Casting For Recovery Retreat – Kimbridge
My weekend started early on Friday with a lovely drive to the beautiful River Test in Hampshire with CFR UK & Ireland retreat organiser and all round wonderful lady Sue Shaw.
All retreats are unique as they are held in a variety of venues from hotels, country estates to self catering accommodation near fishing lakes. The only English retreat this year was being held on the truly stunning estate of Kimbridge – the ladies were in for a treat.
With all CFR retreats there is a lot of hard work and preparation before the ladies arrive. I was a retreat assistant and working with Ali – a retired scientist who was involved in research in to aids and cancer – and also enjoys spinning yarn in her spare time. Together we had to ensure all equipment was ready for the ladies to use for their fishing sessions, supporting our casting coaches Sally and Tony. Rooms prepared for the sessions.
The ladies arrived at 5pm to a hot drink and a slice or two of cake prepared by Fred and Ginger cake company and introductions from the staff. Then it was off outside and an introduction to fly fishing with casting instructor Sally and a chance to have a go themselves. A first this year as the weather was so lovely the ladies were given their fly fishing equipment outside – it was great fun with lots of giggles from the girls. Then it was back in doors to the first meal prepared by the caterers Jill and her team. Along with exceptional staff, the food is superb.
Day one – casting lessons, entomology, flies along with group counselling sessions and talks from the retreats specialist breast cancer nurse. Whilst the ladies were enjoying a well earned rest we had a few hours of R&R and our very kind host Clay Brendish said we could fish his very well stocked trout ponds or fish one mile of River Test – how generous and a real treat. Walking along pristine banks casting a line upstream, heaven – words can not match the excitement as I walked along the Test casting a line – fishing in gin-clear water – and seeing fish move towards your fly – great fun. The evening was finished with a meal with the ladies and reflections of a wonderful day.
Day two and our fantastic fishing guides arrived – more tea and biscuits then a briefing from head coach Sally and the ladies arrived ready to go fishing. After a group session of reflection with the talented medical team – the ladies were ready to go fishing.
Kimbridge lived up to its name as one of the foremost fly fishing location in the UK with the finest fighting fish. The ladies were into fish within 1 minute – the quickest catches on any retreat. Every lady had caught fish by the first break – the lodge was a buzz with talk of how big the fish with many 7 lb pound plus specimens. The estates river keeper collected the fish then gutted and cleaned each fish ready for the ladies to take home.
After a final lunch this time with the guides and the pink ladies and thanks another successful retreat came to an end.
The pink ladies then started packing the retreat back into boxes and even the boys got their hands dirty and did the dishes too.
Anne Woodcock. CFR retreat assistant Kimbridge 2014.