Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Inbetweeners do Wainwright and further Hackneyed Phrasing

Regular visitors to this parish will acknowledge that hackneyed phrasing is a given, so here goes with another oft repeated line:

Crikes! where did all the water go?

I can feel another bit of hackney coming on,

I can't believe the speed at which the river has dropped during the past month.

You will be aware of a disregard for official figures particularly those regarding quantity and quality of water, because they are mostly made up, or adjusted to suit some other agenda (normally big business and the bottom line) But here's a FACT (Thank you to Rafa Benitez for ensuring that this word is now forever written in capitals) if we were still using our earth ponds to produce brown trout, the fish would have been moved elsewhere several weeks ago because there isn't enough water for the ponds to function as a unit for rearing salmonids. The twelve inch pipe that used to feed water through to the fish is higher than the water level of the river.

This has not been the case during my time falling in and out of this river.

Hackneyed phrase number three is imminent,

We need a lot of rain in the south this winter.

Thankfully the wallahs at command centre central are on to this and last week issued a press release warning of a diminishing water supply in the south of England and could we all be a little less profligate with the old eau.

Although we are now entering the silly season regarding rain with DJ's and Journos bemoaning a grey day and drizzle and don't expect anyone to put a positive spin on a spell of wet weather in the south of England at any point this winter.

Fishing remains hard. I was kindly invited to fish the Anton earlier this week and goodness the fish were spooky. I managed a couple of grayling off the top on a red tag but like here on the Dever most fish were bunched up in holes, spook one and they all go off in a nervy spaz.

Fish have been caught this week including one brown trout of two and a half pound that had the body length of a three pounder, which is a worry as there shouldn't be thin fish about at this time of the year. Hatches of fly early on in the season were reasonable although like Liverpool of late with their high energy pressing game they have tailed off a tad during the second half.

We still have House Martins about, although most of the swallows and swifts have exited stage left and we also have an early egret stalking the shallows. We retain a quorum of swans, but not far downstream several beats have been hit hard by high numbers of Gielgud who played fast and loose with river restoration work and much replanted ranunculus has been plucked from the river bed.

All this river restoration work driven by habitat directive is highly commendable and hopefully the funding will continue to be available post Brexit but forgive my ignorance, as I am but a stupid riverkeeper, but shouldn't a holistic approach to habitat management attend to all areas of the chalk stream environment.

Which brings me to a tale to rival the Court of King Caractacus that began with a Fishery Management Consultation (expert advice for no little fee and brim full of your rewilding) upstream from here five or so years ago and will hopefully reach a conclusion following a meeting with some big noises from command centre central in a few weeks time. I'll not furnish you with the details just yet as I'd prefer to keep my powder dry for said meeting in early October. But it concerns the dramatic decline in numbers of sexually mature fish of all species in the river.

I'll report the outcome of what will hopefully be a productive meeting, early next month and the river's fish population will make preparation to return to the level recorded in command centre central surveys five or so years ago.

Oh yes, the storm.

A tremendous panjandrum that rolled around the valley for four hours one night last week. Many parts missed it, but for the following twenty four hours the river ran eight inches higher and assumed the colour of the Grand Union Canal. Not the best kind of rain as not much gets down into the aquifers, lots of branches were forced to dip and bow and a day later all the water had flowed away (Oh for a series of hatches to retain water on a meadow to soak back into an aquifer) but quite a weather event (I believe this is the current meteorological parlance) all the same.

In other news, I was once again required to cook a pig for the cricket club presentation evening, which to date, passed without serious illness, and we received news that my parents had been press ganged in the back streets of Glasgow and were held on a boat making its way east along the English Channel. We intercepted the sloop and boarded at Portsmouth. It was quickly established that they had in fact signed up of their own accord.

We took rum and hard tack

but then scurvy set in

and we were forced to seek out some vitamin C/cake/sausage rolls/ prawns in batter for dippin.

They were on a Saga cruise to infinity and beyond, and we were invited aboard as guests.

They're a canny bunch the Saga crew, our clubcard points , internet history or some other paper trail has betrayed the fact that we are only eighteen months away from qualifying for membership of the club and are trying to tempt us with a ship full of food.

At home, Child A has purchased a pink car and continues her work for Thames Valley Police. It sounds a little gritty at times, especially the Saturday night shift, although there are lighter moments. I don't think I could do it, as I am sure that with a distraught person on the other end of the phone I'd try to lighten the mood a little with some such nonsense or other, which is not what is required apparently.

Child B has transferred to Cardiff for his final year. Here he is on the left with the rest of his Cardiff crew climbing a mountain in Wales. It's a bit like Inbetweeners do Wainwright, with neither a carabiner, compass, freeze dried food or survival bag in sight.

This is not how I remember scaling mountains in Wales,

Welsh mountains may not be as high as they used to be.

The lady who sleeps on my left has just returned from the biennial school trip to Highclere castle with the scathing indictment,

"They couldn't give a fig about school trips ticking the Egyptology curriculum box now they've got Downton"

So keep an eye out on ebay for treasures from Tutankhamun, particularly from the seller 1922Carnavon

And there we go, two weeks left of the season and a long list of tasks and trees to be attended to this winter. We've a couple more trips away to look forward to in coming months, one of them complimentary, and at that this point I'll warn you to expect a hard sell for a particular establishment in the coming months. For the purity of the piece I've turned down several requests to place adverts in and around this guff,
but with the years proceeding and an erratically performing personal pension pot (more of a crucible than a pot) I've sold my soul for a complimentary overnight stay with dinner and breakfast in one of Dublin's top hotels in Temple Bar (the pitch starts her folks) to take in David O'Doherty (one of our favourite comedians) at Vicar St Theatre (one of our favourite venues, no really, that last bit was sincere it is a terrific place to watch comedy) later this year - report to follow.

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