Tuesday 19 May 2015

Dogs that deliver on death - a softer tone perhaps?

Well, quite a few fish have been caught, which is good news for the catch records,and quite a few fish have been lost also.

The fish caught have been in remarkably good condition and appeared to have over wintered well. The vanguard of the Mayfly are already here and fish are now showing interest.

Weed remains slow to grow, dab chicks are decidedly skitty, I have seen them on nests built on weed grown clear of the surface at this time of the year, but there is no chance of that this year. There is concern up and down the river over the taint that the river currently carries. It makes sight fishing in poor light difficult in any water greater than three feet deep. The chap from the Wessex Chalk stream Trust was here last week on his biannual foray for bugs to take back to the lab, and he confirmed that there was heightened concern over the increase in sediment that the river was currently carrying. It is very obvious and forgive me for repeating myself, but I can clearly remember the first time I saw a Grayling. It was in spring in six feet of water in 1986, when I attended an interview for twelve months unpaid work experience on the middle reaches of this river system. look in the same hole this year and a Hippopotamus could lay there undetected. Water Quality remains a concern on this river, particularly during times of low flow.

And while we're on low flow, I have just returned from a trip to Portsmouth, by the back roads to avoid the car park that is the M27, with Child A at the helm to collect her old car which went pop three weeks ago and has had an extended sojourn at the menders.

If anybody is interested in a purple Renault Modus, nickname "The Pig" 82,000 miles, lots of MOT and one careful owner,

let me rephrase that

No careful owners

It's a bargain buy, and a dream car for some cove, so please don't be a stranger if you think this auto's for you

And if this car sale thing works, we may consider further requests for sales and parish messages.

Hurtling along the lanes which may well have served smugglers fleeing the Kingsmen in similar haste centuries ago, I could just make out some much diminished lakes around Winchester. The flight pond at home is a couple of feet lower than it should be, and lily pads that used to provide spawning sites for substantial carp in May are a few inches from the bed of pond. I reckon we'll be seeing the first episodes of "fish rescue sometime during July. I may be bucking a trend with my sustained consumption of red wine, but this corner of England is drying out, and not enough people are appreciating that fact or even talking about it.

News Just in from La La Land.

It has just been announced that the solution to all those poor souls fleeing conflict across the Mediterranean is more bombs......obvs.

Yup bombs. that'll do it!

That' s a bomb delivered at a cost hundreds of times of the boat that it is intended to destroy, and of course the number of boats is finite right? nobody makes them anymore, and a few explosions will snuff out any innovation inspired by desperate circumstances as to any other method of taking flight from a hellish existence, and a few explosions will keep these guys on that side of the pond because we do really good explosions and they will never have seen explosive devices before.


Haven't we had enough of bombs for the time being, I think the spirit of Joni Mitchell is upon me, at which point we shall examine the DDT thing,

Oh, she's gone, another time perhaps Joni

News just in from the deep south (not Brighton sea front on a bank holiday in the 1970s) where similar thought processes to the "lets bomb the boats" protagonists led to nine people dead in a fight between local biker gangs.

The reason?

Their Mums had embroidered the name of the state to which they laid claim on the back of their jacket, and the other bmx boys took offence.


and at which point I could quote Bill Hicks at length, but will refrain because he had a colourful vernacular, but "watchu readin for" springs immediately to mind.

More News from La La land as we have it:

Our political correspondent is currently taking a break but will be back sometime after the Queen's speech.

This week The lady who sleeps on my left was summoned to dispatch justice at the local crown court.

One of forty summoned she was initially selected for a six week case, which she declined and had to go up before the beak to explain why she wasn't allowed to take so much time off school, so she waited for her next case.

Don't ask me why, because its clear to me that Madam's in pretty good order for a lady of her years, but the spirit of experimentation is upon her and she is currently trying the five and two lifestyle, and fasts (600 calories or less for the day) for two days of the week.

Heaven help the accused if a verdict is required on a fasting day, cos she'll hang em all high on an empty tummy.

Her first case has now closed and dinner time discourse currently includes allusion to the market price of crack cocaine and methods of supply.

In sad circumstances we travelled north to the rim of the Yorkshire dales in Rydale to attend my Uncle Dennis's funeral.

With echoes of Geoffrey Boycott he'd reached 92 at Scarborough only to be dismissed a few runs short of his century ( he still goes on about it, Boycott not Uncle Dennis)

We took the dog ( more of him later) and stayed in a lovely pub on the Yorkshire moors where hounds were most welcome, before attending the funeral the next day. We walked the dog, got three parts foxed on the hostelry fayre before heaving open the portmanteaux to reveal a lack of much of my mourning clobber but many shoes; packing had not gone well.

