Tuesday, 27 August 2019
Apologies all but I have been laid crook with a severe bout of IDS
but propose it he did.
I have paid into a private pension all of my working life as has the lady who sleeps on my left. We have also paid full NI contributions throughout our working lives. State pension payments from the age of sixty seven (nee sixty five) were a part of our future financial planning for retirement. IDS would now like me to work for another nine years contributing further NI payments for a reduced period of pension payments.
IDS receives a military pension and, one day, a parliamentary pension for coming up with this screwing over of the everyday Joe.
Ok it has been muttered in some quarters that I retired at the age of twenty one to become a riverkeeper, and while I may make it look effortless, it is a physical job. Not one that I had envisaged undertaking to the age of seventy five. My knees are a mess and regular visitors to this house will attest that my mind is on the wane,
beyond seventy I'm not sure I should be trusted with plastic knives, let alone a chainsaw with a twenty eight inch bar.
We now know where part of the funding for the false promises the current crock of shite have been making this past month will come from. Me and millions of others working for an extra nine years and not claiming my state pension at the age originally intended.
IDS even had the temerity to suggest it would do me good. Is he intent on creating civil unrest?
IDS: "Now that you have reached the age when you are eligible for a state pension we've done the math and would like to present you both with this bill for just over £130,000 (nine years of state pension for two people) that you can repay by working for another nine years, it'll do you good".
Mr & Mrs de Cani: Sorry Ian, how about you give us the lump sum that we have paid through NI and Serps throughout our working life and we'll be the best judge of what's good for us and which part of planet earth we decide to spend it"
Shame on You IDS,
If you query the bonafides of this tale, give "IDS retirement age" a google
Right, I seem to have got quite cross, and a little sweary but now I've got that off my chest (a chest that has undoubtedly slipped a bit) to river business.
Ben Stokes by the way, what a cricketer. Madam and myself were in the house when he hit the fastest Test century at Lords against New Zealand in 2015. When the force is with him, bat, ball or in the field the opposition had better look out.
It's a worry.
It has come close to drying up at Weston Colley two miles from the usual source of the Dever during the past few summers.
There was a thriving angling club with a burgeoning membership.
Sutton Scotney Anglers. They even had a HQ in the village with name plate on the door an'all.
Couldn't stock it now.
The current situation in the Dever Valley has been caused by five dry winters, an unsustainable use of the groundwater resource and not allowing enough of what little rain that falls to soak back into the ground.
Earlier this year a delegation of Trusts, Associations and Interested parties approached the Water Companies and EA about the need to conserve water this summer. The Water Company announced that there was nothing to worry about, they would just draw more out of the ground. The EA's gaze was drawn to their navel.
In early summer I wrote to my Local EA office asking why their groundwater data didn't reflect the anecdotal evidence in the Dever Valley of aquifers under pressure. A rather supercilious reply stated that their data was accurate and anecdotal evidence was the ravings of cranks and loons.
If nothing changes with regard to the way we use our groundwater and the amount of rain that falls in this corner of the country this stretch of river will receive its principle replenishment from the sewage works out flow at Barton Stacey. It will be much diminished and its character will change. Above the sewage works outflow the Dever will become a winter bourne, below the sewage works - high in nutrients prone to warming with regular algal blooms. It will cease to be a true chalk stream.
One of the reason I chuck up this guff is to provide a record for future generations that this wasn't always the case on the Dever. An incredibly productive and biodiverse chalk river environment is being quietly trashed by a generation's inability or unwillingness to look after a ground water resource that feeds these precious rivers.
I have said it many times on here, if a third world country or failed state treated a unique habitat with such contempt, we would be quick to condemn as corrupt.
Thursday, 15 August 2019
Grass has grown, the fringe is a little long and then a tree fell down in high wind at the weekend. Well half a tree actually, a significant chunk of an ageing horse chestnut.
The wind seems to have blown constantly since we returned from Sardinia (Did I mention we'd been away?) which has made fishing, for those who have attempted it, decidedly difficult. Coupled with low crystal clear water and fish in mid season form with gimlet eyes keenly honed in on what is presented, this time of the year is always challenging.
There is some succour to be had in that fishing will often pick up in September as those fish that do spawn have a final feed before making preparations to get jiggy in autumn.
