Friday 29 January 2016

Dear Chris

As promised, by one who never knowingly broke the cub scout law, here is a reply from the company themselves. Three weeks after receiving my letter, which is understandable as it must have been a difficult letter to write.

They put a lot of thought into this one.

I feel the three weeks of hand wringing in hair shirts is clear in the tone of the piece, contrite, apologetic and with an unwavering commitment to refund any monies paid for a broadband service not received.

Sorry, what I meant to say was

What a completely inadequate response, but then history teaches us to expect little more.

Oh yes,

Caroline Nokes and the team in her office have been brilliant and I have received several phone calls regarding their progress with BT.
The ministry have yet to get in touch after David passed it on to them and not a squawk from Citizen Jez, but I listen to PMQ's with half an ear cocked for "I have received a letter from a citizen Chris"

Saturday 23 January 2016

Gerard Manley Hopkins and a Slingsby Flat Pack

Breaking News:

Spring broken upstream, trickle of water flowing in ditch next to football pitch.

Always a good sign with regard to the precipitation ledger, and during the recent brief cold dry snap the river cleared and maintained a good level instigating a Monty Burns "eeexcellent" moment during early morning skirmishes with Otis as its a sure sign of increasing groundwater flow.

My clever digital weather station that streams live weather information direct to the comfort of our kitchen (a big thing for us, void as we are of the mythical poles and line broadband supply) informs us that we reached a minimum low temperature of minus eight degrees two nights running, which is good to know as we need cold weather at some point during a winter.

Much of my time in 2016 has been spent chainsaw in hand, or with head in a fire. Several of the willows that had a high old time of it in 2015 after I was distracted by Christmas trees last winter, have now been dealt with and fishing on a few of the bends will be quite different this year. I am occasionally joined in my task by Lord Ludgershall, and at this point we'll pause for a commercial break.


As the years progress do you feel the need for a little assistance to light the fire? then blue firelighters are the thing for you.

Guaranteed to set fire to the dampest wood

That's Blue firelighters folks

Contact details for further advertising enquiries -

We'll pimp anything to swell the holiday fund, buy bits of broadband and pay the taxman

The willows: we have a few more weeks work and have had to take down some substantial specimens that were once afforded protection by the stand of Christmas trees but stood sentinel throughout last season until a late summer breeze sent two leaf laden trees toppling into the river. It may look a little stark for the first half of this year but there is plenty of cover coming up behind plus a couple of dozen hardwood trees that have gone in.

We are burning most of what is cut, leaving a few select pieces for all the things that like a bit of dead wood. I am a fond friend of fungi as my athlete's feet will attest ,and the scarlet elf cap in particular seems to like a little dead willow laid about.

The order has also gone in for a whole heap of green oak for bridge work. I don't follow the timber index, but green oak cut to order from the sawmill does seem to be incredibly good value. There are a few logistics to be run through with this one as the posts must be piled into water that is only just wadeable, Photos to follow as soon as I have formed my plan of action, meanwhile here's the ads:


Couple it with a Slingsby flat pack off road trailer for the complete utility vehicle experience,

Living the off road dream!

Ah Condor

Yes, we'll even promote the taboo if there's coin to be had, age appropriate or otherwise, any time, anywhere that's martini

See above for details on placing your advert in this space.

Owls are on the up, and I see at least one barn owl most mornings, sometimes two, not seen any of the short eared variety on the common for a few months but they will be down there somewhere. The merlin is also playing around in the hedge that borders the road and we have followed him up the road in the car on several occasions this year.

Some while ago I was kindly given a book titled 100 poems on the Underground, a compilation of poems displayed on tube trains to provide succour to the world weary subterranean traveller .

When the darkened room is unavailable and the pan pipe music ineffective it is to this book that I sometimes turn to soothe my middle aged ire at a crackpot world.

I have several favourites and once managed to fit large chunks of Gerard Benson's interpretation of Beowulf into a series of football reports, although a passage about Grendel and his vengeful mother in an U14 match report resulted in a flurry of emails and a query from the FA.

