Monday, February 4, 2019

Dry January and The Cheese of Pepys

Good evening everyone and welcome aboard HMS Sniff and Cough.

Currently we wallow in convalescence from a bug that may well be the worst ever experienced by human kind and produced a volume of phlegm that science insists is not possible from a single human head.

Fever, the shakes and shouting at the moon have all played a part in a medical episode that is only now, ten days in, approaching its denouement.

Anyway, that's enough about me. Before the screaming Oojahs struck we busied ourselves with one of the biggest ash trees that we have had to fell this winter. It was in a sorry state and had shed several, limbs during the previous two years.

It was once a fine specimen that hosted a particularly comfortable high seat.

It was only going one way and it came down with quite a crash with the main trunk splitting down the middle.

The Logistics of getting the thing out of the river were always gone to test our simple minds. But with a nod to the pyramid makers and the excellent people at Kubota, levers, fulcrums and orange tractors were invoked to pull the thing out in chunks.

It only took Lord Ludg and myself three bitterly cold mornings to deal with the brute, and all hail the miracle of neoprene waders. When I first started on the river I remember having to carry out work such is this in a pair of plastic Ocean waders and everything was numb in a matter of minutes.
You don't feel the slightest chill in neoprene, although I mislaid my neoprene socks so my feet, clad only in the rubber of the boot, required defrosting by the fire during a brew break.

Cold weather has drawn the geese and a few snipe to the water meadow upstream, although there is no sign of the Leucistic greylag that pitched up last year. There have been a few twitchers furtively twitching on the Common although I have not heard of anything unusual being recorded so far this year.

And then it snowed, quite a bit in some parts. The smart M3 failed to function and several people from the village spent Friday night in Fleet Services.

We had around four inches in the Dever valley with night time temperatures falling to minus seven degrees. Basingstoke was carnage. We saw the trapped traffic on the local news on Friday and thought nothing of it, it doesn't take much to bung Basingstoke up. But a Sunday morning trip to the fleshpots and emporia of Doughnut City found main roads still strewn with abandoned cars, frozen roads and a foot of lying snow. The weight of snow had also brought several trees down onto the road.

It was only a short trip to Home Bargains for some stockpiling. Salt & Vinegar Ringos, Brillo Pads and cheese triangles mostly.

The Ringo's won't last the month and we'll probably have to stockpile some more, or else switch to Cheese & Onion, but in the grand manner of Pepys and his Parmesan, the cheese triangles will be wrapped and buried safely in the garden until the heat has dissipated from current events.

School was closed on Friday, so Madam was rewarded with a three day weekend. Saturday saw us complete a tour of the parish in breathtaking conditions.

Here's one of Moss, the only spring present in this photo is the spring of a loopy labrador experiencing snow for the first time.
There should be a spring spouting forth somewhere about where he is standing.

Oh yes, the field in the middle of this photo is Spring Bottom, still sans spring.

Dry January doesn't have a restorative effect on the guts of the Dever Valley. Fingers crossed for a flooded February and a Moist March.

Friday, January 18, 2019

The Duke of Edinburgh, Hover Stools and The New Face of the 1st Class Stamp

Hello everybody and Happy New Year,


we did that already apparently.

No matter, we shall press on regardless with this latest tranche of guff and a brief resume of movements among the sunlit uplands of he Dever Valley,

Ok, it may not be brief, but on we go all the same.

Willows continue to be attended to along with a few clumps of hazel. It's a fire a day at the moment, which won't please the clean air lobby, but then fire has been around for a very long time and some native Americans managed to live to a great age in a smoked filled wigwam, and at this point it may be apposite to come out and confess,

My name is Chris and I am a serial burner of wood.

The mother of all wood burners has heated our home for the past twenty seven years, for fifteen of which it powered all the radiators, and subsequently was nicely alight for many months of the year. It instils an appreciation of a decent bit of wood, and the logs we currently burn have been down and seasoned for three years or more. It's a clean burn with the moisture content of some of the logs introduced to the medium of fire coming in around fifteen percent (my cutting edge moisture meter records our kitchen chairs as eighteen percent although I may have spilt something)

Damp wood is the dirty burn in a domestic wood burner.

