Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Ok I've been a tad tardy with regard to posting guff of late but there are reasons for this of which you will be made aware later in the piece.
You may enquire as to what business have I perusing the Business section of the Sunday Thunderer.
Well we had a few cold nights that week and Madam requested that the wood burner be lit. The article described an investigation into dodgy data produced by several water companies in the UK. Our own water company was chief among the culprits and I'll repeat my assertion that data gathered by water companies and agencies charged with protecting aquifers does not reflect the true state of play with regard to groundwater levels in this chalk valley.
Water Companies and Dodgy Data? who'd a thought.
Weasels, weasels, weasels!
While we're on weasels, or perhaps another predator that strikes when it's victim least suspects, could I extend the very same sentiments to the organisation that scammed Madam and myself out of the best part of four figures of hard earned pocket money.
The houseboat in Amsterdam that these lowlife offered as a holiday let did not actually belong to them.
Advertised on Booking.com, a website we have used previously, we were fortunately made aware of the scam weeks before we were due to travel. During the trepidatious quest for alternative accommodation we were twice warned by the host website (Homeaway.com, formally Owners Direct.com, a website that we have also used many times, mostly en France.) that the property we were enquiring about could be a scam.
Word at the forum has Amsterdam targeted by organised scammers for the past few months with bogus websites very much to the fore and good people's money siphoned off to all corners of the globe.
Pitch back through this interminable line of guff, and you will find that we have been booking trips online for fifteen years. The default state may appear to be addled, but we are reasonably confident booking travel online, even with wine onboard.
This scam was very convincing.
and suddenly wounds received are reopened.
I'll own that the experience unnerved me for a few days.
The threat of physical assault was a given in this job back in the day, particularly post harvest when swathes of the surrounding countryside were considered open season for a particular section of society. I was once roughed up by four choice characters outside the village shop in the middle of the afternoon because I objected to their modus operanidi with regard to bothering wildlife in the local environs and I've suffered mental assault, principally when Richard Madeley is invited to fill in on BBC radio programmes.
This scamming experience with the possibility of identity theft has left me feeling more violated than either of the two examples already given. We were offered victim support, but the wounds were still a little raw and we were in "trust no-one mode" so the offer was politely declined.
To the ledger of weasels we can add the names Sabrine Zwich, Tamas Lukas, A Frenchman called David Brown (I know, I know) somebody called Susan plus the rest of the miscreants at the immoral and sophisticated organisation who are currently targeting honest people taking holiday lets in European cities,
and hey if any of you are your reading this chunk of guff,
a thousand curses on your icy souls.
The UK, Dutch Police and OLAF the EU fraud crime team are currently investigating a scam that has caught quite a few people out during the past few months.
Looking up and not down we see that all trees are now in leaf bar the ash trees, which is a bit of a worry. The valley always attains a certain sparkle at this time of the year with glossy leaves and hawthorn blossom. We are still short of swifts and swallows, the local cricket league got underway last weekend. A haven for swifts there were none in evidence during the season opener which is uncommon. Lord Ludg reports that there are squadrons of the things around Ludgershall Towers so perhaps they will enter stage left sometime soon.
Following recent events a reference to Partridge seems apposite.
Regular readers of this guff will appreciate that I am a keen listener to Danny Baker (Prodnose) and his Saturday morning radio show. A quick trawl of my bag of emails confirms that this house made just shy of sixty contributions to his show over the past few years as one of the "chiefly yourselves" The first as follow up to John McGovern singing AC/DC's Whole Lotta Rosie in the manner of Brain Clough. It was a tough gig but my tale of a French campsite reproduction of Riverdance, sans dance steps, which featured a chorus line shuffling about the stage may/may not have received mixed reviews.
I didn't go a lot on his TV stuff but as a broadcaster, he is up there with Old Tel.
An error of judgement, and perhaps "of a piece" for a particular generation. For some time Danny has agonised on air over life's third act. I'll miss him on the radio on Saturday morning and I hope his third act centres around "living for pleasure alone" and he is not castigated too much by the media or his own mind.
Jonathan Ross (for whom he has written many a script) made his way back after a similar serious error of judgement, Fingers crossed Dan can do the same, because he's radio gold.
