Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Euphoria followed, so we skipped home, pausing only for pints

Recent rain has added a taint to the river that continues to maintain a reasonable level. Weed has been cut back and the fringe knocked off to a height that still provides a viable winter habitat for creatures that enjoy such spaces. A few olives continue to put in an appearance and fish that have no interest in spawning continue to fill their boots. Twelve months ago several keepers in the upper reaches dropped to their knees to pray for rain or, inspired by all things "strictly", jigged around with the odd ronde to invoke rain gods to fill the river. A wet winter would be welcome as it is undoubtedly an aid to performing the task well, and in my capacity as water supply manager for these environs, recent records confirm that there is sufficient space in the ground to accommodate significant precipitation.

Planning ahead (a rare occurrence in these befuddled parts) much of this winter will be spent chainsaw in hand dealing with trees that tumbled over last winter. The forces of crack willow who,after last winter's out of bank experience, can lay claim to the upper hand, will once again be re-engaged and forced to bow to the shock and awe of my saw to promote biodiversity in the chalkstream environment.

The newspapers from yesterday and today, carry the tale of a Swedish Navy feverishly hunting down a secretive soviet submarine that has bumped into one of their archipelagos. Principle evidence for invasion by the Russian Bear is a reported sighting of a shadowy figure by a bay,

who, it has now been revealed, was a pensioner fishing for trout.

Here on the Dever we keenly anticipate a visit from NATO's Baltic Fleet to inspect our fun bunch whose days of peeking for Ivan have long been been replaced by an ambition to put a fish on the bank.

There's no secret submarines here.

A few Fridays ago I was kindly invited to lunch by a lake further down the valley with optional fishing. I've bumbled along several times in years gone by to talk shop, take a ribbing for rubbish that I have written and touch base with keepers who I may not have seen for an entire season. As ever there was exasperation at guff emanating from the complicated cabal who lay claim to the title of saviors of the chalk stream environs, although fewer grumbles than previous years. Food was fantastic although I didn't do much fishing: too busy chatting or ear-wigging discourse on best methods for fly fishing for pike, which I will be implementing sometime this winter.

Thanks for the invite, it's always a great day and a great opportunity to talk.

Two Sunday's ago The lady who sleeps on my left and myself combined a trip to hang curtains and rail in Child A's new digs, that she shares with three others ( one of whom is a semi professional wrestler - and there's an exotic tale of items that have entered my washing machine to be told another day) to take in Lee Mack at the Guildhall. Prior to Mr Mack, who Madam and myself both greatly favour, particularly on WILTY. and while curtains were being chucked up, I popped next door to a beautiful British pub to take in England's Euro qualifier against Estonia with some of Fratton's finest. I'll admit to feeling a little under-dressed sans the requisite ink, but a first half passed without incident both on the pitch or in the pub, and I didn't mention the home town team who have experienced a spectacular decline in recent times. Six years on from winning the FA Cup they languish in the bottom division of the football league, which will make some in Southampton smile, but the people of Pompey could be forgiven for asking,

What happened there?

Lee Mack was ill, but still brilliant and soldiered on, dealing efficiently with the inevitable hecklers before exiting stage left after just over an hour.

One week on and Madam and myself have just returned from thirty six hours in Dublin to take in Dara O'Briain at the Vicar St theatre, a tiny venue that sold out in minutes once the dates were tweeted on Twitter six months ago.

Pick your spot, and it is possible to fly to and from Dublin from our local airport in less time, and for fewer pennies, than the train ticket from Winchester to Waterloo and back. A fifty minute flight dropped us off in Dublin in time for breakfast at O'Brien's where a homeward bound Hibernian took an immediate, and understandable, shine to Madam and made great play while I punished the bacon and white pudding.

Relinquishment from imagined clutches was swift and decisive, and we headed into the heart of Temple bar to ditch our cases before tackling the town where we found the pin we dropped on Google maps stuck smack in the middle of O'Connell Street.

It's called the spire, is very high and there is much mischief to be made with statues a camera and attention to depth of field, that I won't chuck up here for fear of offending.

Later on while Madam rummaged for smalls on Grafton St, I entered Peter's pub for a post prandial pint, the cost of which shook me somewhat and endorsed a burgeoning suspicion that this city was not the cheapest place in which to hang my hat. However the chat was great, the decor comforting, more seventies sitcom than the clich├ęd "Irish bar" to be found in many a city, and after a five minute discourse mostly on the merits of Italian beer, the conclusion drawn was:

"who'd a thought a bunch of fancy cooks and bottom pinchers could come up with some good beer amongst all that bunga bunga"

the price of my pint of froth was soon forgotten.

Which may have been the plan all along.......Doh!

Craic costs

A surfeit of bacon, cabbage and mash was taken in the early evening with wine and no dark brew before Madam and myself sloped along to Vicar St to take in Dara O'Briain and a night that will live long in the memory. Lee Mack may have been ill, and the Portsmouth Guildhall may not posess the conviviality of Vicar St, but I doubt given the same stage Mr Mack could top "The Dara" who, eschewed the option of a warm up act, and completed over two hours of razor sharp stand up working the room magnificently. If you get the chance to see his UK tour next year, don't pass up the opportunity.

A euphoric Madam and myself, linked arms and skipped home, pausing briefly for pints.

Trinity College the next morning, an oasis of tranquillity and a buff library that could draw the eye of some I know for more than a week. A lightening lunch next before a flight home to the river, and a week of work before heading off to the Moselle next week to resume our 2014 tour of the axis powers with five days of chub chasing, wine tasting and Germanic japes (report to follow).

It may seem like a lot of gadding about but , but to quote Prodnose,

" we only walk this earth for eighty or so summers at best"

and in footballing terms Madam and myself would hope that we are five or ten minutes into the second half so forgive us a "redbull" moment with our frantic running about.

Or perhaps it was just a calendar cock up when booking the comedy tickets many months ago.

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