Friday, 24 April 2015
And a word to the wise Percy Poldark, if you're grunting your way across a meadow with a sweaty bare torso, you are not using your scythe in the correct manner.
This kind of gratuitous display of human flesh sent Titbits to the wall in the eighties, as a regular user of such a tool I feel grossly misrepresented..............nay violated!
The new season starts next week and in a low river brim full of ravenous trout keen to get on with the hawthorn, I expect the first fortnight to see many fish put on the bank. No sign of any hawthorn yet and there haven't been many olives putting in an appearance in the afternoon but the first significant hatch of any fly should see most fish break cover for a feed, although with a thin fringe and little weed they could spook quite easily.
The reluctance of ranunculus to get going is a little concerning, and at this point can we all agree that if men in fine fleece and cutting edge walking shoes lay claim to understand this finicky weed, they shall be shown a dismissive hand. Parts of the growth cycle of this important aquatic weed remain a mystery, it is an enigmatic aquatic plant that sometimes doesn't follow the rules. It likes light and fast clean water, and the river may be a little cold for it at the moment, but in 2001 following a wet winter the ranunculus grew thick and up and out of the water, as it did last summer, in 2002 the ranunculus inexplicably failed in a reasonable flow of water, fingers crossed it is not repeated this year because it will have a vital part to play in holding water up.
She hatched off her brood eventually, in spite of her daily displacement.
A musical interlude
April, come she will, when streams are ripe and swelled with rain....
Just stop right there Simon & Garfunkel, this kind if thing no longer applies,
I shan't go on , but I am obliged to say that we have had a dry winter and many of the ditches that feed into this river are now dry, bridges are decidedly precipitous and we have gravel proud of the water. Thanks to the Test & Itchen Association for chucking some of my interminable guff regarding this subject into their annual river report.
If you want to read it it's in the paper copy, I won't repeat it here, but you can guess at the gist, with weed slow to grow this river is currently very low.
Bird News as we have it!
More musical news, just in!
With the Nicholas Chienterelli trio failing to fill contractual obligations, I have picked up the baton of all things A&R and in my quest to secure a new house band for this production, I firmly believe we have discovered THE pop sensation of the next five years.
Kids, his name is Will Young, that's Will Young
and he is heading right to the top of the hit parade.
He has a disk out that channels the new northern soul sound and I confidently predict we have found the new Don Fardon.
You heard it here first!
Child B for fifteen months work experience with some fancy planners, and at this point we would like to make a request that he revisit his kitchen and toilet hygiene regimes as his Cardiff retreat had echoes of Yasser Arafat's refectory in downtown Beirut sometime in the 1980s, albeit with Sky Sports and Pizza Express.
Child A pops back for a night or two most weeks as she completes her complicated and increasingly relevant post-graduate studies, while working part time for a business up the road. Last week she returned to do some talking at a conference at another University , which sounded incredibly grown up, and understandably Madam and myself are sometimes asked " what plans for September?"
To which we reply, "Dunno, does it matter?"
And here I'd like to quote Baz Luhrmann at length, but will refrain and pick out the following lines
"The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know, still don't,
Get plenty of Calcium"
The calcium things a given with water drawn from a chalk valley, but I think I was in a minority among my contemporaries in that I knew from an early age what I wanted to do with my life when I was thirteen and chose my O levels accordingly. If Liverpool football club were not to come knocking (and look what happened to them) It was a life in fishing, or following a tour de force at the Gateway theatre as lead nurse in the annual gang show, possibly the stage.
Angling's gain is the theatrical world's loss
Struck numb by Gerard Manley Hopkins and flummoxed by Geoff Chaucer, my A level English teacher reported that Chris is blessed with little more than a native wit and has a propensity to play to the class when the opportunity arises. For my mock exam I had a head free of all things Gerrard and Geoff and proffered a couple of thousand words on life at an airport for a Saudi Arabian family stranded after missing their connection.
For reasons that remain unknown to me, but I suspect humiliation (a popular ploy in early 1980s state education at the slightest sign of spirit, and hey Eric Blair, you may have been on to something) it was read out to the class the following week by the head of the sixth form and drew, what I took, and indeed still take, as reasonable reviews (I'll take one hand clapping every time)
Which went down well.
At the age of eighteen I had no inkling that a few years past forty I would be fortunate enough to receive small cheques through the post for poorly prepared words chucked up in a couple of hours under exam conditions while in wine,
Post September, Child A may not have a clear career path, but that's no biggie. Circumstances often have a funny habit of falling into place if sufficient groundwork has been completed.
Do the business with the research and stuff, but with a fair complexion, don't forget the chuffin sunscreen.
Thursday, 16 April 2015
Well I can work a one armed bandit and it's been a while since I engaged the evil forces of space invaders so with a suitcase full of cents and with some air traffic wallahs on strike we headed south around France to the promise of Vegas in Southern Europe.