William Blake's "The Sick Rose" in which he agonises over thrips, never fails to sooth, and Charles Causley's "I saw a jolly hunter" continues to serve as a reminder on gun safety. Love the Lear, don't get Chaucer and any Gerard Manley Hopkins takes me back to a comfortable chair in an airless stuffy room in the middle of the afternoon and an anodyne A level English Literature lesson and the genesis of a forty winks habit.

There is one poem that I inevitably revisit if I am in this book, and if anyone can help me out with this one, I'd be most grateful as I am not sure if there is a double meaning, as I'm convinced it is a note left to his wife on the kitchen table as he left to walk the dog,

Who am I to say, and there are some in The Hague who set some store by this verse, but I've chucked up similar pieces at the break of dawn.

This is Just to Say

by William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

I have eaten
the plums
that were
in the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

The first verse may be a euphemism, and the title may be prophetic with William confident that his work would be discussed through the ages or
it may be that the long lost last verse:

tuck in
to smoked bacon
in fridge
and eggs also

Was torn from the bottom of the page at somepoint.

I don't know,

but if you do, don't be a stranger.

It's got me thinking (well done for that William) and think on Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Only Connect indeed,

That last bit may be wrong and "Only Connect" may be something to do with E.M Forster's 1980's yachting drama Howards' Way

like I said, I slept through a large proportion of my A Level English Literature lessons in the mid 80s

And so to Broadband. The orange light continues to flash, we have no broadband service through our phone line, and our mobile broadband bill for this month with a week or more to go has passed three figures.

I await updates from the Ministry and my MP, but have heard not a dicky from BT not a word. A couple of papers have been alerted and today a friend has suggested other avenues to explore. Today's paper has a letter from one hundred and twenty odd MPs calling the leading/sole provider of telecommunications via poles and lines to these Isles to book for being tardy in their efforts to meet OFCOM's requirement of 10mb supply to 95% of the British Isles.


We had 0.5mb and that went away.

While we are on the phone to OFCOM, can we please attend to the mobile telecommunications companies and their punitive charges for exceeding monthly internet data allowances,

It's a right old scam.

This guff has been brought to you by an expensive mobile broadband supply. no poles and lines,

Definitely no poles and lines.

Moderately fast broadband indeed.

Monday 18 January 2016

Dear David et al

Apologies for tardiness regarding posts,

Up to our eyes in it at the moment with the opening skirmishes of the perennial battle with the forces of crack willow in which I have once again been joined by Lord Ludgershall.

Reports despatched from the front line, and will be up on here the moment the pigeon lands, there's no censorship here.

By way of a commercial break, and if anyone out there wants to give me money for logos between posts, I'm happy to pimp most things. Here's a letter we chucked together last week and sent to Flash, Citizen Jez, our own MP and many people at the nation's premier supplier of telecommunications via the medium of poles and lines
We had a nice reply from Flashy's man, and "la Nokes", our active MP, left a very nice voicemail, intimating that she was on the case. Jez is a bit busy with submarines at the moment, and didn't the Beatles try this kind of thing in the sixties and how soon before Jez pipes up at QMT " I have a letter from Chris in Hampshire who wants to know why all our submarines are not painted yellow"

Effective opposition anyone?

Anyway, we await a response from our friends at the telecommunication company, although we have made a point of ignoring any calls flagged up as International.

Why Maureen, Why?

Never can a company have been so undeserving

Stable Cottage
Barton Stacey
SO21 3QJ
01962 760442

7th January 2016

Forgive me for writing as I am sure you are very busy, and my problems must be small beer in comparison to the main business of your day, but I am at the end of my wits and am inclined to draw your attention to my own situation regarding broadband service, for which I apologise in advance.

Some years ago, my family and I were pleased to make our first connection to what we were promised was the future of internet connection, a broadband service via poles and lines that allowed us to surf the internet and answer phone calls simultaneously.
For a short period things went well and we walked tall, confident in the knowledge that we were at the forefront of contemporary technology.

