Friday 18 January 2019

The Duke of Edinburgh, Hover Stools and The New Face of the 1st Class Stamp

Hello everybody and Happy New Year,


we did that already apparently.

No matter, we shall press on regardless with this latest tranche of guff and a brief resume of movements among the sunlit uplands of he Dever Valley,

Ok, it may not be brief, but on we go all the same.

Willows continue to be attended to along with a few clumps of hazel. It's a fire a day at the moment, which won't please the clean air lobby, but then fire has been around for a very long time and some native Americans managed to live to a great age in a smoked filled wigwam, and at this point it may be apposite to come out and confess,

My name is Chris and I am a serial burner of wood.

The mother of all wood burners has heated our home for the past twenty seven years, for fifteen of which it powered all the radiators, and subsequently was nicely alight for many months of the year. It instils an appreciation of a decent bit of wood, and the logs we currently burn have been down and seasoned for three years or more. It's a clean burn with the moisture content of some of the logs introduced to the medium of fire coming in around fifteen percent (my cutting edge moisture meter records our kitchen chairs as eighteen percent although I may have spilt something)

Damp wood is the dirty burn in a domestic wood burner.

Anyway, clearance work in the wood has resulted in increased traffic speed on the main track. The Duke of Edinburgh interrupted his passage along the Highway to the Sun a few days ago to drop in to talk ermine and pearls with Lord Ludg.

Phil asked for a go on the tractor and this happened.

Phil was ok, although he was very quick to invoke the security risk card and hightail it in his protection officer's car.

Don't worry Phil, Lord Ludg and myself pulled the thing out.

On me everyone (sotto voce,)

There are now Arctic Char in the River Test.

You heard it her first so adjust your fly boxes accordingly.

An ancient dweller of lake and loch and particularly fond of an alpine environment, (brer Arctic Char, not my good self, although.....) a load rocked up on the middle river recently.

OK it's a salmonid, and yes it's a species native to the UK, but certainly not native to a southern chalkstream, the ice age never came this way (consults "O" level Geography notes)

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for promoting biodiversity and at this great age, nothing excites me more than a new fish to seek out. But command centre central tell us off for this kind of thing.

The incident seems to have been hushed up. There are only a few places the char can have originated from, and they didn't catch the bus from Windermere, but Arctic Char in the Test, who'd a thought.

Out and about in the wood this little critter is currently thriving on the stumps of Christmas trees that have fallen over or been felled in the past few years.

Turkey Tail fungus, or Coriolus Versicolor for those with a Latin bent, and I'm looking at you the dishonourable member for the 18th century it is a panacea for most, if not all ills, (Turkey Tail fungus, not the Dishonourable member for the 18th Century) and with medical shortages forecast for the spring our window sills are currently covered in the things drying out in the winter sun.

Trials to ascertain effective dosage begin next week, possibly on the cat as she currently has a runny nose.

While we're on animals. and revolutionary ones at that, Otis and Moss currently vie for the job of "next face of the 1st class stamp"

The lines are now open.

Vote now to decide which of the two will feature as first and second class stamp.

Late last year I put in a freedom of information request to the weasels to the local water company regarding historical date of groundwater levels recorded at their pumping station in the village. I have made several such request to various parties in recent years and UK law requires that the information requested is produced within two weeks.

The EA respond well to such requests, as do our local council, the local water company however....

Three requests and a couple of months later a "do not reply email" arrives with an excel spreadsheet displaying a list of numbers with no key, no title or possible means of ascertaining what the numbers presented represent.

Smoke and mirrors have been invoked to produce an indecipherable chunk of guff.

Another request has gone in, but private water companies are a law unto themselves, so it may be a word document with random letters that arrives in a few months time, or possibly a page full of emojis.

Weasels, weasels, weasels!

In entertainment news, Alan's back!

Steve Coogan has been doing the rounds talking about his film piece centred around Laurel and Hardy's tour of the UK, and confirmed that Alan will be hosting a "One show" style programme, which is a great thing and a reason to look up and not down in these depressing times.

I'm of a similar vintage to Coogan and grew up in the same corner of the country. Paul and Pauline Calf are disturbingly similar to several of my best mates and Saxondale once fixed our boiler when he should have been seeking out rats.

Alan has been an ever present in my life since The Day Today, and whither Sue Townsend, as I'm sure Adrian Mole would have developed in a similarly rich vein.

Yes, Alan's back and that's a good thing for everyone,

North Norfolk Digital, thanks for sharing.

I may have dreamt this next bit but apparently Child B, sorry, our son William, has just turned twenty four years old.

Which seems crackers as I'm sure I was throwing balls at his fourteen year old head in the Longparish nets a few weeks ago.

Here's a futuristic picture from the future of us all on our hover stools (first featured in the Bleep and Booster section of the 1974 Blue Peter annual) taking in St Pauls and Londinium.