It's an elderly clientele on the river and the funeral thing is a regular event, I've quite the outfit when required, but just not this time, sorry Uncle Dennis. I don't do suits very often and this one didn't make the trip.

Ok I had a choice of shoes, and this may be the genesis of some late life fetish, but little else. So it was off to the clothing emporia and charity shops of Pickering and Kirkbymoorside to source a suit before visiting Aunty Joyce mid morning, who revealed that the late lamented, and much loved Dennis had bequeathed his wardrobe to the same said emporia.

On our return to the car I checked my new purchase for name tags,

Turning up to Den's send off in his old clothes could be seen as a tribute by some, or bad form by others,

So not wanting to appear divisive, we revisited the charity shops and eschewed the blue sweater displaying the North Yorkshire Moors Railway logo, for a shirt with some buttons missing and an afghan three quarter length coat. One hundred yards from the entrance to the church we were met by the Director of Strategy for Transport for London (my smart younger brother who rails against bad planning, and the chaos theory to which I occasionally subscribe)

Who gently inquired as to what I was wearing.

at which point I scuttled back to the car, the charity shop ruse had failed at first base, so pop on my old jumper and jeans, both black (yes I still listen to the Mission and the Sisters of Mercy when the mood is taken) and into the church,

and yes, we took the dog.

At which point I'd like to offer up his services as a mourning dog. Ok this was simple Anglican fayre, and he has yet to take in a burning Norse longboat, or Hindu funeral pyre,but this dog can do reverence. He stood up for hymns, sat down for readings and bowed his head for prayer, as a test of mourning this dog passed with flying colours and what's more he's black to boot, ladies and gentleman I give you funeral dog, £30 an hour, £40 if the handler is required to remember his suit.

It all went very well, he was a lovely man Uncle Dennis with an appreciation for cricket, a cigar, apple pie and a packet of chicken crisps. It was great to catch up with family we have not seen for far too long. Uncle Dennis and Aunty Joyce were fortunate to live in a very caring village community for thirty years and counting, and it was great to meet people who we had heard much about but never met.
Thanks in particular to the neighbours who have been so kind to my aunt and uncle and have this guff forced upon them. The advice on sartorial matters (hell I need it) has been duly noted and a jacket is on order, and also the couple of carers who work at the care home who trundled Aunty Joyce out for the day. They can look after me when my faculties are failing any day (possibly next week) and are a fun bunch. Somebody give them a pay rise, they are brilliant!

We returned, I think via Peterborough at one point, (Google Maps was not giving off its best) with our new afghan coat and shirt, sans the required number of buttons and a business plan based around a dog who can do funereal, and a working title of "Dogs that deliver on death"

Although on reflection we may have been high on alliteration at that point and a softer tone to the business moniker may be more appropriate.

This dog can mourn, watch this space, coming to a pew near you.

Crossing Over to the Other Side - Episode II

Another heads up (further contemporary parlance) that the second episode of Mary Berry's new series:

"Crossing over to the other side" - a six part series examining the efficacy of Britain's best bridges,

(I think that's what they said, although food was very much to the fore in last week's episode, I presume in preparation for Mary's odyssey across the best bridges of these isles)

is on BBC 2 on Friday 22nd May at 8pm,this week featuring fish.

Thursday 14 May 2015

Crossing Over To The Other Side

Just a heads up (contemporary parlance) that Mary Berry's new series:

"Crossing over to the other side" - a six part series examining the efficacy of Britain's best bridges,

begins on BBC2 Friday 15th at 8pm

More news from television land, as we have it.

Wednesday 6 May 2015

Tavares and A Mistaken Consent to Discharge

Well the calendar may trumpet the onset of May but a spiteful wind that is doing for much of the fruit blossom is more reminiscent of February when trees have a habit of falling on homes, stifling any prospect of Valentine's Day amore. Yes it still hurts, not physically but mental anguish at an opportunity missed, yup, I'm getting old, and hey Mr Sinatra, stop that sentimental guff about a summer wind, it adds nothing to the practice of flicking a fly, or fishing in general and has echoes of Apu, another who also lied to us through song

I may have gone too early, so we shall return to last week's activities.

Fish have been caught on most days this week, not many rises and not much fly but an artificial presented to a fish up off the bottom has induced some kind of response in most cases. Hawthorn have accounted for eighty percent of the fish drawn to the net in the first week, but Daddies have played their part and we currently have half a dozen of the real thing bumbling about the kitchen.

