Thursday 22 October 2015

Popping Bubbles to a Well-Puffed Panpipe

I completely forgot to mention, but we had a small flurry of Mayflies in the middle of September. Fish wouldn't touch them, and I have seen the odd one in previous Septembers, but there were definitely more this year. It's not that unusual over on the Avon, and I have caught trout in a hatch of mayflies in the third week of September while listening to Europe reclaim the Ryder Cup, which serves as chronological confirmation that it was indeed September.
The first grayling fishermen have turned up, and after remarking on the colour of the water, caught fish, although nothing huge. Olives and sedge continue to hatch throughout the day and it is still possible to take a fish off the top. The Trout show no sign of gearing up for spawning and there are no fish on the shallows, which is just as well as we are inundated with herons.

I was
kindly invited down to the middle river last week for some fishing and food with a bunch of other keepers. I hadn't seen several for quite a while, and there were concerns that the hair on my face was the early onset of radicalisation, would we be Christmasing in Syria and was I now cutting weed in a Salwar Kameez? I explained that I had never grown such a thing before, it happened on holiday, and I had read somewhere that a touch of swarthiness can make a maiden swoon, ( I'm still waiting for this bit so I may need to acquire an eye patch or some other piratical adornment)
It's always tremendous fun with top nosh, beer, fishing and spirited verbal sparring which belies a bunch who often work alone.

I may have made mention of the house next door, which used to be two cottages, one of which was inhabited by an elderly supporter of our cricket club when as a young lad his father passed the day banging out cartwheels, a 1920's Kwikfit if you will. More recently it was occupied by Mary Gunn, who was particularly fond of Child A and Child B in their primary school years and remained a great friend even after she shuffled off to Overton, and then on to Bullington Churchyard.
It is now owned by people in Fulham, Cottagers in name only, and is a Holiday Let, along with many of the sheds, garages and outbuildings. It's an investment and must make money. This week, "the venue" for this is what it has now become and we are told we have farmers markets and opera to look forward to, is hosting a "Boot Camp" exercise programme.

There is a charge of course, the place was purchased to generate income, and to quote Sir Geoffrey,

"good luck with that love" but......

Hang on, we're missing a trick here. We have the bits of a two hundred year old Ash tree to chop and move on the other side of the fence from their "Boot Camp" If we undercut next door by a few guineas and call the axe, log and stacking process "Boot camp" its bookoo bank brother (urban parlance I believe, although perhaps not Fulham).
Market forces I think this kind of thing is called and a sign will be placed by the road presently, reading thus:

Boot Camp Exercise
£5 per session
Free gloves and chopper
no leotards or lycra

Yup, We're going into the Boot Camp Business!

News just in:

A water company in the south with a recently perceived surplus which was duly allocated to new development in other parts of the region has now informed the government that it will not have enough water for said supply.

An Environment agency report has stated that river flows in the region will decline by between fifteen and twenty percent in the next few decades.

A Government statement released a month ago detailed changes to the planning process for shale gas extraction allowing the Secretary of State to personally intervene in cases where a decision may be delayed/not quite the desired outcome.

Chalk rivers are fast plummeting down the list of things we ought to be looking after while we fill the South East of England up.

I don't mean to continue the dark theme to this guff,

Let me put that another way,

More bad news folks.

Cutting weed all week it is apparent just how much muck there is in the Dever this year. A quick shuffle of the feet is all it takes to turn the river to cocoa, and there is far more blanket weed in among the good weed on the shallows than there should be. It's much better on the Itchen where I have also been cutting weed and not causing anywhere near as much colour, and there is also far less blanket weed, and then there was all that foam through the summer and if someone comes at me stating that our rivers have never had it so good a personal tipping point may have been reached.