And hey Richard Madeley if you've any notion of a return to radio, you'll get a similar response to your previous efforts when you were picked up for playing fast and loose with planet earth's daily quota of the words I and Me.
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Stunning, quite stunning,
before Moss ran amok
And we're off.
We've opened earlier this year to make up for the increasingly difficult midsummer conditions. A response to a changing climate if you will.
Further evidence of the dehydration of this corner of the country came my way last week. The National Library of Scotland has made many old maps available online.
A kind gent forwarded a map of this valley in 1894.
The map was drawn in 1894, the email wasn't forwarded in 1894.
They didn't have the internet then, although some of us still don't enjoy the internet experience via the medium of cables, high speed or otherwise, an hour away from one of the biggest cities on planet earth.
Aged tortoises that live out their years in far flung corners of empire get all the heat when it comes to antiquity, but the cast iron sluice on the house that has a big part to play in the management of water valley was installed in 1847, continues to be relevant and is still in use today.
I was once shown a photograph of the Mill House in the early 1900's. It is winter and a group of men are working on a ground floor bay window, the stream through the garden was of sufficient size to merit inspection with a fly. This stream is now much diminished and dries up each summer.
Look closely at the map and you will see the pub that is now a house and whose ground borders our bottom bends. I have it on authority of his late wife Renee, that Ted, a river keeper in this parish for many years from the mid nineteen hundreds, would sometimes arrive home from the Crook & Shears soaking wet having fallen off the duck board walk that traversed the decidedly spongy ground that surrounded the spring holes. Today,Ted could totter home from the pub in Renee's highest heels without fear of sinking in or getting a soaking.
Regular readers will be well versed in the saga of Spring Bottom and concerns that groundwater data collected does not reflect the mountain of anecdotal evidence for the chronic depletion of this valley's aquifers.
The absence of the flight pond and the farm buildings by the entrance to Bransbury Manor. The dairy moved across the road around the turn of the century with the one-time cart shed now converted to a holiday let, all that remains of the original farm.
The demise of the mill as a functioning producer of flour probably led to the construction of the hatch at the top of this beat. With no wheel to turn, the water could be taken away from the mill stream and its mission to turn a wheel to boost flow in what we now call the main river.
For several hundred years the mill stream carried the bulk of the valley's water. What is now the main river existed as a side stream that wandered about a bit receiving sustenance from sluice streams throughout the length of the mill stream. These small sluiced streams also served as a means of getting rid of water in times of high flow, preventing the flooding of the mill.
Paperwork from several sales of the mill illustrate that the fishery has been a significant asset of the property for some time, principally for eels and trout as a source of food. The advent of dry fly fishing for trout in the late 19th century saw the value of a yard of chalk stream bank rise rapidly beyond the value as a source of turning a mill wheel.
In a reversal of roles, the mill stream is now used to move on any surplus of water (an event that hasn't happened since 2013) with the flow of what is now the main river controlled with an eye to providing sport fishing.
In other news,
The tragic fire in Notre Dame recently brought to mind our own recent travails with the medium of fire, and at this point I'd like to show solidarity with Messieur Macron and promise that our own little shed will be rebuilt in time for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Vive l'entente cordiale! Vive La Difference!
We have plenty of wood and we like cooking in ovens so it seemed the natural course to take.
When the lights dim and the plugs fade on whatever date is now scheduled, we shall seek succour and sustenance from "adequate food" ranging from wood fired oven chips to wood fired reheated pie.
To counterbalance this increase in our own personal carbon footprint I'd like to point out that the smoke produced from our oven is offset by that fact that mine and madam's exhalation weakens with each passing year.
Although other gases produced may be on the rise, which I attribute entirely to an increase in pulses in our diet
The Cathedral of first choice for the Russian Bear, the city is bearing up remarkably well following recent events and is a great place for a day out.
The Avon is not quite as polite as the Test or the Itchen and can rise and fall at some speed. The water meadow complex upstream of the city also stand as testament to lost knowledge as to how to manage chalk river water meadows in order to both retain and get rid of water. I believe this kind of caper is current:
I could hazard a guess at some of it, but at one time there would have been a gang of guys bumbling about the Salisbury meadows with an eye as to what to do with the water and where it should go who really knew their stuff about how their water meadow worked.