Anyway, clearance work in the wood has resulted in increased traffic speed on the main track. The Duke of Edinburgh interrupted his passage along the Highway to the Sun a few days ago to drop in to talk ermine and pearls with Lord Ludg.

Phil asked for a go on the tractor and this happened.

Phil was ok, although he was very quick to invoke the security risk card and hightail it in his protection officer's car.

Don't worry Phil, Lord Ludg and myself pulled the thing out.

On me everyone (sotto voce,)

There are now Arctic Char in the River Test.

You heard it her first so adjust your fly boxes accordingly.

An ancient dweller of lake and loch and particularly fond of an alpine environment, (brer Arctic Char, not my good self, although.....) a load rocked up on the middle river recently.

OK it's a salmonid, and yes it's a species native to the UK, but certainly not native to a southern chalkstream, the ice age never came this way (consults "O" level Geography notes)

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for promoting biodiversity and at this great age, nothing excites me more than a new fish to seek out. But command centre central tell us off for this kind of thing.

The incident seems to have been hushed up. There are only a few places the char can have originated from, and they didn't catch the bus from Windermere, but Arctic Char in the Test, who'd a thought.

Out and about in the wood this little critter is currently thriving on the stumps of Christmas trees that have fallen over or been felled in the past few years.

Turkey Tail fungus, or Coriolus Versicolor for those with a Latin bent, and I'm looking at you the dishonourable member for the 18th century it is a panacea for most, if not all ills, (Turkey Tail fungus, not the Dishonourable member for the 18th Century) and with medical shortages forecast for the spring our window sills are currently covered in the things drying out in the winter sun.

Trials to ascertain effective dosage begin next week, possibly on the cat as she currently has a runny nose.

While we're on animals. and revolutionary ones at that, Otis and Moss currently vie for the job of "next face of the 1st class stamp"

The lines are now open.

Vote now to decide which of the two will feature as first and second class stamp.

Late last year I put in a freedom of information request to the weasels to the local water company regarding historical date of groundwater levels recorded at their pumping station in the village. I have made several such request to various parties in recent years and UK law requires that the information requested is produced within two weeks.

The EA respond well to such requests, as do our local council, the local water company however....

Three requests and a couple of months later a "do not reply email" arrives with an excel spreadsheet displaying a list of numbers with no key, no title or possible means of ascertaining what the numbers presented represent.

Smoke and mirrors have been invoked to produce an indecipherable chunk of guff.

Another request has gone in, but private water companies are a law unto themselves, so it may be a word document with random letters that arrives in a few months time, or possibly a page full of emojis.

Weasels, weasels, weasels!

In entertainment news, Alan's back!

Steve Coogan has been doing the rounds talking about his film piece centred around Laurel and Hardy's tour of the UK, and confirmed that Alan will be hosting a "One show" style programme, which is a great thing and a reason to look up and not down in these depressing times.

I'm of a similar vintage to Coogan and grew up in the same corner of the country. Paul and Pauline Calf are disturbingly similar to several of my best mates and Saxondale once fixed our boiler when he should have been seeking out rats.

Alan has been an ever present in my life since The Day Today, and whither Sue Townsend, as I'm sure Adrian Mole would have developed in a similarly rich vein.

Yes, Alan's back and that's a good thing for everyone,

North Norfolk Digital, thanks for sharing.

I may have dreamt this next bit but apparently Child B, sorry, our son William, has just turned twenty four years old.

Which seems crackers as I'm sure I was throwing balls at his fourteen year old head in the Longparish nets a few weeks ago.

Here's a futuristic picture from the future of us all on our hover stools (first featured in the Bleep and Booster section of the 1974 Blue Peter annual) taking in St Pauls and Londinium.

