New columnist Laura Bott takes a group fishing in Green Park, London with Orvis
On Wednesday 27th January, Orvis hosted an afternoon where they taught guests to fly fish in the middle of London in Green Park.
Led by Orvis director Richard Banbury, the afternoon began with an introduction to the sport and an explanation that the cornerstone of fly-fishing is all about the cast, a process that is (supposedly) as simple as moving one’s arm.
Shortly afterwards, we left the warmth of Orvis’ Regent Street store and made a short journey along Jermyn Street up on to Piccadilly, past The Ritz and into Green Park. In such an urban setting, the sight of fishing rods bobbing up-and-down attracted no shortage of attention. A quizzical Jeremy Paxman even stopped to ask where we expected to find water in Green Park.
With Buckingham Palace as our backdrop, we were given a casting masterclass before being handed the rods ourselves so that we could all try our hand. There was plenty of guidance courtesy of Orvis ghillies and Orvis UK brand ambassador Marina Gibson and surprisingly we were told we had taken to the art of casting like fish to water (even if one or two of the more ambitious casters found themselves snagged in trees and rogue umbrellas).
With the clouds rolling in and the sky growing increasingly ominous, we returned to the warmth of the Orvis store to be greeted by a very welcome glass of Gusbourne Brut Reserve. In turn, Ben Walgate, CEO of Gusbourne, told of the merits of his English sparkling wines and talked through the processes used on his Kent vineyards. I wholeheartedly recommend them as well balanced, characterful and frankly delicious.
Gloucester born Will and Calum Thompson of Eat Wild followed with a live cooking demonstration, preparing trout poached in vermouth, with horseradish cream that they served on a bed of watercress. The enthusiastic duo explained their brand beginnings, tracking their journey from selling game out of a van at festivals to the almost two year anniversary of their Cirencester restaurant.
The success of this charming twosome isn’t hard to understand: their menu offers top quality game in unstuffy, American-fast-food-influenced recipes, albeit with a British twist. Indeed, the pair modestly announced that when it comes to the food they serve: “Nothing we do is difficult”.
Gathered around the fly table, sampling the melt-in-your-mouth trout, Calum explained: “We believe that if you take a life, you use it – it’s all about respecting what you catch”. The pairs’ goal is to change the perception of game as they take the view that “it’s not just for rich people and hillbillies” and they also wish to “protect the sports [they] love”. These final words aligned perfectly with those of James Doyle, fieldsports manager for Orvis, who added:
“Through Orvis’ desire to protect fish and champion fishing, its Learn to Fly-Fish programme is committed to showcasing the modern world of fly-fishing to anyone with a sense of wonder about the outdoors. By removing traditional boundaries and improving accessibility to the sport, Orvis are introducing the sport to thousands people every year and helping to secure the future of fishing and fish habitats”.
Our afternoon certainly led me to one conclusion and that was that you can most certainly appreciate what the countryside has to offer; whether you live there or not.
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