Friday, August 19, 2016
But first we shall attend to Malham Tarn, where a press release, gleefully accepted by national radio, trumpeted the release of a hundred captive bred Water Voles into the Tarn to boost numbers of Ratty.
The News piece revealed that this centum of voles had been raised on carrots and apples, and I confidently predict that in the coming weeks a well meaning Joe Public will don walking shoes to fling all manner of fruit and veg into the Tarn to sustain the poor creatures
This release contradicts current thinking with regard to re-establishing populations of freshwater fish stocks, where the release of captive bred stock and supplementary feeding are strongly discouraged.
Why was this release of Water Voles made public? Why not wait a few years until the Tarn has been repopulated successfully and has a sustainable population of Voles, because hey kids, a lot of that first hundred ain't gonna make it.
I like a Vole, but I can't help thinking that the Malham Tarn lot have been let down by this press release.
there I said it
it's good to emote, innit?
Rowing, Sailing, Boxing, Gymnastics the full gamut (even Equestrian) holds Madam and myself rapt.
The Football season ( a winter sport) started recently, and premiership matches screened live during the Olympics seem a little vulgar as hey Tony Cascarino (Is he still playing?) et al, these Olympics achieve much without the wash bag and headphone culture. During an entertaining half hour with Prodnose on a recent Saturday morning Roger Black revealed that Athletes rock up at the track in their kit and do not shower at the stadium after the event, which is one in the eye (or ear) for the old adage of scrubbing behind the ears.
Compare post event/match interviews of Olympians and Footballers and your Olympian is a far more rounded individual with a capacity for stringing sentences together, win or lose, in the depths of recovery from physical exertion. But then can we all remember that wiseacre Alan Pardew who, irked at the success of London 2012, sought to remind the British Public that footballers too are capable of Corinthian deeds, before head butting a footballer twenty years his junior playing against a team he was managing at the time a couple of weeks later.
Watch and learn Premiership footballers, you do not possess the god like status that you think your wage packet infers, that status is left for true Olympians, and hey Brian Cox, if you happen to find another planet somewhere, can we please, ignore the campaign for Planet Sheldon and name the thing Usain?
Or perhaps Planet Nick Skelton, as a gold medal at the age of 58 has isnpsired me to search for Pole vault poles on ebay.
Well done everyone, Well done!
Returning to Alan, the weed cut is on and having gone through much of the back catalogue of Desert Island Discs on my clever wireless headphones, I have purchased an audio book to occupy the few grey cells that remain during Poldarkian swishings with my scythe. I Partridge - we need to talk about Alan is a permanent fixture on my phone and is a work of genius, but today I have cut weed to a book that pushes it close.
My Lords, Ladies and Gentleman, I give you......
I knew the book was out,
but like I Partridge, We need to talk about Alan, I wanted to hear the evidence from the horse's mouth.
If you were walking near the river sometime today and saw a chap up to his chest in water laughing his scythe off then this book was the cause.
Alan Partridge and Adrian Mole stand like beacons as true seers of their respective ages, and I'll confess to being a bit spoony over Matt Berry (The IT Crowd, Mighty Boosh, House of Fools, Snuff Box) he's a genius, and Steven Toast now run Alan and Adrian close in the race for a place at the centre of my heart,
Just outside family, close friends and the black dog obviously.
Returning to matters of work,
But before I do, I'm typing this blind, as the letters on the replacement keyboard purchased from Peking after I inadvisably marinated my laptop in vin rouge, have all rubbed off.
I used to get quite cross with Sting in his free jazz phase when he played a bass guitar with no fret marks, and once came close to taking him up on the matter when I passed through his garden on the Avon a few years ago on a business trip, but having banged out guff on a keyboard free of markings over the past few weeks I can concur with the Sting that it is a freer way of playing/typing,
I've never felt more alive, it's akin to riding a bike commando,
A practice also promoted by Sting during his Tantric sex phase, and a significant proportion of the cast of Carry on Camping.
August fishing is what it is, and as ever we look forward to September. Fish are being caught and a look through the book will confirm that with regard to numbers, catches are all that they should be for the season and well up on last year when water quality was significantly poorer. Many anglers have remarked on the dearth of big fish. Not one for a grey area or obfuscation I consulted catch records for the last thirty years in search of FACTS ( a word that seems to demand capital letters in the modern age) and the average size of fish caught each season has dropped these past two seasons.
