Sunday, November 23, 2014

Tackling Trees with Laced up Loins

It's time to tackle the trees. All those that tumbled over last winter have lay prone in the wood throughout the summer and now that the stingers are in retreat I have started on the tangle of forty, forty feet Christmas trees that have flattened the Pheasant pen. About half a dozen maintained a semi erect stance and these have had to be felled first in order to make the place safe but it will take many weeks of going bananas with a chainsaw before any inroads are made. All the Christmas trees that lie prone have been uprooted as opposed to broken off and calculations must be made as to where weight lies and when a stump and root is likely to flip back into the hole from which it was removed. It's a hairy business as anything or anyone left under a root ball weighing several tonnes will not escape. There are also several substantial aspen around the flight pond and a couple of decent ash. We already have next winter's wood stacked at home , balsam poplar mostly with a smattering of ash and oak, and we will have more stacked through the wood by the end of this winter. It's a familiar tale further up the valley where others have made a start on substantial numbers of Balsam Poplar that cashed in their chips during last winter's blow. Some of the better wood was taken away to where I don't know but the French have a particular penchant for balsam poplar with 30% of the country's hardwood sourced from the species.

In the river, trout have been slow to start spawning although one female who performed for ten minutes on camera and weighed around a pound and half had scooped out a redd eighteen inches deep which suggest that the gravel is lovely and loose as a result of the high water of last winter. Here she is for a minute or so. Musical accompaniment was to be by The Variety Theatre and Vascos Morais and their groundbreaking piece of Free Jazz - Scaffolding made of bones and diamonds, however an ongoing dispute over the length of piece to be used has delayed the release of the soundtrack so here's a short silent film.

Roll VT

Most winters we will have fish spawning throughout November and December but they need to get a move on this year if it is to be a similar story. The mild weather and trickle of olives for a few hours in the early afternoon may prove a distraction, and a few frosts would be of immense benefit in order to let all flora and fauna in the valley know that winter is here and it is time to switch off, each evening this week our bedroom and bathroom have been invaded by blue bottles who have no business being about at this time of the year, and who I am forced to pursue like a low budget batman in my underpants, sans utility belt and mask and armed only with a towel for flicking. While we are on the weather the opening skirmishes of the media's battle with winter way have already taken place after a wet week saw several newspapers sending junior journos to stand in puddles and speak of an impending watery Armageddon. Rivers flooding in winter should not be news, unless the circumstances are exceptional, a wet month at this time of the year is welcome in this valley and many others and should not be paraded as news. If it's still p&^%$£"g down in March then it will have been a wet winter and worthy of mention as a wet winter. We seem to have lost our way a little with our understanding of the seasons and the weather.

A cormorant has taken a liking to the flight pond and on several days this week I have seen up to a dozen flighting up the main river valley. Grayling fishing has been surprisingly difficult particularly in coloured water following rain, sub surface explorations with my clever camera revealed good numbers throughout the river in all year classes, and in clear water on sunny days several fish have risen to olives but the slightest deepening of colour and they have refused to play ball. I have also made my first forays with the fly rod in pursuit of pike, there are a brace of fish in front of the house in the mill stream one of which is a double figure fish. I'm a little new to this game, and would normally reach for a spinning rid and Mepps, but I am curious after several keeper friends spoke with great enthusiasm about pursuing pike on a fly. They occasionally get caught on mayflies, but proper pike flies are about the size and appearance of a sparrow in a high viz jacket. Casting such a bundle of fluff attached to the necessary wire trace takes a bit of getting used to, although shortening the leader and using some of the soft plastic wire which can be knotted and negates the requirement for clunky snap swivels makes the cast a little more fluid. In clear water the pike will move a long way across the river if they are in the mood, as the smaller fish in front of the house that weighed about six pounds.

Well we woke up this morning to the news that a company called "Indeass" is to invest £650 million pound into shale gas exploration in order to feed its chemical fire somewhere in Scotland. In my haste to Google this chemical giant of which I had not heard prior to the news reader's burblings, a slip of the keyboard led me to a disturbing backwater of the internet's rich pageant, before I ascertained that the company wanted to have a shufty about the shale in the vicinity of their principle site for alchemy in Grangemouth, and not the few sites owned by shale gas exploration companies in this valley. Fingers crossed they pay due diligence to the safeguards required to preserve water supply and the environment. Promises have been made to that effect, but all that talk of a race to frack by Flashy a few months back and the attempt to ease EU constraints on shale gas exploration gave me the willies,

still does.

An oft repeated mantra but, I've said it before, if shale gas is sought in a chalk valley and things don't go to plan, it will be the equivalent of pissing in a fast diminishing well, and while we may temporarily have solved an energy deficit, a water deficit could result along with a cocked up chalkstream. 80% of chalkstreams on this blue planet are in the UK, principally in the South East of England, if a third world state trashed a unique habitat in the name of economics, we would quickly condemn it as corrupt.

If we are going to do this thing lets make sure we do it properly eh? with no talk of a "race to frack"

And apologies for further politics but I find the recent fire in Mr Rochester's room a depressing affair. I can't believe I'm saying this, but well done to the beast of Bolsover for jabbing your finger and I concur!! The chap who laced my loins back together a few years ago was possibly spawned on Galafrei although the spelling of his name, Dr Hu suggests otherwise. The lady who sleeps on my left will attest my loins have returned to mid season form and not by some sonic screw driver plucked from the glove box of the tardis, but a skilled surgeon with very soft hands from South Korea. My own moniker hints at a transient existence over time, and well done Den for speaking up.

On a local level I caught sight of a car covered in purple and yellow stickers being attended to in a hand car wash by a bunch munching unusual sausage and talking in tongues..

which seemed a little ironic.

In a two week period we have swung from a successful and amazing pan european project to land a washing machine on a speeding comet, to prehistoric mutterings of repatriation

The colour purple is beginning to frighten me a little, so I'm off to take in the dancing.....Pixie's my tip.

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