Wednesday 24 April 2019
Mappa Mundi, An Aged Tortoise and Entente Cordiale
Stunning, quite stunning,
before Moss ran amok
And we're off.
We've opened earlier this year to make up for the increasingly difficult midsummer conditions. A response to a changing climate if you will.
Further evidence of the dehydration of this corner of the country came my way last week. The National Library of Scotland has made many old maps available online.
A kind gent forwarded a map of this valley in 1894.
The map was drawn in 1894, the email wasn't forwarded in 1894.
They didn't have the internet then, although some of us still don't enjoy the internet experience via the medium of cables, high speed or otherwise, an hour away from one of the biggest cities on planet earth.
Aged tortoises that live out their years in far flung corners of empire get all the heat when it comes to antiquity, but the cast iron sluice on the house that has a big part to play in the management of water valley was installed in 1847, continues to be relevant and is still in use today.
I was once shown a photograph of the Mill House in the early 1900's. It is winter and a group of men are working on a ground floor bay window, the stream through the garden was of sufficient size to merit inspection with a fly. This stream is now much diminished and dries up each summer.
Look closely at the map and you will see the pub that is now a house and whose ground borders our bottom bends. I have it on authority of his late wife Renee, that Ted, a river keeper in this parish for many years from the mid nineteen hundreds, would sometimes arrive home from the Crook & Shears soaking wet having fallen off the duck board walk that traversed the decidedly spongy ground that surrounded the spring holes. Today,Ted could totter home from the pub in Renee's highest heels without fear of sinking in or getting a soaking.
Regular readers will be well versed in the saga of Spring Bottom and concerns that groundwater data collected does not reflect the mountain of anecdotal evidence for the chronic depletion of this valley's aquifers.
The absence of the flight pond and the farm buildings by the entrance to Bransbury Manor. The dairy moved across the road around the turn of the century with the one-time cart shed now converted to a holiday let, all that remains of the original farm.
The demise of the mill as a functioning producer of flour probably led to the construction of the hatch at the top of this beat. With no wheel to turn, the water could be taken away from the mill stream and its mission to turn a wheel to boost flow in what we now call the main river.
For several hundred years the mill stream carried the bulk of the valley's water. What is now the main river existed as a side stream that wandered about a bit receiving sustenance from sluice streams throughout the length of the mill stream. These small sluiced streams also served as a means of getting rid of water in times of high flow, preventing the flooding of the mill.
Paperwork from several sales of the mill illustrate that the fishery has been a significant asset of the property for some time, principally for eels and trout as a source of food. The advent of dry fly fishing for trout in the late 19th century saw the value of a yard of chalk stream bank rise rapidly beyond the value as a source of turning a mill wheel.
In a reversal of roles, the mill stream is now used to move on any surplus of water (an event that hasn't happened since 2013) with the flow of what is now the main river controlled with an eye to providing sport fishing.
In other news,
The tragic fire in Notre Dame recently brought to mind our own recent travails with the medium of fire, and at this point I'd like to show solidarity with Messieur Macron and promise that our own little shed will be rebuilt in time for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Vive l'entente cordiale! Vive La Difference!
We have plenty of wood and we like cooking in ovens so it seemed the natural course to take.
When the lights dim and the plugs fade on whatever date is now scheduled, we shall seek succour and sustenance from "adequate food" ranging from wood fired oven chips to wood fired reheated pie.
To counterbalance this increase in our own personal carbon footprint I'd like to point out that the smoke produced from our oven is offset by that fact that mine and madam's exhalation weakens with each passing year.
Although other gases produced may be on the rise, which I attribute entirely to an increase in pulses in our diet
The Cathedral of first choice for the Russian Bear, the city is bearing up remarkably well following recent events and is a great place for a day out.
The Avon is not quite as polite as the Test or the Itchen and can rise and fall at some speed. The water meadow complex upstream of the city also stand as testament to lost knowledge as to how to manage chalk river water meadows in order to both retain and get rid of water. I believe this kind of caper is current:
I could hazard a guess at some of it, but at one time there would have been a gang of guys bumbling about the Salisbury meadows with an eye as to what to do with the water and where it should go who really knew their stuff about how their water meadow worked.