Thursday, 13 August 2020

Increasingly Testing and Testing

Testing, Testing, One, Two, Three,


The all new and improved platform provided by the dimbulbs and dunderheads at google blogger remains a crock of shite,

This is not just a view of my own,

from the thousands of emails that have flooded in, since the last chunk of guff was posted, a consensus appears to have formed,

Well done Google Blogger, well done, whatever were you thinking?

Thanks to the kind bloggers who have phoned in with advice on clever dodges to defeat this Medusa that Google have placed before us (Aid from google blogger has been slow to materialise)

Apologies to those who receive pushes, prods and notifications about previous chunks of guff in what has become an interminable back catalogue. I don’t yet know how to turn off this “exciting new feature” which has three times led me to wake in the night, sit bolt upright and exclaim “Lawks! Did I really say that?”

Google Blogger,

I don’t need people dragging up the past and asking questions on guff loosely laid down ten years ago,

move on eh.

There is much to discuss and I have several missives amd images of some import already laid down ready for reveal,

but with a Covid on, we must observe certain protocols, so please forgive this test piece in the Brave New World that Google Blogger have placed before us.

Fingers crossed it works.

Oh yes, this,

An interesting piece, germane to this house, that appeared on our local rag’s website earlier this week.

Andover Advertiser. 'Cut water use or residents will go without tap water'

News10th August

North Hampshire residents warned about water usage during heatwave

By Ryan Evans @RyanBasGazette
South East Water have said that some customers went without tap water at the end of last week
South East Water have said that some customers went without tap water at the end of last week

RESIDENTS in the South East have been without tap water this weekend, and that could happen in North Hampshire too.

That's according to water company South East water, who say that the last couple of days have seen a "record-breaking" demand for water across the region.

The unique circumstances of more people working from home than usual, combined with the soaring temperatures that are expected to continue into this week, have meant that despite upping drinking water production by 150 million litres per day, it is not enough to meet demand.

As a result, at the end of last week some customers in Kent and Sussex were without water, and unless residents cut their usage, the same might happen in parts of North Hampshire.

The company, who also supply water to Hampshire, Berkshire and Surrey, are asking customers to stay away from their hose pipes, garden sprinklers and garden water toys.

Steve Andrews, head of central operations for South East Water said: “Many people don’t realise that water is a fresh product which is produced 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“When we draw the water from deep underground or from rivers it has to be treated to a very high standard at our water treatment works before being sent along miles of pipe to homes and businesses.

“Our water technicians have been working round the clock to produce this extra drinking quality water needed - the equivalent of filling to the brim almost half a million baths – but with this record amount of water being used daily it is getting harder to keep up.

“I would like to say thank you to our many water savvy customers who are helping by being water aware, but I am now appealing to every one - household and businesses - to keep water for essential use only while the heat is on this weekend and next week.”

Since they first put out their appeal at the start of the weekend, South East Water said that demand was cut by 30 million litres on Saturday.

Among the water saving measures that the company are asking their customers to exploit include not filling paddling pools - an average pool needs around 530 litres of water to be filled to the brim. This is three times the total daily amount of water used by one person.

Other tips include:

Top up the paddling pool instead of refilling it every day. When you're finished, use the water on your plants and grass so none goes to waste
Invest in a water butt for your garden and use the harvested water on your plants (they grow better with rain water and you'll save money on your water bill too)
Remember – brown lawns bounce back
Water your pots and hanging baskets either early in the morning or during the evening to reduce evaporation in the midday sun
If you’re potting up or planting containers, use ones made from plastic, glazed terracotta or wood. These tend to lose less water than bare terracotta
Bury a short length of pipe into your pot; if you water into the tube the water goes directly to the roots where the plant needs it most
Use mulches like bark chips or gravel to retain moisture and keep weeds down
Should water supply be cut for an extended period of time, South East Water will set up bottled water stations, which are designed to meet social distancing requirements.

They will also continue to supply water to vulnerable customers, who can sign up for the Priority Services Register at:

Thank you very much Andover Advertiser, good job,

Well I think this test piece worked,

If anyone didn't receive this guff do let me know.

