Thursday, July 4, 2019

Trespassing with Jim Kerr and The Alabama 3

Ave all,

Herewith further guff on my movements about the parish in recent times.

But first a message from our sponsors:

if anyone is concerned about groundwater and river levels in the Dever Valley please direct your concerns to the following email address:

Feel free to offload,

I have.

Now where were we?

Oh yes,

A tree fell down,

two trees actually.

A brace of healthy beech trees lay prone across the road.

I don't think we made the traffic news but it was a narrow stretch of the lane and the things had to be cut into lumps and dragged up the road to the paddock for processing.

The trunks will be cut into six foot lengths for planking in eighteen months time.

Grass is growing well and we have a good show of orchids. Water parsnip and ranunculus currently grow at an incredible rate and both now push clear of the water throughout much of this stretch. The insidious onset of blanket weed has begun which to this simple mind, and I have been mistaken for Jim Kerr, seems a little premature. Fuelled by phosphates it can smother healthy weed in a matter of weeks

Blanket weed, not Jim Kerr.

If memory serves Jim Kerr categorically denied being a weed smotherer on The Tube (google it kids, it was very much the "Being N-Dubz" of its day) sometime in the eighties, although Jim was non committal when questioned on being fuelled by phosphates.

Hatches of sedge are on the up and most mornings it is possible to pick out a carpet of shed caddis shucks on some of the slower stretches of the river. Olives of all varieties pop out most afternoons although not in great numbers and an increasing number of fish refuse to look up concentrating instead on a sub surface repast.

The river is bursting with a million minnows. I don't know why our two pairs of kingfishers see fit to fight over them as there is plenty for all, some slow bends are teaming with the things

Over on the Itchen, ribbon weed is abundant and must be cut hard later this week, hatches of fly have been ok but there are fewer fish looking to feed on the surface than recent years.

The raised beds constructed last winter have proved to be incredibly productive. Today's harvest included strawberries, potatoes, carrots, broad beans, spring onions, lettuce and an odd shaped cucumber. The same potatoes planted in my vegetable patch yielded less than half of what came out of the raised beds.

Hot weather has made Moss mad.

Here he is running up the middle of the river,

an activity he undertakes most mornings.

The photo was taken with my idiot proof camera. I'd accidentally hit the special effects button. Turns out it's not idiot proof after all. I'd taken over a hundred photos of subjects various before the penny dropped.

If anyone needs a psychedelic photo of a grayling, muntjac or minnow don't be a stranger.

Hitting the road I bumbled about a bit on the Avon and the Kennet.

I received a kind invitation to return once again to the Upper Avon, a skip and a giggle upstream from where Frank Sawyer came up with his pheasant tails, killer bugs and grey geese.

It's always an enjoyable afternoon that starts with lunch in an excellent village pub in Enford and ends after slowly creeping up several beats of winding chalk stream a little bigger than the stretch of the Dever at home. I don't fish very hard these days and the number of times I cast a line probably came in at less than thirty, but it is always a pleasure to walk along a riverbank just having a look and trying to work out what is going on and why.

The Kennet was a different matter and rods were not on board. We had been issued with a safety recall for our clever car that continues to furnish me with speeding tickets. With a fair wind and the moon in the right phase electrical forces could combine to suddenly put the old jalopy into "get me home mode" a condition that means speed is limited to forty miles per hour or less.

Only certain people are qualified to administer the remedy and our local medicine man happened to reside in Hungerford.

Anyway what was supposed to be an hour long operation turned into three hours so to fill time I bumbled along the banks of the Kennet and the Dun. This stretch of the Kennet was subject to an "invisible pollution incident" after something particularly nasty was tipped down a drain upstream. The incident was picked up through invertebrate monitoring by the local fishing club (Command Centre Central monitoring didn't pick it up ) One of the invertebrate monitors at the club fishes here each year as guest. For many months no flies hatched from this stretch of the Kennet and all beasts that rely on their presence and other sub surface critters started to suffer.

The incident occurred six years ago and during my stumblings it was great to see olives and sedge popping out from a river that appears to have made a full recovery, and at this point I'd like to take the opportunity to apologise to the Hungerford Fishery for tramping up and down significant stretches of your fishery.

It is a beautiful piece of water that I hope to fish one day.

And so to the weasels that are private water companies.

I know, I know it's become a bit of a standard for this house, but really.

Yes the dodgy data, yes the failure to invest, and yes the largesse of the dividends dished out but can we just have a chat about leaky pipes.

In some parts of the country leaky pipes are undoubtedly a problem, those areas that receive their supply from reservoirs mostly.

In a region where the supply comes from a groundwater source a leaky pipe is not quite such an issue.

Water leaking from a buried supply pipe is not subject to evaporation, the principle course it can take is back down into the aquifer from whence it came to be once again abstracted.

In a region that relies on ground water supply for its domestic eau an issue arises over which length of pipe the water is leaking from.

Some houses in this parish have water meters situated a few yards from the front door under the pavement. If a leak occurs in the length of pipe between the meter and the house more water passes through the meter than actually makes the journey from tap to pug inside the house.

Much of the leaked water returns to the aquifer from where it was pumped. The water company charges for the water that passes through the meter not what comes out of the tap.

For sweet shop aficionados it's the equivalent of the good Mr Catherwood reaching for the sweet jar of fondant bananas charging you for three while putting only two in the bag.

For the unallegorical, The good Mr Catherwood is the water company, the fondant bananas are domestic water supply, the sweet jar is the aquifer and the charge is, well the charge is the charge, the bill if you will.

I think that's it

Financially it is not in the private water company's interest to detect leaks between the meter and a property. Several water companies make great play of their efforts to reduce leakages. I leave it to you to decide which side of the meter they target their efforts with regard to water leaking from a pipe.

I increasingly develop an Alabama 3 earworm when the subject of private water companies is raised?


The Two Terriers said...

Chris, As always a good read. On the subject of water meters when we moved up here we found ours forty feet from our boundary and, as you would expect, installed by Anglian Water contractors. I found the meter incidentally Anglian couldn't find it. There was a Goat Willow growing around it they wouldn't remove the Goat Willow. Dig it out yourself they said. What if I break the main? You'll have to pay for it. So the Stihl came out, I cut it down and the farmer neighbour made up a concoction, probably Agent Orange, and it's gone.
They still won't budge on moving it despite a letter from me written by a lawyer friend proving it is their responsibility. Are they all idiots? Probably. Like the pike photograph too, and the grayling.
All the best, John

Test Valley River Keeper said...

Hello John,

There does seem to be some tactical positioning of water meters. Why something can't be fixed to the main riser of each property is beyond me especially when smart metering is quite the thing at the moment, although there is the impact on dividends to be considered.

Got a few pike about at the moment, along with the odd perch. They always give of their best visually in gin clear water.

Thanks as ever for getting in touch and for reading the rubbish that I wrote,


James Denison Angling said...

The river is looking lovely as usual Chris! Always enjoy reading your "guff", keep it going and hope to see you in the winter.

All the best.

Test Valley River Keeper said...

Cheers James. thanks for getting in touch and I hope your season is going well.

Not many roach about but some nice grayling and perch plus a double figure pike on the bottom bends. Not had one that big about for a few years.