Sunday, September 10, 2017

We Have Nothing to Fear But the Sky Falling In On Our Heads

I don't know how it happened but it seems to be September.

The month in which fishing for trout usually picks up after the dog days of summer. Dipping into the archives our fishing books demonstrate that some of the biggest fish are caught during this month as hormones begin to kick in and appetite is raised in preparation for the rigors of spawning. After a desperate start to the season when the river remained at a lower level than the end of the previous season, the river has retained a reasonable level for the second half of the season with verdant weed growth undoubtedly having an effect. No groundwater intended for the Dever has been pumped down the Candover stream into the Itchen and consequently the much muttered mantra in these parts of "this river falls away far quicker than it used to during the summer" does not hold this year. Good luck to the Environment Agency in their battle with the weasels at the water company and the attempt to reduce the size of the abstraction licence for supplementary pumping of groundwater down the Candover stream. The impact of no supplementary pumping of groundwater into the Candover stream on the neighbouring Dever has been obvious even to this addled eye.

Blanket weed has come on quite a bit during the past month and competes with some surprisingly vigorous weed growth for space in the river. Trout seem to be bunched up and lurk mainly in deeper holes, although the top shallows that received the attention of our orange saws last winter have never been more productive with several good fish taken from both below and above the hatch.

There is a possibility that there may be a half rod (one fixed day a fortnight) next year. We've a bit of a waiting list, but sometimes the day presented doesn't suit the waiters, so if you would like to chuck your hat into the ring, don't be a stranger.

Watercress continues to creep out from the bank, pinching the river and helping to maintain a reasonable speed of flow, although the first frost will soon see it in retreat. Our heating clicked on this morning for the first time since last April, and it won't be long before the wood burner is back in action. I spent an hour last week walking around with a paint brush daubing crosses on ash trees that must be felled this winter. It's a fairly depressing business and one that I will have to repeat for several winters to come, but there are trees that currently show no sign of the disease that may have some degree of immunity so it may just be a cycle that the ash tree population must endure.

As the years progress I'll confess to an increasing appreciation of this time of year. An appreciation that is only increased by my employer's grandson's request for work before returning to Uni. I've long championed the wall and fence as the future of boundary demarcation over the medieval hedge, so it was with great relief that destitute grandson (he won't be cash poor for long as he's a year away from completing a law degree) set about the behemothic hedges that surround the place. Afters twenty five years of tackling the things, I'll attest to the theory that there is a bit of a knack to completing the job to the required level of satisfaction. These hedges will be viewed from all sides throughout the winter. A bit missed or a wonky line will grate for many months and don't get me on levels.

Anyway, aspiring law student completed the task to a high standard your honour, and in two thirds of the time that it takes these middle aged bones to complete the task, which was a little galling.

Late last month we took delivery of three figures worth of pheasant poults. It's the first time we've had the release pen up and running since all those Christmas trees fell over following flooding (it's on here somewhere)

It's good to have pheasants back in the wood and a few days shooting to look forward to. This bunch seem to have a sweet tooth and most afternoons this week an eating apple tree that borders my employer's garden has played host to thirty or forty pheasants pecking away at the ripe fallen apples.

Seed heads have now formed and I've now topped the meadows. I was surprised to disturb a couple of hares during my progress with the swipe. We don't see many hares up the river as a quick glance at google earth will reveal your correspondent driving a blue tractor and also confirm that the meadows are a long island and the hares have either swum the river or crossed one of three bridges. There were also several hedgehogs, many mice (that the barn owl missed) and an incredibly colourful spider that unbeknown to me hitched a lift home on what remains of my head of hair to put in an appearance at lunch when it dropped from my forehead onto my plate of cheese salad. if it had been the soup of the day before, he/she wouldn't have stood a chance.

After relocating Brer spider, (untroubled by his/her dip in the salad dressing) I returned to my lunchtime perusal of the newspaper and learnt that a book has been published by the author Andrew C Johnson that debunks all that Asterix taught us and lays claim to the lie that none of what that bunch of indomitable Gauls achieved actually happened.
I don't know what "La Johnson's" agenda is but I implore you not to buy this book,

Burn it if you can

All civilised people agree that Asterix and Oblelix actually happened, the danger of the sky falling in upon our heads remains and there is much to be learned from the writings of Gosciny and Uderzo.

And then there was the cricket.

The internet isn't big enough for me to provide a complete rundown of Longparish CC's dramatic season just completed,

although a brief summary can be found at where the photo gallery section is particularly apposite.

It's the first year since my children were born that I have not attended a Test match at Lords. I was kindly offered a ticket for the Saturday of the Test against South Africa earlier in the year, and a brace for the Friday of the Test against West Indies, but unfortunately circumstances conspired and I/we were unable to attend, which was a shame as it is always a tremendous day out.
This Test just passed was particularly poignant as it was Henry Blofeld's last stint at the TMS microphone. I've listened to TMS for most of my life. I can remember Arlott from Arlesford, Don Mosey, Tony Lewis, Trevor Bailey, Alan Mcgilvery, CMJ et al.

Blofeld has been an ever present throughout my time of listening.

The Times Cricket correspondent John Woodcock has been a part of cricket at my local club Longparish throughout his life and he was the driving force behind Blofeld switching from life in the city to a life in cricket correspondence. John is a terrific chap (he's the only doyen I know) and also a very good fisherman. He kindly took me several times as a guest to a stretch of the Avon where he had a rod for many years. He has also brought many of the great and the good in the world of cricket to the Longparish ground both to play and spectate, his photograph album is a procession of well known people from the cricketing world taking pegs at the Longparish ground.

Only last year the lady who sleeps on my left was slightly confused by the chap she had a conversation with who she thought she knew but could not quite place,

It was Aussie cricket commentator, Jim Maxwell.

The late Tony Cozier also caused some confusion a few years before.

There could be no mistaking Blofeld.

On two occasions I can remember popping into The Plough when he and John were taking pre-prandial pints. What you heard on the radio, was what you got in the pub. Holding Court and thoroughly entertaining with an amplification and turn of phrase that held the whole room rapt.

I'll miss him on the radio,


Anonymous said...

A very good post, as usual, but not enough photos of Otis.

James Denison said...

Glad to hear that the river is improving to a small degree, let's hope the EA win their battle with over abstraction, such a shame to see very little water running through there, must come down in October sometime. Best Wishes, James.