Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Week 88

Week 88

What a wet couple of weeks, we have had our fair share but up in the Lake District they had over twelve inches in the space of 24 hours. This “one in a thousand” event washed away bridges and flooded the town of Cockermouth, which sits on the confluence of the rivers Derwent and Cocker. Historically prone to flooding the populace of this small medieval town, accustomed as they must be to donning waders and wellies, can only have been astonished at the scale of this recent flood. We attended a family wedding at a smart hotel on the banks of one of the rivers; our first floor room overlooked the river and must be high on the list for new carpets having seen it on the BBC news. At lunchtime on the day of the family wedding my son and I were chatting to another guest at a table in the bar and just about to take the first sip of the day, when the full glass of beer slid a few inches across the table and toppled over. The lady from behind the bar appeared with a cloth, promises of a fresh pint and cursed “that bloody ghost that’s costing this bar a fortune” It was not an uncommon occurrence for glasses to fall over unaided in this spot. I was knocked off my stride for a moment and looked for an explanation but could find none. She faced this bizarre moment with admirable stoicism and practical common sense, while I looked under the table for Derek Acorha. Her outlook will serve many well in the wake of the recent freak flood, while mine will herald calls an ark.

It will be interesting to see what effect the flood will have on fish populations and invertebrates. A wet winter on the Dever invariably results in a downstream drift of invertebrates that eventually work their way back upstream over subsequent seasons. It is my guess that the headwaters of the Derwent and Cocker will have suffered the greatest loss, but hatches of fly will increase over the following years as flies work their way back upriver. The fish will be ok, they always seem to find somewhere to tuck away, although many salmonid eggs in redds will have been washed away.

On the Dever the heavy rain has lifted the river and there is now enough water to run the streams through the garden plus some extra to send down the millstream. A chap popped round in a fancy car this week, although I’ve seen fancier, selling photos that he had taken from his helicopter. I wish he had let me know when he was taking the picture as the garden looked a bit of a mess, as did an area round the back where I store much of my stuff, as a result much of this week has been spent having a bit of a tidy. Hopefully the fancy man in his flying machine will email the picture to me so that I can Photoshop out the untidy bits.

One day this week was spent in the company of The Cefas man, establishing boxes that need a tick and records that have to kept, in order to keep the fishing world turning and the river Dever flowing. This was followed by a visual inspection of the site. It’s a regular event that all registered fish farms/fisheries have to go through. Our inspector is a nice chap, who recognises that as much can be achieved over an informal cup of coffee, as the stringent box ticking exercise that we are required to perform as formality. The introduction of non-native species and illegal fish movements are always on the agenda. Non-native species entered the public domain this week on an ITV Chinese cookery programme. Over the past few years, we have regularly been alerted to potential invasion by Chinese Mitten Crab. An invasive freshwater crustacean it is a Chinese delicacy that some enterprising Coolie has chucked in the Thames. As a result, a breeding colony of Mitten Crabs now inhabit central London. It is an offence to introduce a Mitten Crab to another waterway, but these critters are renowned for ignoring movement orders and hiking miles cross- country to pitch into another river. The colony in the Thames has been established for some time and their future has been the subject of much debate. Why not expose this urban Mitten Crab population to commercial exploitation? a ready supply of a “high end” food source in the middle of town, and if over exploited, as it is likely to be, everyone’s a winner. Non-native species eliminated, and a few years of top soup!

Is it me?

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