Friday, August 19, 2016

A Previously Unknown Henry Moore in the Medium of Cucumber

Back again, albeit in an Olympic reverie.

But first we shall attend to Malham Tarn, where a press release, gleefully accepted by national radio, trumpeted the release of a hundred captive bred Water Voles into the Tarn to boost numbers of Ratty.

The News piece revealed that this centum of voles had been raised on carrots and apples, and I confidently predict that in the coming weeks a well meaning Joe Public will don walking shoes to fling all manner of fruit and veg into the Tarn to sustain the poor creatures

This release contradicts current thinking with regard to re-establishing populations of freshwater fish stocks, where the release of captive bred stock and supplementary feeding are strongly discouraged.

Why was this release of Water Voles made public? Why not wait a few years until the Tarn has been repopulated successfully and has a sustainable population of Voles, because hey kids, a lot of that first hundred ain't gonna make it.

I like a Vole, but I can't help thinking that the Malham Tarn lot have been let down by this press release.


We love the Olympics,

there I said it

it's good to emote, innit?

Rowing, Sailing, Boxing, Gymnastics the full gamut (even Equestrian) holds Madam and myself rapt.

The Football season ( a winter sport) started recently, and premiership matches screened live during the Olympics seem a little vulgar as hey Tony Cascarino (Is he still playing?) et al, these Olympics achieve much without the wash bag and headphone culture. During an entertaining half hour with Prodnose on a recent Saturday morning Roger Black revealed that Athletes rock up at the track in their kit and do not shower at the stadium after the event, which is one in the eye (or ear) for the old adage of scrubbing behind the ears.

Compare post event/match interviews of Olympians and Footballers and your Olympian is a far more rounded individual with a capacity for stringing sentences together, win or lose, in the depths of recovery from physical exertion. But then can we all remember that wiseacre Alan Pardew who, irked at the success of London 2012, sought to remind the British Public that footballers too are capable of Corinthian deeds, before head butting a footballer twenty years his junior playing against a team he was managing at the time a couple of weeks later.

Watch and learn Premiership footballers, you do not possess the god like status that you think your wage packet infers, that status is left for true Olympians, and hey Brian Cox, if you happen to find another planet somewhere, can we please, ignore the campaign for Planet Sheldon and name the thing Usain?

Or perhaps Planet Nick Skelton, as a gold medal at the age of 58 has isnpsired me to search for Pole vault poles on ebay.

Well done everyone, Well done!

Returning to Alan, the weed cut is on and having gone through much of the back catalogue of Desert Island Discs on my clever wireless headphones, I have purchased an audio book to occupy the few grey cells that remain during Poldarkian swishings with my scythe. I Partridge - we need to talk about Alan is a permanent fixture on my phone and is a work of genius, but today I have cut weed to a book that pushes it close.

My Lords, Ladies and Gentleman, I give you......

Toast on Toast, Cautionary Tales and Candid Advice.

I knew the book was out,

but like I Partridge, We need to talk about Alan, I wanted to hear the evidence from the horse's mouth.

If you were walking near the river sometime today and saw a chap up to his chest in water laughing his scythe off then this book was the cause.

Alan Partridge and Adrian Mole stand like beacons as true seers of their respective ages, and I'll confess to being a bit spoony over Matt Berry (The IT Crowd, Mighty Boosh, House of Fools, Snuff Box) he's a genius, and Steven Toast now run Alan and Adrian close in the race for a place at the centre of my heart,

Just outside family, close friends and the black dog obviously.

Returning to matters of work,

But before I do, I'm typing this blind, as the letters on the replacement keyboard purchased from Peking after I inadvisably marinated my laptop in vin rouge, have all rubbed off.

I used to get quite cross with Sting in his free jazz phase when he played a bass guitar with no fret marks, and once came close to taking him up on the matter when I passed through his garden on the Avon a few years ago on a business trip, but having banged out guff on a keyboard free of markings over the past few weeks I can concur with the Sting that it is a freer way of playing/typing,

I've never felt more alive, it's akin to riding a bike commando,

A practice also promoted by Sting during his Tantric sex phase, and a significant proportion of the cast of Carry on Camping.

August fishing is what it is, and as ever we look forward to September. Fish are being caught and a look through the book will confirm that with regard to numbers, catches are all that they should be for the season and well up on last year when water quality was significantly poorer. Many anglers have remarked on the dearth of big fish. Not one for a grey area or obfuscation I consulted catch records for the last thirty years in search of FACTS ( a word that seems to demand capital letters in the modern age) and the average size of fish caught each season has dropped these past two seasons.

We don't stock heavily, and brown trout introduced have rarely exceeded a pound and half in weight throughout the past twenty odd years. There are fish in the book of many pounds, the size of which have not appeared in recent seasons, and at this point it may be pertinent to examine where these "bigger" fish came from. First up, we didn't put them in. They were either derived from natural stock, or were canny stocked fish who matured in the river and hung around for several seasons (mixed sex) and spawned successfully.

This valley now plays host to a herd of Otters, and the big fish are the first to end up dead on the bank and last November/ December there were significantly fewer sexually mature fish kicking up redds in this stretch of river, which is a worry.

While many will wax lyrical on the merits of apex predators, this one is starting to impact upon the fish population of this river valley. It is not just the big trout that end up half eaten on the river bank, big pike, big roach and big grayling have all been hit hard these past two years, and in the lake the fifty forty year old carp were killed in a space of a couple of winters along with a shoal of bream weighing between five and eight pound.

Don't get me wrong, Otters should be present in this valley, but Unlike Hugh Finty Tittingshill, Tarka doesn't do sustainable fishing and we are currently heading towards a situation where the fish population falls to a sufficiently low level that the Otters are forced to move elsewhere for a viable food source and face their principle present day foe, the motor car.

There is a sensible conversation that needs to be begun , (don't expect any organisation ending in the word "Trust" ( Angling Trust excepted) to put their head above the parapet) and not on social media or the internet, and reading this back I anticipate the customary anonymous emails, so I'll get my response in early in that I am immensely proud that biodiversity has increased substantially on this stretch of river during my twenty five season tenure, Otters included, but for some aquatic environments in the UK, a burgeoning Otter population has fast becoming the elephant in the room.

Moving on, and with a nod to Esther Rantzen, who I once had the pleasure of meeting (I seem to have picked up a name dropping habit in recent weeks) and can confirm is a very nice lady and a sharp cookie to boot, here's a photo of an unusually shaped salad vegetable,

Ladies and Gentleman I give you,

Cucumber by Henry Moore.

If anyone would like to buy this unique work of art in the medium of cucumber by the leading sculptor of his age, please send several thousand pounds to:

Vegetables are far more comfortable in their own skin now we're out of Europe


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