Happy to pop it in the post until normal working service is resumed.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

The Home Bargains Incident and a Crock of Shite

Dear Hat Mancock, 

 Now that the 16th of March is the “new” 23rd of March. Does this mean that anyone born on the 16th of March now has two birthdays a year or no birthdays a year, and will the celebrant either age twice as fast as everyone else or stay at the same age in perpetuity.

Apologies for the query.

Everything else regarding current day to day doings is brim full of clarity, it was just that I needed to know when to send a card. 

 Oh yes, when is Christmas this year, or have I missed it? 

 Asking for a friend. 

 Once again, Are we not Mugs? 

 Well the July weed cut was another event. For the last few seasons weed has taken a turn for the worse through July in a river brim full of nutrients having been deprived a winter scour. Ranunculus remains in reasonable condition and shows little sign of being overcome by the filamentous algae that has made merry in the last six summers. Hatches of fly remain disappointing. There are a few sedge and a trickle of olives, but most fish feed sub surface or pick at terrestrial dainties blown from trees. A black fly or black emerger is worth a go, or a small drab nymph, as anything flashy or splashy will cause fish to spook and bow waves will result. Shock tactics with Daddies are also worth considering. Orchids are still putting in an appearance. Seed heads formed, I would normally be topping the meadow around this time but it will be August before I mount the swipe. 

In other time travelling news, during an evening preamble up the river a week or so ago I caught a few spent Mayfly making their way back onto the water. 

Spent Mayfly in July? 

Strange times, but referring back to the opening skirmishes of this chunk of guff, the new 8th of July may well now be May the 25th, We don’t know. But they were spent mayfly alright. 

Mayfly hatch throughout the summer on the Hampshire Avon. I once caught a fish rising to Mayflies at Middle Woodford while fishing as a guest of the “Sage” of Longparish in September. It was a Sunday and I was dipping in and out of an exciting Ryder Cup finish via a discrete ear piece. The Sage, a keen golfer and talented fly fisherman, approved when my cover was blown. 

I once sat next to him at a wedding in the church that his father used to run at in the nineties. The wedding clashed with a vital Calcutta cup match that would determine the “Five Nations” as was. Johnny produced a small portable TV from his morning suit (pre mobile phones) and we watched discretely as the union was made, the muffled “Oh bollocks” as Gavin Hastings secured the win and the slam for the Scots, can be heard on the video as the groom leads his bride down the aisle from the church. 

 Cricket’s back, and Madam’s scored a few games. 

It’s an odd affair with a Bedouin feel when it comes to changing and tea, but cricket all the same which is great, and it all feels well done and safe. Well done the Hampshire Cricket League, which also seems to incorporate large swathes of Berkshire, Dorset, Sussex and Wilts. 

In hair news, To avoid crowds I touched based with my Turkish barber last Sunday when Matins was on. 

It seemed like a plan. 

 Masks were worn, shearers were sanitised and the perpetual pitch for products that would do great things for my greying locks returned, despite the proprietors own salt and pepper bonce. 

Done with clippers, Attaturk flashed ups his lighter and singed out my nose,  then my ears and eyebrows were attended to, if there was hair anywhere, he was going to have it. 

He’d been shut down for twelve weeks, and was grateful for the government grant that covered basic costs and would have gone bust without it, so well done for that Mr Sunak.

 Currently the parish is abuzz with what is now known as “The Home Bargains” incident. 

 At five thirty on Saturday afternoon the Highway to the Sun became blocked by an accident, no surprise really as it’s been rammed for the past ten days and goodness the West Country must be cramped for room. 

Clearly on a promise, a driver on his way back to the iron age Home Bargains distribution centre which forms part of the Stonehenge complex fifteen miles to the west of here, sought an alternate route for his High Capacity articulated lorry via the medium of Sat Nav. 

 Pulling off at the Bransbury turning he soon realised the error of his decision (He missed the sign warning of a road width of 6ft 6in), there was no choice other than to press on regardless. 

 Which he did, 

bringing branches and foliage crashing down onto the road. 

