Sunday, 8 January 2017

The Roar of The Guns Returns

Well here we all are in another year, Christmas was fun and thank you to family and friends for making it so but with the business done I'll make the perennial appeal for rain. Currently the river is lower than the end of season level, over on the Itchen the large pool below the bridge has developed a new feature, a gravel bar standing proud of the centre of the river big enough for a garden table and chairs. There was a piece in the paper this week by a chap who decried Joe Public's failing appreciation of the seasons and its weather.

Hear hear to that Sir,

We have been banging on about the same subject in this parish for a few years, and can I now propose a period of mourning for each dry week experienced in the south from November to March and a bank holiday for every hundred millimetres of rain to fall in the same period.

It's just a thought, but we really need some rain to fall in this valley.

Chainsaw work continues and the vista is a few days away from being complete, the rides have also been attended to in the wood that still plays host to a good number of woodcock and high numbers of increasingly bold Muntjac.

With the river retaining the clarity of late summer grayling fishing continues and it is not easy. One chap turned up to chase roach and was taken aback at the size of the fish that he failed to catch but could clearly see as they patrolled beneath his feet. A barn owl is about most days and even flopped through our narrow garden one afternoon this week. Seven Cormorants flew over one day this week which is a lot for this valley although nothing to the groups of graculus that congregate on the main river.

We have a few geese on the meadow upstream along with half a dozen swans, which I'll take following a few of our rambles about the county in the name of lengthening life.

Two days after Christmas saw Madam and myself in Titchfield for a walk along the Titchfield canal that borders the Titchfield Haven, a tremendous place pitched between Pompey and Southampton that has echoes of Bransbury Common, so well done Hampshire County Council for that.

We picnicked on the beach looking across to Calshot and the Isle of Wight with Brent geese to the left of us, to the right of us, in front of us on the water behind us in the field and above us in the sky. There were hundreds of the things.

A few days later saw us rope together for a seven mile shuffle in the Upper Itchen valley, a SAC and one of the most protected pieces of chalk stream in the world. Some stretches are stunning examples of how a chalk stream should be, so I was dismayed to find hordes of swans stripping ranunculus from what was once one of the most pristine pieces of chalk stream known to man. There is an awful lot of good river restoration work going on in the chalk valleys that is being stymied by the arrival of large groups of Geilgud. There's a conversation needs to be had (the opening exchanges may already be underway if the jungle drums in the west are to be believed) as they are directly impacting on chalk stream habitat. The odd pair is ok but thirty or forty on a beat can render the place void of life bar the big white birds.

I think you know what's coming, but yes we're back off to Dublin, on a £65 return flight from the world's best airport - Southampton.

We will once again be ensconced in one of the excellent Elegance rooms at the Fleet St Hotel, Temple Bar,

That's the Fleet St Hotel, Temple Bar

We will be there to take in Jack Whitehall after spending the day perusing the excellent shops the city has to offer and dinner at San Lorenzo's

That's San Lorenzo's one of Dublin's finest Italian restaurants.

We anticipate enjoying the experience so much that we have booked to return later in the year to take in the Dara at Vicar St as he makes preparations for his 2018 tour.

Back in the room.

Looking up not down, as we don't do ground game, shooting in this environs returned after a five year sabbatical following half the wood falling over and petulance and pomposity from one who withdrew favours regarding shooting on his land.

It wasn't the biggest bag, although we saw a dozen woodcock and fifty odd duck, but it wasn't about the bag. A tremendous morning with good friends bashing sticks in the wood, my employer's children and grandchildren manning the guns and all coming together for a long lunch and discourse on links between Alison, Gilbert and Sullivan and Basingstoke. A great day, a terrific advert for the sport and, for those who were unable to attend, one that will definitely be repeated,

Yes, we're back in the shooting game, and it feels goooood.

I'm loathe to mention the thing, but herefollows a bit about Brexit (if you've had enough of Brexit, scroll down to the vitriol regarding the continuation of Richard Madeley's career in various forms of media)

Please can we all agree to pull together and make the best of the situation we find ourselves in and end the chronic sniping and division

Last summer I was sent a link to an article by a baby boomer (we'll call him Rod) that questioned the appeal of sport and weren't we all making a little too much of this Olympic business in Rio?

Rod didn't get sport.

I get sport,

Most U11s get sport,

Once the game is done, the result stands. Winners and losers, we are where we are, now on to the next game.

Arguments over the result of a match long gone achieves precisely five eighths of F*&% A88

We are where we are (that phrase again) and there is niw a requirement to pull together and make it work.
A win for one doesn't mean that the other must automatically fall into line with the other's way of thinking. After a General election, opposition isn't eliminated, it has a part to play in proceedings and in the case of leaving the EU will aid in quelling the voice of the jackboot and nasty nationalist brigade who seem to be under the illusion that they have required more relevance.

Putting my purple of hat of positivity on (currently in post so I'll don the green cap of fingerscrossedity) 2017 is a year to come together for the common cause in a patriotic (not nationalistic or far right) kind of way and make the best of where we are.

Continuing to pick over the bones of a referendum result and vilifying the forty odd percent who voted the other way (I'm looking at you Alison Pearson et al) achieves nothing.

Stop looking back, move on, make this thing work and trust in the next generation, because in my experience they're a pretty clued up bunch

Happy New Year and sorry for banging on, but Richard Madeley is currently on the television in the next room working his way through planet earth's resources of the word "I" and "me" so I had to find something to do as he always makes me cross.

Poor Judy.

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