Tuesday, November 29, 2016

News Just In From The Sofa

Live from the settee, I can report that sport has seen me pile on a few pounds these past few weeks. Successive Saturdays (think Frankie Bridge et al doing the conga) have begun with Test Cricket until late morning a brief pause to undertake tasks assigned or pop out for messages, a flying lunch before back to back rugby matches, an early evening of dancing and then off to the jungle. This kind of thing would never have happened in the day of the Test Card, It's the stuff of students and I'm on the cusp of signing up for a course......

Possibly of tablets, as it's been an emotional roller coaster.

Not the sport, I've a lifelong habit of that kind of thing and am relatively inured to all but the highest of highs and lowest of lows in the sporting arena. No, two glasses into the dancing and I'm unable to control my Tourettes and a succession of "F$£K you Ed Balls" comes flying out whether we are in company or alone.

Thankfully he has failed to make the final and will now return to politics where others can take up the cause of my heckling.

I am normally comfortable with The Jungle and we all delight in the tremendous talent that is the Ant and the Dec, but this year Prodnose has entered the fray and my nerves were in shreds with each passing episode. Since Old Tel shuffled off Prodnose is my favourite broadcaster (and is only on once a week, come on BBC) I'll own up to a dozen or more contributions to his show via the medium of email ( as I did to Tel in his final years) but have always declined the invitation to ring in and make a personal contribution as I'm afraid I'd be incoherent and lose the power of speech as its quite a skill taking your ease on the radio, which is partly what makes Prodnose such a genius of the airwaves.

I didn't go much on him on the TV and I'm not sure a life in the Jungle requires the same qualities as king of the airwaves and each evening I watched peeping through my fingers hoping that he didn't give off too many sparks, because when he goes he goes, albeit eloquently.

If the term "pin headed weasels" is uttered you can be sure that things have taken a turn for the worse.

To my relief, he's out now and set up on the beach. The sooner he's back on the radio on Saturday mornings the better.

While we're on the Jungle, Madam and myself would like to pitch an idea to Nick Park of Wallace and Gromit fame. I know he visits this parish from time to time and it occurred to us the other evening while in wine on the sofa that an animated "Creature Comforts" type of film centred around the animals in the bush tucker challenge could have legs. The toads and frogs would bemoan the star status of the spiders, the eels would be in the Hello/OK magazine demographic and would be star struck at every celebrity who entered their tank. There would be a lonely crocodile, a camp snake, rats with a fear of he who should not be named (Gino DeCampo who famously caught and cooked one on the show)
The story centres around a Witchetty Grub who lives in fear of the SS ( Stacey Solomon) who eventually catches up with Brer Witchetty during a bush tucker challenge, at which point I'll issue a spoiler alert.

It's just a thought, and remember you heard it here first.

Don't be a stranger Nick.

Back at work, it rained the wind blew, the river didn't flood and no trees fell over. Normal stuff for November along with the requisite media over reaction to a weather event that is not a hot day in summer. We continue to nurture a burgeoning urban based generation whose understanding of the seasons extends no further than the decision as to whether to sit on the pavement or in the shop to take Mocha Cocha Latte and pastry on board.

The river has risen an inch and there is now enough water on the spawning gravels to accommodate sexually mature brown trout. Although they are particularly thin on the ground . What hens we have are fattening up nicely and redds are beginning to be dug, but cock fish are few and far between. Ten years ago the weeks preceding spawning would see cock fish charging about in shallow water aggressively competing with fellow cocks over any fat hen who kicked up a redd.

Walks through the wood betray a number of Woodcock which suggests low temperatures in the east, I put three up this afternoon while bumbling about with a bucket full of corn.

I'm slowly putting the river to bed. Years ago this task would have begun as soon as the trout season ended with the fringe knocked off, edged in and weed cut in order to carry out and complete electro fishing before all present were summoned to the hatchery for egg picking duties. Today I still knock the fringe off and edge in, although not as hard as I once did. It helps maintain the maximum marginal growth and remains a viable habitat for beasts of the bank throughout the winter. I also engage the forces of Willow with my big orange store (If you want a mention on here Stihl you'll have to offer some incentives)

Doh!

It makes sense to prepare the river for winter only when there is sufficient flow. Leaving as much cover as possible to decrease the impact of avian predation on fish in shallow water until the river starts to rise. Once the river is on the rise and carrying a little colour then the fringe can be attended to. With spawning done and the trout off the shallows the willows can then be engaged. Sympathetic management with an eye to both habitat and flood defence by a full time keeper. Could a contractor or part timer be allowed such flexibility. The decline in the number of full time keepering jobs on the chalk streams is both a concern and short sighted,

fingers crossed it's a fad.

Chainsaw work has begun and the solemn procession of one (Still waist deep in Wodehouse and one of the trees we must address is a beech) that is the ermine clad Lord Ludgershall has presented for work in the wood via the medium of sedan chair. We are currently employed in the business of Vista creation. There's three months of chainsaw work and myself and all the woodland creatures are honoured by his presence. Poplars at the moment, young trees that didn't look very well. Dissection by chainsaw confirmed the diagnosis with rot set in at the base, which was a shame as we only planted them twelve years ago

Is it me or are the papers obsessed with the ageing process at the moment. My weekend papers that I perused on the sofa between cricket, rugby, dancing and jungle where full of "Life after fifty " features and with the event a mere sixteen months away for Madam and myself, we are told that we will embrace lycra, ride more bikes, discover yoga, go to University and achieve a level of life wisdom that Confucious would covet. There was no mention of more time on the sofa in front of sporting events, a bad back, creaky knees, embracing the postprandial ziz and completely forgetting why you have gone upstairs.

Cheltenham last week, the perennial trip on countryside Friday with fifteen to twenty thousand other souls to take in some tremendous racing at what is now a tremendous sporting venue. The new work is complete and my ire at being charged five pound for a pint and five pound for bacon roll was tempered a week later when on the 18th November we entered the legions of shiplap sheds that serve as the Winchester Christmas market where sausage from the Teutons and a thimble fill of Grimm gluhwein was on offer for a comparable price.
I bumped into Child B and one of his associates by the Cheltenham parade ring. Over the course of the following four races our fortunes took different paths. Child B picked three second place horses on each way bets and was 55p up when I left him, his mate backed one winner while I dipped out after two races to conserve funds as Madam had one of her card club days on the morrow and I had been made aware of the need for ready funds for the event.





River reports are written and dispatched (sent to the intended recipient as opposed to being put out of their misery, although....) and final deadlines for magazines before all involved down tools for the Christmas break are impending. I'm supposed to be chucking some other guff together but things don't seem to be progressing as intended.

Easily distracted?

Undoubtedly,

and the internet doesn't help here with minds that are prone to drift. But a bit of a break from deadlines and questions and the shame of failing to produce feature pieces promised may serve as tinder to chuck up further guff.



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