Wednesday 20 April 2016
been a bit busy and only now, with a week to go before the start of our trout fishing season, is their time to attend to a few loose ends and parish messages.
Tree work is all done. The logistics of how to move what remained of the two hundred year old ash tree were finally worked out and a sledge fashioned from tin to drag each ring of over three feet in diameter behind the tractor to the woodpile,
where I must now summon the strength and my trusty axe to smash this arboreal leviathan to smithereens, or wood-burner size pieces at the very least.
The rump of a balsam poplar that I have been trying to remove for much of the winter has finally yielded to my chronic persistence with the medium of fire. Little now remains and the short stretch of bank that it had rendered impassable is once again open for anglers.
Oh no, not Victoria Wood.
A genius, she even managed to ease a laugh from Madam, mid labour with Child B,
a lady mid contraction must go down as a turn's more difficult audience, but the ballad of Barry and Freda set Madam chuckling.
You may recall that I was visited by a proper writer some while back, who had been commissioned to write a play for a travelling theatre company in the south of England. Well I picked up plenty from our meeting and subsequent emails; principally that there is a bit more to chucking up written stuff than I had first thought and my secondary school English teacher may have been on to something in his annual report:
"Chris is blessed with little else but a native wit"
Anyway, circumstances conspired to make us miss the play in Andover, so we attended the performance in Winchester.
"not at all, he's a full head of hair, sings like a lark and can play the guitar properly, not like any river keeper I know"
Thank you Deborah Gearing, for your advice and kind words in the programme, and well done William Wolfe Hogan for "sexing up" river keepers.
It's called Upbeat, and I've already written to Disney about a prospective film as it trumpets all the right messages about rivers and the aquatic environment.
Just back from the dentist, a genial cove of a similar age who we have known for twenty years or more. He is now required to ask each victim laid before him how much alcohol they drink each week.
We exchanged a knowing glance, before he resumed reporting in tongues on the condition of my pre molars and molars.
I don't know the reasoning behind the question, but diktat may have been issued and a graph will one day be compiled to indicate a patient's consumption across the ages.
But shouldn't my NHS doctor be my first point of contact regarding discussion on alcohol consumption, and my NHS dentist charged with concerns over sugar, on how much J20, Coca Cola or Ready meals I plough through in a week?
Dons loin cloth retreats to cave fist waving angrily at outside world.
Tuesday 12 April 2016
Not the Netherlands, but the fabulous city that is Seville.
Well all those candles on Puerto del Sol have gone out now but other than that the old place remains pretty much the same.
After a night in a hotel a few notches up the ladder from the one we stayed in a few years ago, it was on to the train and the two hour trip at many hundreds of miles an hour to Seville.
Atocha station, the principle station in Madrid where the atrocity occurred, is a rival for the Eden project with tropical plants, ponds and penguins,
Not penguins, terrapins.
Our seats were booked several months ago with a guarantee that if we arrived five minutes late our fare would be refunded. Passing through land that spawned a plethora of Spaghetti westerns we reflected over fizzy wine and a sandwich that if we were ten minutes late we would not stake our claim, the return fare was less than £50 for two, and the whole train experience was a Jacuzzi shy of a spa break, so thank you Renfe AVE, and the EU for funding the whole high speed rail shebang.
Into Seville and twenty minutes of dragging suitcases through small cobble streets brought us to our billet for the week, a one bedroom apartment overlooking the cathedral that even my feeble arm could have hit with an orange should such a thing be at hand (which they invariably are in this tremendous city)
The following day my attempt to link up with a chap who chucked fluff at barbel on the mighty Guadalquivir failed miserably, due in part to the forces of Google translate that obviously turned "Meet me by the Isabella bride at 2pm" to "my head is made from ice cream and my feet from fudge, best avoid"
Chucked up by the Moors who held sway in these parts for several hundred years, the interior and gardens are stunning.
After our daily dose of flamenco it was out for some superb tapas, the highlight of which was some braised oxtail. They're quite big on beef in Seville.
Up and out early for a market in La Macarena which was surprisingly well attended given that not much moves in this city before 10 am, then up some giant wooden mushrooms for a view of the city. Chucked up in the 1990's on the site of the old market for some Expo business they have drawn mixed reviews from the locals.
Lunch and forty winks on the roof before a stroll along the river and a perambulation of one of the most famous bullrings in Spain. Not really our bag, but an impressive building all the same.
And it was really good.
Bar the excellent guitarist, it appeared to be a family affair, with Mother belting out her rasping base baritone while son and daughter stomped about the stage clapping, with not a castanet in sight.
In a dance induced reverie, I departed the building with my guard down and was caught out by some old sausage in our evening tapas that laid me low for the next twenty four hours. I've had it before with Spanish sausage, and the effect can be quite unexpected and spectacular. Fortunately Madam is an old hand at my aversion and she nursed me through while continuing to punish the Ham and Cava as I starved for twenty fours.
a welcome return to food, before catching the train back to Madrid and a flight back to Blighty that passed without real incident bar an hour long chat on Seville and how we plan to return one day to this tremendous city,
who knows I may eventually meet up with that fisherman who offered to hook up by the Isabella bridge to bother barbel with a fly or perhaps I have been found out for one with feet made from fudge.