Tuesday, 22 September 2015
At tea time on Saturday, it was out with the turn table and on with The Vapors and a rousing chorus of
"I think I'm turning Japanese, I think I'm turning Japanese, I really think so"
Didn't see that one coming and what huge cajones (I believe that's Japanese) to go for the try with the final play of the match.
Not too keen on the Kiwi kit, which seems to channel the puritans or possibly downstairs Downton, and that font they've picked for the numbers is all a bit 1970's Atari.
The pig thing went well, and the evening passed without real incident bar the death of a pig and a pool of pork dripping on the west bound carriageway of the highway to the sun.
The garlic is the undoubted success of the year, the pulled bulbs are so strong that they can't be kept in the house, we left them in the workshop overnight, and now even my neoprene waders smell of garlic. It may be a little "niche" but if anybody is afflicted with thieving vampire wader raiders (this may be a title of a Russ Meyer movie) I have just the pair for you.
"Water quality is of concern, the colour being rather cloudy this summer"
Maurice Jones, retired Chief Executive of Leckford Estate who'd happily chat with the lowliest student in The Peat Spade Pub.
" The greatest threat to this part of the river is increasing population and the over abstraction that results"
Fred Kemp, keeper on the Upper Test at Whitchurch where I once stood in for a month while at college when Fred and his family headed off to the USA.
"If you have big stocked fish you have no small wild ones, stocking bigger and bigger fish results in a shortage of natural browns in the future"
Alf Harper, long gone, but a bear of a man, who worked on the Test at Longparish.
"He is young, fit and resourceful"
Brian Parker - headkeeper at Bossington, part of this statement may no longer be relevant, but thanks for thinking of me all those years ago.
"Today's storms flush soil from cultivated fields into open ditches and on into the river"
Brian Parker again, and spot on, all those years ago
"We then drove to Nursling Mill on the Main River to be met by two Alsatian dogs. "Don't worry. They only bite Southern Water employees, as they taste sweeter and have fingers like sausages."
The genial Vic Foot at Nursing Mill, who kept me at his table for hours, tea in hand, before a tour of the river.
At home, Child B is engaged, deep cover in the world of planning, and seems to be having a great time while receiving wages in return, which is a good thing, and the denouement of Child A's MSc is upon us, and in sprinting terms she is currently dipping for the line that will bestow on her the status of most qualified person in the house.
And so to Jeremy, and how on earth did the Labour Party end up electing an unelectable leader. Donning my hat of conspiracy theories, how many of Flashy's followers paid the £3 to join the labour party in order to get a vote. Last week's Prime Minister's question time was the cricketing equivalent of milking a mediocre spinner. Labour were unelectable at the last two elections on economic policy and are unelectable at the next if they retain Jeremy Castro, my money's on another labour leadership election within the year, whatever were they thinking.
Vorsprung Durch Technik indeed,
Oh no, that's the other one with the Olympic symbol with one hoop missing on the grill,
or is it?
You can always rely on a Volkswagen............to get through an emissions test.
News just in: Flash's mob have just announced that they will make moves to limit roadworks on major motorways to a maximum length of 2 miles.
Well done Sir! I'm guessing you, or someone in your gilded cabinet, was forced to mix with the masses recently on the M3 or M1, were all the helicopters at the menders?
Friday, 11 September 2015
First day back from Croatia, I boarded the tractor reversed ten yards out of the workshop and the guts fell out of the engine as the entire contents of the sump left a thick black line across the workshop floor and gravel. We are approaching the end of the season and I will cut the banks with a push along mower and strimmer for the remaining few weeks. The next day, with two rugby playing work experience lads aged sixteen and bursting with energy about the place, I decided to tackle the substantial piles of wood we have about the place and fill the log storage facility. A new chain was purchased to replace a tired old set of links, and during fitting the chain brake spring went piff, and jammed the spinning wheel thingy, outside the cog on the drive shaft from the engine. The long handled hedge cutter that has become such a vital piece of equipment for riverkeepers was the next thing to falter, as I inadvertently soaked the engine while working chest deep in the river and the thing is now in pieces on the bench drying out. Next I received an email from the new editor of The Shooting Times, explaining that the rubbish I write was being refreshed from fortnightly to monthly, and half as many cheques would be dropping onto the mat, which I kind of expected as I always expected to be found out, but we shall miss the pocket money all the same.
It's not Friday the 13th, my watch isn't working.
The otters haven't helped matters who still visit periodically, it was a fourteen pound pike that ended up needlessly on the bank this week and I fear for our two pound plus roach and grayling who no longer seem to be about. Heron seem to have had a good breeding year and are also making a nuisance of themselves, but hey the freshwater fish population can take the hit, can't it?