Questions I've asked myself each day this week:

1: It can't be 2019 can it?
2: He can't be 24 can he?
3: Where did I put it?
4: What am I supposed to be doing?
5: Why the F%^& did I let the Duke of Edinburgh have a go on the tractor??????

Tuesday 8 January 2019

Ash Planks and Last Night at Manderley Again

Happy New Year everyone. There are trouble makers out there who would have us believe that it is now 2019, but I'm not so sure.

Whatever the number of the new year we see it in with good news.

Yes we've had some rain and yes Liverpool FC sit four points clear at the top of the table, but the real biggy is the confirmation that our recent tender to run ferries from the continent to the Dever valley to stave off predicted shortages has been accepted.

We live in an era when dreams really can come true.

I dreamt last week that I was a ferry operator, hornpipes, rigging gold braid an'all, the full "Kate O'mara Triangle" experience,

and now that dream has been realised,

Yes, I too am a Ferry Operator.

Thank you Mr Grayling for the substantial cheque and New Year's Honour that are currently in the post for helping to keep this part of Old Albion supplied. Use of the layby on the Highway to the Sun has been secured should we need to implement Operation Stack in order to keep the larders and fridges of these sunlit uplands fully stocked.

What times we live in.

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again,

No wait,

I know how this kind of thing works now, it may have been Manderley but it was raining.

Last night I dreamt it rained for three days each week until April and somebody gave me a substantial cheque for having that dream


Groundwater replenishment problems solved and holidays booked.

Megan Trainer may insist that it is all about the base, but in this valley it is currently all about the willow. Particularly the stuff that grows up falls over and then grows up again. It's a perennial task and it's a wiggly tree that rarely grows in a straight line. Felling the stuff can be a tricky business. Last week we had two saws pinched by a recalcitrant bough and almost had a third stuck before the thing cashed in its chips with the butt jumping six feet backwards in our direction. It's currently wood work all the way with the few trout that show an interest in spawning allowed to go about their business in privacy.

I'll whisper it quietly but this spring is bubbling a little more boisterously and the river is maintaining a reasonable flow.

For those keen followers of activities around Spring Bottom, there is no sign of water yet but fingers are firmly crossed for an appearance sometime around the Ides of March.

Returning to saw work (and sore work) We've felled a couple of Christmas trees to season up over the summer for planking next year.

We've also stored up a bit of straightish ash for future construction projects or possibly a plethora of chopping boards.

There were a couple of straight lengths in the wood that had contracted the dreaded dieback and they have now been transported to the timber processing centre that we have established in a stand of Christmas trees.

Consternation was expressed by The English and Lord Ludgershall, both of whom believe that all ash should aspire to a life in the wood shed and eye each passing Morgan motor car with an avaricious arboreal eye.

It will come as no surprise, but I am often asked for the secret behind my porcelain skin and svelte figure, and while pondering the passing of 2008 I pondered a career change to "Lifestyle Guru"

Think Goop with the sustained consumption of red wine, dark chocolate and bifidus digestibum very much the centre of the piece.

A clever machine that sits on my left wrist to let me know how things are going internally was purchased -for which we give thanks to our sponsors for stumping up the required cash and Amazon vouchers. I am currently sourcing certificates on the internet that will serve as bonafides for my new career.

I've worn this thing for a week now. It's in cahoots with my clever phone and both inform me that I have an excellent heart, I thrash around a lot while sleeping and during the day I bumble about a lot,

an awful lot,

which looks great on the graphs, but whither my poor knees.

Today's step count currently stands at 24194 with a few trips to the kitchen yet to make. I've a bridge to build at some point in 2019. I always cover more ground when I'm building something, with ninety percent of my steps made searching for a tool I have just put down five minutes ago.

I once pitched an idea for a TV show centred around the very same scenario. Provisionally titled "Hammer Quest" It featured "mid lifers" such as myself competing for big cash prizes,

possibly in the studio,

or perhaps on location if the producers wanted to take the show on the road and add a "Springwatch" feel to the piece.


each mid-lifer is given a series of objects, tools possibly, and asked to place them in "safe places" around the set.

The mid-lifer is then subjected to a two minute nuisance phone call, required to perform a call of nature or presented with a cup of tea. They are then invited to return to the set and seek the objects that were placed in a safe place.

The first mid-lifer that recovers all his trove is the winner.

Saga TV rejected the idea on the grounds that it couldn't be fitted into a half hour format, but I still maintain it has legs.

The Saga TV Channel also turned down a parlour game format proposed by this house titled "What Did I Come in Here For?" In which mid-lifer contestants enter a room and say "What Did I Come In Here For? " while two panels of celebrities suggest items that the contestant may be looking for, Lionel Blair was keen to host and Tom Rush was booked for the theme tune, but hey ho.

Yes, with each passing year I can only see my step count going up as I bumble about aimlessly trying to remember what it is I am supposed to be doing, or when and where I last used that tool.