Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ding Dong the Chump has gone

Finally the mayfly has got going with our first heavy falls of spinners this weekend just past. The river is bank high and some parts of bank are hard going, the ranunculus has broken surface and is in full flower, next week’s weedcut should drop the level little and restore a little order where the anglers carefully tread. Last week, I had to pull the tractor out four times in the space of an hour while mowing as it broke through the surface and bedded down in the bog. At this time of year during the past two seasons, I have stated that I could safely do the strimming in some super high slingbacks, this year’s footwear of first choice for the mayfly angler is rubber, preferably wellies or waders.

The fringe is in fine form and a few inches taller for having plenty of water around its ankles, the same is true of the reedbeds that were burnt off earlier in the year. A few patches did not burn and the difference to the density of growth of a patch that was incinerated is stark. We have a plethora of marsh marigolds and cuckoo flower and the wisteria on the side of the mill house has never been so spectacular. Several pairs of tufted duck are in residence plus a few gadwall; the tufties, a diving duck, particularly relishing the extra depth of water.

Unfortunately the world’s worst spaniel has wobbled his last wobble and shuffled off to wreak havoc on the other side,

Look out Doris Stokes,he'll have your ouija board in pieces, before you get to "Is there anybody there"

Approaching thirteen, with failing sight and hearing and hopeless hind quarters he had his second stroke in the space of twelve months during his morning walk. The vet said it was time to go, and that “Chump” deserved dignity, which he did, but Chump didn't do dignity,chaos and confusion were his thing and he made it his life's quest to implement their state whenever possible. A useless working dog he crushed anything he found, he was nonetheless great fun and a good friend who never gave up despite his obvious disabilities. He couldn’t cross a bridge without falling off the side and was suspicious of any flower in bloom in the garden, rolling them flat with a bout of convenient wobblyness. He could clear a dinner table with a switch of his hopeless hips and despite his proletarian air was incredibly well bred albeit accidentally
He is buried on the riverbank a few yards down from Zebo, and while digging the hole I’m sure I heard a doggy sigh. Zebo never thought much of spaniels particularly chaotic ones. Otis is mooning about a bit but has also grown up now that his rabble rousing spaniel friend has gone.

Earlier this month DEFRA Minister, Owen Patterson, made a startling statement at a farming conference. The EA budget for clearing ditches and waterways has been slashed and the onus has been put on the private individual to get on and clear ditches out himself, which is fair enough. The farmer upstream from here, maintains two spring ditches very well, clearing them out at the correct time of year and in the correct way. Others may not be so sympathetic, especially when given the green light to dredge away to their hearts content on hearing Patterson state that:

“The purpose of waterways is to get rid of water”

Pared down to their most simplistic form this is undoubtedly what waterways are. Apply the same criteria to a politician, and they are a democratically elected person chosen to represent the views and interests of a majority and to carry out their duties in an honest and open manner as befits a public servant, which I am sure they are, but there are many more facets to each and every politician, as is the case with waterways, they are not just a conduit for getting rid of water.

An officious application process for such works exists that needs attention, else most will just ignore it.

Mr Patterson is right to want to simplify the licensing process for such works, but please add the caveat that waterways are not just a means of getting rid of water, and could the applicant have an eye to possible effects of his project and please be sensible about when and how he carries out the work.

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