Friday, April 5, 2019
I'll pause there because I've come over all nostalgic with regard to all things Fred Dinenage.
Is he still with us?
Google confirms that Fred still retains a pulse although the work has dried up a tad. Plans are afoot for a revival of Anglia TV's quiz show "Gambit"
The general consensus of the public response on a phone in I caught one lunch time, appeared to be that there was plenty of water and it was a public right to leave the tap running when attending daily to the canines and molars.
Which was a bit depressing so come on Sir Jim, there's a message that needs to be made many times in order to make a few pennies start dropping.
Any producer of fish is subject to rigorous checks over what they do with their water and fish and costs are subsequently incurred.
There are some who hold the view that there is a policy of making smaller fish producing units economically unviable, as a few larger producers are easier and cheaper to monitor.
It flies in the face of a push for localism,
there would be revolution if this theory were applied to cheese.
Years ago fish were reared in smaller units to supply a neighbouring stretch of river. The fish were reared from adult fish taken from the neighbouring stretch of river and stocked at a smaller size, because fish food technology had not advanced to the stage that it is at today along with fish transportation.
and I'll add a "You couldn't make it up",
but it's symptomatic of the first years of Command Centre's centralisation when our annual application to introduce a small number of brown trout to this stretch of the River Dever was declined due to Bransbury being sited on a sensitive stretch of the Upper Itchen.
A request for monthly returns for the abstraction licence for our fish rearing ponds.
Fish rearing ponds that we mothballed in 2013 and an Abstraction Licence and Consent to Discharge that were subsequently revoked the same year.
News just in: Brian Barwick has resigned the post of Chairman of the RFL.
An old adversary of mine, we once shared a urinal in the top tier of the Warner stand during a Lords Test Match.
He was CEO at the FA at the time, while I sat on the Committee of Barton Stacey Football Club. I had a long list of questions for El Capitano, top of which was why a hoard of money accrued by my local county FA from fines issued in the grass roots game was not reinvested in the game at grass roots level.
I posed the question and Bri responded by zipping his solid gold zipper and exiting stage left.
I think I made my point, the chap on my left sniggered and said "well done" which seemed like a kind of an endorsement.
The Loos in the top tier of the Warner Stand by the way, some of the best in these isles. You can take your ease while keeping up with the cricket through a long thin window at eye level.
They think of everything at Lords, it's one of our favourite days out of the year.
A tremendous romp with an awful lot of effing and jeffing, I don't know why we were so late coming to the piece.
Last weekend the regular rods turned up for lunch and a walk up the river. Always an enjoyable day and a nod to an impending season, they all seemed reasonably pleased with work undertaken over the winter. Some have fished here for over thirty years and have seen the valley go through quite a period of change.
It remains a bit of a worry that data collected and presented by government agencies and private companies doesn't demonstrate the actual state of play in the field with regard to groundwater levels in this valley.
Friday, March 22, 2019
Well the CEO of the EA to be precise, who this week drew attention to the possibility of a water crisis in the UK in two decades time.
He may be on the cusp of a pay review or possibly an inquiry into the opulence of his office furnishings,
we don't know,
but he really should have piped up some time ago.
Regular visitors will know that this house has been banging on about the subject ad nauseam, ( "Forever and ever" is the current earworm, although that may be due to the Demis Roussos inspired nightgown that I have donned to tap out this current chunk of guff)
In his defence, the CEO of the EA will have relied on EA interpretation of data collected which has proved to be questionable on several occasions in recent years.
It may not have an X or a Y axis, or sit on an excel spreadsheet, but for minds as simple as mine (and possibly his own) it remains a reliable belwether as to the level of the precious groundwater supply in this corner of the county.
Data collected by his own agency and the weasels at the water company doesn't
For the fifth winter in succession, Spring Bottom remains spring free.
Groundwater levels in the region are in chronic decline because of the unsustainable way in which we use the groundwater resource.
A statement that first featured in this guff ten years ago, so come on Sir James Bevan, up your game.
Phone ins and features on the radio and television following the CEO's declaration demonstrate that public awareness needs to be raised. Most VOX pops came back with the consensus that "it's always raining, what's he on about"
If the pay review hits choppy waters, I'd suggest raising the subject of a national water grid.
