Wednesday, 20 September 2017
Cold War, Sweeps and Oz
There are plenty of fish about, too many on some bends as a plop of a clunky nymph can send several charging about on the bottom. The water is incredibly clear, but that's the case most Septembers, and there is fly and the occasional fish deigns to rise but to call the things suspicious would be to underplay the situation. I've a suspicion we've once again drawn the eye of the Otter which will put all bar the dumbest fish on edge and I do feel obliged to offer apologies for our fish's circumspection as another frustrated angler heads home. It could pick up yet as fish will undoubtedly feed before spawning but it will more than likely be sub surface and its carefully placed drab nymphs that enter the water with the least splash that will take fish.
That or shock them with a Daddy Long Legs as their numbers are currently on the rise in our kitchen.
(if you do check in, please mention this house)
The previous piece of guff drew comment that the dog didn't feature often enough and could we see more of the thing on these pages.
It's a populist trick much pulled by the likes of Monty Don, John Noakes and Bob Carolgees to garner support for their work,
but one that I personally feel would dilute the gravity of the piece should it be employed here,
He came across some clever chimney cleaning equipment on the internet while undertaking a search of the amazon for a "small child to send up chimney"
I think that's what he said. my ears aren't what they were
The chimney sweep kit is driven by an electric drill and does a very good job, Ok you don't get a certificate, but I am reliably informed such things can be sourced on a Darkweb, whatever that is.
We have already booked Lord Ludg and his drill and brush combo for next year.
She's still alive and I'm confident she'll live for quite some years yet, but after a nasty fall one night last winter which required the expert first aid skills of the lady who sleeps on my left and a late night ride in an ambulance for myself three parts foxed and outside of two thirds of a bottle of claret after a particularly good piece of beef for dinner and the neighbour with a large hole in her head. It all ended well, although my recovery was significantly swifter than the neighbour's who was understandably shaken up by the experience (the fall, not the ride in the ambulance with me outside several glasses of red)
"Don't be silly Anne, I'd rather risk my life on the A303 than have to do my own ironing, I'll be over again next week!"
It was an important source of income for Anne and Mrs R didn't come across as someone who warmed to ironing, so the arrangement worked and continued for a few years after.
We gathered for tea they day before her departure and she held her own on discussion around the use of the pink ball in international cricket.
t won't be quite the same next door but I think it is for the best and the decision to take up the offer to live with her daughter was one that she was able to make for herself.
With academic stuff and the cricket season done, Child B has hit the yellow brick road and currently resides in Oz.
Melbourne to be precise,
a bit of work, a bit of cricket with South Yarra CC and a bit of a look around.
Which is terrific, Madam and myself are tres envious and may pop over one weekend, although I do know a little about the place after receiving a small cheque some years ago for a piece of written guff regarding things to do and places to stay for an American website.
Wikipedia and Google served as my guide and it was quite a bizarre experience and if we do ever visit the place I don't think I'll be re- reading my recommendations, but when you next read a travel review for some such place or other, have at the back of your mind that the writer of the piece may not have actually visited the place.
Never ones to hold on to trove for long we thought we'd get them spent and had an idea for a quick trip away. Unfortunately in the current age such things cannot be cashed in online and so it was that after walking dogs, and feeding both pheasants and fish I sallied forth to sample the anti meridian fleshpots of our local urban environs.
To find that my target travel agent didn't open until 10.00am on a Tuesday (staff training apparently)
With thirty minutes to lose I went for a walk, and at this point I could go on at length about the demise of our local high street. There are many coffee shops (some with parking for mobility scooters outside) many charity shops, many mobile phone shops and many empty units and a sound track provided by a large and aged burger van whose proprietor loudly proclaims wares of dubious source for the price of a pound to all who pass.
The million dollar quartet are as follows:
Poundland, Poundworld, Poundstretcher and Wilkinson with The Range sitting on the subs bench down on the ring road.
Everything that Woolworths forgot to be,
Whither poor Winfield
With the required time passed, I entered previously mentioned travel agent and expressed my disappointment that I had been forced to suffer the voluble burger man and early morning town society after not being able to complete my transaction online and could we seal the deal toute de suite as I had to get on? and didn't he know there was grass to be cut.
I presented my vouchers, drummed my fingers on the desk and waited for the assistant's response.