And then the wind blew.

Our line went crackly and the internet ran away.

Many hours were spent on the phone, filters were changed and eventually a man came out to fiddle with a connection, and internet returned.

And then it rained, and the internet went away again

Many hours were spent on the phone, filters were changed and eventually a man came out to fiddle with a connection, and internet returned.
My children began their secondary school education, and the internet became essential. There was homework to be completed, research to be undertaken and pieces of work to be submitted

And then a brief zephyr sent the internet away again.

Many hours were spent on the phone, filters were changed and eventually a man came out to fiddle with a connection, and internet returned, but by now my children were accustomed to spending evenings at other peoples' houses or in school to do their school work and my wife and I occasionally huddled together in the garden of a neighbouring garden to blag some internet from a nearby holiday cottage.

This pattern continued for over a year before the leading provider of telecommunications via poles and lines to these Isles agreed that something should be done.

And at this point, I'll let in a little light on our location.

We live forty miles from, what some would have, as the greatest city on earth. Yes it's rural, but we are a minute from a major road network in the south of England betwixt a town and city each five miles away, both of which have a population of over seventy thousand and rising
The ancient telegraphic spur that runs a mile down the lane to feed three houses, including our own home was initially put in to serve the main house of the village and its staff quarters with the first phone line to the area. Some years later the remainder of the village were provided with a phone box from a different telephone exchange before all of the houses were connected up to the supply which currently provides a perfectly use-able broadband supply to the remainder of the village including our next door neighbour.

During the process of deciding on what course of action to take, my exhortations to connect to next door's supply thirty yards away albeit to a different exchange, were met by obfuscation and a dead bat, and the telecommunications company’s planning department decreed that twenty five poles and a mile and a half of line must be replaced in order to preserve this ancient telegraphic spur to these three houses on the very limit of being able to receive a broadband supply ( 7.5 km from the exchange) rather than put one pole in the ground, bury a bit of cable and connect to the other exchange that supplies the property next door from a closer exchange with a reliable broadband supply.

By this time my children had completed their school studies (mostly at other people's homes) and were off to University. Our broadband service via the new twenty five poles and line remained close to unusable and I developed an eye condition usually associated with steroid abuse or stress. It's a tranquil life on the river where I work and the withered husk that remains of my form is testament to a life free of steroids, the condition was attributed entirely to my dealings with BT (sorry name popped out there) over many years. This coincided with a lengthy exchange of emails with the head Office of BT (oops done it again) and I received contrite replies, a small refund, and we both agreed to part company.

Six months later, my eyesight returned to what it was before the BT broadband debacle.

For three years, the lady who sleeps on my left and I got by on 15GB of 3G mobile internet a month for around £20.

Youtube, live streaming and internet TV were but a dream that we occasionally experienced on holiday (nine miles up a single track road in the north of Scotland, an hour off mainland Croatia, fishing on a tributary of the Loire)

But we were content with our daily checking of emails and purchases on eBay.

And then the children returned.

Having wallowed in a surfeit of gigabytes available in the urban environment, our 15GB was done in a night. Monthly charges for extra gigabytes are punitive and for a few months the monthly bill for our mobile internet service approached £200, which to us is a lot of money, as we don't live in the big house. I am the riverkeeper/gamekeeper and my wife works in the local school.

We have been forced to return to the service provided by the ancient telegraphic spur that serves these three houses, and now it doesn't work. It is unable to cope with modern internet life. When it was just about working and filling our home with 0.5 mb of internet it took over twenty four hours to download a copy of a newspaper to which I subscribe,

yesterday’s news today, if you will.

Two months ago our 0.5mb died altogether.

I once again revisited the circus that is BT customer service, my first three attempts to register a broadband fault lasted almost three weeks and resulted in line engineers arriving to fix a telephone fault

Broadband was not their thing, line faults were their bag.

