Tuesday 16 October 2018

With my left foot, Thierry Henry would be complete

Shalom, Sukoon and Howdy Doo!

And so to business.

Maisie (nee Child A) popped in last week with the dimensions of the logs required for their new wood burner. It's quite a bit smaller than the iron horse that heats our home, so some logs delivered must now be trimmed a tad. While in wine with a pair employed in houses brimful of pedagogues, conversation inevitably turns to educational matters. I couldn't contribute to the discourse, but a brief bit of earwigging revealed that many state schools are currently spreading themselves a bit thin.

It can be both a rewarding and stressful occupation working to help educate the next generation, and by way of succour and the current cult of mindfulness, Maisie has taken to using something called a PAP or possibly an APP,

I don't remember which,

but no matter, the PAP plays soothing sounds from her clever phone directly to her ears. It's the sort of stuff that Blue Peter assessed in the 1970s but discarded in order to promote flying cars and hover shoes (Bleep & Booster Blue Peter Annual 1974) At the time Punk was imminent and notions of soothing sounds were brushed aside. Anyway, turns out that one of the soothing sounds on said PAP is rain falling on a roof.

I have since acquired this magical item entitled PAP and have employed it constantly throughout the week and it is indeed soothing.

Call me out as a Shaman, and yes, the Juju wood (foreign lingo alert, button pushing paladins - SAE's to the address below) but it has not stopped raining since I downloaded this magical thing.

This APP/PAP can make it rain without the requirement for dancing or animal sacrifice.

If we can all agree to download this app and listen to the "rainfall" track for ten to twenty hours a week, these springs should start running again and all will be well on the chalk streams next year.

Chalk streams just went digital and I may now be a smart river keeper

You heard it here first folks, although further evidence may be required.

Hover shoes indeed. All sensible people of the seventies agree that monorails were the future of getting from A to B.

Trout fishing has finished here now and it's time to jump in the river and make ready for high winter flows (crosses fingers while quietly invoking forces of PAP) I've been pulling cress for much of the day which has dropped the level on some of the shallows by a critical few inches and also weakened my shoulders. Needless to say heron and egret stand primed for an easy meal (fish on shallows. not me, prone, with busted shoulders) and today I saw our first cormorant of the autumn filling its gizzard with silver fish on the flight pond.

Trees continue to be attended to and the trunk of the large ash that topples across the mill stream has now been dealt with. We drained the Mill stream to make the task easier but it is a big lump of ash that has been sliced up with a few big chunks manoeuvred to pinch the flow should we ever have enough water to run the Mill Stream properly again. While drained down an old hatch that was once used to push water around the meadow between the mill stream and main river was exposed. There are four in all on the mill stream, all now no longer in use. It is a man-made channel formed centuries ago to drive the wheel at the Mill.

Gluten freesters would have welcomed a summer sojourn in this environs through the last decade, as there has not been enough water to spin a wheel to grind wheat to form flour. Twenty years ago the mill stream supported ranunculus and numerous entries in the fishing book in the "where caught" column cited the Mill Stream.

There are no entries for fish caught in the Mill Stream during the last four years.

I know I go on about it, but this trashing of the aquifers is happening by stealth on our watch everybody. It might be time for a few more people to start jumping up and down and shaking a fist about it. (further invocation of forces of Pap, crosses toes for rain)

Oh yes, why has high end salt now assumed a pink hue and is sourced from the Himalaya?

Is this the new trade deals thing kicking in?

What's wrong with Winsford salt?

In other news William (nee Child B) has a job. In two weeks he moves to the capital city of our glorious nation to take up a planning post with The London Legacy Development Corporation. Based in the QE2 Olympic Park it should be an interesting gig delivering what is promised to be " a new East London - one where diversity and cultural vibrancy meet economic growth and the city's newest, cleanest and most sustainable communities"

Well if that's all deliverable, I'm in.

I was a little late to Plum, but crikes he could bounce a word. I'd read of his time in occupied France and yes, in times of war, he was possibly a tad naive. But to me he didn't come across as a man of war and I'd fund a few bricks for a statue of him, pipe in hand at the typewriter. It would assume the proportions of the Angel of the North and be sited on an appropriate knoll in the celebrated Vale of Blandings, where the Severn gleams in the distance, and the Wrekin can clearly be seen. A floor tile in a metropolitan church doesn't seem to do him justice.

Percy Jeeves by the way, a former Warwickshire cricketer who died at High Wood on the Somme whose name is on the Thiepval memorial. He was subsequently immortalised by Wodehouse, who once liked the look of his bowling at Cheltenham in the summer of 1913.

Mushrooms are good this year, if a little late. Here's this mornings harvest.

Currently picking a pound or so a week from several secret sources that even GCHQ are unaware of.

I know when I am being followed - spider senses tingle.

To finish, a nod to Daniel Day Lewis,

here's one of my left foot

and also Thierry Henry, blessed with such a magical appendage, he would have been complete.

I'm standing on some spawning gravels that I would normally be tickling up with a rake and tin at this time of year. These gravels have been used by brown trout for spawning every year that I have been falling in and out of this river (currently twenty seven).

Ten inches of water is a minimum requirement for trout to dig a redd.

Wither the poor folk of Wales, who currently suffer eels sitting on the sofa following flooding, but Welsh rivers react in a different way following rain to chalk streams.

