Wednesday 26 January 2022

The Uxbridge Berlusconi and a Messy Incident on Fulham High St.

Happy New Year everyone, 

Did we do that one yet? 

Well January seems to have flown by, most of it with chainsaw in hand. Ash mostly with the odd field maple but for much of this week whacking into willow. In these parts willow had a good time of it in 2021. Some limbs have put on eight feet of growth and with leaf weight in spring will drop a few feet from their current position, impeding paths, banks and a cast at a rising fish. 
We could do with some rain. Flow from springs is fairly feeble and the river is running clear. A wet couple of months would be of great benefit to the chalk rivers in the south. 
Grayling fishing has picked up. Through Autumn and early winter the morning was the more productive time, but recent anglers have enjoyed more sport in the afternoon with several fish taken off the top while sipping at the occasional olive. 

A new electric utility vehicle has been purloined and it sits proudly in its own garage behind heavy security. The back section has a tail gate and a tipping facility increasing its usefulness further. 
Used in conjunction with the tractor, carbon neutrality is achieved by the healthy batteries offsetting the fumes from the Kubota and the occasional puffing of the operator on a pipe. 

I think that’s how carbon neutrality is attained, particularly if you are cutting trees down and furiously replanting at the same time.

It is tremendous to see the plight of the UK's rivers finally being raised to a higher level in the media and in parliament, and the weasels at the water companies being called out for poor practice and a failure to invest in infrastructure. Keep it up,  action has been required for decades, and it hardly got a mention fifteen or so years ago. 

Should have been in Cork last weekend to see ‘The Dara” warming up for his forthcoming stand up tour. Unfortunately the whole thing was cancelled. We were due to fly over on Saturday morning, returning on the Sunday evening. Unfortunately entry into Ireland requires two days of quarantine, Carol Vorderman teaches us that this is not possible in the given time frame. 
The show was cancelled a few weeks ago and rescheduled for a midweek night in March, which as Madam works in education, we are unable to attend. Everything was refunded but it would have been nice to be back in Ireland. 

Instead we headed for the smoke, because somehow Child B is now 27 years old. 

And I’ll break off there. 

The flights we had been due to take to Cork came in at a smidge over seventy pounds each. 

Before the Pando struck, Madam and myself had taken out a railcard in order to ride the rails a little more by way of saving the planet. The railcard lapsed during the Pando and a new one was taken out last week in order to catch the train from Basingstoke to Clapham Junction, a rail distance of around 42 miles. Off peak tickets for the journey mid Saturday morning returning mid afternoon came in at sixty pounds each without the railcard, forty pounds each with the railcard. The last time we headed up to the City (pre Pando) we paid twenty and a bit pounds with the railcard. 

Once again our flights to Cork, a distance of 350 miles cost seventy pounds each. 


So we drove to London 

What we are told is our oil burning pig of a two litre diesel BMW, eats up motorways at just under fifty miles to the gallon and costs only thirty pounds to tax each year. Ok it was fifteen pounds to park the thing for the duration and I had to suffer the lecture by the recorded message on the Ringo parking party line as to why the “oil burning pig” was so expensive to park in the district, but with financial hardship on the horizon for many, other than walking, or risking everything on a bike, it remains the most cost effective, if not the cleanest way of entering what some would have as one of the greatest cities on earth.

The environmental platitudes issued in Cornwall many months ago seem a little ingenuine, but hey, they got some good photos. 

Which seems symptomatic of the times we live in, with “Our Great Leader” the Uxbridge Berulsconi channelling the Sun King or possibly Louis XVI with Carrie Antoinette imploring all present to eat cake while the court continue to mug the rest of us off. 

Ho hum, we are where we are,

Anyway we went to London and an excellent lunch. 

Later Moss drew quite an audience as his bowels, brim full of urban excitement and some odd sausage that rolled his way in the restaurant, let him down spectacularly on Fulham High St. An extensive clean up operation swung into action which included several trips into a pub for jugs of water, and many “pooh” bags and tissues. 
In conversation I lied about my age once again. It’s not a vanity thing, I’m quite happy to be the age I am, it’s just that with the madness of recent times I find it difficult to remember what year we are currently in and how old I actually am. Physically and possibly mentally, two years of pandemic has put five years or more on many people (me included) yet I continue to unintentionally knock them off when it comes to direct questioning on my specific age. 

Looking up, we’ve a couple of trips booked for the coming year, which is exciting, but arranged to fit in with school holidays, weed cuts and Child A’s wedding. 

I don’t think I have mentioned it on here yet but with limited availability, Child A and her intended are having to hold the event on a Friday in August in a big tent by the river. A good friend of mine, Mr Mole died last year, (or was it the one before that?) He fished here many times. He held his own wedding reception at home, and during the celebration the milkman arrived with the monthly bill. 
A convivial cove, Mr Mole invited the milkman in, where he stayed for many hours and even appeared in the wedding photographs, bill in hand. 

Friday rods, and I know a few of you read this rubbish, may want to have a hair cut and dig out your best weskit early August, as you may be having a camera pointed in your direction and be required to engage in non fishing based conversation with slightly squiffy people in suits and dresses. 

That, or we’ll swap your day for a Saturday or Sunday.

Thursday 6 January 2022

Moss, Mandy and Toast

Happy New Year everybody! 