I'd report it to someone if I could, but who,

Nigel in Sheffield, Miriam in Lowestoft,

Hang on, I did,

The EA, Southern Water, National Pollution Incident line (which doesn't work), Wessex Chalk Streams Trust all were contacted, and then I wrote about it at length in a national magazine as well as getting cross about it on here.

and while we're in such a fine bate, who let Richard Madeley back on the radio?

Poor Judy.

It may be best, if I disappear for a few minutes to undertake a more soothing task such as filling the bird feeders.

But even that is not soothing, as I struggle to come to grips with the mixed messages sent out by various environmental trusts.
Brown Trout "experts" espouse genetic purity, natural selection and only the strong shall survive and eschew the release of fertile farm raised fish, yet our ornithological friends don't mind the release of fertile stock raised through breeding programmes and encourage feeding the birds, allowing some that wouldn't otherwise make it through a harsh winter to go on and breed the following year,.....Nuts-literally.

Sorry, something soothing,

Ah yes bubble wrap, that'll do it.

A few hours in your own company popping bubbles to the accompaniment of a well-puffed panpipe is surprisingly soothing.

Monday 12 October 2015

When will Sam Fox and Kylie be Brought to Book over Time

Last week, confident in our prediction of a Rugby world cup final featuring England and Italy, Madam and myself booked a trip to Firenze to coincide with the tournament's denouement. We anticipated a febrile atmosphere as the two countries engaged for the tournaments spoils and a night we would never forget.

Turns out Tokyo would have been a better option, or possibly Dublin or Cardiff

For the remainder of the World Cup, we are putting our support behind Japan, Ok Rose and Blanche were treated pretty poorly in Tenko, but come on everybody that was a looooong time ago. They are great to watch, (the Japanese rugby team, not Tenko)

Oh yes, and we'll also give Wales a cheer, as Child B has a friend who he was with in halls at Cardiff Uni who plays on the wing.

While we're on the subject of University life, Child B's University fees for his year out working in industry at the fancy planners, come in just shy of two thousand pounds, a significant reduction on the nine thousand pounds for the few hours of lecturing when he is in attendance, but this is a year in which he will not attend any lectures, have minimal contact with the university, and submit six pieces of work, which if my numerically challenged mind serves, is just over £300 for each piece of marking.

Can I do some marking please?

I believe the number sign is still current


At home, fishing picked up no end in the last knockings of the season. Tarka tottered off and fish were far more settled. There are no signs of the pre spawning shenanigans that are often a feature of late season fishing as cocks swelling with testosterone begin to get a bit chippy with each other and you could make a case for fishing on for another few weeks this year. We have many brown trout in the river of less than a pound which bodes well for next season although we seem to be missing a few big grayling and roach. There are a couple of large pike on the bottom bends that I have begun to harass with my fly rod although the half of a double figure fish I found dead on the bank proved unresponsive.

Last week we underwent surgery, albeit arboreal.

Following inspection of the two hundred year old conker tree that dropped a limb onto the electric lines a few months ago, it was declared to be in rude health and its errant limb was typical of a tree of such a great age, the two hundred year old beech was given a reasonable bill of health but would benefit from further survey work but the two hundred year old ash that lost its top last summer was on the verge of cashing in its chips and must come down tout de suite. If it was in the middle of the wood or the meadow, I'd readily go at it myself, it doesn't matter where it falls. I tackled the tree that toppled onto our home on Valentine's day this year, without a thought, but this ash borders the road and is flanked by two sets of electric lines.

I have just been reminded that it was Valentine's day last year that the tree fell on the roof, and we are approaching the end of 2015,
Which doesn't seem right.

Chronologically I'm still at the turn of the millennium, I don't know where these grown up children came from,

sorry, let me rephrase that,

I do know where these grown up children came from, but they seem to have grown up very quickly, and when did this extra flesh arrive around my middle and my chest slip a bit. Sam Fox and Kylie Minogue, who once served as a reliable bellwether as to the chronological order of things, have much to be held accountable for. Both were older than me once, now I am older than them, and that chap on the radio in the morning who is taking over Top Gear used to be eight years older than me (and there are books that back this up) but is now only two years ahead. Anyway I digress, but can we all agree that it is no longer possible to trust time.