He studied my vouchers closely, raised his gaze to meet my eye and gently informed me that there were two travel agents in town beginning with the letter "T"
The one in which I currently resided was Thomson and he was very sorry but he would be unable to honour the vouchers and suggested I try the other travel agent that began with the letter T , the Thomas Cook establishment opposite Marks and Spencer.
I made my excuses and left muttering darkly about businesses sharing the opening four letters in their title, pausing on my way to the correct travel agent to make an appointment at Specsavers., which thankfully maintains a presence on our high street among the coffee emporia and charity parlours
I'm off the news at the moment (not in an newsworthy way) but the world's gone mad and several seem to be under the illusion that we have another planet to go to should things not go to plan on this one.
and yes, dogs help,
but by way of balm, here's that video that broke the internet the other week,
Sunday, 10 September 2017
We Have Nothing to Fear But the Sky Falling In On Our Heads
The month in which fishing for trout usually picks up after the dog days of summer. Dipping into the archives our fishing books demonstrate that some of the biggest fish are caught during this month as hormones begin to kick in and appetite is raised in preparation for the rigors of spawning. After a desperate start to the season when the river remained at a lower level than the end of the previous season, the river has retained a reasonable level for the second half of the season with verdant weed growth undoubtedly having an effect. No groundwater intended for the Dever has been pumped down the Candover stream into the Itchen and consequently the much muttered mantra in these parts of "this river falls away far quicker than it used to during the summer" does not hold this year. Good luck to the Environment Agency in their battle with the weasels at the water company and the attempt to reduce the size of the abstraction licence for supplementary pumping of groundwater down the Candover stream. The impact of no supplementary pumping of groundwater into the Candover stream on the neighbouring Dever has been obvious even to this addled eye.
There is a possibility that there may be a half rod (one fixed day a fortnight) next year. We've a bit of a waiting list, but sometimes the day presented doesn't suit the waiters, so if you would like to chuck your hat into the ring, don't be a stranger.
Watercress continues to creep out from the bank, pinching the river and helping to maintain a reasonable speed of flow, although the first frost will soon see it in retreat. Our heating clicked on this morning for the first time since last April, and it won't be long before the wood burner is back in action. I spent an hour last week walking around with a paint brush daubing crosses on ash trees that must be felled this winter. It's a fairly depressing business and one that I will have to repeat for several winters to come, but there are trees that currently show no sign of the disease that may have some degree of immunity so it may just be a cycle that the ash tree population must endure.
Anyway, aspiring law student completed the task to a high standard your honour, and in two thirds of the time that it takes these middle aged bones to complete the task, which was a little galling.
Seed heads have now formed and I've now topped the meadows. I was surprised to disturb a couple of hares during my progress with the swipe. We don't see many hares up the river as a quick glance at google earth will reveal your correspondent driving a blue tractor and also confirm that the meadows are a long island and the hares have either swum the river or crossed one of three bridges. There were also several hedgehogs, many mice (that the barn owl missed) and an incredibly colourful spider that unbeknown to me hitched a lift home on what remains of my head of hair to put in an appearance at lunch when it dropped from my forehead onto my plate of cheese salad. if it had been the soup of the day before, he/she wouldn't have stood a chance.
After relocating Brer spider, (untroubled by his/her dip in the salad dressing) I returned to my lunchtime perusal of the newspaper and learnt that a book has been published by the author Andrew C Johnson that debunks all that Asterix taught us and lays claim to the lie that none of what that bunch of indomitable Gauls achieved actually happened.
I don't know what "La Johnson's" agenda is but I implore you not to buy this book,
Burn it if you can
All civilised people agree that Asterix and Oblelix actually happened, the danger of the sky falling in upon our heads remains and there is much to be learned from the writings of Gosciny and Uderzo.
The internet isn't big enough for me to provide a complete rundown of Longparish CC's dramatic season just completed,
although a brief summary can be found at www.longparishcc.co.uk where the photo gallery section is particularly apposite.
It's the first year since my children were born that I have not attended a Test match at Lords. I was kindly offered a ticket for the Saturday of the Test against South Africa earlier in the year, and a brace for the Friday of the Test against West Indies, but unfortunately circumstances conspired and I/we were unable to attend, which was a shame as it is always a tremendous day out.
This Test just passed was particularly poignant as it was Henry Blofeld's last stint at the TMS microphone. I've listened to TMS for most of my life. I can remember Arlott from Arlesford, Don Mosey, Tony Lewis, Trevor Bailey, Alan Mcgilvery, CMJ et al.
Blofeld has been an ever present throughout my time of listening.