Shift water from wet regions of the UK to increasingly arid areas of these Isles and charge as you see fit,
It's just a thought
Up your game Sir Jimmy B, Up your game.
Like Mrs May, much of my week has been spent digging holes.
The hydraulic log splitter is a piece of cutting edge technology to rival the space shuttle and the invention of the internet, but when will higher minds than ours develop the self stacking log?
Phosphate levels in rivers and domestic water supply in our region are on the rise. Be it fertilizer, pesticide, weed killer or slug pellets, this kind of caper shouldn't be going on in close proximity to a water course.
Buffer zones along river channels please Sir James, if you haven't gone home already.
Here's the December issue of Fly Fishing and Fly Tying magazine.
I'll own that I was a bit late to the piece, but as ever thanks to the clever person who took the photo for making the bridge that I built look level.
The bridge has now appeared in quite a few publications and has subsequently been taken on by an agency for bookings with the requisite appearance fees.
All enquiries to TelfordandBrunel@gmail.com
Since the implementation of the National Trout and Grayling Strategy in 2015 , a muddled piece of thinking in which brer grayling was largely ignored, we have been joined each winter by many large triploid brown trout. Our rods don't complain and most end up at the smoker such are their size, (the triploids not the rods - touch wood) they look great in the fishing book but add an unnatural air to this small stream.
Despite being dismissed as a crank by supercilious knobs in fine fleece and cutting edge walking shoes, I maintain that introducing fingerling diploid brown trout in spring is preferable to an adult triploid only stocking regime in southern chalk streams.
The reasons why have been listed on here many times (most posts throughout 2014, although they may have an angry tone)
I've recently had the mantra tattooed on my arse, which will be premiered at the next consultation/achieve five eights of f&%* all, meeting.
I seem to have got quite cross, which is worry and I lay the blame entirely at Sir James Bevan's door, but I recently attained the great age of forty one.
That'll be Fifty One - ed
A dispute seems to have arisen, so in the spirit of ontont cordial, I'll meet you half way. Recently I attained the great age of forty six.
Nope, you're fifty one - ed
Gnashes teeth, clenches fists - F*&% You ED!
I seem to have got quite sweary as well. I don't know how this happened, but it may be a sign of something else going on.
My name is Chris de Cani and I am 51.
By way of succour, Wikipedia teaches us that 51 is 3 lots of 17 and is the natural number following fifty and preceding 52, while our friends at Stagecoach have it as the bus route from Chichester to Selsey.
It is the 6th Motzkin number and may be involved in atoms.
Numerologists insist that the essence of 51 is its basic tone and vibration, with the use of the word "thus" very much to the fore in explanation.
Religous types talk of repentance regarding the number, with mention made of Samuel in the Old Testament,
while my tape measure hints at a relationship between the numbers 20 and 129.
Whatever, I've just turned 51.
How did this happen?
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
But before the guff, the pitch.
Here's the site straddling the Test and Dever Valleys where an American owned company would like to build a bonfire twice the size of Winchester Cathedral. Visitors to this parish will be aware that I like a fire, but this is the mother of all incinerators with chimneys 90m high that generates electricity and dividends. It's called the Harewood Wheelabrator and it uses groundwater. Give it a google and make your own mind up as to whether it's a good addition to the Test and Dever valleys.
Right on we go with another chunk of guff, and following the fire (see previous guff) the flood.
Not the flood that would be manna for this valley, but the flood that flowed down my waders when I stumbled in the river and fell flat on my face in three feet of water. The experimentation with the cult of wild water swimming was swiftly brought to a conclusion and after a chilly tractor ride home I took an early lunch.
I'll break off there, because Talksport's coverage of the recent Liverpool v Burnley game comes to mind. Three one in front, Liverpool were described as "going for the juggler". I've had an interest in football for some years. As a player I started off as a left winger and ended up at left back. Throughout my backward progression through the side, I don't think I ever pulled on the juggler's jersey. I refrained from faxing the show. DAB is a great thing and yes, the wide choice of channels, but goodness there's a lot of tosh uttered out there in commercial radio land.
The grayling season is drawing to a close and it hasn't been great. The train ticket thing didn't go well and then there were the phantom ferries....