That's Crane flies and not the chaps who sang Heaven must be missing an angel, or was that Tavares?

Grass is slow to grow as is the weed, and it still feels a bit nippy for any sensible evening fishing. Plenty of duck about and recently a Shoveller popped in for a few days, Mallard are sitting although the tufties remain a little skittish. Kites made the news this week, it is rare to go a day without seeing one here and five were in the air over the cricket ground throughout much of the opening pre-season friendly. Bird tables also got a mention among a plethora of full page political adverts in the paper this week, with concern over non native species, or was that one of the political adverts?

Let me check

Nope it was definitely bird tables, but I'm going to keep on feeding them for a while longer yet, as it has echoes of the fine fleece and cutting edge walking shoes brigade who would have us all withdraw to a sterile pod and undertake a watching brief. A little reminder that the Sea Trout in South America and the Brown Trout in New Zealand that feature on many an angler's bucket list of fish to bother are all non native species, taken there by the Victorians as well as well as many other places. Non native isn't always bad and often we have no control over their arrival, and is a natural part of the world's evolution,

Although having read some of the spiel in the run up to the election I am amazed that a party hasn't campaigned under the slogan "We want our thumbs!" (W Hicks)

Eighteen months ago we closed part of the small fish rearing unit. Spiraling costs including the price of fish food, a four figure bill to use water from the river and a similar sum to put it back had resulted in it becoming uneconomic, and anyway those wiseacres at Command Centre Central would rather a few big operations to monitor, over lots of little ones. Eighteen months on we have just received a demand for lots of money for a consent to discharge from the defunct site.

A phone call was made, as it was last year, and I was connected to Tony in Sheffield. Tony was really pleased to be given the opportunity to talk to me, showed concern over how my day was panning out, before apologising for the lack of music during an impending period on hold.

I may be wrong but Tony had attended many courses on working the phone.

Grace next, in accounts, who uttered similar platitudes to Tony before informing me that part of accounts had now been "outsourced" possibly to Peterborough, so could I drop them an email as to our plight, stating the demand had been issued in error and giving the date of cessation of discharge, else a fine for non payment would automatically be issued.

Which we did,

And then a thought bubble appeared.

Where on earth did they think we were getting the two hundred and fifty thousand gallons of water a day for an "in line" fish rearing unit from, that we were supposedly discharging into the river? The abstraction licence is certified as case closed, they have not issued a demand for payment to abstract, so bottles perhaps, or a big water butt. It's a bit of a worry when these chaps purport to be guardians of the south east's precious groundwater supply.

Writ somewhere is a request that upon my demise at the age of somewhere around two hundred and five (the sustained consumption of red wine, dark chocolate and bifidus digestivum suggests this is a minimum) that my cadaver be cooked up and the ashes flung in the river. I fear that unless we change our ways the river will be nothing more than a conduit for the outflow from Barton Stacey sewage works, in which case children, feel free to flush me down the loo,

Up your game eh lads, there's some tricky times ahead for Command Centre Central when the hoopla of the election is done with, not least keeping an eye on the comings and goings of a precious groundwater supply. For every discharge consent from a fish farm there should be a matching licence to abstract.

Underfunded, ineffective and possibly tokenism

Whoever rocks up in top spot in the election, please can we have a much improved Environment Agency.

There does seem to have been an awful lot of rape grown at the moment, I get the bio-fuel bit and the health food angle, but hey, Reynard loves the stuff and we have just lost half a dozen chooks. It is also playing havoc with my sinuses and I am getting through antihistamine at a fair whack, which is ok for a while because taken with wine they can add a little pep to the evening.

We had one day away from the rape recently playing in the average speed check that passes for the M3, on our way to Warner brothers Harry Potter studio's - which was a great day. It's quite the draw for folk of all ages from many nations, and well done JK Rowling for this, but a day in town, away from rape reduced my daily spluttering and wheezing significantly. I am now a bit of a nimby when it comes to growing oilseed rape,

And so to May the 7th and the interminable business of electing a new government, I know who I can't vote for.... but I won't go on,

and once more, for the undecided masses:

Oh yes, late news from TV land:

We enjoyed the series "Ordinary Lies" and love "Car Share",
and we have Mary Berry's "Best Bridges I have known" to look forward to on BBC2 later in May.

but for fans of slow TV and two hours on a barge on the Kennet and Avon canal, give Swiss Railways Journeys a go on the Satellite channel. Epic stuff, riding the Swiss rails on the cowcatcher in a smooth and efficient manner and always arriving on time.