WHILE his son has the weight of the free world on his shoulders, former US President George Bush Snr enjoyed a break near Winchester with a spot of fly-fishing.

The 41st President is a regular guest at the exclusive four-star Lainston House Hotel, at Sparsholt.

Mr Bush who was flanked by Secret Service agents during his week-long stay spent several days on the banks of the River Test near Stockbridge, and even caught an 8lb trout.

During previous stays he has visited local businesses, including Robjents fishing equipment shop in Stockbridge, and The Peat Spade pub in Longstock.

But Mr Bush has grown accustomed to the luxurious surroundings of Lainston House, which is situated in 63 acres of lush parkland and boasts 50 bedrooms, starting at £120 a night.

"It was a pleasure to have him here again, he is really very charming and a complete gentleman," said Julian Tomlin, the hotel's general manager.

"Some of the guests can't quite believe it when they see him, but some have now met him a few times and are now quite friendly.

"We take it in our stride. We have a number of inportant guests who will bring their own secruity."

Those celebrity guests have included ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, comedian John Cleese and Hollywood actress Jamie-Lee Curtis, Madonna and Guy Ritchie, Eric Clapton, James Brown, and the King and Queen of Greece.

Actress Cate Blanchett stayed recently when she was filming The Golden Age at Winchester Cathedral.

Mr Bush was president from 1989 to 1993 when he was defeated by Democrat Bill Clinton.

Previously, he was a senator, director of the CIA, and an oil magnate.