Pentney Lakes, where John Block was the much-loved warden
Norfolk's countryside lost one of its true characters when John Block lost his battle with cancer, writes Chris Bishop.
He was as old as the hills and he lived on steak and potatoes, washed down with the odd whisky or two, in a cabin in the woods at Pentney Lakes, where he was on-site warden after retiring from farming.
John wasn't a man for the indoor life. He knew the wildlife above and beneath the surface like the back of his leathery hands.
His wry observations on life and the many anglers who crossed his path peppered our bankside chats like buckshot - not to mention the occasional brush with officialdom.
"You won't catch 'em here - they're all over there," he said countless times, pointing off to some distant swim. "I keep telling you boys you're in the wrong place but no-one listens to Old John."
With his ancient spaniel Mr Fonty plodding along behind, he did his rounds on an electric mobility scooter for the last couple of winters as age and illness finally began to overtake him.
This silent mode of transport meant he could creep up right behind you and make you jump out of your skin, before he'd disappear in a fog of cigar smoke, laughing like a drain.
Not so long ago, he'd be thundering up the Coast Road to Hunstanton on his Harley Davidson on fine afternoons. He never took his 'Hawg out when it rained.
But he'd be out beside his beloved lakes through the worst of the winter, pondering nature's comings and goings with our rag tag crew even when he knew his days were numbered.
His vice-like grip had loosened a notch or two when we shook hands at the end of last season. "Don't you worry, I'll see you come September," he said.
John died on October 29, surrounded by his family. When I heard he'd left us, I thought about leaving a wreath in the Barbecue Swim, but somehow that wasn't John. I went fishing elsewhere, leaving the pike in Pentney in peace.
As dusk fell over the Fens and I wound the baits in, the geese cried like they were mourning a lost friend. I poured a whisky, mouthed a toast and threw the rest in the river, before I packed the rods away in tears.
John left a lasting mark on many anglers. His funeral is at Mintlyn Crematorium on Wednesday, November 9 (4pm). Family flowers only, donations to Cancer Research UK.