It takes an awful lot of rain and quite a bit of time for a chalk stream to rise ten inches.

For the allegorical among you, the boot is an abandoned village replete with church and out buildings,

the chalk stream water is a depleted reservoir,

I hope that helps.

Pours large drink, reaches for PAP and consults tablet of enlightenment on how best to make it rain in the South of England in the following four or five months.

Tuesday 9 October 2018

Oktober, and a Dearth of Sub Editirs

Hello, again, hello

and welcome to Oktober.

The letter K, on as sub for the letter C in the previous sentence may be enough to mobilise the keyboard warriors regarding the Teutons.

Autumn seems to be rushing in at a remarkable rate, both in the natural world and my own physical being. Moss has developed a taste for hazelnuts and elderberries and perhaps we should have called him Topic.

He currently lays some remarkably vivid dog eggs with the consistency of a high end cereal bar.


google it kids, a pioneer in the cereal bar canon.

The final week of the trout fishing season has seen the odd big fish put on the bank, but it remains a difficult business. There are also a noticeable number of thin fish in the river. Hatches of fly have not been all that they should be during the second half of the season but the river is heaving with gammarus so there is a sub surface feast on offer if required. It may be a sign that brer Brown Trout was having a tougher time of it than we thought in the warm water of August with a water temperature sufficiently high to suppress appetite, a theory that may well be borne out by a flurry of feeding towards the end of the month by way of preparation for spawning at the end of the year. Which won't please those targeting grayling on light tackle in the coming weeks. We've a few roach about. Not the monsters who lurked five or six years ago but pound plus fish all the same. Perch are also present to a similar size with the odd pike to six or seven pounds.

I'll just break off there to deal with a troublesome mouse. Not the work of Tom and Jerry but my wireless mouse that Moss has taken a shine to and is now not quite the shape it was on the day of first purchase. (Both the wireless mouse and the wireless Moss do not retain the same shape they had on day of purchase so I believe this sentence remains valid) Don't know why Moss has become a mouser but this Logitech number I currently hold in my hand is on the cusp of cashing in its chips.

It's the second one the fecker's taken down in the last three weeks.

Anyway the autumn. Any homecoming in either direction along the highway to the sun is always marked by the first sighting of the substantial Lombardi poplar that stands sentinel on the Mill Stream. It has been a regular touchstone when returning home from either direction on the Highway to the Sun and is visible from several miles away. It's also my first point of gaze when opening the curtains after a windy night as when the thing falls over, it will be a bugger's muddle to deal with.

Last weekend on exiting the Highway to the Sun, I inevitably visually checked in with the long Lombardi before banging on the brakes to take in what my duff old eyes initially suggested was a hot air balloon crash. Turns out it wasn't the Montgolfier brothers up to their old tricks, but a supersized Lime tree that has sprung up unnoticed in what was the Keeper's cottage. It must be a pot bound specimen recently introduced, as I have been taking in this scene for ninety nine percent of my days in the last twenty seven years and I'm sure it wasn't there before, although it may be my ailing eyes.

Keeper's Cottage by the way. I'm tempted to chalk in the missing apostrophe on the slate house name sign.

I have also taken to adding in the Please and Thank You on the plethora of "Private, Keep Out!" signs that have cropped up in this parish and the next since the referendum. An insignificant attempt to soften the blow of our exit from the EU but manners cost nothing although the cost of adding the apostrophe to the Keeper's Cottage sign perhaps was punitive.

Push the soft focus button for grammar in this guff, there's no sub editirs here.

Today we are informed in a report by MPs that Water Meters reduce water usage.

Who knew?

What was the cost of producing this report?

Southern Water were the first water company to implement a universal metering programme so well done the water wallahs for that, but the invisible groundwater resource wass classified as being at the maximum or over the maximum level of abstraction some years ago. Unmetered users in the South West used 198 litres per person per day. Metered users used 108 litres per person per day.

No more reports please, the knowledge that water meters help save water has been out there for some years. Get out of your report writing rooms and implement more metering schemes and make a sustained and determined effort to use our precious water supply in the south of England in a more sustainable manner.

This penny really is taking a long time to drop.

While we are on preserving planet earth (I'll refrain from mentioning cows farting and the burning of wood as we've some very nice steak in the freezer and a shed full of logs) but why can't North African countries looking to turn a bit of coin sell electricity to Europe that has been produced via solar fields in deserts?

I'm told it's a sunny spot, they are indeed "sun ray rich" and yes it would need a long extension lead and there's the two pin socket to three pin socket thing to surmount. I am quietly confident that cleverer people than I are already across such schemes, so well done everyone, well done, there is a light and it never goes out.

We've a heavy dew each morning at the moment, no sign of a cold snap to seal the deal for the end of the 2008 growing season, so grass must still be cut and hedges attended to that I hoped would not need attending to again this year.

Apparently it's not 2008, are you sure?

Here's an image of the future where we are invited to Maisie and Callum's house for Sunday lunch.
What, that was the other weekend? When did she do her O Levels?

Crikes, it could well be 2018.

Yes the years are flying by and that's the end of my twenty seventh summer season on this river. A curate's egg of a season. Easy street with biscuit wheels for the first few months with a difficult denouement that began in the dog days of August.
Looking up and not down, all we need is a wet winter in these parts and all will once again be as it should be.

Here's to a wet winter in 2008/09

We've done that one - ed.