Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Face of Fabulon and the spirit of Owain Glyndwr

Snow fell last week, which when accompanied by the extended cold snap, should provide mother nature with a definitive full stop to the four seasons just past and preparations will now be underway for the next cycle of seasons. Winters without a cold snap can cause some confusion to flora and fauna in this valley but Jack Frost in residence for a fortnight acts as a clear signal as to when one year ends and the next begins.

It has been pointed out that there has been a dearth of videos with accompanying free jazz of late,

well a couple of emails from Keith Helt and The Nicholas Chienteralli trio anyway,

So here's a video I took of JJ Cale warming up in the studio, Keith and Nicholas you will note the proficiency of the people playing the music, the use of melody and structured verse and my introduction in Dutch.

Nice !

Such a loss

We are still besieged by birders, and a quick trawl of ornithological corners of the internet reveals forums full of short statements like "Great egret flushed by dog walkers" or " Shrike disturbed by black dog with owners aimlessly wandering" . It's still the Shrike show, the ravens remain, the hen harrier flops about, every species of native UK owl can be relied on to perform at some point and the merlin can pop in when it is not darting up the lane. All of this is five minutes from our door and we consider ourselves very lucky as some of these chaps with high end glass and a mind for furtive movement are driving hundreds of miles for the experience.

Through the miracle of Sky Plus Madam and Child A are watching yesterday's news today, or possibly the latest series of make do and mend and the quest to turn rags into ill fitting clothing as a form of entertainment on BBC2. Heaven forbid they try and resurrect interest in home-made wine making. My mother recently found a bottle of white I constructed from dubious fruit nearly twenty years ago, she dutifully gave it a go and managed half a glass before using it to clean the sink, which left the plughole gleaming. It may have lacked the required asbestos finings that CJ Berry espoused in the tome he produced in the 1960s "Winning Ways with Wine" but I maintain that producing essential items such as clothes and wine should be left squarely in the hands of the professionals and not become the subject of TV reality shows. Somebody is going to get hurt on one of these shows soon,they have to stop!

and while we're on TV, Hey Pop Factor, X Idol and Voice have a listen to this short clip,

you too Nicholas and Keith

Proper talent,

I'd trade all my musical tomorrows for one single yesterday,

bar Paolo Nutini, Sam Smith, George Ezra and Adele,

and yes Rita she was playing the guitar.

Work in the wood continues apace, smaller trees now along with half a dozen Christmas trees that went over a week ago. Lord Ludgershall's attendance is trumpeted in the court circular each day and he has taken to wearing his pink "Pride" pants which adds a little colour to the wood. The spirit of Owain Glyndwr is currently upon him and he is ring fencing the wood to keep out the English.

Not another cross border feud with the auld Ellmyn, but an amiable cove from the village with the surname "English" who Lord Ludgershall insists eyes the royal log stash with no little envy.

This time last year the wood was underwater as the Dever struck a new course on its way to meet the main river Test. There is no sign of a repeat performance, and it would be nice if we could fit in a few wet weeks sometime in the next couple of months, The trout are in very good condition and have made a nuisance of themselves to grayling anglers, two of whom have put fish of over two pounds on the bank, along with perch and some reasonable roach. Despite the cold weather there have been some hatches of fly and both trout and grayling have fed on the surface in the middle of the day. We still have a few Rainbows in the river, the rearguard of the fish that turned up in the Dever this time last year they are nice looking fish after twelve months in fast flowing water, are brighter than their pond dwelling brethren, but my moneys on them all being out by the end of the Mayfly, and a couple of them are over four pounds so get your oak chips ready Mr Smoker.

Two grayling anglers have reported hooking Sea Trout. I have on occasion taken some scales from very silver fish and sent them away for analysis to see if they have spent any time in salt water. To date all have been brown trout. Sorting through a stew pond full of brown trout often throws up a very silver fish, and it has been known for a brown trout to suddenly head out to sea and become a sea trout, the two species are genetically identical, but I have yet to see one here. Sea trout do run the main river, in fact the biggest sea trout ever caught was landed in Southampton water but it has always been thought that the sea trout that run this river system head up a tributary that flows from the west and is slightly more acidic than the remainder of the main river and its other tributaries.

Last week's snow confirmed that we continue to be blessed with otters, the six pound bream with a bite out of its shoulder on the bank of the flight pond suggested as much at the start of the New Year, but the grooves in the snow that could have been caused by a miniature canoe with four clawed feet fitted beneath, but is more likely to be good old Tarka, reveal that we have three in residence on this short stretch of river.

Which is great, because they should be in evidence on UK rivers, but when does the uncomfortable conversation about how many numbers of otters and potential impact on freshwater fish populations take place?

Standing back and undertaking a watching brief doesn't work. The last ten years in this valley should have taught us that much.

The many acres of rape behind our house are pulling in the pigeons and every hour we are startled by the report of a gas gun on top of the hill. I am waiting to be approached about the chooks entering the field and the finger to be pointed in their damage regarding nibbled leaves,

Oh for a jolly farmer etc etc

It may not be immediately apparent, but each day I undertake an intensive beauty regime that involves rubbing white cream into my face, it doesn't contain an oilatum from the anal gland of a venezualan grasshopper or any bifidus digesdivum (or was that the yoghurt) that purports to prevent saggy skin/look after my stomach flora. It is white and it is aquaeous, last week in bitter wind my porcelain flesh was so scorched that further remedies were required, Subsequently I reached into the cabinet and applied some organic stuff squeezed from the leaves of a seaweed that would restore this face to something close to Helen of Troy. A forgotten Christmas gift perhaps or an impulse purchase during a quest for lost youth, who knows how it came to be here.

The following morning I awoke looking like I had fallen face first into the fire.

Lotions were applied that instigated further stinging, so fresh air was sought which briefly provided some respite. The next day I was even redder and was conscious of appearing in public, an indoor cricket match was on offer but I would have cleared the room with the current concerns over ebola.

Today I have lumps on my neck and blotches all over my face , tennis elbow from tapping out this guff, and a fortnight ago I was informed by a straight talking optician from India (which is how I take my opthamology by the way, let's have no obsequiousness over my attempts to read the middle row ) that "You have very old eyes Mr de Cani"

And so with a nod to Keith and Nicholas et al it seems apposite to close with the following clip.

Medical Update: A visit to the local MASH unit and my blotchiness has been designated as the National collection of dermatitis, some acute, some chronic. Twenty four pounds worth of ointments and pills will put me back in the race to be the Face of Fabulon 2015 by the end of the week.

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