Monday 27 August 2018

Going Once, Going Twice, Gone to the.....

Attention everyone!

There now follows an appeal on behalf of the skint cricket club party.

Both Madam and myself are currently signed to Longparish CC in utility roles. Club coffers are a bit bare, cricket is an expensive game to put in and LCC have long held the mantra that match fees and subscriptions be kept as low as possible in order to make the game available to as many people as possible. We have Three senior teams, many junior teams and a Sunday friendly side but there are numerous fiscal wolves at the door.

The club are currently holding a Silent auction and there may be one or two lots of interest to visitors to this parish.

- 1 Day Fly Fishing x 2 rods on River Dever at Bransbury Mill & picnic lunch*(£140 bid)

- Bombay Sapphire Self Discovery Tour vouchers for 2 people (£5 bid)

- 4 ball at Tidworth Golf Club* (£70 bid - reserve not met)

- 1 Day Fly Fishing x 2 rods at Wherwell Priory* (£160 bid)

-Free MOT Test at Sutton Scotney garage (£35 bid)

- FlipOut Basingtoke voucher (trampoline centre) - 1 hour session for 2 people (£5 bid)

- NEW ADDITION - Meal for 4 voucher at The Cricketers Pub, Longparish (0 bids)

* High value items have a reserve price

Bids should be made via email to


Closing date 7 September 2018

It's a great game and we are fortunate to have such a terrific cricket club a mile up the road. Give Longparish CC a google for more information

Here's one of me batting Peter Symonds College to victory at the Rose Bowl in the Hampshire Colleges Cup Final a couple of years ago.

It's never too late, although with these dicky eyes I don't get picked much anymore.

Sunday 19 August 2018

Bravo, Bravo, Bravo Bravissimo!


This week's report comes to you live from the rooftop of an apartment block in Sardinia, and before any badmashes and n'eredowells think "ha-ha, he's away" there is a team of professionals plus trained dogs filling in at home during our sojourn on the east coast of Sardinia.

Rudimentary travel tackle is in, it dawned while packing that much of my foreign fishing kit is shoved under a bed somewhere in Melbourne.

We are in the Gulf of Orosei, a stunning part of the world that you may remember from this year's TV smash " A Hundred Years Younger in 21 days" in which celebrities such as June Brown, Sid Owen Shaun Ryder and Cozy Powell (I may have dreamt that last one) had their body and mental age assessed before undergoing lifestyle changes that would increase the combined total of their life expectancy by one hundred years. It is beyond belief that a second series has not been commissioned.

Anyway the Gulf of Orosei or Cala Ganone to be exact. An hour and a half drive from Olbia airport on a very good dual carriageway through some incredibly rugged country. By the way, that bridge that collapsed in Genoa, dreadful business. Been over it a few times when we were down that way, how such an important arterial route could reach such a shoddy state and result in so many deaths and resultant years of chaos is nothing short of scandalous.

Apologies, The Gulf of Orosei. (and by the way, I don't hold with this cult for piling up stones, come on The Cheesewring you've a lot to answer for)

Turning off the dual carriageway and driving to Dorgali a tunnel takes you through a line of high hills and then a few miles down to the coast. Before the tunnel it was an interminable switchback track over the top or a boat ride across the bay. It's an international marine reserve crystal clear water carpets of sea grass and some sensational snorkelling. Fish are in abundance with all the usual suspects present along with some quite exotic wrasse that I don't think I have seen before, yes there are dolphins and occasionally the odd whale, but the bay is principally fabled as being the last bastion of the Monk Seal. (Readers may remember his popular day time detective series in the 90s) Monk Seal were thought to have been wiped out as he is a timid beast who likes a cave and little noise who probably spoke out against the tunnel through the top of the mountain when it was subjected to the planning committee.

Each morning we take in a charge of hire boats tearing across the bay for prime spots on inaccessible beaches

and inevitably P Diddy is in the house.

One is drawn to think, whither brer monk seal, but there are sanctuaries, many caves inaccessible to maritime traffic and with an abundant fish population Monk Seal's numbers are on the up.

Monk Seal, solving crime in a sea of sardines.

Most of my shirts were ironed during this afternoon detective series when the children were small.

With a nod to Monk Seal our choice of craft for high sea travel this year something of which Dave Angel would approve (google him kids, he was very much the Caroline Lucas of his day) has no engine. There are enough petrol driven motors carving up the sea in this international marine reserve and my excellent electric Minkota outboard motor didn't make the trip (ordered it online from Canada at the same time as a pair of gloves from Penrith, guess which arrived first?) So we have a double canoe with no engine, just paddles. I have assumed Captain status as I have the hat and some previous in the paddles and coracles field. I was quite the paddler in my teenage years and once ran a world championship course in Wales albeit mostly upside down,

Moving away from the environment to social issues, we have already established that there is one road into this town and one road out. Streets are narrow and parking is of a premium. On several occasions we have come across verbal altercations over whose space is whose because the only alternative is to park long way back up the hill. A division of parking inspectors (all female coincidently) maintains order and tickets are regularly issued. The only beneficiaries in this parking apartheid being the blue badge holders who retain a large part of the harbour walls for their parking needs, which is great. The parking scheme has also had the added benefit of reducing the strain on the care system with families seemingly only too keen to keep an ailing relative at home in order to secure convenient parking in town. We walked around the harbour yesterday morning and half a dozen blue bay cars harboured folk half asleep while Driver MacGyver was engaged on business elsewhere in town.