We drove off the old one on the Suffolk coast at the mouth of the river Deben at the midpoint of four days traipsing on beach and marsh.

Hurricane Moss did most of Suffolk in the first forty five minutes moving into Norfolk sometime in the afternoon and then on into Lincolnshire in the evening. 

Mild weather meant we were out and about all day clocking up the requisite number of steps.

Onto the marsh first where the tide was on the way out and there were many waders including several avocet that I was unable to photograph as I’d left my big lens at home. It was blowing a hooley as we made our way up the path parallel to the river Deben to find an excellent scheme introduced to use water in a more sustainable way.

As an alternative to treated waste water falling out of a pipe into a marsh ditch feeding into the river and bowling off out to sea, a proportion is pumped twelve miles inland and used for irrigating crops where it is soaked back into the ground. At the much diminished outfall into the marsh ditch, over eroded banks caused by the excessive outfall are being restored to the original salt marsh habitat. 

Well done the Kingsfleet Saltmarsh Improvement Project and all who fund it. 

I’ve said it on here many times, but there’s a case to be made for the pipe from the weasels at the water works that crosses a hundred yards of water meadow to tip vaguely treated water into the river dever upstream from here, to be cut short by fifty yards to create a vast wetland paradise. 

It’s just a thought. 

More walking on New Years day. 

Foot ferry across the river to the far bank and a walk along the beach to see Bawdsey Manor. A vast pile of bricks built in the 1880’s as a private residence, it was purchased by the Air Ministry in the 1920’s and played a big part in the development of Radar. It remained RAF Bawdsey well into the 1990s before being sold. It is now a PGL activity centre. 

On the river a sailing competition was underway. 

The local sailing club’s hangover regatta. 

The mouth of the Deben plays harbor to some dangerous currents and two safety boats watched over the competitors, who reached incredible speeds in the stiff breeze. During lunch at our billet (stunning view from every window) we took in a legion of loons on the north bank throwing themselves into the river by way of penance for misdemeanours committed in the year just gone. 

Cold water swimming I think they call it. 

A flying visit to a part of the world we knew little about but one to which we will return, mostly for Moss’s benefit as he touched base with hundreds of other dogs on many beaches, 

A Canine 18-30 break if you will. 

Back home, the river could do with some rain. It fell slowly throughout December and remains crystal clear. A few redds have been kicked up, which is good to see, although heron and egret have stalked spawning fish in low clear water. Mild weather over the Christmas period encouraged a few flies to hatch and both grayling and triploid trout occasionally rose to the surface. 

Child A is getting married in August and by kind permission of the proprietor the reception will be held in a big tent by the river opposite the fishing hut. We couldn’t be more happy, but goodness its instigated a long list of “things that must be done before August” Several key bridges must be upgraded and a track, long grown in, that leads from “The English’s” paddock to now defunct fish rearing ponds must be re-established as the NCP wing of “The English” Corporation has kindly agreed to let wedding guests park in his paddock, for which we give great thanks.

Christmas Day saw an ivy covered field maple wobble over into a neighbouring paddock. Ludgershall and English mustered and we have spent much of the week going at it with saws. 

It took out the fence so we have seized the opportunity to take out several ailing ash trees that were on their way out and only going to fall one way. 

Infected with ash dieback the crown of each one felled shattered like breadsticks on impact with the frosty ground. 

There are many other ash trees in the wood of a similar age and in a similar condition that will eventually fall over or require felling. 

In television news Toast and Mandy are back. 

Both on BBC2 (and well done for that) Stephen Toast, played by the genius that is Matt Berry, Brian Blessed’s secret love child (The crooked Geoff Cox is clearly a fan), has left the colonial club for the tinsel town that is Los Angeles which is a surprising twist. 

 Mandy played by the genius that is Diane Morgan (Cunk, Motherland and much much more) is much the same. The second episode of Mandy featuring the force that is Deborah Meaden is brilliant and a “must watch” 

The Masked Singer has also returned which Madam and myself enjoy, partly in an attempt to remain “current” but there do seem to be a plethora of grim dramas appearing across the channels,

which I don’t think is a good thing in these times.

Just put funny shows on plus a few about dogs, fishing, gardening and making stuff. 

We’re waiting on a new mower for the riverbank. 

It was ordered three and a bit months ago, but there are issues with production, supply chains of parts mostly. We had a similar experience with the Jimny that needed work following a failed MOT. It was just under three weeks before the bits turned up. We haven’t had post this week, and if I dial 999 because a fisherman has had a funny turn up the river I may be advised to transport the ailing angler down the bank in a wheel barrow to the roadside where a waiting taxi will whisk him away into the Winchester traffic, sans blue light, in an attempt to meet a man with a wheelbarrow outside the county hospital. 

What times we live in. 

I may be tempting fate by saying this,  but Madam appears immune
to Pox19. 

November and December saw the pando rip through the school. The school closed for a few days due to staff shortages, an event that featured on the local TV news. Madam has had many close contacts with infected persons old and young often in a close up sneezy kind of way. She tests and tests but has never recorded a positive result. Madam has been a pedagogue for over twenty years and promotes the theory that she has been exposed to enough autumn primary school “Snotfests” to provide a level of immunity that few human beings can match.

She may be right or she may just be lucky,