Apologies, wrong grayling,
The grayling season is drawing to a close and it hasn't been great. There are undoubtedly fewer fish in the river and numbers of fish caught are down on previous winters. Yes the Otters and yes the Graculus, but spawning doesn't seem to have gone well two to three years ago. We still retain a reasonable head of sexually mature fish who currently assume an increasingly dark tone. Fingers crossed that they spawn well this spring and fry survival rates are good.
This short film was taken six years ago in early April. I've not seen grayling spawning in numbers such as this in the Dever since.
Otis & Moss, bespoke tailors to the rich and famous,
or possibly our two labradors,
are also in good nick, although Otis is shedding his winter coat. A heavy moulter, he is literally falling apart.
Moss's training is going well and he has learnt to use the TV remote control.
I popped home for a cup of tea the other afternoon and found him taking in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Does he have an online account with Ladbrokes? we don't know. A secret smart phone that he has kept from us? we don't know, but we've never had a dog like him.
He has a passing interest in shooting and fishing, but we increasingly find him in front of a screen. A first world problem I know, but binge watching Crufts and the Cheltenham festival will not broaden his mind. We've pushed BBC4 and Sky Arts but he demonstrates no interest, it's the gee gees, the dogs or nothing.
We have introduced "Parental Control" on access to The Racing Channel and At the Races, but can't keep up with the channels that screen "Police Dog Camera Action!"
Thursday, February 28, 2019
Which is great for the butterflies and all things that buzz, but because of the unplanned nature of the burn, I hadn't had a chance to thoroughly soak some fire breaks and a few hours later this resulted.
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention are in the Fishing Hut. The establishment pictured on the left is the Gambling House, while I play the part of both Funky Claude and Some Stupid with a Flare Gun.
This is all that remains of the birch clad shelter by the old stew pond used to store fish food. It was on its last legs but didn't deserve to suffer this fate.
The clay tile porch collapsed and yes, the hut did indeed die with an awful sound. Hissing mostly as red hot tiles pitched into the pond.
It was my error of judgement to be burning willow on the riverbank, fortunately I am blessed with an understanding and forgiving employer. I didn't appreciate how dry the ground was, but who expects a barbecue ban in February?
You never stop learning.
We need rain, lots of it.
For the river, of course, but also to keep me from burning any more buildings down.
Who will be our Stormbringer?
It's the mother of all incinerators that promises to provide power to a large part of Hampshire and it uses water, which is a worry for me.
There are many in the area who spend their days in a permanent state of agitation. Foam an ever-present at the corner of the mouth, fists are clenched and teeth firmly gnashed. It seems to have been the default state for many throughout the past two to three years but it could be a long process for a decision to be taken on Wheelabrator Harewood which may call for a more measured and considered response.
Unwelcome planning proposals regarding energy production and waste disposal have been made before in this parish, and have been rejected following a measured and considered response.
Clearly I like a fire, but I don't believe the Wheelabrator is a suitable development for this valley. It is an industrial leviathan that will loom large on the local landscape and an inappropriate development for this parish. I will respond accordingly when invited to do so.
Give Wheelabrator Harewood a google and draw your own conclusions. Please respond accordingly when invited to do so.
All sensible people agree that the warmest winter day on record is Bing Crosby's version of Mele Kalikimaka
Apparently Bing was pipped for the warmest winter day on record this week.
Buds began to swell, blossom broke and the Ceti's warbler rocked up. We've a dearth of geese on the upstream water meadow, which suggests that it isn't that cold somewhere else and there are many duck paired up. We've also plenty of roe deer about the place at the moment with a couple of quite senior bucks.
Like a repentant Viking, I shall never lift an axe in anger again. Hydraulic log splitters are the future of producing fuel for the fire.
I do seem to have mentioned fire quite a lot in this post.
George is someone that I bump into now and again when I am bumbling about on the short stretch of the Itchen that I fall in and out of.
It has taken him ten years to produce this book and it provides a comprehensive "state of play" of the Itchen above Winchester in the early part of this century. George is a tenacious and talented photographer and the book features many examples of his best work and highlights the incredible biodiversity that exists in a chalk stream valley.
It's an excellent and comprehensive tome that covers all aspects of chalk stream life and I commend it to the house.
Further details on how to obtain a copy can be found at www.gmp.co.uk