Thursday, 2 February 2012

Flouer O Scotland

We are currently in the grip of a high pressure system that has eased from the east over Russia and Scandinavia to do battle with a warm front from the west. An East v West battle that has produced a cold war of sorts. Snow has been dumped to the west of us and Dartmoor looks pretty in the papers. We currently lie some way behind the vanguard of the eastern invader, deep in the lines, and as a result no precipitation, just icy icy cold. For three days now the temperature has struggled to get above zero. The pond is covered in ice, anything avian is hammering the pheasant feeders, and the deer are searching the maize for the few remaining frozen cobs. The hares are in the wood because they can’t make a scrape in the field and the river remains low but beautifully clear.

Last Friday our local paper trumpeted the drought conditions on it's front page. It wasn't a slow week for news, There were tales of flashers in the park, Joe Smith's unusually shaped vegetable and a diamond wedding directly attributed to "a bit of give and take" yet there on the front page was the Head Honcho of the town angling club standing in the middle of a fast diminishing lake. Last weekend we travelled north on family business, abandoning the arid south for the verdant north. Once the black country had been conquered we encountered flooded field after flooded field, cocoa coloured rivers with busted banks, and tales of overflowing reservoirs and lakes. We brought a few bottles of the stuff back as an offering to the gods of our ailing stream but it doesn’t seem to have had much of an effect, perhaps plans for a national grid should be revisited. Last week we lost a game of cricket on a green field in a desert, and a journeyman golfer tamed a tiger over 18 holes of golf surrounded by miles of sand, a smattering of camels and the occasional Bedouin. The logistics of supplying water to turn either of these sites from barren desert to international sporting venue would leave our own water mandarins scratching their heads.
We perch on an island, so opportunities to desalinate sea water are there, or use the canal system (national grid?) to move water to the over populated south? The increased flow may cause the southbound narrow boats to push on a bit and the northbound may struggle to gain ground, but the canals would have to be maintained, jobs would be created and an aquatic environment preserved.
Water is a valuable commodity and if I were the King of Scotland I would bring forward the referendum on independence from 2014 to next week. Explain to subjects that after oil, the Scot's next most valuable asset is water. A hose is to be connected to the lochs and burns and, in times of plenty, water sent south through a large meter somewhere around Stirling and the recipient billed accordingly. Incessant rain will replenish stock, a new nation will be born and new “water inspired” lines will be added to “Flouer O Scotland”
I’d better stop; it was the sight of all that water lying on fields that set me off blabbering like a man in the desert falling on an oasis.
Our final shoot of the year yielded a few birds. Woodcock again, half a dozen Partridge, a few Duck, a dozen Pheasants, one Jay and one Rook. Despite the cold weather we saw few oddities; the Snipe have gone and now no Widgeon. We did however see a miniscule Muntjac about the size of a small Hare. Whisper it quietly, but on a day when we were decidedly short of dogs Otis played a blinder and picked up over half the bag!
On the river, assault by chainsaw continues, and I am currently decimating scrappy timber on the bottom shallows. Some has gone the wrong way and bounced off power lines causing sparks. A phone call instigated a quick response and a visit in high viz by the relevant authorities who dealt admirably with the errant electricity.

One chap had been this way before, a few years ago at 9.00am on a Sunday morning. Child B, who dabbles in cricket, had been out in the rain in the garden on his “ball on a string” hung from the cherry tree. An enthusiastic pull shot had detached the ball and string from the cherry tree sending the ball up over the house onto some overhead power lines leaving the wet rope dangling down around the metal flue from our wood burner, which started to get hot despite it being early June. A phone call was made and for half an hour we all stood outside and waited for two very visual chaps in their 4x4 cherry picker to turn up and retrieve the ball.

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