 I don’t know what shape the lorry was in the next morning, there were reports that he got stuck in Chilbolton, having to reverse very slowly for several hundred yards to a symphony of beeping, but please Hampshire Couty Council could we have a sign stating that this road is unsuitable for Heavy Goods Vehicles.

 The last time it happened was on a Sunday night with a lost Portuguese seeking the world’s biggest provider of bagged salad. He knocked on our door and sought assistance, but my advice to back up the road got lost in translation and he crashed on up the road taking out the church wall in the process. 

 Catholic insouciance to the C of E, or just bad driving? 

we don’t know. 

 In allotment news, this week I dug up 32kg of second earlies. Variety – Charlotte they are the best crop I have ever had, and highlight that for twenty years on my old plot all I had been doing was feed the mother of all Sycamore trees. 

 We’ve a bounty of beans various, and carrots coming out of our ears. A polytunnel has been sourced and now stands in place of my imperial greenhouse and is currently plays host to a variety of salad. The highlight being a romaine lettuce called Forellenschluss. The name means “speckled like a trout” and it’s a cracker, if you like your lettuce give it a go.

Continuity Announcer:

This chunk of guff has been brought to you by the shiny new, multi platform version of Google Blogger, 

Which is, to quote Paul Calf, " A complete crock of Shite"

Image uploader - hopeless

Preview Editor - doesn't work

Please can we have the previous version of Google Blogger back because this one doesn't work,


Thursday, 16 July 2020

Hair, Butterflies and the Potato King

This week I rolled back the years, donned my denim jacket, put in my earing and brushed my hair.

I haven’t brushed my hair for twenty years or more.

I sort of remembered what to do, and goodness there were some tangles,

But hair that required a brush all the same.

I can only see the front bit and Madam informs me that there is some form of shelf shape going on round the back. Product has been googled, quiffs considered and who knows a change of colour may be imminent.

Bar brief skirmishes with the spaniel clippers around the sides it’s been one of the more successful re-wilding projects in these parts of late.

It’s hair folks so thank you lockdown for that,

Truly a new dawn of the age of Aquarius,

now where did I put that sunshine?

Brushing my hair was followed by brushing my eyebrows, platting my nasal hair and pulling a rake across my back and chest.

In other Lockdown news (and I’ll keep it brief) Madam emerged from her educational bubble one day the other week to declare that the school were down to their last few pairs of PPE gloves. They don’t wear PPE all the time, but there are certain tasks that they must wear PPE to undertake. Madam is a first aider and must get kitted up at any sign of an incident. The recommended suppliers of PPE to the educational establishment were asking just shy of twenty pounds for a box of gloves which Madam thought sounded a tad “toppy”

I asked Madam to send me a photo of the box of PPE gloves.

The PPE gloves are the very same PPE gloves that I am paying six pound fifty for in the local country store to glove up our anglers.

I purchased five hundred pairs of gloves and dropped them off at the school.

A few questions popped into my head:

1: Who decides on recommended suppliers to schools of PPE?

2: Who holds shares in companies on the list of recommended suppliers of PPE?

3: What shall I have for lunch?

4: Why have I turned left when I should have gone right?

You’ll be aware of a mental inertia and mind drift that has set in during these crazy times (see previous chunks of guff)

The river?

Well , the general consensus among keepers that I have bumped bones with, albeit at a suitably safe social distance, is that it’s been a funny old season. Most bemoan this year’s Mayfly and a general lack of fly. It is no mid July and as I wandered aimlessly up the river yesterday evening in the name of evacuating canine bowels I saw half a dozen spent mayfly bouncing about on the water.

Once again, it’s mid July.

Fishing isn’t easy, the occasional fish take a sedge as Moss myself and Otis head upstream each morning, but most fish feed subsurface throughout the day, with a few looking up in the evening. Hatches of olive have been a little underwhelming, but kick sampling reveals plenty of larvae ligging about the gravel and weed. Weed growth remains good, so maybe they are making the most of the favourable conditions on the bed of the river and will hatch when they are ready.