We don't stock heavily, and brown trout introduced have rarely exceeded a pound and half in weight throughout the past twenty odd years. There are fish in the book of many pounds, the size of which have not appeared in recent seasons, and at this point it may be pertinent to examine where these "bigger" fish came from. First up, we didn't put them in. They were either derived from natural stock, or were canny stocked fish who matured in the river and hung around for several seasons (mixed sex) and spawned successfully.
While many will wax lyrical on the merits of apex predators, this one is starting to impact upon the fish population of this river valley. It is not just the big trout that end up half eaten on the river bank, big pike, big roach and big grayling have all been hit hard these past two years, and in the lake the fifty forty year old carp were killed in a space of a couple of winters along with a shoal of bream weighing between five and eight pound.
Don't get me wrong, Otters should be present in this valley, but Unlike Hugh Finty Tittingshill, Tarka doesn't do sustainable fishing and we are currently heading towards a situation where the fish population falls to a sufficiently low level that the Otters are forced to move elsewhere for a viable food source and face their principle present day foe, the motor car.
Moving on, and with a nod to Esther Rantzen, who I once had the pleasure of meeting (I seem to have picked up a name dropping habit in recent weeks) and can confirm is a very nice lady and a sharp cookie to boot, here's a photo of an unusually shaped salad vegetable,
Ladies and Gentleman I give you,
If anyone would like to buy this unique work of art in the medium of cucumber by the leading sculptor of his age, please send several thousand pounds to:
Vegetables are far more comfortable in their own skin now we're out of Europe
Friday, August 12, 2016
Many fish concentrate on feeding subsurface with daytime surface feeding fish rising sporadically to a steady trickle of olives and hatches of sedge that build from mid afternoon on.
Despite the best efforts of the written press in recent months, I predict that many will welcome a sporting event that, the Russian bear aside, manages to bring unity to a disparate world, and hey naysayers over the last few weeks in the written press, good luck Rio (not you Ferdinand you lucked out years ago) I am sure the games will be a great success. If ever a year needed a lift with a few life affirming tales then it is 2016 and I hope the Olympics and Para Olympics will deliver on that score wherever.
But somebody add some barley straw or introduce tench and lillies to the fetid pit that Tom Daley and his compatriots are required to tumble into.
In the middle of the night a twenty one year old called Adam won the first medal for Old Albion. A dedicated individual who hadn't lost a race for two years, I was made aware of his triumph via Madam's phone, who, ever the newshound had wired it up for BBC news alerts.
Bleary eyed over breakfast (we couldn't get back to sleep) we discussed the merits of smart phones and tablets in the bedroom, but agreed to hold hands and watch the highlights of the race later that day.
Which we tried to do on three occasions,
but rather than show the one minute race in its entirety, the BBC prefer (and I blame Eddie Butler for this fad, after setting slow motion rugby players to poor prose) we are treated to super slow mo vignettes as the commentator delivers his piece (with much editing and several takes) Look at the camera we've got and didn't our commentary go well?
Hubris doesn't come close,
Adam's achievements could never be improved by some digital sexing up of the pictures and audio. Just show the thing as it happened in real time with live commentary, warts an all and then step back and say well done.
The red button is worth a push, as it offers several sports sans commentator and pundit, which can be quite refreshing at times.
There are rumours of some funny raptors about. I have seen a ring tailed hen harrier with my own eyes, and the merlin is a given, but four chaps with cameras were waiting on the bridge over the A303 for a honey buzzard that has taken up residence in Harewood Forest and there is talk of goshawks getting jiggy in the valley. One of our regulars described a bird that could have been such a thing up near the flight pond, and I carry my camera in readiness, but have yet to confirm the sighting, although I was distracted by the butterflies (see photos).
And well done Wendy Craig for that, we revisited a few episodes when we last experienced a broadband connection capable of delivering such a service, could have been rural France, Seville or that Croatian island an hour off the coast of Split, I don't remember exactly but it was definitely in Europe.
I didn't appreciate how clever Butterflies was as a child of Primary school age, and at this point can we all tip a tile to Dolly Parton.
