Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Football and Ed Balls and Molly Malone - brought to you this week by the Fleet St Hotel, Dublin

I'll begin this latest puff of guff with a little reminder as to the FA's response to an invitation to visit the Somme on the centenary of the battle during their preparations for the England football team's hapless campaign in the European championships.

No thanks, the forty minutes in a coach to visit Thiepval or the memorial at Deauville Wood to the many professional footballers who died on the Somme would disrupt our training programme

Only now, when it is convenient do they remember, and make great play of kicking up a fuss with FIFA over poppies on armbands.

Oh yes, how did that competition go after all that careful preparation?

Note to self, treat ninety nine point nine percent of supposed noble behaviour in top flight football, on and off the pitch with contempt. Morally it's rarely a beautiful game.

P: Remember this?

we'll be right back after a brief word from our sponsor.

The Fleet St Hotel in Dublin is the ideal location to visit all that the capital of the emerald isle has to offer. Situated in the lively Temple Bar district the Boutique hotel is an oasis of quiet calm. Trinity College and the Book of Kells are two minutes walk away and the shops of Grafton St and O'Connell St a mere five minutes, fall out of the door and you are in amongst the numerous bars and restaurants of Temple Bar.

That's the Fleet St Hotel Folks.

Anyway, spawning is a little slow to get going and our fears of fewer sexually mature brown trout in the river seem to be borne out. The river remains low and we have just received word that command centre central are worried about aquifer levels. You can take it as read that we need more rain.

A couple of sharp frosts have provided the requisite full stop for vegetative growth and leaves have been sent a tumblin, although somebody needs to tell the nettles in the wood as they retain some of their spite.

I've not picked many mushrooms this year, which is a shame. Not sure why but fungi in general seem a little thin on the ground. The first skein of geese have arrived to take up residence on the water meadow upstream, around thirty in number their arrival usually means that it is cold somewhere else.

Work for the winter is upon us and once the last of the topping is complete it 'll be into the wood with the chainsaw while what few fish remain go through the process of spawning. There are many willows to be attended to along with some malformed poplars and a cricket bat willow that mysteriously cashed in its chips in the middle of summer. I've a new chainsaw to take into the wood and I'll not raise the P at this point as Stihl declined my offer of a mention if they reduced the price a tad,


By way of balance, the previous Husqvarna gave sterling service and has been retired to two stroke Valhalla where it sits to at the right hand of the two stroke Thor that was my Honda long handled hedge cutter.

Research shows that more purchases are made on ebay late in the evening when wine has been taken.

So why no bar/complimentary drinks during Flog It or Homes under the Hammer?

Assuming the guise of community champion ( I can't find my photo of Esther Rantzen so here's one of a chicken to which I have become attached) I'd like to issue an alert about the scam that is The Virgin Wines Club.
I received through the ether a voucher for a case of cut price wine delivered straight to my door. The Wine was reasonable and swiftly consumed and I thought no more of it. This week I received a paypal notification that Virgin Wines was taking a monthly payment of £25 for my membership of their wine club. A quick call to Mike Oldfield confirmed that Branson is notorious for this kind of thing so a call was put in and the accusation of "sharp practice" made. Yes the wine had been reasonable value and of reasonable quality but at no point was I made aware that I was joining a wine club and regular monthly payments would be taken via the medium of paypal.

With some relief I am now blackballed from the club but will not be welcome on the isle of Necker at any point.

We seem to be jumping around a little here, but goodness there are a lot of little egret about. It's common to see half a dozen in a day at the moment. The few grayling fishers who have been attendance have enjoyed reasonable sport. Two today caught twenty odd fish with the biggest an 18inch torpedo a smidge under a pound and three quarters. Roach are not quite as abundant as they were a few years ago, but their numbers seem to be on the up and the two grayling anglers today even had a go at bothering a few perch. Big Pike are conspicuously absent.

Oh yes Ed Balls, hopeless hubristic hoofer whose place in Strictly is being maintained by a left of centre campaign to produce a populist contender to challenge Jez. Expect a denunciation of anything to do with dancing by comrade Jez sometime soon.

Freedom for Tooting!/Islington.


This last weekend we caught a plane to Dublin from what is widely acknowledged as the world's best airport,

Ladies and Gentleman I give you,

Southampton airport.

Our tickets with the world's leading budget airline that eschews all things green or orange cost the equivalent of a return train ticket from our local railway station to the capital of Britain and well done the trains of the south of England for that. Our bedside alarm sounded at home at 5.00am, at 8.50am I was plonking our case down on the bed at The Fleet St Hotel in the Temple bar district of Dublin.

Book of Kells first.

Fast track tickets had been purchased and we were first through the door and ran past the book and up to the library, which is stunning and within twenty minutes was rammed.
Back down to the book where I was admonished for preparing to take a photo, twenty years ago I'd have been stripped of my film, so the camera was put away and we spent an hour perusing the exhibits.

Out into town and the shops of Grafton St for an hour or so before seeking sustenance (beer) at The International bar also known as O'Donohue's. The bar features in the festival of bonkers that is James Joyce's Ulysses or possibly Dubliners. He frequented the establishment once upon a time, along with Michael Collins, Ronnie Drew and Dara O'Briain who had all popped in for pints at some point.
We shared the bar with a trio of locals and the current member of the O'Donohue clan to occupy the front of house shoes.
There were several posters on the wall commemorating the centenary of the 1916 Rising and as is always the case in a Dublin bar we were swiftly enrolled into general conversation which, despite our best efforts at "easy and light", rapidly turned to politics, both national and international.
I'd commented to madam earlier in the day that there is something lyrical about the Irish brogue, every letter is pronounced, no words are omitted I have come across few that you could accuse of lazy speech. Despite this we emptied our glasses and left, we have both had our fill of politics for this year, but thanks all the same for an entertaining half hour and a far richer experience than ice cream at the the deli across the road.

There were no rods packed for this flying visit and this stretch of the Liffy never looks that productive, but I may be wrong.

Back to the hotel and a bathroom big enough to park your car in (should you eschew the aforementioned cheap flight provider) before hitting the town for an excellent meal and a night at the premier comedy venue that is the Vicar St Theatre. We'd seen Dara o'Brien here two years ago and were drawn to another Irish comedian with the same initials.

David O'Doherty is his name, and you may have seen him on shows such as Would I Lie to You, and Eight of Ten Cats. He was accompanied by Aisling Bea who also appears on such shows. Both were on top form and it was another memorable night at this intimate venue.

A twenty minute walk back to the Fleet St Hotel and an undisturbed night in one of the best beds we have slept in.
Breakfast was a triumph and replete with sausage, bacon egg and a suitable volume of yoghurt we hopped on the airport bus outside the hotel and were back in Bransbury for Sunday lunch.
We're going back in February to take in Jack Whitehall. It's an effortless trip to a terrific city and if you do give it a go, stay at this hotel (but please mention this house/parish/my name) The "Elegance" rooms are particularly swish.

Back in Bransbury, having done the hedges I'm just finishing some topping. Alan Partridge's new audio book - Nomad has been my companion throughout my thrashing with the swipe,

It is a brilliant addition to the canon of the bard of Norwich.

Walking will never be the same again

Other reading has seen me retreat to Blandings, where Emsworth and Psmith et al provide sanctuary from a world that, as 2016 progresses, continues to lose some of its lustre,

Although well done David Attenborough for restoring some sheen to planet earth with his tales of baby lizards being chased down the beach by gangs of snakes.

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