Friday, 28 May 2021

Val-Deri Val Dera, Mayfly and Knitbone

Cygnets, goslings, ducklings and pheasant chicks and Derek Nimmo

All put in an appearance in the valley this week. 

Although the Derek Nimmo bit proved to be a falsehood as a lunchtime google confirmed that he is no longer with us, it must have been a Derek Nimmo lookalike just passing through. It was a brief highlight of a particularly slow day (The possibility that the parish had been visited by celebrity, not the confirmation of the unfortunate demise of Derek Nimmo) which is just about how we roll around here at the moment. 

The miserable Guilgud (after AA Mole) has become even more grumpy following the appearance of his sole heir, and today while strimming I saw him a long way from the river chasing off another male swan through the Christmas trees. With it’s many twists and turns it is a tricky stretch of river for swans to lift off to assume their lumbering flight and I have seen them take off from dry land before. Years ago an old dog of ours managed to grab a mouthful of tail feathers as one slowly gained height across the meadow. 

We are still well down on swallows, swifts and martins. They normally turn up in time for an easy meal at mayfly time which is now in full swing. At which point I could ramble off into eight hundred words about the “magic of the mayfly” an angle for feature pieces that is regurgitated ad nauseam with slight tweaks each year in the angling press. I was once asked to write more features on subjects along the lines of “The magic of the mayfly” or “Winning ways with worms” It all seemed a bit Walter Scott to me or possibly Walter Gabriel. Instead I sent in a fifteen hundred word feature piece on how Poldark couldn’t use a scythe properly and would do well to keep his shirt on during the sharpening process due to potential hazards, which was duly published and drew mixed reviews. 

Anyway the mayfly is on. Steady hatches from late morning through to late afternoon and the fish now know what they are. Some significant lumps have fallen to a mayfly dun this week and tomorrow I will make my third trip to the smoker. Over wintered fish are in surprisingly good condition. With the high number of fish in the river during the winter just gone one would expect a few thin fish to be put on the bank, but so far all trout have been fully finned and torpedo like in shape. This week the sun has shone more often and the wind has dropped significantly, which has made flicking a fly a far more comfortable and satisfying experience. Wind and heavy rain are the nemesis of the mayfly. High wind can result in egg laden females struggle to get back to the river to deposit their load. Heavy rain can see them deceived by a wet road where they will crash land mid carriageway in the mistaken belief that it is a body of water. I have yet to see a mating dance by the beech tree at the end of our garden but I don’t think it will be long.
Grass has really pushed on of late and mower and strimmer have both been whirring and banging keeping the banks and paths in order. The long grass in the meadows that we leave until the orchids have finished is around twelve inches high and dotted with cuckoo flower,knitbone and king cups. While strimming and mowing my new clever noise cancelling headphones have been a revelation. While listening to podcasts, radio and talking books via the magic of the Bluetooth pixies, I no longer need to have the volume turned up to the max. Turn the noise cancelling feature up to high and all noise from the outside world melts away, it really is clever stuff although it does take a little getting use to. 

Before making preparations to go at the grass with the four stroke strimmer the other day, I popped up the road to the garage to fill the petrol can. Passing the small car park by the allotments at the end of the road, I caught a group of ramblers mustering to complete the four mile circular walk that now features in many walking guide books. It was a welcome sight and another baby step in the slow walk out into the light and normality. Petrol purchased I returned home put on my strimmer trousers and clever headphones and turned the noise cancelling feature up to max. The pando has caused my mind to skip and slip around a bit and I suddenly remembered that the compost bin that takes the food waste unsuitable for chooks would benefit from a layer of grass clippings to aid the composting process. It wouldn’t need much and the small strip of grass between the Mill house and the road would provide just enough clippings before I set off with the strimmer.
Still in strimmer troos and clever headphoned up I dragged my small rechargeable mower (we’re saving the planet here) out of the shed and made my way over to the grass. Two turns in the rambling group, suitably roped together, pass by. All twenty have their hats on the sides of their head, are all smiles and waves, which send me into a reverie centred around the benefits of walking with regard to mental health throughout my third pass with the mower. 

Five times up and down and I guessed the grass box must be nearly full. The collection part of the machine was removed and a close inspection revealed that it was completely empty.
That’s odd, I thought, the cutting height is set correctly and it normally fills up after five turns.
Removing my headphones to don the headgear of a rechargeable lawn mower technician a light bulb moment occurred. 
 The battery on the mower was flat, I couldn’t hear the rechargeable mower wasn’t whirring due to the clever headphones. 

I had just been pushing the dead mower up and down. 

I don’t know what the Val-deri Val-dera brigade thought, a very quiet mower or possibly a silly old fool, 

we don’t know, but the next edition of the rambling guide book may well be amended to “and at this point of the walk you will pass an old Mill house on the river Dever. There has been a mill house on the site for at least a thousand years. The current workings on the sluice by the road were installed in 1842 by a local Andover company. If you look closely at the wall on the end of the house you will see the initials of several of the previous mill owners and the year in which they were in residence. The area around the mill is rich in wildlife and an important example of a rare chalk stream environment. Fed by aquifers and springs that impart their unique character, they have been managed by man for hundreds of years. Occasionally local pagans can be seen outside the Mill in late spring muttering in tongues while wheeling small machines up and down in an attempt to appease the goddess of the springs. Pagans believe that this process delivers a soothing massage to the goddess of the springs who will reciprocate with a bounty of water throughout the summer.” 

Well that’s what I told them when they came past again ten minutes later.

1 comment:

Bureboyblog said...

What a glorious epic fail. Fantastic.