Loosestrife forms the vanguard of the mid summer show in the fringe and goodness we seem to be having a big year for butterflies. Orchids are still popping up so the meadow has yet be mown, the long grass rustles with creatures various on our morning perambulate of the local.

Ducks have had a good year, but our aged dominant pair of swans have been usurped by a young couple with three young from upstream. There was quite a stand off on the top shallows for a few days before victory was secured.

Whither Wor Jackie,

Football was a little different when he Jack Charlton defended a corner.

Free from the eye of the slow motion replay, VAR and the all seeing eye of multiple cameras around a stadium, there was an awful lot going on off the ball. A current premiership referee was recently asked to "virtually" re-officate the 1970 FA Cup final won by Leeds Utd. He picked out eleven red card offences (and those were only the one’s the camera caught) the referee on the day issued a single yellow card.

It was different game then, and one in which Jack Charlton thrived.

Whether his style of play would have thrived today is open to debate, but he had a motivational skill that flourished in management with memorable domestic campaigns from the early seventies (featuring an early incarnation of Caesar Souness) and international campaigns for Eire in the late eighties and early nineties. Peaking first with an appearance in a world cup quarter final and then again with a one nil win over favourites Italy, thanks to a goal by Ray Houghton - darling of the scousers on the kop, who had a Scottish accent and wound up playing for Ireland,

Catch the goal scored by Ronnie Whelan for Jack Charlton's Ireland against Russia in Euro 88.

Face facts Rory Delap (Arriviste), possibly the greatest goal ever scored from a long throw.

Jack made some very watchable angling programmes and was a great ambassador for the sport. I once went to talk by Jack with my Dad. It was an evening in a hall somewhere on the Wirral put on by Wirral Angling Association. It was a very cold night with snow lying on the road. I don’t remember a lot more about the night other than Jack was an entertaining speaker and new enough about angling.

Buried among the news this week was a warning from the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee that the UK was at serious risk of running out of water within 20 yrs because of policymakers, regulators and the water sector’s failure to respond to changing climate and increasing population.

Well done for that.

But nothing will happen to affect real change in my life time.

You can guess the weasels at Water UK’s response, “We’re doing our best and investing in infrastructure”

Not enough lads, so stop dishing out the big divvies and invest more in your infrastructure.

The rag that I once wrote for regularly used to begin it’s pitch with a quote from one of the King Edwards,

I don’t remember the number,

could have been the Confessor could have been the Potato King, we don't know,

but his sage words express the requirement to care for the countryside as we are but guardians of it for the next generation.

Well in this valley biodiversity has generally taken an upturn over the past few decades. The blue winged olive thing hasn't gone well and sorry kids for the experiments with bison and beaver.

Apologies kids for our abject failure in this corner of the country to respond to a changing climate and increasing demand on a precious groundwater resource.

Bome of us had a go at rootling the feckers. (See previous years of poorly written guff)

Apologies, again.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

A Menage a Trois of Maud, Heidi and Bob Latchford

Come into the garden Maud,

for the black bat night has flown,

Except for Leicester,

whither poor Moley and the flat hills of his homeland.

On to the nonsense.

Bumped into The Earl English last week while mowing in the wood. With a virus on, he has eschewed mixing with the populace and wanders alone among the pines. His ginger curls are now beyond the aspirations of Heidi and approach Ronald Mcdonald proportions.

And while we are on Ronald Mcdonald, why is our lane the recipient of so much of their packaging in recent weeks. Madam was out walking the dogs the other evening when a car stopped and called for direction. With the necessary information duly imparted the lost tribe made their way up the lane spewing Big Mac, Filet “O” Fish and Mcflurry detritus as they went.

Anyway, where was I.

Oh Yes,

The Earl English, wandering about the wood.

Currently doesn’t like to mix and the wood and his estate share a boundary. A new path has been broken through the wood from the corner of his field that I now maintain on his behalf

Dubbed “The English Way” it should be coming to a Google map near you sometime soon.

Apologies to return to the current crisis, but just heard that the House of Commons Commission has rejected a proposal to reduce the safe social distance in Parliament from two metres to one metre.

