Tuesday 4 October 2022

A Gentle Return to Guff and the Price of Pollock.

Right, I’ll have a go at guff. 

Still in a state of stasis to be honest, my prophetic powers are much diminished and the immediate future remains unclear. 

A position that many people have had to deal with throughout their lives, so I’m not going down the “poor me” route as we have had a good run for many decades kicking back riding the gravy train with biscuit wheels. 

Madam and myself were due some upheaval. 

But matters following demise (and I’m relatively new to this game) do seem to take a long time to sort out. It may be down to Pavlov’s dog, Schrodinger’s cat or some disgruntled corgi who belonged to the queen, we don’t know, but cogs do seem to turn interminably slowly.

Anyway, I have assumed “caretaker” status and am just keeping things ticking over. Normally at this time of the year with the trout fishing season coming to an end, I’d sit down with my employer to discuss impending winter work. Bridges to be built, trees to be truncated, banks that require repair, machinery that needs replacing, any changes required for the next season and what money needs to be spent where. Minutes would be taken on the back of an envelope and several cups of coffee drunk in preparation for the switch from summer to winter work. 

Perennial work of cutting hedges, pollarding willows and putting the place to bed for the winter are a given, but beyond that, who knows?

The river remains low although fishing has picked up, as it often does towards the end of the season. Watercress is allowed to creep out from the bank, squeezing the river to maintain as high a rate of flow as possible. Weed has also been allowed to grow clear of the water in order to give the fish population a little cover from predators who will fill their boots in low water conditions. Recent rain has done little for the aquifer, this valley needs months of precipitation to get itself back in reasonable order. Ovine experiments have ceased in the field behind our home and just last week it was put to the plough. The soil bought to the surface by the angled passage of the share was decidedly dry, 

once again we need an awful lot of rain in these parts to restore some sort of normal aquatic order. 

Well we’ve lit the fire. 

Log rich and with heating oil prices still high (down to five times what we paid in May 2020 as opposed to ten a few months ago) we’re burning high end, super seasoned wood as fast as we can. The “ying” of the current energy crisis is countered by the “yang” of the onset of the ash dieback. We’ve the mother of all wood burners, and fired up to the max, with judicious shutting of doors on unoccupied rooms in the east wing, it will just about heat the whole house. For numerous reasons we’ve given up drawing a bath, sticking to the shower and click the boiler on for an hour each day to heat a tank of water. Things may be different should circumstances change and a cold snap arrives, but we are fortunate to be in a position where we have limitless logs and a massive wood burner, many will not be so fortunate this winter. 

On a similar note we have two chest freezers full of produce from the allotment, plus a small potato clamp and several strings of onions. I don’t know where the current crop of clowns who run the shitshow into which we have been thrust get their inflation figures from, and ok my addled brain and it’s ability to do maths, but the price of some foodstuffs is rising at a rate way beyond stated inflationary figures – Madam’s frozen fish of first choice (Pollock in bread crumbs) has more than doubled in price in the space of a month and her preferred accompanying condiment (Heinz tomato ketchup) is not far behind.

Wine’s going up too, which is a worry. 

I think that’s it, there is probably a lot more I should chuck in, but for various reasons, (principally a fuzzy brain) I will refrain. 

Back soon, hopefully with a little more pep, vim and vigour. Philomena Cunk will help.