Questions I've asked myself each day this week:

1: It can't be 2019 can it?
2: He can't be 24 can he?
3: Where did I put it?
4: What am I supposed to be doing?
5: Why the F%^& did I let the Duke of Edinburgh have a go on the tractor??????

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Ash Planks and Last Night at Manderley Again

Happy New Year everyone. There are trouble makers out there who would have us believe that it is now 2019, but I'm not so sure.

Whatever the number of the new year we see it in with good news.

Yes we've had some rain and yes Liverpool FC sit four points clear at the top of the table, but the real biggy is the confirmation that our recent tender to run ferries from the continent to the Dever valley to stave off predicted shortages has been accepted.

We live in an era when dreams really can come true.

I dreamt last week that I was a ferry operator, hornpipes, rigging gold braid an'all, the full "Kate O'mara Triangle" experience,

and now that dream has been realised,

Yes, I too am a Ferry Operator.

Thank you Mr Grayling for the substantial cheque and New Year's Honour that are currently in the post for helping to keep this part of Old Albion supplied. Use of the layby on the Highway to the Sun has been secured should we need to implement Operation Stack in order to keep the larders and fridges of these sunlit uplands fully stocked.

What times we live in.

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again,

No wait,

I know how this kind of thing works now, it may have been Manderley but it was raining.

Last night I dreamt it rained for three days each week until April and somebody gave me a substantial cheque for having that dream


Groundwater replenishment problems solved and holidays booked.

Megan Trainer may insist that it is all about the base, but in this valley it is currently all about the willow. Particularly the stuff that grows up falls over and then grows up again. It's a perennial task and it's a wiggly tree that rarely grows in a straight line. Felling the stuff can be a tricky business. Last week we had two saws pinched by a recalcitrant bough and almost had a third stuck before the thing cashed in its chips with the butt jumping six feet backwards in our direction. It's currently wood work all the way with the few trout that show an interest in spawning allowed to go about their business in privacy.

I'll whisper it quietly but this spring is bubbling a little more boisterously and the river is maintaining a reasonable flow.

For those keen followers of activities around Spring Bottom, there is no sign of water yet but fingers are firmly crossed for an appearance sometime around the Ides of March.

Returning to saw work (and sore work) We've felled a couple of Christmas trees to season up over the summer for planking next year.

We've also stored up a bit of straightish ash for future construction projects or possibly a plethora of chopping boards.

There were a couple of straight lengths in the wood that had contracted the dreaded dieback and they have now been transported to the timber processing centre that we have established in a stand of Christmas trees.

Consternation was expressed by The English and Lord Ludgershall, both of whom believe that all ash should aspire to a life in the wood shed and eye each passing Morgan motor car with an avaricious arboreal eye.

It will come as no surprise, but I am often asked for the secret behind my porcelain skin and svelte figure, and while pondering the passing of 2008 I pondered a career change to "Lifestyle Guru"

Think Goop with the sustained consumption of red wine, dark chocolate and bifidus digestibum very much the centre of the piece.

A clever machine that sits on my left wrist to let me know how things are going internally was purchased -for which we give thanks to our sponsors for stumping up the required cash and Amazon vouchers. I am currently sourcing certificates on the internet that will serve as bonafides for my new career.

I've worn this thing for a week now. It's in cahoots with my clever phone and both inform me that I have an excellent heart, I thrash around a lot while sleeping and during the day I bumble about a lot,

an awful lot,

which looks great on the graphs, but whither my poor knees.

Today's step count currently stands at 24194 with a few trips to the kitchen yet to make. I've a bridge to build at some point in 2019. I always cover more ground when I'm building something, with ninety percent of my steps made searching for a tool I have just put down five minutes ago.

I once pitched an idea for a TV show centred around the very same scenario. Provisionally titled "Hammer Quest" It featured "mid lifers" such as myself competing for big cash prizes,

possibly in the studio,

or perhaps on location if the producers wanted to take the show on the road and add a "Springwatch" feel to the piece.


each mid-lifer is given a series of objects, tools possibly, and asked to place them in "safe places" around the set.