You guys.......Tut

Please refer to title of last but one chunk of guff.

Apologies again,

Hang on,

Why do the learned members of the House (a big building) insist on maintaining a two metre social self distance while issuing instruction that it is ok for a fifty two year old pedagogue to engage with her charges (a sociable bunch) in a compact school building from a metre away as of next week?

I’ve had a few coves call about tardiness regarding posts in this corner of the internet.

Well, I’ll own that a certain mental inertia has taken hold and I spend an increasing amount of a day open mouthed staring off into space.

This week Madam joined me in this habit.

She has been back in school for a month, immersed in a bubble teaching the spawn of the loins of a dozen or more key workers. In preparation for the reopening of the school a fifty-page guidance document was distributed on advice on how schooling in a classroom should progress, the written advice on distance was two metres at all times. Madam still has the email.

Last week a member of the cabinet declared that the initial advice on social distance in schools was never so rigid as to insist on a distance of two metres at all times,

(although it is still rigidly enforced in Parliament – see guff above)

Once again,

You guys.....Tut

Once again, please refer to the title of the last but one chunk of guff.

I’ll pause briefly at this point for some breathing exercises in order to quell the vein on my forehead that has begun to throb again.

The river, yes the river.

Since the reopening of non essential shops the Fishing Hut is once again in use, as I do sell flies.

This reopening is in line with government advice and completely unrelated to the temporary gazebo collapsing spectacularly in a rain storm with two anglers taking Chota pegs while sheltering underneath it.

Well it was quite the June weed cut. As predicted I cut weed for seven or eight days and spent three days moving on cut weed.

Which is a good thing, as the June weed cut should be a heavy one.

Water levels remain good and the weed is growing again and should be clear of the water once more in July. No sign yet of any blanket weed or ugly algae and the gravel retains a sparkle that can only be imparted by reasonable winter flow. Hatches of fly have been a little disappointing and while a few fish look up, most have resorted to sub surface feeding. It may well be nymphs from the first of July. It’s been a windy week, which doesn’t help delicate invertebrates hatching from a river or an angler’s cast.

I’m no sailor, and I don’t see the point of wind.

There I said it, I don’t like wind.

Trees fall down, flicking a fly is difficult, gravid flies struggle to make it back to the water to release eggs and my hollyhocks fall over.

No, we would do well without wind.

Meadows and fen are coming into bloom and are alive with all things that buzz and flutter. The fen that we fire each year currently plays host to herds of Marble white butterflies that, like an elderly lady who I once knew are drawn like a magnet to the colour purple ( house, hair, hat and much more besides, all purple) We are bee rich and all manner of moths crash about the place at this time of the year. it’s just the aquatic inverts that are down in numbers, although there are plenty of damsel flies about the place.

Last weekend Madam, myself, Otis and Moss went for a bumble about Salisbury Plain. Moss covered most of the plain within thirty minutes of our six mile trudge up to the the little piece of Magdeburg that is the cold war mock up village at Copehill Down.

A Dystopian air hangs heavy in the air with burned out cars, a helicopter on its side and beat up village buildings. We sat down for our picnic sheltering from the wind behind the wreckage of a shot up Sikorsky.

The grass was long, Bonios were taken (Moss and Otis) and we tucked into home grown salad and eggs from our own hens and contemplated the bleak surroundings,

And then we saw them,

Orchids. Hundreds and hundreds of little orchids; vivid purple with a cone shaped head, we get a few at Bransbury, but not in this number.

We’d even sat upon a few.

And in this beat up shabby dystopian hellscape,

to a background track of twittering skylarks,

a Ready brek glow descended, and the travails of the last hundred days melted away.

An addendum:

And those who are not fans of football may want to dip out here, and apologies if I come over all Uncle Colm (Derry Girls by the way, brilliant comedy, but we do have to have the subtitles on)

It won’t sit well with some, but well done the Klopper

After thirty years Liverpool are League champions once again.

I’ve been a full on supporter of Liverpool FC from the age of 7, although the first football match I attended was Everton v Coventry City at Goodison Park on 27th November 1977 in which Bob Latchford scored a hat trick in a 6 - 0 win for the Toffees.