Now where was I,

Oh yes, the tree,

It's a two hundred year old ash tree that is fast rotting from the roots up. It took three days to take the thing down which had to be undertaken from a cherry picker as opposed to a man climbing and swinging from ropes, due to safety issues, it really was on its last legs. Now it is down and we have next winter's wood sorted.

Hard on the heels of the VW expose comes the resignation of Teflon Sepp and his protege, Fingers Platini. More of a slow burner this one as it has been clear for aeons that most at FIFA were up to their eyes in it. A few names are being put forward, including that of a Mr Tokyo Sexwhale, well good luck Fiona Bruce with announcing his appointment on the six o'clock news. Google confirms that he has made many films with a limited wardrobe budget and once puffed up the cushions at Heff's place, or is possibly up to his eyes in dubious business dealings in southern Africa, it's one of the two and Google images suggests the latter, so no change there then.

Tear it apart, Tear it apart, this is Juan Antonio Samaranch all over again.

Counting back the years we can confirm that Madam and myself are indeed forty seven years old. This may account for the fact that the first thing we reach for of a morning are our tablets. Not Sanatogen or ginseng, but our clever ipads. Madam is quick to quell the evil forces of Candy Crush who seem to regroup each night while we are asleep, or consults something called Pininterest. For me it is a push of the button and my daily newspaper appears. I'll not say which one, but it has a good sports section, some entertaining and informative columnists and I like the style of the news reporting. It's a habit I picked up at an early age, for which I blame my parents and John Keith who was charged with reporting on Liverpool FC's endeavours that I would read each morning at breakfast. Today, I could quite happily get by with just my digital copy of the paper but habitually retain the hard copy because the sports section was just about the only bit of recreational reading that Child B would undertake in his school years, Child A devoured books, still does, but a well written sports section has an educational value that some fail to appreciate as books ain't everybody's bag.

Anyway, my digital copy has recently been "refreshed", improvements that will make my experience all the more rich, with many more photos and a different layout,

Somebody's obviously had an idea.

Each morning this week my mood has lifted at the pop as the paper appears on the screen, I am still amazed by clever stuff like this. It has taken a little longer to download each copy and navigation has proved a little tricky as everything has moved around, but then I am forty seven years old and this kind of thing is difficult to a person of such years.

At the end of the week, our internet ran out, and my tablet issued a statement in which it declared that it was replete with newspapers.

I may have made mention that the internet via the poles and lines to this village, forty minutes from, what we are told, is one of greatest cities in the world (population eight million and counting) is now unusable. We are forced to rely on a 3G service that provides 15GB for £25 a month, which we just about got by on until somebody in newspaper land had a great idea that increased the file size of each daily edition by tenfold. To download the paper for a month we would have to top up our data account (and here's where the mobile companies are making a mint) by a further £75 a month. If we connected to the tenth of a meg poles and lines service we are offered we would get yesterday's news today,
which is a little like being on holiday,

But it's not, because we received a far superior internet service on an island an hour's ferry ride from a city ( population less than a quarter of a million) in a country new to the EU

When my cartilage finally turns to dust and I am incapable of carrying out my duties on the river and I must eke out a meagre living from chucking up guff and restaurant work, I will be far better served on a small island in the aegean, than half an hour from the third biggest city in Europe.

Is it me?

I have the beard, I am in the process of knitting a loin cloth, and I have identified a cave to which I will eventually retreat shaking my fist at an outside world that grows more bonkers by the day.

I am on the cusp of a plan coming together, which would greatly please B.A Baracus et al

I almost forgot, a friend emailed this article. I'll look in on the house now and again, but the sports pages don't cut the mustard, however this article pushes all the right buttons.