Tuesday 31 July 2018

Happy When it Rains

It has been noted that rain hasn't fallen in these parts since Moss joined us. A portent that would once have had many an Aztec or Inca reaching for the knife drawer.

Rain is forecast for sometime soon so we'll defer a decision on any necessary action that needs to be taken regarding Moss for forty eight hours.

The July weed cut is now complete and while verdant bars of weed maintain a fishable level the rate of flow is greatly reduced and the clearing down of cut weed at the denouement took an absolute age. The heat has been nothing short of uncomfortable and while Heathrow made great play of its thirty five degrees one day last week,

we recorded thirty seven degrees on our digital weather station sited in the shade on our garden table on the same afternoon. The new trees that we planted in the winter are struggling a little and receive a few buckets of river water several times a week to get them through these parched conditions.

I'll just pause there to make a pitch for a television series.

Nothing to do with Fishing, Bob and Paul have raised the bar with their recent series shown on BBC2 "Gone Fishing" because that's what they did,

go fishing,

as opposed to "Gone Catching" because a day with a rod in your hand is so much more than putting a fish on the bank.

Anyway the pitch:

A four week nightly show titled "River Island" in which an equal number of males and females (they don't have to be young, they can wear what they like and sleep alone if desired) are put on an island where they must couple up, triple up or quadruple up if the mood is upon them to form traditional Irish dance troupes with the relevant routine.

Ideally Michael Flatley and Amanda Donohoe would host with Selina Scott the anchor on the River Island extra catchup show.

I think it has legs

It's raining, it's pouring and I was roused from my snoring by water lashing through the bedroom window.

Moss's future is secured.

Searches through old vinyl for The Jesus and Mary Chain's "Happy When it Rains" and plays continuously for much of the morning.

Saw them three times, Phsychocandy, Darklands and Automatic, although the star faded with Barbed Wire Kisses. The day that my "Automatic" tour T shirt assumed duster status remains a low point in our marriage.


We have just returned from a soggy post prandial perambulation where we found this puddle, an old friend (yes puddles are Riverkeepers' friends) who Otis and I had not seen for some while and Moss's first introduction. You will note from the photo that Moss has entered a gangly phase and now adopts a steady trit-trot on the road that would set the Littlest Hobo purring.

On reflection, the Littlest Hobo was a dog not a cat so we may have to revisit that last line.

Alice from Fishtec has not been on since the last post, there are whispers that problems exist over the tone of the piece.

The rain has smashed down much of the Phragmites

and at tea time today the venerable conker tree by the chickens fell apart shedding a substantial limb. It's what old conker trees do, in rude health otherwise it could live for many years yet.

Heron seem to have bred well this year and we've a brace of goofy youngsters prodding away at our fish. Watercress is creeping out from the margins pinching the river maximising the little flow we have. The Kingfisher wars have also resumed and currently approach the level of brutality experienced last year when adults regularly locked beaks in efforts to drown their adversary. They are a beautiful bird and we regularly see them fishing and each year two pairs bring off young but you do feel like banging their heads together and saying this river is stuffed with minnows, there's enough for all!

Numbers of roach and perch appear to have increased with plenty of two to three year old fish in evidence.

William is on his way back to Blighty. He was employed full time for twelve months by a fun bunch at a Melbourne planning consultancy while playing cricket for South Yarra plus poking his nose around bits of Australia and New Zealand.

It was a full time position and he thoroughly enjoyed the work. The company offered him a second year's contract and with town planner on the list of professions that Australia are keen to attract to the country, both William and the company were confident a visa would be issued. What should have been a 28 day decision was dragged out for several months with significant costs incurred and his application was eventually refused, on the grounds that it is a position that had not been adequately offered to an Australian. A lawyer specialising in immigration was consulted and an expensive appeal process considered, but the final decision was taken to make the most of his last few weeks and then head home. An unwelcome/unwelcoming end to what has been a never to be forgotten twelve months in a stunning country with some super people. Australia's loss as he's quite good at what he does, both on and off a cricket field.

Australia first anyone?

and oh yes Matilda, you can whistle/waltz for those speeding fines you issued for driving a few mph over the limit on a quiet three lane highway.

That'll learn em!