Dig deep, and you'll find that this gal made a significant contribution to the backing track of three decades or more.
Cricket can be all consuming at this time of year for three parts of our family, although Child A did attend a cricket match last weekend if only to ignore match proceedings and gas with friends on the boundary, which is part of the charm of club cricket, and I too find myself increasingly distracted by the social scene on the boundary and miss large chunks of the game. Fortunately Madam is the scorer supreme (The Hampshire Cricket Leagues' scorer of the year 2014 sash hangs from the post of our bed) and fills me in on matters I missed while giving forth elsewhere when we get home. A regular visitor to the ground is a former Times cricket correspondent, he's lived all his life a few yards up the road and even in his ninetieth year shows a keen interest in all the Longparish sides.
We attended his 70th birthday party , his 80th birthday party and earlier this week his 90th birthday party, we hope to be invited to his 100th birthday party as ten minutes in his company on the boundary remains one of the highlights of any game of cricket wherever it's played.
For a few years we stocked his two acre garden pond at Eaton Hall with our home grown three pound brown trout for his children to catch. On the first occasion I was given a tour of the estate by the deer manager, who had a meat processing room that Waitrose would envy and a narrow gauge railway circumnavigating the estate to transport the seven hundred or so fallow culled each year.
I didn't meet Gerald on that occasion, but I was well acquainted with the estate as, each year during my formative years our cub scout and scout troops undertook a sponsored walk about the premises to raise money for I forget what. However our paths did cross once when a quorum of my fourteen year old friends travelled south via back lanes from Tarvin to Llangollen to sojourn in my parents caravan for the weekend.
To celebrate crossing the Anglo Welsh border my introverted friend chose to pop a wheelie down the middle of the B Road on which we were travelling , at which point the Duke of Westminster rounded the corner ahead in his green range rover causing my friend to abort his wheelie and the duke to swerve his range rover and wag a finger.
I met his wife once when I was 17. I was charged with presenting her with a cheque for the Save the Children fund after a group of us were sponsored to push a supermarket trolley from Cheshire to London, and she was radiant throughout (the presentation, she didn't come on the trolley push)
It will have been written many times, but he did an awful lot for Field Sports
If confirmation were needed that a certain sector of the UK's urban population is increasingly disconnected from an everyday tale of country life (and hey Archers I'm including you in this) then an article in a newspaper last Saturday espousing the virtues of "green gyms" shall serve as exhibit A, B or C in any case presented.
The writer (or his house) paid money to join a "Green Gym" for a week, where the group undertook physical work in the outdoors in simple clothing, breaking occasionally to connect with the rest of the group through easy unpressured conversation. Accommodation and provisions were simple fayre, often taken in the field. Courses are being run throughout the year, and are reasonably priced at £600 pp.
I believe people pay good money for mindfulness classes in which they are encouraged to clear their heads (and their purse) by concentrating on a single spot while sitting in a yoga type position.
I've said it before, and I predict a wicker fishing basket will be the next yogic accoutrement required to attain the third level of enlightenment,
but fishermen who fish the float or the quiver tip have known this for some time.
On several occasions last year, four or five people paid money to lift weights and be shouted at by a man who had travelled many miles in the name of "Boot camp" exercise, while Ludgershall and myself chopped and stacked logs on the other side of the fence,
you could have helped us out for free and we wouldn't have been anywhere near as shouty.
Last winter Lord Ludgershall and myself spent many months in the woods attending to trees.
Refreshments and lunch provided each day and will be taken outdoors.
Packages are individually tailored to the client's needs
Standard package - £200 pp per week (I think that's reasonable)
Gold package - £300 pp per week - includes proper coffee/posh teabag, "non jacket potato" lunch option and scented candles
Please note, accommodation not included in either of the above packages, there is a Travelodge just up the road.
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Friday, July 22, 2016
I'm still here,
just been a bit busy keeping up with grass and marginal growth that is growing at a remarkable rate and one of the heaviest July weed cuts in recent years. I hit our weed reasonably hard for a July weed cut in order to keep the river within its banks. left unattended it would have choked the stream and flowed out across the meadow, at which point I could go on at length about the need to manage chalk streams properly, the nonsense of re-wilding and undertaking a watching brief on chalk rivers and hey, how did it go with some of that clever "woody debris" this weed cut.
