Thursday 20 February 2020
There should be some super fit fish about for the first few months of the season.
Trees remain vulnerable in saturated ground and a few days back a substantial Aspen wobbled over on the far banks of the bottom bends. It seems quite bizarre that almost a year ago to the day the ground was so dry that a large part of fen caught fire and an old fishing hut went up in flames (it’s on here somewhere) I don’t expect to be burning any reed beds in what remains of this winter.
There are other spring ditches in the parish that are also having an “out of bank experience” and spring water runs along several of the roads in this area as it makes its way to the main river.
It’s far too wet for carrots, because yes we are experiencing flooding.
Not in the manner of the Wye, Severn and Ouse.
They are different types of river that respond in a different way to heavy rain than the Test and Itchen. The sage of Longparish the one time cricket correspondent for The Thunderer always insists that the Test is too much of a lady to flood. Which has some truth in it, but when she does flood she tends to sulk for quite a period and is reluctant to return to what the sage would have as “mid season form”
The Wye, Severn and Ouse rise very quickly and can fall at an equally rapid rate. I have fished the Wye, Dee (a similar river) and Severn in rising conditions and have had to move my fishing basket back up the bank throughout the day. A true chalk river creeps up and any flooding comes from rising groundwater which takes quite a while to go away.
A venerable and newly retired keeper on the middle river (he put me forward for my current position when he was in his prime) always insisted that you knew you’d had enough winter rain for the impending summer if you had to think twice about taking your 4x4 into the meadows for fear of getting stuck.
I’d tried to stick to route that kept me as close to tree trunks and their associated tangle of roots by way of finding firmer ground. In conditions such as this, once you go through the top crust and there is no root system to provide support you just keep going down into the sodden peat. I’ve taken to putting sheets of tin down to drive and dig on, which seems to work.
Today we received word that the proposal for an enormous incinerator on a site two fields away from this stretch of the Dever has been withdrawn. The announcement came quite out of the blue and was taken in order for the once American based now Antipodean based company to concentrate on other projects, which all sounds a bit woolly but well done all the same and I doubt we’ll ever find out the real reasons why they suddenly pulled out and went away. Thanks to everyone who made representation during the consultation process.
or possibly laines,
not sure which, there were signs to both.
More walking the following day and some spectacular Italian food somewhere in the Lanes/Laines before catching the choo choo home.
Tuesday 11 February 2020
Nothing to do with the high pulse count that we currently maintain in order to keep our bowels spick and span, but a storm with a name that I have seen spelt at least three different ways in a matter of days. Fortunately the next storm to sweep in from the west has been assigned the moniker “Dennis” which may be a little less confusing for the spelling departments.
For fifteen minutes on Sunday the rain was reminiscent of Niagara. A wall of water so intense we lost sight of the mill house across the road and many trees fell over,
all thanks to Rita's sis - Storm Kia-ora
Around a dozen other trees joined in this arboreal Hari Kari, or "Tree Fail" as our Antipodean friends would have it
With my tree triage hat on, the sycamore on the road is a priority followed by the two ash trees in the mill stream and the field maple across the track at the bottom of the Andyke.
The Christmas trees and ash in the woods may have to wait for attention as the start of the trout fishing season is racing towards us and there are many tasks still to be completed. I also anticipate having to cut weed in April for the first time in a long time.
The luxuriant ranunculus is entirely due to a reasonable rate of flow. The Dever remains principally between its banks and it has been higher, but my goodness the rain we have received this winter has had a tremendously rejuvenating effect on the river. Ranunculus is stimulated by flow, gravel is scoured and cleaned by increased discharge, nutrient levels are diluted in the extra water. Rain is everything to this river and its aquifers, the contrast between the low levels of the last six or so years is stark. With a decent recharge of the aquifers summer fishing should be a very different experience this year with wellies the footwear of first choice.
It has been as still as a pond for the last six summers and was built to drive the wheel at the mill. Bread would be plentiful this summer if the wheel were still turning and grinding grain.
It’s a walk we’ve completed several times and it crosses the valley floor on numerous occasions.
On the short stretch of the Itchen that I fall in and out of, the gravel bank at the back end of the pool that has been proud of the water for much of last year is now submerged. I’ve been laying waste to some bramble and thorn and I bear substantial scars on any flesh that became exposed. The ranunculus in this stretch of the Itchen is a little behind the Dever and may not need cutting in April, the ribbon weed however will need attending to once a month throughout the summer.
Little egret are numerous in number in this valley, but great egret are a reasonably rare visitor.
The few times that I have seen great egret here, there have been heron nearby trying to run them out of town. The two species don’t seem to get on and this pair were being watched carefully by three of Jack Ern’s best.
I don’t know if referring to a heron as “Jack Ern” is a Hampshire thing.
Mary Gunn who lived downstream next door always called them that, although it may have been a Mary Gunn thing. She was a one off was Mary.
Great Egret by the way, couldn’t be anything else, even to these failing eyes. Twice the size of Little Egret and a little bit more between the ears.
Decibels harvested in the bad ear are transported by sound pixies across my bonce to the good ear which then assesses them on the bad ear’s behalf – I think that’s what she said. Reading between the lines my good ear is now bionic, or possibly functioning as a super ear.
I've been on to Marvel comics to pitch a new feature "The addled adventures of Super Ear Man" and a pattern has been commissioned for the costume.
I await their reply.
Anyway, I’ve bought cars for less than the purchase price, and it’s a bit odd when you scratch one ear and you hear it in the other, but it seems to help.
Oh yes, Avenue 5
A Dickens of a show and a parody of our times.
Top TV, well done Armando Iannuucci.