Within a few hours of landing it became quickly apparent that this was no Vegas or Rhyl, with not a fruit machine to be found,
I think that was the correct translation of the information board at its base.
With language abandoned we ascertained through a series of pictures and mimes that the rail company were on strike and all the tickets to Firenze had been sold for a few days,
So we went to Venice instead.
A train that travelled at nearly two hundred miles took us across the broad valley of the Po to a city that I last visited in May in 1981 at the age of 13 when it was a bit niffy, the canals contained several dead dogs and St Marks square was empty and we enjoyed a cheap pizza sitting outside.
It's changed a bit.
think the Olympic opening ceremony with selfie sticks instead of flags,
and there we must pause to examine the phenomenon that is the "selfie" and its accompanying stick.
After the hundredth offer of such a stick in under ten minutes, it started to grate
It might be one for the marketing department lads, but please reassess your target audience.
Is Greek no longer on the school curriculum because this selfie fad is the stuff of Narcissus, with Vodafone playing Nemesis, Social media as Echo and a smart phone for a puddle of water.
I don't get it, and on a final note, you don't see the selfie stick sellers taking selfies of themselves in the spectacular environment in which they ply their trade.
Anyway, to return to Venizi, we walked along the front where everything seemed to be three times the price of the same item in Bologna and several chanced their arm with a fishing rod, which was not the case in 1981 as I spent half a day looking for any signs of people fishing in what was pretty filthy water. Three parts foxed following further prosecco (it really was rather good) we hopped onto the aquaporto that took us the wrong way around the lagoon before delivering us up the Grand Canal to the station with two minutes to spare.
Venice remains a spectacular place to visit but blimey was it busy, the highlights were undoubtedly the walk from the station to Square St Marco and the forty minute aquaporto ride that provided an aquatic tour for only seven euros each.
Oh yes, a message from Venice for the cream of our local town society now that the weather is warming up.
And then Richie Benaud died.
As a youngster I didn't know Richie Benaud had played cricket.
I assumed he was a professional commentator, or possibly somebody Peter West had bumped into on Come Dancing, he was a natty dresser was Richie. It was always the radio commentary for me if possible, but if no wireless was available Richie's take on the game was the next best thing.
Hendo provided the best summation for me (and why doesn't he write on cricket anymore)
"Less is more, Ah yes, but how difficult it is to master that apparently simple precept. Benaud never talked about himself, either on air or off it. He thought it vulgar, and besides his playing record was there for to see. As the captain of a side that thumped England 4-0 in 58/59, he is in the annals.
Compare that modesty with the modern manner, when a cricketer-turned- broadcaster like Ed Smith, who played three times for England in a thin year, mentions himself more often in a single session of play than Benaud did in five decades"
Richie Benaud played at our local club many times as part of an invitational side put together by the Times Cricket Correspondent of the day, and there are many old timers who haunt the boundary full of tales of games for Longparish against Benaud, Tyson, Inverarity et al.
On four consecutive days I took an egg out for the day.
The bottom of my camera bag resembled a hen house, Without doubt I was missing the dog and had subconsciously replaced our Otis with a replacement whose name bore three letters and ended in the letter g,
That or, I'd gone broody.
The premise was to build a bridge with a seven metre span and a height of over a metre from thin cardboard strips .
There were fifty teams who had the whole day to complete their task. Now I'd back myself to work a bridge or two and it struck that if this new twist on recycling really works then we should put a recycling bin by the fishing hut for Sunday Supplements and the like, as materials for next year's new river crossing,so we hung around for the whole day.
After an hour the favourites were fairly clear, skill levels were varied.
Five hundred years ago the good people of Bologna sought shade and shelter on their trip up the hill to what could be the church of San Luca, (it's coming back to me now)
Eschewing the umbrella and parasol option, they constructed a substantial portico that takes you out of town a thousand feet up the hill and is two and a half miles long, it may well be visible from space, we could certainly see it from the plane as we left.
It's tremendously bonkers, and somehow typical of this city that I suggest is a more convivial place than some of its celebrated near neighbours.
The many arcades, the small streets, lumpen basilica, the friendly people the wonky towers all go towards making this place a fabulous place to spend a few days, but the undisputed star of the show is the food.
And at this point I'd like to say, hey Prizzo, Usk and Zosso, up your game a bit eh, it's pretty poor stuff you dish up in comparison and for twice the price!
Same to you Starburks, Costas, Cafe Mero,
Who seen to fear to mingle among the coffee bars of this town where a freshly ground brew can be had for under a pound.
