I STAYED IN THE HILTON, CHAMPIONS LEAGUE IN CYPRUS, CARP FISHING IN SHROPSHIRE (Blog entry 680)

This week’s blog entry kicks off with The New Saints FC and Champions League football. Following the home tie against Apoel, the Champions of Cyprus, the wanderlust again kicked in. Due to a very early flight to the Mediterranean island, the team travelled on the Saturday afternoon and stayed in the Novotel at Birmingham International. If I say it is literally a stone’s throw away from the airport I’m not exaggerating, as it is situated just yards away from the departures entrance. Even with no distance involved though, it still meant a 3.30 a.m. rise.

As a very keen angler, however, it was all in a day’s work. Over the years I’ve fished thousands of nights, arrived home in the early hours and beat the lark numerous times in order to get out bank-side. Following some waiting, flying and driving, approximately twelve hours later we arrived at the Hilton, Nicosia. I could get used to this. My vacations involve a week in a caravan in Wales with my wife.  In fact, on my own personal Facebook account I did indeed milk it. From photographs in the pool through to just posing in the impressive lounge, I posted them all. They were all accompanied with a ‘I don’t know if I told you, but I’m in the Hilton’ type of comment. Well, it’s all good fun of course, but yes it was indeed a very nice place to stay.

Living the life in Cyprus and on the pitch for a training session
Living the life in Cyprus and on the pitch for a training session

My roommate in Cyprus, as indeed for the overnighter in Birmingham, was Sam Thomas. If you listen to TNS Radio then you’ll be familiar with the name, and indeed the voice, as it’s Sam who is on air with me during the broadcasts. He’s also the technical magician as well, and gets us going when it seems like we have a behind-the-scenes mountain to climb. I have so much confidence in his ability, that I know we will always be on air. He just knows what to do to make it happen. Occasionally we are really up against it from a connection point of view. In the early days of TNS Radio we struggled with getting online sometimes, but nowadays that is a rare occurrence, and any time-out is usually for a very short time only.

The broadcast, from the national stadium, went well. Even though we had competition from the likes of S4C, who showed the game on TV, through to BBC Radio, we had lots of interaction with listeners via Twitter. I want to give a massive personal thank you to everyone who does tune in, you are very much appreciated. And I really mean that. The game itself was always going to be an uphill struggle, and so it turned out to be. However, as we said on air, like a high quality sponge, the team absorbed the pressure and we went into the break 0-0. It took a deflection on 54 minutes for Apoel to shatter the deadlock. From then on they added two more, but while I was disappointed in defeat, I also felt immensely proud of the never-say-die team attitude.

With Natalia and at the stadium
With Natalia and in the press box, where the sun made a photo difficult

Connecting initially via social media (it’s a good medium when used in a positive way), and then in person prior to the game, I met with 2016 Face Of The Globe Wales winner, Natalia Mavromoustaki, while I was in Cyprus. It was great to get a photo outside the ground, with Nat wearing her sash, and then to interview her for a TNS Radio Football Show podcast. She’s a great girl and does a lot of good-works. As someone who runs a small charity myself, that operates mostly in Africa, I always appreciate it when I see folks who sacrifice time to get involved in the lives of others. It’s even better when it’s young people that are getting their sleeves rolled up. Sometimes the younger generation are seen in a very negative light, but as indeed this example shows, there is a lot of positivity if you look closely enough.

Anyway, back to the football, and a warm welcome to our latest fan. We became friends on Facebook while I was in Cyprus, and it was great to see Natalia posting TNS-related stuff on her timeline. The plan is that one day she will be able to make a game in the Dafabet Welsh Premier League. Talking of the WPL, the opening fixture draws closer, as we take on Aberystwyth Town at home on August 14. In the meantime though, there will be friendlies. Whether at Park Hall, or on the road, we’d love to see you at a game. If you can’t be there in person, well, the next best thing is to listen to TNS Radio. Either way, hope to connect with you soon.

This is the sort of pool that I really like though
This is the sort of pool that I really like though

Back home Thursday morning at 4.30 am, after having left home the previous Saturday at 11.15 am, it was a long time away for just ninety minutes of football. When you think of it, football doesn’t make sense does it. You wouldn’t dream of doing all that for just an hour and a half on the bank, would you? Talking of fishing though, I couldn’t wait to get back out. Friday lunchtime (if you’re reading this on publication day, it’s very much up-to-date this week) saw me setting up on one of my favourite Kinver Freeliners venues, the Seggy Pool, which is near Bridgnorth in Shropshire. The carp are mostly smaller, in fact a double is a decent one. However, first and foremost, angling has to be enjoyable and I always enjoy my sessions on there.

The club, by the way, has some excellent waters on its books. It’s well-run with common-sense rules. The down side though, if you can call it that, is that there is a waiting list. However, why not contact secretary, Martyn Lloyd, via the KFAC website and get your name down? It’s free and there’s nothing to lose. Anyway, back to my one and only session this week. Last time I paid a visit, just a week or so ago, my chosen swims were all taken. This time it was like it is in the winter when I visit. I had the place to myself. I had picked up on a few comments though that it wasn’t fishing very well. That was fine, I was up for the challenge.

An enjoyable afternoon carp fishing
An enjoyable afternoon carp fishing

As well as being one of my favourite spots, because I love the natural setting, I’ve also never blanked on there either. Normally you are looking at commercial-type venues when you think of runs-waters, but here you’ve got the best of both worlds. It’s not hard but the surroundings are great. It’s not a day-ticket either so don’t turn up saying I told you to fish it. The reason I say that is because a similar thing happened some time ago. Some anglers fished a particular venue and decided to stay the night, which isn’t allowed. When the bailiff came they said it’s ok, Stewart Bloor said we can. I don’t even know who they were and I never even said anything remotely like that to anyone, so it couldn’t even have been mis-read.

Fortunately it was no issue with the club, they didn’t even have to ask me, they immediately knew that that someone was chancing it. I don’t have any authority in any angling club, so the only information I can give anyone is what is found in the rules and regulations page of the website. You can check out the session via the video at the head of the blog entry. The left rod was strawberry jam pop-ups over boilies and Edge match pellets and the right one 2x tutti frutti corn-shaped boilies over Attract betain tutti frutti pellets. I have fished with SBS Baits exclusively for some years now. I also know that many anglers are cynical when it comes to writers who promote bait companies.

It was really good to get back on the bank
It was really good to get back on the bank

Let me say at this point though that the company has never even suggested that I promote a particular product. You know you sort of thing, maybe something needs a kick start or it’s flagging and it requires a push. What I fish with has always been my choice. That’s why I’m always more than happy to promote and push the baits that I use. In my experience, the company has 100% credibility and thats why I trust the products. When I go fishing I always give the bait approach lots of thought. Then when I start to choose stuff from my bait shelf, it’s always with total confidence. And we know how important that is in angling don’t we.

Finally, I have an active social media presence on the internet and you can connect with me via Twitter and my Facebook page, with links to both elsewhere on this page. In addition, feel free to add me on my own personal Facebook account. Click the link below and send me a friend request. In addition, there’s my YouTube channel which has now passed 1.5 million views. You can subscribe to that and get the weekly video in your inbox as soon as it’s uploaded.  (Published July 23 2016)

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