Wow we have had wind! And not just the pops and phuts brought on by the rich diet of the festive fortnight; a real good blow that sent trees tumbling and fences flying! We’ve had a big Oak come down that will sit very well in the woodshed next year, and the tractor shed on the cricket field is in pieces with the roof in the next field. I had a call informing me that a small blackthorn was blocking the road in the village near the football field so I made a start on clearing it up when a huge Beech bordering the playground toppled over taking out the power lines, phone line and a large part of the churchyard wall. It blocked the road for twenty four hours before a beleaguered Southern Electric team arrived to clear up. Since then heated discussion has ensued over who is responsible for paying for the clearup operation, with the Church refusing to accept that in insurance parlance it was an act of god (why would he break down his own wall) and insisting that the responsibility lies squarely with the parish council.
It’s been a while since we had winds so strong, talk has invariably turned to tales of the 1987 Hurricane and the equally strong winds a few years later. I was a silly student at the time of both but do remember a great community
spirit as anyone who had a chainsaw, bowsaw, hacksaw or seesaw set about unblocking the roads. In our student digs my future wife and I had no electricity for over a week and dined by candle light and bathed in a tin tub (normally used for grading fish) in front of an open fire (the only source of heating) In the winds a few years later far too many students jumped into my pooh brown ford fiesta for a dinner time jaunt to the bright lights of Winchester only for our path to be blocked as a tree fell down on the car in front of us, the main trunk lay straight across the bonnet at the base of the windscreen, the occupant, an employee of local TV was on a large mobile phone ringing in
to say that he thought he had a bit of a story, we coaxed him out and, with hindsight, he was in a state of shock as he babbled, shivered and banged on about work; we dialled the emergency services before heading off down a tree lined back lane for town as we only had an hour before the chip shop shut.
With the all the wind I have had to do the rounds every day standing up pheasant feeders, the Maize has been
flattened and in the top drive almost every cob of maize has been eaten. As the wind abated towards the back end of the week we had our third day shooting. With water lying out in the meadows we put up a dozen or more Snipe who had gathered around puddles to poke and prod for dainties. A similar number of duck got off the river, a brace of egret
shone bright against a clear blue sky and a skein of Greylag exited stage left. Pheasants were a bit thin on the ground, and the plough made the top drive seem an awfully long way away but the trudge was worth it as our merry band put up a ton of Partridge, a few of which flew the right way. Three Jay bit the dust along with a few Pigeon who have recently found the flattened Maize. Lunch was taken with nonsensical discussion on a variety of subjects before all struggled to get out of the muddy morass of a paddock where cars had been parked; finally we are getting rain, we haven’t had cars stuck in there for a few winters.
On the river the perennial battle against the evil forces of Crack Willow is resumed. Two short stretches are currently starved off light following last year’s growth, saws have been sharpened and the enemy is about to be engaged. The same is true on the short stretch of middle Itchen that I have taken on. The owner and his friend have done great work with their chainsaws clearing the willow from a neglected spring ditch that could prove to be a very productive nursery stream, half a day pulling rubbish out with a pair of grabs has exposed gravel that sparkles in the light that now penetrates once the battle with crack willow has been won.