The mid-lifer is then subjected to a two minute nuisance phone call, required to perform a call of nature or presented with a cup of tea. They are then invited to return to the set and seek the objects that were placed in a safe place.

The first mid-lifer that recovers all his trove is the winner.

Saga TV rejected the idea on the grounds that it couldn't be fitted into a half hour format, but I still maintain it has legs.

The Saga TV Channel also turned down a parlour game format proposed by this house titled "What Did I Come in Here For?" In which mid-lifer contestants enter a room and say "What Did I Come In Here For? " while two panels of celebrities suggest items that the contestant may be looking for, Lionel Blair was keen to host and Tom Rush was booked for the theme tune, but hey ho.

Yes, with each passing year I can only see my step count going up as I bumble about aimlessly trying to remember what it is I am supposed to be doing, or when and where I last used that tool.

Friday, December 21, 2018

A Dark Office Party, Shortages and Being Kind

Hello everybody.

Well, we've had some wonderful rain and gravels that were dry in October are now submerged, a great start to the winter, keep it coming please weather gods.

And we'll break off there for an appeal.Two Christamases ago I was gifted a drone, which, on its maiden flight got caught in a cross wind and buzzed off over the horizon. A replacement was purchased which was flown while in wine following a family dinner, this too sailed away, albeit on the gentlest of zephyrs. If anyone sees either of these two drones, don't be a stranger, I'd like them back.

Through with plank production, we now turn the saw's attention to the forces of crack willow, a large stand of which have fallen over behind the fishing hut in their efforts to take over the world. The work has also had the added benefit of opening up the stew ponds that have been mothballed with regard to fish production for six years. They were home to half a dozen laying ducks for a few years and with the promised shortages imminent, plans are afoot to once again run the ponds to rear poultry on rafts with the resulting by product (pooh) feeding algae, artemia, rotifers and much more besides that will provide a food source for carp which will then be harvested for food. Subsistence fish farming much favoured by some corners of the world that puts adequate food on the table. Although the rivers may run a bit green as a result, but hey ho. I last cleared the willows to which we currently attend five years ago, they have done quite well in that time. While we're on the shortages we are currently plagued by moles. and with my usual supply of troos likely to be cut off, I've begun a collection of pelts in order to fashion a pair myself sometime later this year, I currently have enough pelts for a medium sized thong. Yes with a nod to Davey Crocket, we are upping the trapping side of the business to keep us fully and fashionably clothed in the years to come.

With another nod to the prospect of shortages next year, once the willows are defeated we plan to take up the planking machine once again to build a small stockade by way of increased security regarding our stockpiled stash. It will be a similar setup to the one that once existed in these parts up by the Andyke, but possibly with the addition of a couple of watch towers and an auroch or two if they can be successfully sourced. We have already started squirrelling away essential medical supplies such as ibuprofen and Lemsip, but the completion of the stockade will allow us to stockpile bulkier essential items such as large scatter cushions and yoga balls.

We wobbled along the Ridgeway recently, in beautiful light. Nine out of ten dogs up there are black labradors and nine out of ten of the big birds are red kites. The air is thick with the things playing in the thermals on the steeper north side. We've are also inundated with otters, to the extent that we see them running across the road when driving down the lane at night.

It's the season for hanging lights, and our two dogs are the proud recipients of two blue l.e.d collars. Black dogs and walks up the lane in the dark can be a hairy business, so a couple of collars visible from space are a sensible nod to health and safety and general survival. There are a couple of other dogs in the village with the green version of the disco collars, one of whom is a mighty fine labrador bitch in season. We met up with them one night last week.

The myriad of lights and the positions they assumed were described by Madam as "like an office Christmas disco that had taken a dark turn"

Rumination on the past twelve months has been undertaken and river reports have been filed for both the Dever and the Itchen. Extreme temperatures featured highly, something that the climate change wallahs have been warning us about for some time, although the wetter winters that they predict have yet to materialise in these parts. It may seem a bit old fashioned but we still have a man arrive to read our electricity meter and another man arrive to check our tap water.