With the chainsaw repaired, all wood storage facilities are now full of the beech and oak that fell during the floods in early 2014, which inevitably instigates a warm glow inside...... me and the house. After the errant limb of a conker tree dumped the electric lines on the roof of our home, an inspection by an eminent tree surgeon has declared that the tree is in rude health and this is what two hundred year old conker trees are prone to do. The beech of a similar age is also doing well but its contemporary the ash on the edge of the road is on its way out, rotting form the base up with the crown in retreat. The jackdaws love it and each year nest in the hole half way up the main trunk and last year the top twenty feet fell off onto the road in the middle of summer. If it was up the river or in the wood, I'd go at it myself, saw a buzzin, but it is right on the road, in amongst the power lines and a bit beyond me. A gang are booked to take it down bit by bit from a cherry picker as the upper part is unsafe to climb. They will leave the logs as it stands fifty feet from our log storage facility, so that is next winters' logs taken care of which renders the six substantial balsam poplars that fell over in the floods redundant. They are not the best logs and we chopped and stacked them thinking that we would need them for next winter, but now we don't so this week we have been conducting experiments with the medium of fire to try and incinerate the unsightly stumps that remain. It kinda worked, and a leaf blower fanning the flames undoubtedly intensified the heat sufficiently to char the stumps, even if they are not reduced to ash they will be dead and done in a few years.
It looks like it will be tree work again this winter, with the bank-side trees left alone for two years now following the carnage in the wood that had to be dealt with last winter. Two years unchecked growth on some of the crack willow has certainly affected the fishing and highlighted the importance of regular willow management. I have said it before, but this stuff could conquer the world if left unchecked and is one of the key roles of the chalk stream river keeper.
and yes that's you Generalissimo Smith,
In the words of Stevie Wonder,
"I just called to say I love you"
No, not that one
"Heaven help us all"
And there we have it, I may post a little more regularly now I have been "refreshed" for which I apologise in advance. Ok I have the added pressure of featuring on the "ask the experts " panel for the magazine, and trumping up ideas for feature articles that may merit publication, but I don't anticipate anything too taxing. If anybody out there in magazine land needs any written
Now may be the time to get my head down and come up with some other such guff, but if anybody out there in magazine land needs some written rubbish, don't be a stranger, I'll have a go at anything.
Tuesday, 8 September 2015
I may have made mention before, but throughout my secondary school education, I did not receive a single History Lesson. The "Mad Monk" Keith Joseph was in charge of education at the time, and history was deemed to be a bit of a duff subject with no relevance to the future.
Keith was known for this kind of thing, give him a google he said some interesting things.
Anyway, we received a kind invitation to tour the WW1 sites from a couple well versed in such matters, which we were keen to accept. Because yes Keith, History is not only interesting, it is important, and was sourced firstly from Ladybird books (no longer available) through Asterix (thankfully available) to the miracle of internet (one of its principle virtues)
A Canadian, he had been inspired to write "In Flanders Fields" after the death of his pal at Ypres in 1915. McCrae died of Pneumonia in 1918, while in command of a military hospital at Boulogne, and the visit was particularly apposite for Madam as they had been studying the poem at school only last year.
On down to Etaples, a new name on us, but the site of the largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in France. It's of Lutyen's design and of the 11'500 soldiers interred, over 10'000 were casualties of WW1. The area was the site of many military hospitals and many nations from both sides are represented.
Beer, Frites and Coffee in Le Touquet and a quick peruse of a super market, before the heavens opened and we made our charge for Amiens. Where we filled the car with diesel and wine, ate an excellent meal alongside the Somme, slept, breakfasted before resuming our tour at 8.32am the next day.
Of the 9 VC's awarded to British soldiers in the battle, 4 were awarded to soldiers of the Ulster Division.
On the first day of the battle of the Somme, several mines were detonated beneath the German front lines. The logistics of setting these mines are incredible, with tunnels being dug with small hand tools over a distance of many hundreds of yards, and the spoil generated disposed off without detection from spotter planes.
The subsequent explosion was heard at home, and the substantial crater remains as an inverse monument to the first day of the Somme. The accompanying photograph does not do justice to the site, it is very difficult to take a photo of a big hole in the ground without the use of an aeroplane, helicopter or kite for which I apologise.
And so to Delville Wood, and the South African Memorial. The scene of intense fighting throughout the summer of 1916, it's worth a google (and well done again the internet) after a couple of months of fighting, like so many places on the Somme it was reduced to muddy holes and a series of stumps.
and made for the memorial to the four Canadian Divisions who successfully took the ridge in 1917 after a brilliantly planned and courageous attack in which three and a half thousand Canadian soldiers lost their lives and twice as many were injured.
Half way through the afternoon, I went a little quiet.
Apologies for another post completely free of fishing, but this guff started out as a means of remembering what I am supposed to be doing from day to day, and I had to write something down for no other reason than for myself. If the tone slipped into the flippant at any point, I apologise, but flippancy and irreverence are qualities that I value about living in a "Free Society" and for that I give thanks, and will now, never forget.
A million words wouldn't do justice to the actual impact of visiting these places and once again, well done The Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Thanks again it was a terrific trip, and I hope this proves that I was listening.