20 Feb 2011
It's that time of year again - general maintenance of rods, lines, tackle and clothing. One thing I'm often tempted to overlook, but rarely if ever do overlook, is....leather. Some of my fishing bags have leather lendings; all of my watch-straps, too, are leather. Now leather cracks and generally goes to buggery if it's not maintained, and while most of us are, I dare say, quite good at shining our shoes, and even proofing our wading-boots, we might not be quite so good at (if I may put it this way) maintaining our old bags, nor indeed those watch-straps that spend at least part of the year being assaulted by saltwater and the sea-trout tides.
I have two bags: a venerable Barbour, now 24 years old, which I bought with my first-ever proper royalty cheque and of which I am suspiciously fond; and a new Bowland tackle bag (from Fawcett's of Lancaster: www.fawcettsonline.com) which doubles as a splendid shoulder-bag for travelling. Both have, yes, leather lendings, and I make sure that the exposed leather gets treated twice yearly, once in the autumn and then again in the spring. Old-fashioned dubbin is as good as anything. I suppose the fact that the Barbour game bag is still going strong after two hard-fished and well-travelled decades is a tribute not only to the durability of the original design but also to my strange assiduity in turning into a leather-lover twice a year.