I first stood on the kop with my Dad on a Wednesday night in March. A derby with Everton that Liverpool won one one nil. While at secondary school I would regularly stand near the same spot on the kop with a few school mates. A couple of quid to get in, we caught the bus from Chester to Stanley Park or cadged a lift with a work colleague of my Dad (who was also a very good coarse fisherman, the work colleague, not my Dad) to park in a street near the ground where a kind local youth would “look after the car” for 50p.

I was present when Liverpool were presented with the league title twice (Liverpool always won the league back in the day) once against Aston Villa from a seat in the Anfield Rd end the Anfield Rd end (single tier then) and second against Norwich or possibly Southampton.

I was there when experiments with early kick offs were underway, 11.30am against Swansea sitting on wooden benches in the Kemlyn Rd stand. The game finished three nil to Liverpool (Ian Rush got one, who I also saw play for Chester). The reason for the early start? An attempt to boost the crowd at the Grand National later that afternoon.

This is one of two occasions When I saw a member of the 1966 World Cup winning side play. Martin Peters was skipper of Norwich and in his testimonial year. The other was when Alan Ball was in his final year at Southampton.

Saw them play three times at the old Wembley.

The West Ham Charity Shield game was a little lively pre match, and I do remember returning from the old Wembley by train from the game against Arsenal with somebody hiding from the police under our table. The men’s loos in the old Wembley were akin to the cascade at Chatsworth, the stench of ammonia hurt your eyes.

I don’t know why, but my Dad attended a testimonial dinner for old Crazy Horse himself at The Runcorn Eurocrest Hotel in November 1978.

Ginger McCain sat on their table and Red Rum was led into the room between courses.

the menu from the meal,

And the brochure for Emlyn’s testimonial.

The menu and brochure are signed by Bob Paisley, Steve Heighway, Alan Hansen, Phil Neal, Emlyn, Cliff Morgan, Terry McDermott, Ray Kennedy, David Fairclough, Jimmy Case, Colin Irwin and Ginger himself.

The day that Alan Kennedy signed for Liverpool for three hundred and thirty thousand pound, a British record for a fullback at the time, he was briefly billeted with another colleague of my Dad.

A ten year old me spoke to Alan on the phone, wished him well and informed him that my favourite Liverpool player would remain Kenny Dalglish. Despite this snub, Alan kindly sent me a signed photo, albeit in black and white, I still have it somewhere.

Alan went on to score the winning goal in two European Cup finals, first against Real Madrid and second in the penalty shoot out against Roma.

Alan or Barney as he became known (after Barney Rubble) was understandably a crowd favourite (but still not on the level of King Kenny), had a peach of a left foot but was sometimes found out with his right foot which always drew the sixteen or so thousand on the Kop (nobody knew how many people were really in there) to chant:

Barney’s got big boots on,
Barney’s got big boots on,

Which he would more often than not acknowledge with a wave.

watching a few reruns of their matches earlier this season served as to a reminder of the quality of football Liverpool were playing before the virus took hold. They are worthy winners of the league title, and for me, another step towards restoring normal order.

But then I would say that wouldn’t I.

Friday, 12 June 2020

Poor Mayfly, Broad Beans and Fiddling with Time

Ave all,

Right, despite the best efforts of “Our Great Leader” and his cabal of clowns, (selected for their Cummings compliancy rating, there are more capable coves in the house) I’ll do my best to keep this one light.

No coughing here by the way, and we do take our temperature each day on the morn with graphs subsequently produced.

For the first time in many years hatches of mayfly have been disappointing. We have seen no significant hatch, dance or fall of spent. It is the same story on much of the river, with the Upper Itchen the only exception. Not sure as to the reason why. There will always be a downstream displacement of mayfly nymphs in times of high winter flow, but every Ephemera Danica that was washed downstream would be replaced by one from upstream. A brief shuffle in the gravel with a fine mesh net to sample invertebrates betrays numbers of mayfly nymphs and much more besides. A Mayfly can run on a one year or a two year contract on the bed of the river, although I’m not sure what triggers the critter to sign for the two year option. The odd yellow sally is now putting in an appearance. A portent of the end of the mayfly season for another year.