The water man was once a lady. He tests for various parameters but phosphate levels in our groundwater supply have risen year on year, which is a bit of a worry. The draft water resources management plan for 2019 drawn up by the weasels at the water company predicts that phosphate levels in groundwater in this region will continue to rise for decades to come. I'll say it again for the final time in 2018, we really need to start looking after our precious groundwater in this corner of England.

The electricity meter man has been coming here for twenty years or more and has a fund of tales, mostly about celebrity clients. He once knocked over a vase in Terry Wogan's house while reading the digits. Terry was quite sanguine but Mrs Wogan was less so and a dark cloud hung over subsequent visits. He also used to read the meter at Rolf Harris's house but says that he is no longer comfortable talking about that. I know Martin Lewis keeps advising us all to switch energy providers but I look forward to our meter man's arrival and his epic tales of celebrity meters and I'd miss him if we switched.

Thank you to everyone who has got in touch regarding this chunk of guff during 2008. It is always nice to hear from people, although occasionally this house receives direct messages from people who object to a view expressed, the cut of my jib in general or they just don't like fishing. Which is fair enough I suppose, although I had a light bulb moment the other day when dealing with one of these "trolls".

Algorithms seem to be quite the thing at the moment. I don't know what they are beyond a book with lots of numbers used to form graphs back in the day,

Or was that Logarithms?

There was a sine, a cosine and a tangent, definitely.

No matter, it is the algorithms or logarithms that try to tempt me back to Bologna, Seville or anywhere else we have visited, or urge me to make another purchase of odour eaters with their targeted adverts in the top or side bar of some websites that I visit. They also help Amazon suggest what I should be purchasing next, and google predict what it is that I am supposed to be searching for.

So here's the pitch,

an algorithm that detects when a keyboard warrior is getting a little heated under the collar. At the first indication of a fine bate brewing, a soothing advert appears in the top tool bar, a promotion for scented candles perhaps, or just a picture of a kitten or puppy but preferably not of one chewing a kitchen chair. There was a wonderful documentary on this week about the travels and travails of Billy Connolly. A tremendous force, it ended with a gentle exhortation from The Big Yin to be more kind to one another. Wogan said the same, many times, "if you can be anything in life, just be kind".

Trolls are an inevitable product of the wild west that is the internet, and at this point I'd like to propose another logarithm/algorithm.

One that flashes up a message as a finger moves to the send or post button, a message that reads "Is this a kind thing to do?"

Here endeth the house's Christmas message for 2018.

Best wishes for Christmas everyone and, as ever, thanks for reading the rubbish that I write.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Reports of Animals and Some Somnolent Spooks

Beachtung everyone, there is much to discuss.

Just back from a trip across the North South Divide that is the M4, to Swindon to source some more kitchen chairs for Moss to eat.

The stretch of the M4 that we traversed is one of the much vaunted new "smart" motorways and for five miles on the east bound carriageway the digital smart signs read "reports of animals"

Which is great,

and well done the smart motorways for being environmentally aware and right across the need to promote biodiversity.

The clever digital signs on the west bound carriageway remained blank, so we can conclude that the animals reported were obviously quite small and based in the north with an inherent aversion to central reservations.

I'll attend to river matters in a moment, but first, as promised in the last chunk of guff a brief word from Cambridge analytica on graphs recently presented.

A packet of papers wrapped in brown paper with the words "sensitive material" written diagonally across one side was recently pushed under the door. Contained within were the groundwater level readings taken since 1952 at Cranbourne in the upper Dever Valley.

It may come as a surprise to some, but I can deal with a graph, and while Command Centre Central's interpretation is one of "no demonstration of a decline" draw a line through the lowest levels experienced each year or the median level for each year and the line doesn't rise up. At which point we could get bogged down in discussions over centiles, percentiles and any other kind of tile that may crop up. The annual rainfall for the region mirrors the falling line which makes sense. Detailed analysis,

let me put that another way,

a brief look at data collected since the start of the current millennium at Cranbourne throws up an anomaly which does not conform with experience on the ground. A public information request has gone into weasels at the water company for further groundwater data from another borehole in the valley. Further details and inevitable diatribe to follow.

