Somehow, it was always clear that if my children went to university, it would be in the UK. It must have been a dreadful culture shock for both of them, because I had indoctrinated them with a view of the country as I knew it when last living there, which was 1977. It must have been a sort of reverse Life on Mars.

Anyway, in autumn 1998 off my daughter went, to study marine biology in Hull. There was no WhatsApp or FB in those days, but I was so happy for her to be jumping with both feet into the wider world (little did I know).

In 2001 she and her friend – and fellow marine biologist – Josie decided to come and spend Easter with us. We drove to Hoek van Holland to fetch them from the ferry. Stopping for a break on the way home Josie ordered a cup of tea. I will never, ever forget her face when the Dutch waitress brought a glass mug of hottish water, an envelope with some sort of teabag lying next to it on the tray.

We, and our friends here, so enjoyed that visit. It was a delight showing Josie our lovely city. We drove with the two of them to the Harz mountains, and rode in the cable car up with the Hexentanzplatz.

During that visit, they painted our bathroom door, which you can see as this week’s header. That door is still one of the most precious things in our house.

Then off they went back to Hull, and after getting their degrees their lives took different paths. Both of them still love their science, the oceans and their fish and molluscs.

My daughter – after stages in India, on the Atlantic and in Ireland, ended up on Borneo:

And a few years ago Josie buzzed off to South Africa, where she works at the South Africa Institute for Biodiversity. She tells me it’s funded by the National Research Foundation ( the South African Government), and celebrated its 50th Birthday as an institute in 2019.

From Josie:

“SAIAB isn’t based near the sea which confuses people but the reason why it’s where it is is because JLB smith the man who described the Coelacanth was a prof at Rhodes University which is our neighbour…

“My primary research at SAIAB is an investigation into the biology and impacts of common carp Cyprinus carpio in South Africa. I am carrying out life-history assessments and field surveys to determine biology, abundance and impacts, and I am using stable isotope analysis to look at trophic interactions with native fishes, plants and invertebrates. In addition I am examining the value of carp as a food and sport fish.”

Here she is:

Thanks to facebook I see that she and her students are offering five-minute talks, “Showcasing the freshwater enviroment”:

Here is Episode one, you will need to brush up your SiLozi, which (Josie tells me) is one of the 72 languages of Zambia!

Just in case you’re wondering about the title this week, here you are. For everyone who cares about fish, and fishermen:

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