We have Leverets on the river bank for the first time in my memory. There were a couple of hares hopping about the water meadows for most of the winter. Lepus prefer the fields and woods higher up the side of the valley and this pair can only have ended up where they are by coming through the wood and crossing one of three foot bridges.
That, or they swam across the river.
Over on the Itchen ribbon weed is having the time of its life and each weed cut I have had to cut it back only for it to grow clear of the water within a matter of weeks.
The next time the movers and shakers of the chalk stream world get together to talk phosphates and nitrates over coffee and fine biscuits could they invite this guy in the tractor along.
He spent a whole morning spreading pungent slurry onto a field sloping down to a water meadow ditch that leads into the main river. Farmers used to follow the weather but apparently no more. I was keenly monitoring the radar on a day to day basis, obviously for groundwater replenishment but also because we had two tickets for the first day of the Lords Test twenty four hours hence.
Some of the slurry that this guy could have chucked on another field or applied when rain was not forecast will have ended up in the ditch and subsequently the river.
Keep it up.
Not the king of the mountains mamil lycra cult that seems to have taken hold over here, but normal bikes of Dutch design that you ride in everyday clothing in an upright position on a wide comfortable saddle often with a handy cargo box in front of the handlebars.
Research over the past few weeks has revealed that such bikes can be purchased with secret engines.
I get cross when I have to pedal up hills. Give me the flat hills of my homeland, or possibly the polders, over an incline anyday.
Hills are not fun to ride up on a bike.
An ebike they call them.
It has a large cushioned saddle, a big rechargeable battery and a button that you can push to assist with the uphill bits. For my knackered knees it's a boon and you arrive at your destination (local shop, cricket ground, fish smokery, recycling centre) in a reasonable condition and not soaked in sweat, eyes bulging and puffing like a loon.
If ebikes are for us we'll add another electric velocipede to the fleet later this year.
But for the moment, my name is Chris de Cani and I am an ebiker.
Tuesday, 13 August 2019
I'll continue in the mother tongue as Google Translate just crashed.
A few days In Sardinia. The gulf of Orosei to be precise, about half way down on the right hand side and a repeat attempt to touch base with saline detective Monk Seal.
You can take it as read that the M25 was a mess and the trip to Gatwick took an hour longer than usual. The Easyjet flight to Olbia was delayed by over an hour. Inter rent the hopeless hire car company who we had trouble with in Milan took forty five minutes to hand over the keys. Picking the case up to pack in the car I tipped the entire contents out across the car park as I had forgotten to do it up after retrieving documentation and on leaving the airport Google maps failed, all navigation was lost, and we we circumnavigated a roundabout for several minutes before formulating a plan.
We didn't have a duff meal or glass of grog all week, and can report that Sardinian Cannonau is a tremendous drop of grog and the locals can really work a tomato.
And so a pattern was set. Activity in the morning, good lunch, beach in the afternoon and out to dinner at night.
A walk to a prehistoric site one morning took us through some scrub that had been subject to the medium of fire a few weeks before. It must have been quite a burn with a few isolated dwellings looking a little singed.
Well preserved, managed and maintained they litter the island.
They have a programme that runs throughout the summer.
Could have been Puccini, Verdi or Rossini,
We don't know
I'll own that many subjects are a blind spot for this house. Classical music would be up there in the top ten, although we did see Pavarotti in the park.
Half an hour of this quintet coupled with some decidedly glugable Sardinian grog definitely aided digestion.
Captain Corelli would approve, or was that another island we've been to?
Tortolli next, a functional town with a supermarket that we needed to visit and a famous sprint finish on the Giro D'Italia.
Sardines or Sardinians as they prefer to be known are the longest lived people on planet earth. Several Asian cultures may dispute this and question the criteria for classifying a longest lived group of people, but a higher percentage of people on this island live to a hundred years old than anywhere else on earth.
Each month's qualifiers are photographed and asked to reveal the secret to their longevity.
and by the way it has nothing to do with cycling any of the local stages of the Giro D'Italia, such activities would finish most all sane people,
they're on to something.
but back over the mountains to an Easyjet flight delayed by two and a half hours and chaos on the M25
Thanks to everyone who held the fort at home.
Our quest for Monk Seal?
River news to follow.