We found ourselves saying "Wow" a lot during our dining, and while reflecting in bed in front of some Italian TV, we took in an episode of Italy's Junior Masterchef. The two teenagers competing had breathtaking culinary skills and demonstrated a deep understanding of fresh ingredients and their preparation and use.
They really got food, and worked coolly on a set which resembles a culinary coliseum with two presenters and two professional chefs gathering on a balcony above to bait them and deliver the thumbs up or the thumbs down at the shows denouement. It may be subjective to suggest, but either would have gone a long way in the adult version over here.
Bologna is an old, but vibrant city, reassuringly bonkers at times with the odd risque statue, beautiful, fun, friendly, and free of one armed bandits, it is a city comfortable in its own skin,
But the food, oh the food, they get the food thing more than anywhere we have visited.
We shall return,
After I've had a sandwich.
Previous readers of this guff may remember that each trip abroad I like to give the gift of a corkscrew to the chaps at airport security to facilitate our passage to the aircraft. This year I discretely placed our holiday corkscrew in Madam's handbag for our return journey, who found the item while bagging up her liquids of 100ml or more. Taking an alternative course of action to myself when previously placed in such a situation, she owned up to security, who consulted and reported back with "Don't worry madam it's only a picnic corkscrew, carry on through"
Aghast at Madam's fortune I reared up and bemoaned the fact that three times I had been required to hand over such an item that I had inadvertently retained in my camera bag, and what was it about my face that suggested I was hell bent on boring a hole in the cabin wall that was missing from Madam's demeanour, at which point a snap of the rubber gloves and Madam tugging at my elbow carried us away from the scene.
Friday, 3 April 2015
Please rain sometime soon.
I have heard several keepers of long standing express this view in recent weeks,
It's not just me, so I won't go on.
Well perhaps I will.
Pauses to prick finger and write Dever for Forever in blood on a piece of chalk before rummaging for old Madonna CD
Further musical analogy follows:
Aaaayyypril, come she will, when streams are ripe and swelled with rain.
Nope, sorry Art, your theory on flat rabbits may still be relevant, but this statement no longer applies.
Things are beginning to wake up, Yellow flags have cracked the surface of the water and now stand at six inches, while the inky black flowers of sedge in the fringe contrast with the elegantly curled leaves that give echoes of a fascinator atop a Judy at the rails taking in the Grand National.
The scorched earth policy continues and more reed beds have been burned, at one point I nearly reduced my chainsaw hat to a blob of melted plastic as I absent mindedly abandoned it in the track of a fast moving flames urged on by the merest zephyr.
And at this point we can report that the Merlin, that continues its sorcery about the parish, is currently capable of 35mph at low level flight. It appears, as if by magic, from the neighbouring hedge and flits up the road fifteen feet in front of the bumper, for what appears to be kicks alone, and while we're on cars, our mechanical marvel from the Bavarian motor company that caused such financial consternation earlier this year has been taken from us. We were visited (and while there may be some room for manoeuvre with regard to the actualite in much of this guff, this is as straight as Nelson and indeed his column) by an Italian skydiver from Basingstoke. The test drive was all that you would expect from an Italian who goes about his business accelerating at nine point eight meters per second squared, but he was good fun and his partner had won many medals in falling through the sky competitions. He didn't go a lot on Basingstoke, bar the opportunity to pick some five star Porcini mushrooms that the locals didn't seem too fussed about. He bought the car, was good fun and gave us several tips on tasks to undertake during our impending trip to Bologna.
And so with our fleet reduced to two, and yes I do don the tricorn hat of the Admiralty, particularly when MOTs and Tax hove into view on the horizon, we were left with Child B's ten year old Punto to potter about in, as he was away in Copenhagen looking at roads and buildings (finally some value for University fees) which focused the mind a little,
The ten year old Punto, not Child B's sojourn in the land of the midnight pastry.
Unbeknown to me, Madam had conducted extensive research into our next mode of transport and had identified the car that we should purchase next. More of the same apparently, and bugger the impracticality as an angling vehicle: it's fast, comfortable, economical and has a solid feel that she enjoys.
At which point I sighed and recognised a fait accompli when presented, and briefly pondered her use of the phrase "solid feel that she enjoys" but accepted the fact that the payback for driving a Citroen Picasso brim full of fishing tackle and bait to a river in mid Spain continues. We emerged at either end of our odyssey like the bones of Richard the third when they last held flesh and may well have uttered an exhortation for a horse,
The Picasso went at the end of that trip, but for an entirely different reason.
We sweated our way across the border, then hightailed it across France and under the channel to home, where the Picasso was on ebay within a week, lest Interpol make enquiries.
At which point I'd like to balance this guff out with some positives on the Picasso. The chap who lives next door to my parents drives for a living and obviously looks after his, because here's a short film of his Diesel Picasso passing half a million miles:
Top effort, and practical as it was, I don't think I could suffer the stabbing pain in my left buttock that only ever occurred when I drove our Picasso, but that may well be down to the curve of my booty and nowt to do with the car.