Further attempts to book a broadband engineer began to make my eye twitch and I resolved to try for a couple more weeks before once again washing my hands of the shower that is the leading supplier of telecommunications via poles and lines to these Isles and resigning myself to the crippling cost of providing an internet service for my family via the mobile network.

We have since been visited three times by Broadband engineers, all of whom gave of their best, but could not restore the 0.5mb supply and departed scratching their heads at the decision taken five years ago to replace twenty odd totems and a mile and a bit of line rather than connect to the neighbouring exchange via a pole thirty yards away providing what would pass as a reasonable broadband connection for the countryside.

For the past two months I have paid for a broadband supply but received not one byte. At no point have I been offered a refund or any genuine sympathy been shown to our plight. I have suffered the stress of having to deal with a company that takes obfuscation as its watch word and holds its customers in contempt. I have been informed that BT will be in touch to advise me of their next course of action, but I won’t hold my breath.

I know a couple of planners, and am aware of the fine line that must be trod by in order to progress our Isle as it fills up and the hours that must be put in to achieve that end. I am not convinced that the BT planning/heritage department put in the required research, when they made the decision five years ago to maintain an ancient telegraphic spur a mile or more long with the ropiest of internet connections, rather than connect to a supply a few yards away albeit to a different exchange,


To recap: Forty miles from one of the greatest cities on earth - BT broadband supply via Poles and Lines 0 – 0.5mb.

Places that members of our family have experienced a far faster internet connection during the past five years:

Greek Islands (who’d a thought with their economy)
Croatian Islands (keen to join the high rollers of the European Union)
A riverbank an hour north of Inverness, nine miles up a single track road
A riverbank in the Sologne, a long way from anywhere
Bologna, Florence, Genoa, Rheims, Dublin
Most of the Balkans, where Child A was backpacking last October

Internet supply from exchange 7.5km from our home to which we are connected: 0-0.5mb
Internet supply from exchange 2km from our homen to which next door are connected: 8-12mb

Why are we still connected to the former?

Yours in much frustration and a dearth/absence of internet supply

A family of four, on average household wage paying up to £200 per month to receive low quality 3G mobile broadband supply

Superfast broadband indeed

Chris de Cani

on behalf of Rachel, Maisie, William and Otis de Cani

I promise that I will do my best
To do my duty to God and to the Queen (crikey! the commitments we made back in the day,I may need to revisit that one)
To help other people (still holds)
And to keep the cub scout law

a late amendment to the Cub scout law: I promise to post any replies I receive, on internet supply, submarines or otherwise.

This post has been brought to you via the medium of a decidedly shaky mobile broadband supply,

No poles or lines

Definitely no poles and lines

Saturday 2 January 2016

Hovering, Homer and David Beckham

Erm, it seems to be 2016,

not sure how,

but we are where we are, Happy New Year an all that, but let us attend to matters arising in the first world.

First on the agenda - Hover boards with wheels?

I don't think this is quite what Bleep and Booster promised us in the Blue Peter annuals of the seventies, and smacks of corners being cut in the research and development department and a repackaging of old roller skate technology.

In an age of transparency and authenticity, hover boards should at least hover.

If at this point we turn to the Macmillan Dictionary for guidance we find that "to hover" is - to remain floating, suspended, or fluttering in the air,

While the Urban Dictionary teaches us that "to hover" is- not sitting on the toilet seat during defecation

Whatever your take on "hovering" there is no mention made in either definition of a pair of wheels.

Through the Froth we shall now attend to more serious matters and the flooding which has blighted the north and missed the south.

It's no fun being flooded, and the severity of some of the out of bank experiences are quite alarming but the stoicism of those affected has been nothing short of life affirming.

I have heard many radio programmes and seen several interviews where our man from the media has arrived in a haze of hyperbola trying to whip Joe Public into a frenzied rage. The car salesman in Kendall made light of his soggy situation, the farmer in York who accepted water on fields that were a flood plain and toured them in his boat ( because, yes it had happened before, and he had made preparations) the lady in a village in the lake district who put on her rubber boots and dished out the soup, the man in South West Scotland who informed our newshound that his community were used to flooding, the river flooded most years, but this was quite a high one.