In other news, I was stuck in the lift the other morning with an Italian lady who assured me she had control of matters but clearly didn't. I was also jocked off a ride in the same lift by a lady with a herd of Springer spaniels who lives a few floors below our Air BNB. While we're on the lift the doors make a noise when they open reminiscent of reaching the final stage of The Adventure Game,.
You half expect Moira Stewart and an Aspidistra to greet you as you reach your desired floor.

On our first night the bones of our lady of some such thing or other were paraded through the streets

and last night we were serenaded by the local operatic society in the street below despite having already donned our night caps and gowns.

It's that kind of place, a little bit crazy but great fun and stunning all the same.

Buona sera, Chow, Arrivederci.....Parla Inglese?

Tuesday 14 August 2018

Perch,Hornets and Difficult Questions

Well it's all been a bit of a whirl and a whorl here of late dodging the odd insignificant shower to trim stalky grass and a burgeoning fringe. The fringe on the river that is not on my head, there's been no weaving in that department and my forehead currently approaches the size of a motorcycle parking space in a supermarket car park.

Anyway, we seemed to have gone off piste a little early in the piece so to return to the river the Dever Valley has dodged a lot of showers of late. There have been puddles in Winchester, the first day of The Lords test was washed out by a band of rain that ended somewhere near Basingstoke and the valley currently is odds on favourite to be the UK's first area of designated desert. I fell in the river the other day for the first time in many years, it could be an age thing or possibly just desperation for water and a mind convinced that the thin ribbon of water was a mirage. On entering the eau I was surprised by how warm it was, yes there was much flapping around in an effort to save the smart phone and I'm no "free swimmer" (I think that's right) but there was no sharp inward gasp or shrivelling of nether regions normally associated with a dip in the river.
It wasn't warm but Brer Brown Trout starts to struggle a little when the water temperature creeps above twenty degrees. The water temperature in the Itchen at Easton hit twenty degrees last week, the shallow Dever may have been higher than that.

It will come as no surprise that fishing for trout has been quite challenging. We have a river full of some very fine fish, but they are decidedly cagey and most feed sub surface on nymphs and shrimps. September fishing could be quite good because all these Trutt's will feel the need to bolster bodily reserves as they approach the rigors of spawning. We've quite a few Perch about at the moment, their stripes and red fins adding an exotic tropical fish feel to some of the bends. We had some quite senior perch a few years ago with several fish over two pounds that had grown fat on the legions of minnows, fingers crossed these ones do the same while avoiding the eye of Tarka. Perch have always thrived in chalk streams. They grow very big in the main river and I have seen photos of a fish that exceeded the UK record of five pounds something that rocked up on an electro fishing survey.

Out of the river, the meadows have been topped and I was called to deal with a substantial nest of Hornets that had established itself behind an air brick on the Mill House. Just your average hornet not the supersized European cousin or wood wasp, but they kicked up a fuss when presented with the foam all the same. We have also been picking eating apples and blackberries and some of the trees that we planted last winter that struggled in the heat have rebudded following extensive application of river water, the pear tree bore blossom in early August.

In other news Moss progresses nicely. He has a lovely nature and is quite the star walking around the boundary at a cricket match. We played host to cousin Ava while Maisie (Child A) and Callum sojourned in Greece and it was a fun full on few days with the two younger dogs ripping up a storm while Otis took himself off to Madam's Shed/Card making emporium. If anyone has a requirement for a bespoke card, don't be a stranger, she's very good!

Madam's mother came to stay for a few days recently. A busy itinary included Sweet Charity at the excellent Watermill Theatre on the banks of the Kennet. Mamma Mia II, dinner at The Bourne Valley Inn that's The Bourne Valley Inn everyone, they do good things and if anyone from the Inn drops into this house the name's de Cani and yes we would like a free meal. and a day at the cricket. Sunday saw Madam's family members various in attendance and with mizzle falling outside postprandial conversation somehow turned to television and the excellent Gone Fishing with Bob and Paul cropped up. The only fisher at the table, questions were inevitably directed my way.

How much do rods and reels cost?

Why doesn't one fishing rod cover all eventualities?

Why do you have to wear green clothing?

How many fishing rods do you have ?

Enter, stage left, the awkward silence.

I blustered a little and obfuscation always helps because while at the age of ten I could proudly recite that I have five fishing rods to the oft asked question among fishing pals but at the age of fifty I had to admit I didn't quite know.

I undertook an audit today and it turns out I should have raised my bat/rod to the pavilion/tackle shop sometime around 2009. I seem to have acquired a lot of fishing tackle, all of it vital to the cause of course, but difficult to explain to a non fisher,

Fortunately I avoided any more difficult questions regarding the sport by employing the old "cheese distraction" technique, works everytime and
the grey area regarding how much fishing tackle I have accumulated is currently being re established.