Shakes fist at meddling bureaucracy and over regulation in all corners of the globe before falling off stage to the left, curtain closes. Lights on.

Wednesday 18 July 2018

It's the Right One, It's the Bright One... That's Fishtec

Here Ye, Here Ye, Here Ye.

On reflection that opening comes across a bit Alan Partridge,

No matter, now we have your attention Fishtec have been on again, yes that' s Fishtec everybody you heard the name here first, or possibly not as they have been around for ages with Matt Hayes as their face, they provide top quality fishing tackle at rock bottom prices for the game, coarse and sea angler.

As both a coarse game angler and a game coarse angler, I have used their services many times over the years, sans deception.

I know this house has railed against any commerciality or sell out despite several offers from the risque to the downright rotten plus a proposal of marriage from a lady in Russia and yes the purity of the piece with no pop ups or banners, but with Antipodean speed cameras to support, needs now must.

Alice the nice lady at Fishtec has asked me to tell you about this article on mindfulness on their website, Previously known as float fishing it is worth a read. I know many of you will already be across the subject but Alice did ask very nicely and Fishtec have previously said very nice things about this house.


Fishtec have also said that anyone who accesses the article from this site will be eligible for a significant discount on a solid gold fly reel that they hope to bring out in the coming months, details to follow.

So there we are, a sell out. We are where we are, what times we live in etc, etc.

That's Fishtec everybody, Never Knowingly Undersold.

That last bit may be wrong.

All trade deals now considered - even the risque and the rotten, to attain complete access to this site.

It is actually a very good article on Float fishing if you care to take a look, once again


Oh yes

If the occasional advert is good enough for Britain's best broadcaster since Old Tel shuffled off, then it's good enough for this insignificant house.

Here endeth the commercial break.

There'll be another one along in twenty minutes, or ten if you currently take in Le Tour on ATV4 of an afternoon.

That's Fishtec everyone, but please support your local fishing tackle shop too.

Wednesday 11 July 2018

No Worries? Yeah Right!

Goodness it's warm. We have topped thirty degrees for the last nine afternoons, today it only reached twenty seven instigating a mad rush for coats cardigans and other clobber in order to stave off the chill.

It goes without saying that the river flow is reduced but prolific weed growth maintains a reasonable level. Soporific fish are increasingly feeding sub surface and nymph fishing has now begun, although a few rise to sedge in the last hour of the day as is often the way in a hot high summer.

More soon after this message from our sponsor:

Apologies we don't do sponsors, although Fishtec have been on after a plug and I feel duty bound to oblige as they do say kind words about this house on their website www.fishtec.com.

In the absence of a sponsor (and with more travel planned and income from written stuff reduced we may have to rethink that one) Here's a couple of brief passages from the Test & Itchen Association newsletter (well done for that by the way)

"Diligent readers of Association newsletters will know that we have been working hard with like-minded organisations to support the efforts of the Environment Agency to restrict future abstraction of water from the Hampshire chalkstreams for public water consumption to more sustainable levels. We can report success! At a Public Inquiry in March, Southern Water agreed to all the changes to their abstraction licences proposed by the Environment Agency. This is a complicated issue and hard to summarise succinctly, but, in essence, the Inquiry outcome means that Southern Water will not be able to abstract more water from the rivers than they have in the past – and less than they have hitherto been licensed to. With the number of water customers growing, this means they are now required to develop the alternative water sources required to meet demand. In turn, this means that they are committed over the next ten years to investing in these alternative sources, the main ones being a new reservoir, a desalination plant and increased use of grey water by their industrial customers. They will also be working on demand reduction initiatives and doing more to fix leaks in the system."

Well done everyone, but can we all remember what a bunch of weasels private water companies are whose word is not their bond and are well versed in lip service and obfuscation.

And also this:

"Whilst the Association trumpet is out, I can also give it a small toot to mark the success we have had in prompting a change of heart from the Environment Agency on the swingeing increases they were planning in what they charge river owners to permit river restoration and maintenance projects. We made a strong case that by charging hundreds if not thousands of pounds for a licence to undertake projects to improve the environmental condition of the river and riverbank, they were penalising the very people they should be encouraging to undertake this essential work, with no obvious added benefit. The Environment Agency published the response to the consultation exercise in April. They accepted that the increased charges risked being counter-productive and introduced a new category of permit under which the price of a licence for work of environmental value remained unchanged from the past."