On the radio we had an enlightened cove standing in to present the lunchtime news who suggested Cumbria's travails were a result of groundwater flooding, while another who sought to whip up a frenzy over faulty flood defence, was quietly informed that the flood defence in place had performed in the manner in which it was intended, so back to Bob in the studio. Another was indignant that the river was threatening to burst its banks, despite a visit by the Prince of Wales three days before, and who was this King Canute anyway?

Somebody must be blamed, and that man in the wellies in six inches of water waving his arms around to camera, is calling for the head of the Environment Agency, who has fled, like the merry monarch to foreign fields, but then his is only a part time post, and what can we expect for a six figure salary,

Not that his presence back on these shores would change much (worth every penny, eeeevvery penny)

A token post if ever there was one, did Generalissimo Smith teach us nothing?

There are environmental causes far more worthy of the funds fed to our man in Barbados.

Rivers flood and always will, take it as a space station moment, and a small reminder that mother earth has her own agenda. It is refreshing to hear during these past few weeks that there are many who understand that flooding on many rivers is a natural event that mankind cannot eliminate, despite the exhortations of an at time disconnected media, Call me out as an old fart for repetition, but

If we're not scared, they're not doing their job.

And now can we all agree to meet at the weekend with shovels and some sandwiches, to dig a ditch down the spine of England to move some of that water to the South East, because we still need the rain, or perhaps when HS2 goes in, run a big water pipe underneath the track,

now there's a thought,

because trains don't do hills,

and Ladies and Gentleman, for one who thrives in a grey area and obfuscation, I give you a brief spell of blue sky thinking, (we're having a drier January, not dry, just using wine stoppers more often)

but a conduit with a gentle gradient beneath the Y shaped track bringing moderately paced trains down the spine of our country, could transfer excess water in the north, to a corner of England stumbling slowly towards a water crisis.

Who will be our Brunel?

At which point I am reminded of the musings of Homer,

"Marge, Marge, fetch me a beer..........I'm starting to think"

On the first day of the year. Madam, myself and Otis completed our traditional post breakfast skirmishes on the common. We were the first down there on the day, bar a solitary twitcher, and there was not much about but a bunch of snipe and a few heron, although Otis achieved the fourth level of enlightenment during his crossing of the ford which often serves as a spa for footsore dogs, soothing sore paws that covered many metres during our restorative walk early on New Year's Day.

Next week, the chainsaw comes out and I will begin to attend to the many bank side willows that are beginning to impact upon the river, affecting weed growth and thinning the bank side fringe. There are a few that escaped the saw last winter due to my activities in the wood with a hundred or more fallen Christmas trees. There are a few bends that will look very different at the start of the season and a couple of bridges must also be attended to. This week I tweaked open the hatch on the house for the first time this winter, allowing a small rise in water to escape down the mill stream. There is water on the meadows, and the coming weeks will hopefully see an increase in groundwater flow and the river starting to creep up, but I'm sorry beleaguered flooded folk of the north, I'm all for more rain.

We had ice on the car on the first morning of 2016, but the temperature's risen since and the mower retains the status of "active and in service". I have been issued with a cutting edge digital weather station that relays all manner of interesting information to a monitor on our kitchen wall. It is strangely addictive and more informative than many half hour programmes offered on the box, but the daffodils in the garden, gorse in bloom,birdsong in the wood and six inches of growth on the clematis confirm that it remains a particularly barmy winter.

Oh yes, almost forgot,

David Beckham, a reasonable footballer (with my left foot he would have been complete) whose red shirt was always the wrong shade for me, but after seeing the TV programme last week in which he played a game of football on every continent on the planet, Dave's a superb ambassador for the world game,

Everything that Don Platter, Fingers Platini, and the bad guy from Live and Let Die should have been.

He won me over, well done Dave!