One week in and no angler has yet caught their limit. There has been considerable effort and a fair few fish patrol the river, but the pedestrian pace of the weed growth suggests that the water is still quite cold for the time of the year and, along with the water, the fish are slowly warming up and accepting the fact that spring is finally here. I have not seen a Hawthorn fly or more than a brace of olives in the air at any one time and fish are not what you would term “free rising” Marginal growth is also slow to get going and there is limited cover along the bank for the approaching angler.
It you are a flora or a fauna, it don't yet feel quite like May.
The Wisteria on the Mill House is considering giving forth a spectacular display (pictures to follow) but the Mulberry remains in deep torpor with hardly a swollen bud. Today (6th May) I heard the first cuckoo, I have yet to see a duck chick and many more swallows and swifts must be on their way. Previous early starts to spring have seen several trees run out of energy from mid-summer on and leaves have been shed early, it will be interesting to see what this late start to spring has on several species this summer.
In six weeks or so it starts getting darker at night.
The new loo has received rave reviews from several anglers. Following heated debate during the early stages of construction over the inclusion of a bench in the facility. Those who called for a bench were vindicated within a week of fishing commencing as a pair of rods turned up with a troop of babies and toddlers, the welcoming flim flam from the meeter and greeter who had poo-pooed the idea of a bench included a description of the new toilet as having baby changing facilities.
The building itself is now complete, looks fantastic and is completely safe, unlike the previous block that from the right angle and in good light resembled a poorly constructed Siberian housing unit for banished workers.
Planners are currently bemused and a part time next door neighbour full of urban enlightenment is kicking up a fuss (I will furnish this column with the details at a later date as wounds are still open and more than a little raw) but the next seven days will be spent moving all the detritus associated with a life of maintaining a registered fish farm, a mile and a half of river and acres of SSSI ( in accordance with diktat from Command centre central) from the back paddock into the new building.
Once again we have huge shoals of minnows in the millstream, that have recently drawn the eye of Kingfishers nesting in the bank between the road and river at the top of this beat, last year saw a second pair nest downstream from here and regular dogfights marked by squeaks and blue flashes took place as the parents competed for the bounty of minnows on which they would feed their young. The adult hares have done their thing in the back field and returned to a life of solitude. Coarse fish are holding off spawning and I reckon the odd big river fish will be caught when the season opens in June still with a belly full of eggs.
The BBC have got their knickers in a twist again, donning the hair shirt and beating brows over what Stuart Hall got up to in the seventies and eighties. Apparently the original “Roger Mellie, the man on the telly” he is robust enough and of sufficient maturity to take responsibility for his own behaviour and actions.
And Rolf Harris....really?
A million pound investigation into “what we could have done” will achieve little, especially as times were very different then. They have yet to apologise for three series of “Triangle” or for allowing Richard Madeley to broadcast live to the nation.
There will have been a “Stuart Hall” in many other industries during the seventies and eighties .and those industries will not feel obliged to front up for the behaviour of their employees aeons ago as the BBC currently seem to want to do. The individual must take responsibility for his own actions over the corporation who employs him. Brow beating by the BBC detracts from serious misdemeanour in other walks of life.
At this point, I would like to place on record that I once attended a summer fete in Swanage along with my younger brother that was opened by Googie Withers. She didn’t lay a finger on either of us and was charm personified, although she did handle a shy won coconut rather roughly and nodded off during the best dressed dog competition. Encounters at further fetes with Lewis Collins (A professional) and Patrick Allen of Barrat homes fame, passed without incident.
Experiments with tank tops and home made checked trousers (Rupert the bear was quite the thing then) in a variety of man made fabrics did however leave deep scars.
During the late seventies and early eighties I played for a Cub Scout football team. An average centre forward, I relied on my supply of ball from either wing. On the left was “offside Evans” on the right a dark skinned lad called Nigel who, despite a recent screening of Roots was widely known, including by his family (a complicated soup with a number of exotic ingredients) and friends, as “N****r”. With little supply from the left where Evans was perennially offside, my exhortations when the ball moved down the right included repeated cries of Nigel’s nickname. With a little local knowledge it was possible to follow the action of our attacking play from several streets away. A succession of loud whistle blows and parents calling “Evans! You’re offside!” meant that we were attacking too much down the left, while the cry of N****r,N****r! Did not mean that the Ku Klux Klan had come to town, only that Nigel had the ball, we were attacking down the right, and the centre forward was calling for the ball.
In the current climate I fully expect an early morning knock on the door by the politically correct squad for hate crimes committed during the seventies and eighties. I wasn’t abusing our gallant right winger, the genuine abuse, to which I plead guilty, was directed to the left wing where “Offside Evans” was a continued source of frustration.
He was even offside at my marriage to the lady who sleeps on my left, where he again played on the left wing as best man.