips) I ever had was a 1990s jaunt to Umbria with Gordon's Gin to report on the juniper harvest. In those days, the gin-makers feared their product was getting old-fashioned. Vive la difference today in a Britain awash with chic micro-distilleries and beguiling gin-based infusions.

Gossip, gin and juniper. And just when all seems perfect with the world, I walked into town and realised my wallet and I had parted company. Dropped? Pickpocketed? Who knows? But what a pain it is to have to cancel the cards and wait for new ones, especially when your sense of urgency is not shared by the bank. “Call us immediately,” is their stern online instruction. But when you call you discover the bank's app is not working and the phone queue is 20 minutes and growing.

I won't miss the bus pass or my organ-donor card, gone with my wallet, but I'm sad to have lost my old press card. It was a reminder of some happy times and, like most old hacks' press cards, had expired years ago.

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