Leaving questionable analysis of data to return to the real world, the mill has been put to good use and we are now plank rich. (Photo courtesy of Lord Ludg)

Duck hides have been both built and repaired and inter-planted with beech,

the trailer has a new bed

and a plethora of raised beds for vegetable production have been built.

We are confident that we have now attained a level of self sufficiency that should ease us through the shortages that seem to be scheduled for spring.

We've most things covered, but wine remains a worry. I've yet to sample a decent UK red and OK the English fizz, but it's a bit pricey when there's both an austerity and brexit on. My own efforts with the grape in the garden have been sharp at best, grapefruit bitter at worst. Next spring may be the time that the thirty two year old unopened bottle of Bacardi and the twenty year old bottle of Bells at the back of the cupboard come into their own to see us through the shortages.

A few brown trout are spawning and recent rain has been most welcome and has made more gravels accessible, although the river remains crystal clear and grayling fishing is quite challenging. We've had a few frosts but not enough to do for the stinging nettles. Temperatures today touched double figure in the afternoon and a few olives put in an appearance. Swans are beginning to gather on the water meadow upstream, although no sign of any geese yet. We've plenty of duck about and many moorhen scuttle across the lawn to feed on crumbs from the bird table. Coots and dabchick however are conspicuous by their absence. Both flightless and easily mistaken for an eel (An otter's principle source of sustenance according to some) they are easy pickings for the teeth of Tarka and numbers are down. Wither poor dabchick but brer coot could be a bit grumpy when it came to getting along with other water fowl.

There aren't many coots or dabchick about on the Itchen either but swans are mustering in numbers on much of the Upper Itchen

Just heard that George Bush senior has died. I didn't know the fella but he liked his fishing and visited this parish several times. It was always apparent when he was flicking a fly on the Common as a couple of somnolent spooks would be posted on the road bridge in Bransbury. I don't think the present POTUS is a fly fisherman. His flight flew over Maisie's work place when he was last over here and she reports that security has been beefed up since George Bush senior fished at Bransbury. If half a dozen helicopters and a legion of special forces suddenly rock up on the Common, we can be fairly sure that The Donald is having a go at fly fishing.

Friday, November 16, 2018

John Wilson, Planks and other things.

Hello everybody.

This week's chunk of guff is brought to you live on Talksport 2 from our kitchen floor, where your correspondent and his wife currently sit to break bread after new labrador Moss ate the kitchen table and chairs.

Here he is with big eyes for the fishing hut and my best bridge.

I've never known a dog like it for chewing stuff up. Zebo ate a Hardy fly rod and nephew Otis munched up our first digital camera, but Moss has a far more varied palate with skirting boards, door frames and kitchen chairs and tables featuring high on the menu. I'm sure he will grow out of it, but in the mean time we spend our time cross legged on the kitchen floor with a dog either side like a couple of candidates for the soup kitchen.

Dogs eh? tut

Oh no! Just heard that John Wilson has gone.

He fished here for roach and grayling many times, and I've his mobile phone number in my contact list (Ten percent of my contact list now no longer walk the earth, which is of increasing concern)

I grew up with his writings in the Angling Press and William and his mate Michael were hooked on his TV series Go Fishing. William once came home from school to find John and his mate using the facilities and having a post fishing cup of tea at our kitchen table. It would be remiss of me to say that William swooned, but his teenage form was definitely affected by the presence of one of angling's great personalities. Wilson always fished here with a float and the Rolls Royce of centre pin reels possibly formed from solid silver, and this place featured a few times in articles on fishing for chalk stream roach. I recall one conversation we had on the bank.

"Sorry about all these trout John, they can be a right pain when your fishing light tackle"

"Ha, ha, ha, Chris, I'm having to feed them away from my float in order to get down to the grayling"

Float dips under, John strikes and connects with a fish"

"Are you into a trout John?"