We’ve a few sedge about and a host of daddies regularly bumble about our kitchen. There are olives, caenis and a burgeoning number of odd moths.

The first marsh orchids are out and there are several broods of mallard about the place. The river retains the sparkle that is only imparted by a good scrub behind the ears from increased winter flow and weed is having a high old time of it.

This week saw the start of the June weed cut. Traditionally the heaviest cut of the year, last year, following a dry winter it was done and dusted in a matter of hours. This year will see me swishing a scythe for seven or eight days, with much clearing down of cut weed as the verdant weed growth extends for several miles upstream. Over on the short stretch of the Itchen that I fall in and out of the ribbon weed has been quick to put in an appearance but the ranunculus is a long way off flowering. The water has fined down considerably and while engaging the forces of ribbon weed via the medium of turk scythe I was entertained by a dozen or so swallows picking off olives hatching from the bridge pool, a few feet away from my head. I’ll own that despite these dodgy eyes I did duck several times which may have caused several walkers crossing the bridge to titter.

It has been a little disturbing to see the reports of “fish rescues” by the EA on The Angling Trust twitter feed. We seem to have got through an awful lot of that water that was around in February. We will not have enough water to run the Mill Stream in a week or so and weed has been cut with an eye to retaining water level. Not something I envisaged when I was cutting weed in April.

In other news, Child A turned twenty seven this week.

I don’t know how this happened.

Someone has fiddled with time.

Twenty seven years ago, on the opening day of the June weed cut I returned home from cutting weed on the top shallows to be informed that sandwiches were off, water had broken and we must make haste for Winchester County Hospital. It was a long process, but Child A eventually put in an appearance around lunch time the next day, perfectly healthy, if a little grey. Child A was given the moniker Maisie because it was still Mayfly time and Madam railed against my suggestion of Danica or Ephemera, a compromise was reached with Maisie. Child B’s launch followed a similar process. Born in January I initially suggested “Snowdrop”, with “Aconite” as a backup/middle name.

Both suggestions were dismissed out of hand by Madam.

Brief consideration was given to the name “Dangerous” as I felt doors would open later in life for someone called “Dangerous de Cani”, but once again I was overruled and he assumed the moniker “William” a week or so later. For the first fortnight of his life William was known only as “baby”. After a fortnight of tired Dirty Dancing references regarding his cot being placed in the corner of the room a suitable name was found.

In allotment news, we consume broad beans with gusto and there are four pound of the things frozen in the freezer. Rhubarb continues to thrive, runner beans display flowers and soon we will be digging potatoes. Onions are average, as are leeks and the crows plucked out half of my sweetcorn. Tomatoes, both plum and cherry, thrive and monster parsnips lurk in the corner, ready for harvest once they’ve had a frost on them. There’s a medium size ash tree on the bank of the spring ditch that carries water from the field known across the ages as spring bottom. It’s dry now, but I shan’t go on.

Anyway, the medium size ash tree is around thirty feet high and on several occasions that I have haunted the place in the name of weed removal the Merlin has perched in it’s upper branches. I’ve yet to get a photograph, and I’m not sure, but the frustrated falcon may have gone spooney over the plastic predator that sits on top of my shed.

Veterans readers of this chunk of guff will note the Duchess of Cambridge remains captive in the shed. With a nod to the lockdown she has eschewed hair cuts and is growing her mane in order to let down her hair and allow the Duke of Cambridge, a little fella to climb her locks to profess his undying love for her. I will then have a brace of Cambridge captive with which to scare the pigeons and crows.

That’s the tale I tell my fellow allotmenteers, who seem to give my plot an increasingly wide berth.

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Are We Not Mugs?

Apologies everyone regarding tardiness in chucking up guff on this platform, but for the past few weeks I’ve been stuck in a trance of incredulity at the shenanigans emanating from the cabal of political clowns who sit at the epicentre of the maelstrom of chaos in which we currently find ourselves.