Which brings us to comfort, which I am now told (and beginning to understand) is important. I have been fortunate enough to drive some very nice cars owned by my employer. I have driven for five hours in the early hours to Southport with a flatulent greyhound in the boot and emerged refreshed and full of vim, ready for all that the day may hold. By contrast I have popped to the shops in some models that we owned when money was tight (it still is, by the way) and hobbled to the till.
This all seems to be turning into a pitch for Clarkson's shoes, but to get to the point, Madam's point that comfort counts, sits well at the moment. The German thing was comfortable, half a day driving in any direction (often the wrong) was enjoyable, we took it to many corners of the continent and never had a doubt that we would get there or be in a crippled condition and no state to enjoy our new environs. No it wasn't so bad, it just didn't do fishing rods well, but hey ho!
It's clever stuff and baby steps towards driverless cars and I really like driving the thing, but issues remain over the carriage of fishing rods, so today a roof box and bars have been purloined to replace the roof box that is currently employed as a toboggan. The box is big enough to take a two piece carp rod and a fair amount of bait and has the added advantage of delivering an angler to a swim at a significant rate of knots,
Yes, with a little tweaking we can make this thing fit for fishing.
Just delivered Vino and the requested provender to Madam on the sofa and caught the warning on a TV show from across the pond that the following programme may contain scenes of an emotional nature,
Violent and sexual, ok, you pays your money you takes your choice, but emotional?
I'd prefer to be warned of the anodyne if I'm honest.
I humoured him of course, and peppered our conversation with oblique reference to Delorean cars and Michael J Fox. The queer looks he shot me, confirmed that he is clearly on the slide.
If we examine this a little further, scripture from the 1970s tells us that in the year 2015 we will all be pulling on hover shoes and cars will have little wings, and no wheels (Bleep & Booster Blue Peter Annual 1974) although the premise that cars will be placing orders on Amazon receives no mention and the exhortation to produce a home made interweb via tin cans and bits of string comes over a little clunky, but the germ of the idea is clearly there.
Once again, 2015 indeed....Ha!
Anyway, returning to the REAL world, and important matters such as fishing, early season sport should be good. We have a river full of fish, hawthorn hatches should be reasonable after a winter of dry meadows, and plenty of mayfly got back on to the water last year to lay their eggs for this year's fly fishing fiesta.
Last week we went to church, no epiphany but a memorial service for one fat lady. The Church was St Brides just off Fleet St and the choir were the best I have ever heard. They are a professional bunch and conduct lunchtime recitals, to which I may drag madam one day. Particular highlights included a fantastic version of Boney M's Rasputin and a rendition of Verdi's Libiamo that sent many a neck hair erect. It was a great turn out, and we can report that Tim Wonnacot is currently a spectacular shade of orange although this may have something to do with a Strictly Come Dancing live tour. The uplifting mood was tempered however by the behaviour of Central London motorists who were rude, aggressive and a little too fond of the horn for this countryside cruiser. Emails were fired off to a big noise at Transport for London, in which the experience was likened to the lawless streets of Naples which we negotiated a few years back, although following one parp on a horn, mid Strand, I found myself shrugging my shoulders and uttering "Excuses je sui Anglais" a phrase I have proffered to a fellow motorist many times on the Peripherique.
Expect change soon, the emails were well worded and hard hitting, watch this space and the streets of central London.
With the mystical age of forty seven, now a reality, it has been pointed out that I occasionally talk in tongues,
Involuntarily and often inopportune, but tongues nonetheless.
A series of medical investigations and extensive research on the internet confirm that I have either early onset of Taurettes, something that can only be fixed with expensive juju wood, or a small spot in my lower back that makes me cry "Oh bugger" every time it is agitated.
An observation was made that I no longer glide across the ground in the manner that I used to in my twenties and at one stage the words stoop and stomp may have beeen used, so we have plumped for the small spot theory. Madam also gets a few knot spots in her upper back and during one of our, "we are not as young as we used to be and here is a list of our ailments" diatribes to Child A, she put us onto a Yoga App that she uses.
Now I remember the Beatles promoting this kind of caper sometime around the release of Rubber Soul, and at this point I'd like to remind all present that I fly in the face of Tofu and scoff at all chakras, but a week of subtle stretching that serves as gentle exercise has freed me up as would a prune to a recalcitrant colon. Ok, the leotard chafes a tad and the pan pipes and cowbells backing track grates a little, but the upside of being able to get down to clean out the woodburner without blurting out an "Oh bugger" is fair recompense.
My name is Chris de Cani and I am currently a Yogaist,
There I said it..........I'll give it a week, tops.