The Times Cricket correspondent John Woodcock has been a part of cricket at my local club Longparish throughout his life and he was the driving force behind Blofeld switching from life in the city to a life in cricket correspondence. John is a terrific chap (he's the only doyen I know) and also a very good fisherman. He kindly took me several times as a guest to a stretch of the Avon where he had a rod for many years. He has also brought many of the great and the good in the world of cricket to the Longparish ground both to play and spectate, his photograph album is a procession of well known people from the cricketing world taking pegs at the Longparish ground.
Only last year the lady who sleeps on my left was slightly confused by the chap she had a conversation with who she thought she knew but could not quite place,
It was Aussie cricket commentator, Jim Maxwell.
The late Tony Cozier also caused some confusion a few years before.
There could be no mistaking Blofeld.
On two occasions I can remember popping into The Plough when he and John were taking pre-prandial pints. What you heard on the radio, was what you got in the pub. Holding Court and thoroughly entertaining with an amplification and turn of phrase that held the whole room rapt.
I'll miss him on the radio,
Monday, 4 September 2017
Why Wander Odysseus, Why? Doh!
Just had a few things on that's all, some semblance of normal service has now been restored, although a quick glance at the calendar confirms that there isn't much free time remaining this month either.
and yes, we've been away again, and the requisite report now follows, so if you only visited this house in search of enlightenment regarding chalk stream management or guidance in catching trout off the top, then on this occasion you will be disappointed,
Which is par for the course if we're honest,
Anyway, to the substance
On this year of years, and with the eye as ever on "Living for Pleasure Alone" we've been away again.
Cephalonia this time,
Inspired by all things Corelli (the brilliant book, not the dreadful film adaptation) it had been on the list of places to visit for a while and so it was that we set off in the early hours for Gatwick, keenly anticipating our first experience of the newly opened smart M3 motorway after many years of road works and average speed limits.
Unfortunately Smart motorways need at least eight hours sleep at night (who knew?) and the thing was closed from ten till six, so it was another "seat of your pants" hurtling along little roads in the hours before dawn trip to catch a plane at Gatwick.
Well done the roads of South East England, well done!
The heat was in the high thirties and after a brief pause for Mythos and cheese we hit the beach,
Which is where we remained for much of the week,
the theory of which confused our main man at command centre central a few years ago - it's on here here somewhere but here's a picture to be going on with
We experienced heavy rain on three occasions during our eight day stay.
The Melissani Cave system is an underground limestone river that could quite easily support a population of trout. The water temperature is a constant fifteen degrees and is slightly brackish due to its proximity to the sea, it supports a population of eels and the odd mullet and there were a few flies on the water. I did make enquiries about popping a few Rainbows in and offering guided fishing, although for overhanging branches claiming poorly presented flies read overhanging stalactites.
It is a spectacular setting and contains remains from prehistory on the river bed, along with offerings to the goddess Pan regarding uncoordinated dancing on Top of the Pops during the 1970's.
On from the caves, is the Port of Sami, which serves as a gateway to the island of Ithaca, home of Odysseus and another island to tick off one day. It's all about the ferry and the port in Sami and the contrast between a local population living a sustainable life on this isle and its well heeled visitors is particularly stark.
Myrtos beach next, a stunning location that regularly crops up in newspapers and magazines as one of Europe's beaches to take a look at. The drive down to the mile wide expanse of bright white shingle is a little hairy but the hundreds of feet high cliffs adorned with many goats (clappers removed) provide a stunning backdrop to a beach that borders the bluest of seas. It was the setting for the blowing up of the mine in the facsimile of a sham that was the film of Captain Corelli (there was a trilogy to be had from the one book alone) and on each of our many visits was never crowded.
I don't know why Ithaca's favourite son Odysseus went off a wandering because this corner of the island is a quiet piece of paradise.
For four hours Madam and myself enjoyed our own private beach and while Madam Crusoe read books,
More beach followed and yes, I did lap up all things Louis De B during our stay. We ate some superb Greek food, and I do seem to have punished the Rabbit Stifado somewhat. The Ribola was Ok and the Mythos following rigorous testing, was declared as good as it ever was.
I don't know what the roads were like around the ancient city of Athens, but back in Blighty and what some would have as one of the greatest cities of the modern world, the M25 and the oh so clever new M3 were bunged up so it was the back lanes home from Gatwick again.
A terrific trip (bar the roads of England)
Further fishing stuff to follow
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