"Ha, ha, ha, these trout Chris, these trout, I don't know"

Lands large trout on fine tackle, chortles several more times before returning trout carefully to stream.

What you saw on the screen was what you got on the bank, he was a terrific chap, who did a tremendous amount for the sport that is angling.

How's Keith Arthur? Hewn from a similar seam of rock, he also fished here for roach with cameras from Sky.

The chainsaw mill has arrived and has been put to use on a substantial Christmas tree. It has required some modification, with the addition of auxiliary lubrication for the end of the twenty eight inch chainsaw bar, and the deployment of a legion of wedges, but it works.

Here's one of me with my current beau at London Fashion week.

We have enough inch thick pine planks to patch up the duck hides and build some raised beds for vegetable production in my employer's garden. There's a bit of a knack to using it and setting up the timber to be milled is key, but there is a substantial online community to provide support and advice to newbies and we finish the week feeling that we have done well.

It's a dusty old business and each day we assume the guise of Black Sabbath's Never say Die album to go about our business,

Plans are afoot for a bridge formed from ash felled about the place, and with the spirit of Gustav Eyeful upon us, some sort of wonky wooden tower to stand as a monument to times in which we currently exist.

Oh yes, almost forgot, this chunk of guff continues to be brought to you live by Talk Sport 2. There's an intriguing test series underway in Sri Lanka that Talk Sport 2 dip into now and again between adverts and declarations on what the listener is actually listening to. And at this point I'd like to ask the BBC to refund the part of my licence fee that they have previously apportioned to radio coverage of overseas cricket tours that has been such a big part of my life for forty odd years. The new "home of cricket" on Talk Sport 2 is pants.

here's a clip of "anchorman" Mark Nicholas taking his first steps in punditry, albeit in another game.

I like the wireless and use it a lot. For some it's a vital link to the rest of the world, but Bumble and Roshan apart Talksport 2 at the cricket is shitshow radio double dipped in hyperbole. Gareth Batty is clearly receiving payments from Aldous Huxley as every punditry stint begins with "It's a brave new world for this England side" and Darren Gough's "that's what they always sometimes say" requires some deciphering. Not for the first time this week I find myself muttering "how did it come to this?

I hear they will be also be covering the winter tour of the West Indies.
It could be a long winter, live on Talk Sport 2.

Over on Sky TV, Ernst Vettori's lad - Daniel, is a bit of a find. Breaking free from the shackles of several generations of ski jumpers, he became quite the off spin bowler. He is now a wry and insightful pundit.

Sign him up TMS, sign him up, and please don't ever allow Talk Sport 2 (the new home of cricket, apparently), cover Test cricket ever again.

Once again, how did it come to this?

Sunlit uplands anyone?

Back on the river, we've the first few fish kicking up redds. Not where they normally disturb the gravels, but redds all the same.

This one is by the bridge over to the flight pond, a spot where I have not seen them spawn before, but with the usual "gravels of first choice" currently carrying an inch or two or water, alternative incubation sites have had to be sought. Brer Brown Trout's an adaptable cove, who the Victorian's rolled out to the rest of the world sometime in the late nineteenth century. Eggs have been laid and alevins will pop out of the gravel in a month or so, and looking up not down the, springs that ran dry a few weeks ago are beginning to ooze once more.

Grayling fishing has picked up with a few fish nudging two pound put on the bank. Roach, Perch and Pike have also been grassed, mostly to nymphs but the odd one to a dry fly.

Last week we were drawn to the smoke.

Not Maisie & Callum's new wood burner and freshly lined chimney, we're off over there this weekend, but William & Rosie's flat in Camden.

Chucked out of Oz on grounds of immigration, he is now employed as a planner with the authority charged with the ongoing development of the London Olympic Park and its environs.

Their flat sits a couple of minutes walk from the fleshpots and bazaars of Camden Lock. It's a great place to be for a couple at their time of life and we had a superb meal in a Greek restaurant somewhere on the other side of a hill.