Monday, February 4, 2019
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.
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.
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.
There should be a spring spouting forth somewhere about where he is standing.
Friday, January 18, 2019
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.
My name is Chris and I am a serial burner of wood.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
We've also stored up a bit of straightish ash for future construction projects or possibly a plethora of chopping boards.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.