A complete climb down, well done to whoever it was who poked the bean counter at command centre central in the eye.

These kind of successes have a habit of occurring in threes so let's examine how that "Dream of Brexit is going"

No not that one.

How about the football?

I didn't think we'd play this well and I haven't enjoyed watching an England side play football as much as this since Euro 96 and it is modern day football, not the turgid default of the four. Our youngest squad for years going about their business on and off the field with a skip and a bounce previously unassociated with our national side, and well done the supporters, it may be a generational thing but no trouble and lots of fun sans the nationalistic songs and thuggery.

Returning to "The Dream of Brexit"

Why not let Gareth Southgate and his team lead negotiations on our exit from the European Union?

failing that let him run the country?

While we're on football, two weeks underground in a flooded cave is not the best preparation for a match, but if the Thai FA is anything like the English FA. There will have been a chap in a blue blazer replete with large pocket badge, beige stay press action slacks and faux leather shoes to greet the coach with an "ahem, I'm afraid we've had to deduct points for the two fixtures you failed to complete, there are fines to be paid and by the way you now have a rearranged cup game tomorrow morning."

Bert Millichip and Ted Croker live on

In other sports news. With the top ten seeds in the ladies side of the draw at Wimbledon failing to make the last eight shouldn't the seeding panel be held to account? Ok it's not an exact science but come on, failing to identify one of the last eight is poor punditry at best, balls out of hat at worst.

News just in from our travel correspondent.

Did I mention that we'd been to Australia?

Well, turns out that it was the trip that keeps on giving as a brace of speeding fines turned up last week. Which was quite a surprise as the bleached pantechnicon we were detailed to drive was by the far the most sluggish thing I have driven in recent times, and I include the tremendous orange tractor in that.
But hey. laws is laws and I broke em (four and a half miles an hour over the limit in the middle lane of a quiet motorway on the way out and on the way back) The sum demanded from government and the hire car people (dream on Hertz)
currently equates to a short break away for Madam and myself later this year. There is no speed awareness course offered and I have been awarded 2 demerit points.

A decision must be made.

Have we done with Down Under?

Should we risk the ire of Interpol?

Or shall we go to Italy again?

It's currently keeping me awake at night,

or that might be the heat,


"No worries ?"

Yeah right. Go well!

I don't mean to invoke the passage of time and all things Kylie but I'm sure Gareth Southgate was older than me when he missed that penalty at Euro 96,

Beginning of the end Gareth, beginning of the end.

Moss is growing up fast and has been introduced to the river and now he has completed his vaccinations, the world.

I was kindly invited for another evening fishing on the Upper Avon at East Chisenbury where the river was lush and low and mayfly continued to hatch as they do on the Avon throughout the summer.

Returning to aquifer levels and the fast diminishing Dever

here's a photo of the Mill House taken sometime in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. Look to the left of the house right on the edge of the photo and you will see The Mill stream in full flow,
with fifty times as much water as today. I have seen another photograph from a similar period showing construction of a garden wall, it also shows the garden stream which is around six feet wide and very fast flowing. It has been a foot and a bit wide for the past thirty or so years and for the past fifteen has run dry by July.
The aquifers in the Dever valley are dropping at a remarkable rate. Here's the spring hole that we did so much work on last winter. It has been a great success and this pool of water contains half a dozen springs, which are slowly grinding to a halt.

Here's the main one in the middle, the white specks in the middle mark the spring and they should be bubbling up to the top and then falling back down again as the spring water rises up as they were in April. Today they lie dormant.

I shan't post the picture of the field called Spring Bottom that hasn't had a spring in it for five years, as it shouldn't have a spring in it in the middle of summer, but this spring has never stopped running in my time here.

Maisie and Callum have a small spring fed stream at the bottom of their garden, it retains a similar level and flow to that in April but then its valley is not subject to the level of groundwater abstraction that the Dever valley is.

It could not be clearer that chronic groundwater abstraction is impacting upon this chalk stream and we need to urgently alter the way we use the groundwater resource as our current method of use is increasingly unsustainable.