Two weeks, sitting silently, gently rocking and open mouthed at the brass necked cheek of the piece. From Devious Dom, through disingenuous Johnson to Hat Mancock and his dodgy data.

I touched base with our local MP regarding a certain section of society who having attended several SAGE meetings and were right across what Joe Public were being asked to commit to, but drew the conclusion,

“well clearly, this doesn’t apply to me, powerful people have my back”

Principally Devious Dom.

Are we not mugs?

She’s an excellent constituency MP who was informed of “Our great leader’s decision recently to remove her from cabinet” on social media.

She currently sits as chair of the Women and Equalities Committee.

During “Our Great Leader’s” recent televised appearance in front of the Parliamentary Liaison Committee, she held his feet to the fire repeatedly over the lack of female involvement in the decision making process over the current crisis.

She signed off her prompt reply to my email with the following:

“I have no doubt as to the immense damage the PM has done by refusing to sack Cummings. He is seldom so out of step with public opinion, and I assume is hoping people have short memories. It is awful.”

I considered contacting her again on several occasions since Teflon Dom’s sojourn north on a variety of matters, but as I have already stated, I took the open mouthed trance of incredulity route.

The following statement was a standard of this house for many years, particularly during the implementation of The National Trout & Grayling Strategy in 2015, but it seem apposite to revisit the old mantra:

We are increasingly led by loons

Dons loin cloth, grows beard and retreats to cave angrily waving a fist at the outside world, which is pretty much where I’ve been for the past few weeks so apologies again for the dearth of guff regarding all things chalk stream.

It’s mayfly time again.

Only this year it hasn’t been so easy, and rods have had to earn their fish.

Mayfly are few in number and the dance of an evening has, with a nod to the current requirement for social distancing, been low in attendance. We have yet to experience a significant fall of spinners. Which comes a something of a surprise as kick sampling through the winter chucked up many mayfly nymphs lurking in the weed and gravel.

The mayfly hatch was late to start, and the timed arrival of swifts swallows and cuckoos has been all to cock, so maybe next week will be the week. Plenty of fish have been caught, but it hasn’t been easy fishing. A heavy hatch should spark the locals into action, as most of them sit there on the fin looking upwards in expectation, but with a river so clear, a single artificial alone without a procession of naturals is more often than not ignored.

You will see from the amateur photos that weed is having a high old time of it. Ranunculus is in full flower, and water celery is growing clear of the water. It’s weed having a wonderful time, which is tremendous news for all folk that live in a chalk stream.

The reason the weed is wearing it’s hat on three hairs?

Winter rain,

Once again,

Winter rain.

The water's receding at a remarkable rate. Both April and May were particularly arid, just to be clear that's the months and not Donald Duck's nieces. Rumours abound thatwe are on the cusp of having drought conditions declared in the south, but the evidence of the high winter flow remains with the river retaining a sparkle not seen at this time of the year for sometime.

In other news, we have finally been refunded the money for our early April six day trip to Porto.

It’s been a painful business with lots of wriggling by the online agent, and why we incurred a fifty pound admin fee for the issue of the refund was beyond me, but it extended my trance of open mouthed incredulity by a further three days.

Apologies, the name of the online agent…


That’s TRAVELUP everyone,

We won’t be using them again.

Returning to the virus.

No not that F*&^% virus, that keeps making me cross.

Ash dieback.

At this time of the year, it’s very apparent that we have a cluster of mature trees infected with the lurgy in the middle of the wood.

If anyone needs a rustic broom handle, don’t be a stranger.

Looking up and not down, we find that there are some trees that demonstrate immunity to the virus.

Here’s one of two ash trees on opposite sides of the river. Despite Suitable social distancing, one has succumbed to the virus, while the other seems to retain some immunity.

One will be felled and, following a period of maturation, be introduced to the wood burner.

The healthier tree will produce immune progeny and slowly a new population of immune ash trees will form.

If anyone was unsure, the infected ash tree is on the left.

This virus will impact on the make up of woods in this area for several generations, and take decades to be defeated.

Fingers crossed mankind comes up with a solution to the crafty covid 19 a little sooner than that.