Think Poldark with a slight stoop, high forehead and a chest that's slipped a bit and you'll get the picture. Otis has been out in weed cut taking the opportunity of a dip in the hot weather although he has been caught out a few times by rafts of weed that have affected his course while swimming.
As is often the case, mid summer fishing is challenging and many fish feed sub surface, as a result the "dry fly only" rule has been abandoned and we are hard at it with the nymphs, although fish rose to a good hatch of sedge in the last hour of light yesterday.
Come on Yellow Pages, up your game!
I didn't understand Pokemon the first time round, but they're now the stuff of Derek Acorah, and I am working on my Yvette Fielding scream whenever I am informed of a Pokemon's presence.
I won't go on, I've chucked up some guff on the matter for the magazine and have had my fill of the subject.
We are where we are, nobody needs to justify a decision or attempt to apportion blame, we must all unite on as one as only hate will thrive in any void left by division. Call me an old hippy possibly Doris Day because it may benefit us all to remember the lyrics of Que sera sera.....
I've just heard that Sam Allardyce has been appointed as manager of the England football team.
Ok, we can breathe a sigh of relief that Alan Pardew wasn't considered, but Sam Allardyce, really? does nobody remember the style of football his teams play?
Andy Carroll kicks back and reaches for bubbles on reaching fifty caps for Old Albion
who now has the letters BSc hons and MRes after her name, and has secured a position in the control centre of Thames Valley Police beginning in August.
Parents very proud, as we only have punctuation after our names,
sometimes a full stop,
occasionally a question mark.
once a semi colon.
Child B has almost completed his year working for a planning consultancy in Southampton and returns to Cardiff University in September to complete his studies. He currently has no letters after his name but is keen for it to be known that he was Longparish Cricket Club Fielder of the year in 2008 .
Only now do we feel comfortable breaking cover to tell the tale of our travails with the collector of her majesty's taxes.
The battle began at the start of the year, when Madam received a directive that she had failed to file a tax return in time and consequently owed £100.
Our finances are not particularly complicated, but for ten years or so, Madam and myself have been required to submit self assessment tax returns, which we have diligently completed many months before the final deadline in order to have money owed applied to our PAYE tax code as we can't be trusted to squirrel money away, because hey, we like a holiday,
In October 2015 we held hands and dutifully entered figures for each of us onto the seven bridges of Konigsberg that is the You Gov website.
A few months later we received confirmation of our tax codes for the following year that acknowledged our little bit of income not covered by PAYE and, true to form, we kicked back and spent every last penny on our next trip, and then in February the email arrived informing Madam that she had not submitted a return and could HMRC have another £100. Phone calls were made and after many minutes on hold we were assured that the matter would be looked into.
After hearing nothing for two weeks Madam rang back and was informed that she now owed £200 and could she run through the course of events again as there didn't seem to be any record of her previous enquiry. Madam resubmitted her enquiry and, frustrated at her inability to resolve the problem, burst into tears and our jolly evening was gone.
Two weeks passed before Madam received another email, she now owed £300 and could she get in touch toute de suit to talk about it,
which she did,
with the HMRC chap on the other end of the phone, who assured Madam that a confirmation of receipt would arrive from the Yougov website by email within the hour.
Two hours later, a confirmation of receipt had failed to arrive and Madam burst into tears.
The following week she received an email informing her that if she didn't submit a tax return for the relevant period within a week the fine would increase to £400,
and tears flowed once again.
So a phone call was made, and, after many hours and another evening lost we paid the tax owed for the period in a lump sum rather than through the PAYE, but could we appeal against the fine?
Which we did, on three sheets of A4, detailing events and pleading our case, and that was another evening gone.
The following week Madam received an email informing her that she now owed £500.
We resubmitted our appeal with the word writ large in red all over the envelope and we also wrote to our MP Caroline Nokes,
another evening gone.
Today we have received a phone call from HMRC informing us of their error, no money was owed, all fines were off, the YouGov website did receive Madam's tax return in October and could we give them permission to contact Caroline Nokes to inform her that the matter is now resolved.
