Monday, March 5, 2012

F*&% Y*&$ Lark!

No rain this week but a couple of very mild days in the middle that made all sorts swell up. A couple of buds have broken on the thorn hedge bordering the lane at the bottom of this stretch and I have been bitten by a fly/ horse fly/ crocodile in February. I have finished clearing trees from our bottom bit. The island that twelve years ago was covered in six inches of water following a particularly wet winter stands eighteen inches proud of the water with roots exposed all around. Eighteen inches may not be much for some rivers but for a chalkstream that will only rise an inch when many rivers would overflow, it is an awful lot. The spring that runs from the bottom of the iron age defence ditch and would have been one of the principle reasons for “Iron age Alan and family” to settle on that spot has dried up. It may have done so before, but not during my time. A recent run up the Bourne valley in the name of Sunday football revealed a river that has been dry for three years and an interesting football pitch in the water meadows that appeared to have medieval ridge and furrow ploughing across its middle. Dry winters in winter bourne valleys lead to all manner of articles accumulating in the dry river channel. Fences put across to contain livestock, dogs or children, dry bridges made into dens by young adventurers, even wood piled up for winter storage all of which cause problems when the water returns.

Following recent press coverage the shortage of water in the south is now very much in the public consciousness. For keepers on this river it has been a topic of conversation for some while. Some are trepidatious over the impending fishing season, others too cool for school. Here we may have problems with the stew ponds and getting sufficient water through them to keep the fish within in good order. They were chronically short of water for much of last summer, and we have a fourstroke two inch pump standing by to bash the water around a bit, but if the water falls to such a level that there is no water going through the inlet pipe the fish will have to be moved “tout de suite” The ponds hold three pound Rainbow Trout so we can’t just chuck them in the river, we would need the relevant section 30 movement order and the river is stuffed with fish as it is. It may come down to a quick google of “Big Rainbow Trout recipes” or advertise locally for someone who requires half a tonne of Smoked Trout Pate. Problems could be compounded midsummer by an extended hot spell warming the water leading to depleted oxygen levels, a thunderstorm during such a period and the resultant drop in air pressure could be devastating as oxygen levels are reduced further. Of course it could rain yet, or we may have a cool damp summer, either of which would relieve the pressure a tad.

With the bottom bit done, the chainsaw’s eye has been drawn to Willow on a weir pool upstream from the fishing hut, named after an old factor of the neighbouring estate who lived in the house overlooking the bend with a bottle blond Retriever called “Lark”. Lark would sometimes appear on the river bank and stay for sometime despite a booming base baritone calling across the fields on many an afternoon:

“Lark!...Lark!........Lark! .............. Oh F*** Y** Lark!

He was a nice chap to talk to but was fast approaching his wit’s end over his errant dog who always went home in the end.

Two weeks of two stroke power will ultimately reduce the arbours formed by the willows to dust, light will once again enter the river, weed will thrive and victory will be mine! It’s been warm work on the chainsaw front, and every now and again a jackdaw flies past with a stick in its beak as a reminder that spring could soon spring, but then again nature has been fooled before and I can remember sledging at Easter on a couple of occasions. Following invasion by Siskin we are now inundated with Goldfinches and are refilling a niger seed feeder daily. Mid afternoon is a twitter fest as the various groups strive to make themselves heard before flitting from tree to tree.

A bitch in the hood has been “shakin her tail feathers” causing no end of grief to our resident gangster Otis. Early this week we returned late from an indoor cricket match at The Dummer Cricket centre. On the short transfer from kennel to kitchen “ the world’s worst spaniel completed the trip”, but the doofus bolted and the lady who sleeps on my left and myself couldn’t see his black ass for dust as he bolted into the night. He has done this on a handful of occasions and each time, on reaching the site where “the lady” has passed, he re-enters the room and realises he doesn’t have a clue where he is. The poor dog is a slave to his conkers so we toured the parish for much of the night. He likes his cricket and football so we looked in at our home grounds, plus a couple of away ones. He wasn’t in the woods, hanging around the village, at the pub (I did that one) or cruising the lanes so in the small hours we returned to bed. He came back at some point as there was much barking at dawn with the paper man repelled and the paper strewn across the yard. We do not know if he found what he was looking for, my guess is he didn’t as he stills bangs his gums in front of the TV and eyes the Spaniel with the eyes of Eros. If Rubens, Hogarth or Norman Thelwell were commissioned to come up with an image of a dog Otis would result. Any pups he has sired will stand out a mile and paternity claims will undoubtedly follow.

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