Thursday, 12 May 2022

Valarie Singleton, The Future and Victorians

Hello Hello, 

We’ll start this chunk of guff revisiting the substantial conker tree that lost its top section when the wind blew last October. 

Here she is candles and all, 

Not quite the shape she was, but undoubtedly the last vestiges of a once great beauty,

Which is I'm sure something to which all present can relate. 

She’s demonstrating more pep and vim than the wisteria and my taytos, which were caught out by a hard frost on the last Saturday in April. The Mulberry hadn’t yet woken up, but that tree knows stuff.

We’ve drifts of wild garlic. One of the best shows for years and the stuff features in many meals throughout the week. 

I’ll fill a few big bags with leaves for freezing as summoned from the ice they add a slightly more delicate flavour to a recipe than the “in your face” garlic bulb. 

Cuckoo flowers are out and the cuckoo finally put in a turn at the end of the last month, along with the occasional swallow. The river remains low. With regard to rain and aquifer replenishment April was indeed the cruellest month. It was also quite cold and windy which I don’t think drew the eye of T.S back in the day. 

Cold arid conditions that also set my psoriasis off, apologies to everyone for the scratching,

Something that I think T.S also failed to mention. 

In the name of impending nuptials, last week I had cause to broadcast grass seed in the wood. Dry weather isn’t the best weather for getting grass going (Hants FA Groundsman of the year 2011 – never forget!) 

So I invoked the forces of the electric vehicle that will one day save the world. Filled a tank of water on the back and used a half inch 12 volt “live well” pump to water the seed in. 

Currently the sward develops at the pace expected by the Hants FA Groundsman of the Year 2011 (Remember that one?) 

This electric buggy is the future for short journeys, it's only flaw being that the roof is not a solar panel. I made the case to Child B (a planner by trade) that all inhabitants of the parish should have one. The oil burning pigs could be held in a pen up by the Highway to the Sun for when longer journeys are required.

but for short journeys of up to a couple of miles this thing is surely the future. 

Weed remains reluctant to grow and the river is gin clear presenting challenging conditions for the angler. The river is stuffed with soporific fish patiently waiting for a good hatch of fly. Bunched up in holes, with little cover from fringe or weed they are easily spooked, delicate and precise presentation of the fly is key. Time was when this time of the year would see substantial roach going spoony and cropping up in water that they would never consider haunting in the winter months. Spawning was the driver but very few roach remain now and Tarka undoubtedly had a part to play. 

Our resident pair of senior swans have claimed a corner of the bottom bends as their nesting site of first choice for this year. For years they have nested on the pond. Not sure why they have moved down river this year. It may be global warming, it may be impending ice age, we don’t know, but they are where they are. 

Mayfly appeared in the first week of the month, although only the merest  vanguard of  Valerys (Singletons) and fish have yet to acknowledge their/her arrival, although it won’t be long before mayfly pitch up in numbers for the annual festival of dry fly fishing. 

Valerie Singleton once walked past our house,

There, I said it. 

She did, 

It was a Sunday and at the time (Post Blue Peter) she was presenting programmes about money in the graveyard slot on BBC2. Pre Kinder, Madam and myself had just finished lunch, wine had been taken and we were washing up (pre dishwasher) Val sauntered by with a man, possibly her husband, possibly not - we couldn't say, but it wasn't Peter Purves as he didn't have a collie, or was that the other one?  In similar circumstances we touched base with "Old Tel" and the present Mrs Wogan a few years later and while Val had ignored our banging at the window, Terry and the "present Mrs Wogan" couldn't have been more gracious during our brief encounter on a narrow footpath in Kernow.  There were rumours at the time that Val had become a little "difficult" and her time at the Beeb was coming to an end. We had grown up Val her on Blue Peter, and she always seemed ok. 

When she passed our window she was at best indifferent, but I guess that's just Val  

The log splitter is crying out for some action, because yes we are already thinking about next winter and goodness with all trees coming into leaf (bar the Mulberry – see above) it is again apparent how the ash tree population has been devastated by the insidious ash dieback. 

Here’s a fridge door handle I made from a slice of ash. 

It’s the mother of all fridge doors and we’ve gone through a couple of plastic handles while hauling the thing open. Replacements come in at around forty pound a pop, so with a cost of living crisis on, I made a replacement from a slice of ash. 

Ludgershall and The English, wealthy and well fed pensioners both, who, in May are still lighting the fire, muttered their disapproval. They insist that all ash should be introduced to the wood shed. We had a fisherman arrive in a high end Morgan towards the end of last year and each of them made preparation to fire up the chainsaws. 

Oh yes, satellite technology is a great thing, 

I note that Ludgershall and The English are still lighting the fire of an afternoon. There is now a chimney pot monitoring app available that detects smoke emitted. I’m not saying they are being a little profligate with their stash of ash but…… 

We’ve wallahs coming out in a week or two to assess the presence of non native species in the valley. I will monitor the movements of previously wallahs along the riverbank as their tangerine high viz jackets won’t be conducive to stalking wary trout in gin clear water. 

At which point I will again make the point that not all non native species are invasive. 

Victorians rolled Brer Brown Trout out to much of the empire and beyond, where it now sits on the bucket list of many a travelling angler, having adapted, thrived and contributed to conditions presented.

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