Which we did, and tears (of relief) flowed
There was no apology, and lesser ladies than Madam may have cut their losses at a few hundred pounds and stumped up.
It shouldn't have taken intervention at a ministerial level to resolve the matter. Madam made every effort to sort the situation out and was frustrated at every turn at the inability to speak to a human being with the required authority to sort out what was an error of their making through a Yougov website that has a plethora of glitches. .
The penalty system for late payment is akin to the methods of the mob, and if a payday loan shark applied a similar level of interest (Madam only owed four hundred pound) we would quickly condemn them as corrupt.
Well done! hasn't Old Albion been kind to you.
Thank you Caroline Nokes, you're a top banana and congratulations on your new job, I suggested to Dave in my last letter (remember broadband) that you should get a promotion. I've a met the odd oily MP but La Nokes is the real deal, as are a few others I have had dealings with in recent times.
And that's the end, I'll try not to leave it so long next time, but with the way of the world at the moment it takes a lot just to keep looking up and not down, and froth occasionally feels a little out of place.
Friday, July 1, 2016
Graphs and charts demonstrate that baby boomers and the grey vote mustered in numbers to carry the day,
So we are where we are.
We all thought long and hard about our own decision based on facts presented and voted accordingly.
Democracy has been done,
Once again: We all thought long and hard about our own decision based on facts presented and voted accordingly..............
who may have been muddled by the moronic campaigning on both sides of the debate during the preceding weeks.
Democracy has been done,
Time to make the most of the situation we are presented with, make a few friends and attend to the Far Right who disturbingly seem to be under the misguided impression that their relevance has in some way increased.
Apologies, I'll have to break off there and pop out into the garden.
Our garden parasol just shot past the window and now lies in many pieces.
Yes the Renewable energy and yes the Ben Ainslie, but in the modern age is there any real need for wind.
Our local town, that last Thursday voted to leave the EU. This week ,for the first time, played host to a French market on its beleaguered high street. Real French people peddled their wares from Brittany, Normandy and Picardy and business was brisk.
To continue the theme of exits from Europe, the English football team continue to maintain their standards on the international stage.
And as to Roy Hodgson querying his attendance at a press conference following the debacle's denouement, you picked up fourteen million zobs for your four years and a few games of football Roy, the least you can do is rock up and offer a few thanks for the gig.
Having attended to Europe I shall now give a report of my recent movements.
Not a leger (should that be ledger as I've Arlesey bombs on my mind) of my time on the toilet, although I am increasingly aware of the necessity to keep an eye on such movements,
but my work on the river.
Earlier this week I was once again required to give an account of my movements to village elders via the medium of photographs and obfuscation. A difficult crowd, there were the usual troublemakers, but I like to think I justified my actions over the past twelve months while my employer distracted them with cakes and tea to draw their fire.
On occasion I'll sign this guff off with the epithet "We are increasingly led by loons" but it doesn't seem appropriate at the moment as we appear to be a little short of leaders and a watching world that tutted last Friday, must now be pondering, whatever are they up to now?
Gripping stuff, but events over the past week or so may lead some to question their faith in Old Albion, although the excellent coverage both on radio and television of the battle of the Somme centenary must go some way towards a restoration of faith.
Well done the BBC for the coverage.
Friday, June 24, 2016
Friday, June 17, 2016
Apologies, fishing free this one, and sans photos, but I need to write this down before I forget a conclusion drawn.
I was recently sent a quote that seemed to sum up my current feelings about the impending referendum:
"How foul this referendum is. The most depressing, divisive, duplicitous political event of my lifetime. May there never be another"
What must the rest of the world think about how we have gone about this business?
There are many issues that I (and others) have been wrangling with in recent months, I won't list them here as it would extend to a plethora of words and I have banks to mow, but I think I have given each matter enough thought (months and months) to make my own decision; and "Vote Leave" and "Vote Remain" camps you have been no help at all
(some of the leading protagonists on both sides have a good deal of navel gazing to do once this thing is done and dusted)
But with a nod to the true seer of the age
EU, I remain your most humble and obedient servant
#Putting my faith in the next generation making a better fist of attending to the machinations of the EU and further global matters than my own contemporaries (no pressure kids, but I've every confidence)