Four days away from home and on the river four trees gave up the ghost, is there a link? The cherry tree in our garden that, for twenty years, hosted a swing plus a ball on a string for cricket practice, crashed to the ground as its roots lost their grip in a sodden bank. It’s a thin bit of soil with solid chalk not far beneath so it was no real surprise. When rain falls after a prolonged dry period it is possible to hear the water making its way down through the upper levels of the chalk in the bank to which the cherry tree previously clung.
Below the bottom bends the mother of all willows fell in the river, three feet across at its base it may have been pollarded years ago as a quartet of limbs, each a foot and a bit across climbed to a height of more than thirty feet, as result four trees with a three foot wide bum blocked the river and water was backing up so it all had to come out. Willows can be fickle when they are felled as twisted limbs make it difficult to calculate where the weight lies and deciding what is leaning on what can be tricky. Cutting up a similar sized willow a few years ago that had fallen over from soggy ground to span some water that was beyond wading, I dealt with the upper branches and was left with a single trunk across the river. Perched side saddle on the trunk above the middle of the stream I began to cut rings off the end of the trunk, a critical point was reached,a ring dropped off, and slowly, as if emboldened by a little blue pill the trunk began to rise as the remaining stump and root headed for the hole from which they came.
Elevation was reasonably sedate. At roughly thirty degrees I flung the chainsaw to the bank and with the tree passing the forty five degree mark I made my move and leapt for safety. It’s ramrod straight now a magnificent specimen that shoots each year, but extreme sports enthusiast would pay for such an experience. Dryad tears fell, plus a few from crows, over the demise of some lanky Aspen that had previously dominated the skyline from our kitchen window, but had, in reality, been threatening to give up the ghost for a few years.
The rain of recent weeks is fantastic and has lifted the river to a level where trout can now access the spawning gravels, a few hens have gone early and kicked up redds and shed eggs without the requisite cocks present so their efforts may have been in vain. The extra water and added colour has also provided a little respite from the heron and egret that continue to haunt this valley. The Otter is at work again so batteries have been beefed up on the lines of electricity that surround our stock ponds that contain our stock fish for the next two seasons, plus a couple of hundred Rainbows that will soon travel south to the smoker for Christmas. Saprolegnia, the fish fungus that resembles fluffy cotton wool, continues to be visible on many of the fish in the river, mostly cock fish, hopefully the extra water will help lower stress levels that can aid its onset, but it is the worst it has been in the autumn for many years.
Grayling fishing has been ok, results have been mixed with weather influencing proceedings. The rain of recent weeks has raised the river a few inches and last week a fish of just over two pound was reported. The biggest bag so far? twenty plus fish in a day on nymphs bearing a hint of pink or red. Some however have struggled. The roach however are conspicuously absent, which is a mystery, and for my centre pin, a worry.
There are a few duck about, mostly mallard and the hides are all cut and ready to go, the phragmites that surrounds the pond is the thickest it has been for many years and will provide some challenging picking up but it is effective cover that some duck have taken advantage of during the day rather than pushing off to another pond.
On the Fracking front, the threat remains. Energy companies beseeched parliamentary committee to cut current planning and environmental restrictions required by the application process, in short a request to bypass the EA and get on with it, Flashy bellowed pretty much the same to the EU after they implemented legislation that required any application for shale gas extraction to carry out an Environmental Impact assessment before any fracking takes place. Prior to this an applicant could carry out an environmental impact assessment up to two years after the process had started, when the damage could already have been done, which beggars belief.
Why must the chalkstream environment increasingly rely on EU directive over our own governors for their preservation?
I have not previously entertained the thought that Russell Brand and myself could be bedfellows, but I share his view that there is no political party that I could currently vote for. The Conservatives are a tad too Toad of Toad Hall, blundering on in haste without the required thought and gravitas, Labour can’t be trusted with the purse strings, (Why did you sell all that gold Gordon? And yes, please help yourself to my meagre personal pension that Tony told me to take out) Nick Clegg & Co are insipid, indecisive and possibly impotent, no good ever came from any kind of national party no matter how strong their feelings, and I am uneasy over the initiation ceremony for inclusion to The Respect Party that requires semi naked submissive behaviour in a dimly lit room before enlarged images of Rula Lenska And Saddam Hussein
Maybe Lord Sutch was on to something after all, or perhaps it’s time somebody came up with a “Bugger the politics, we are all in this together so why don’t we just be sensible” party.
In a recent re-organisation of the NHS (that we pay for) hundreds of NHS executives were handed six figure golden goodbyes that amounted to a total of £170 million pounds, many were re-employed a few months later in similar positions elsewhere in the Health Service on a salary commensurate with their previous position
Contrast this with the current appeal to raise £180 million to aid those devastated by mother nature in the Philippines.
I have said this before, but if these shenanigans occurred in the public sector of a third world state, we would quickly condemn it as corrupt.
I apologise for getting political, it may be an age thing, and perhaps this kind of behaviour is an accepted way of getting on in life that has passed me by, but what happened to morals?
A BBC executive (that we pay for) given a seven (yes seven, they used to spell this figure out on the football results in my youth if a team ever scored that many goals) figure golden goodbye before gaining employment elsewhere in the corporation after a spot of gardening leave, had the neck to go on national radio and defend his position on the grounds that it was his contractual right, who on earth is drawing up these contracts and putting their signature to them?
Guide to surviving on your own in a cave?......check
Rails and Ravings to fire at the outside world?.....check
We are increasingly led by loons