Tuesday 14 February 2023

Scientific Discovery, MOTs and Surveys

Hello and Happy New Year, 

Oh, we’ve done that one.

No matter there is much to discuss, not least my latest condition. 

On me everyone, 

I have now attained a vintage that triggers a summons for both a health and financial MOT. 

While it’s best we move on from the fiscal visions of Mad Lizzie and the Uxbridge Berlusconi and the impact of their machinations on my pension pot. The health side went surprisingly well with normal cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and pucka prostate, blood pressure and heart rate. 

Ok I am carrying a little extra timber and yes the psoriasis, but inexplicably I have grown a centimetre in height since my last health check in 1992 (Clearly aged 24 I was still growing). 

Following further questioning, there was much admiration for my consumption of fruit and vegetables and fifteen thousand steps each day, countered with mild consternation over my determined and sustained consumption of red wine. All information was entered into the clever computer and we waited for my “body age” and percentage risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke and possibility of making it through the day. 

Turns out my body is 55 years old, which I knew anyway, and my chance of suffering heart failure or a stroke in the next few years is less than 5%. 

I'll take that.

Ok I could have the body age of a 45 year old if a smaller figure had been entered in the “number of glasses of red wine drunk each week” column, but statistics prove that I may well have been a centimetre shorter back then aged 45 and anyway, Madam is not drawn to a young, earnest and stumpy cove.

As I explained to the excellent nurse, and at this point Basketball people you may wish to take note, 

It is clear that science now teaches us that drinking red wine makes you grow taller. 

In other medical news, during the recent cold snap I slipped over on the ice and fractured my wrist.

I was informed by the lady tending to my injury that this is a more common occurrence with the elderly, so maybe I’m not 55 after all, or perhaps my left wrist is older than the rest of my body or possibly, in the manner of a new born giraffe, I am a little more ungainly now that I have achieved my full height. 

Whatever, after four weeks the splint is now off. 

For the record the incident happened at 11.30am well before any wine had been taken. I’d stopped on the road next to the ditch that carries water from the field known across the ages as “Spring Bottom” through the village and down into the Dever. It passes under the road via a trio of pipes that can often become blocked causing water to back up in the ditch. I often stop and check for blockages. On this occasion I stepped out of the jeep and went base over apex on the thick ice on the road. 

While we’re on Spring Bottom and its related ditch, the water level has fallen markedly through the past few weeks and Spring Bottom currently sits sans spring. We’re ready for some more rain now please. 

The river is running clear and weed is starting to grow. Ranunculus will always be stimulated by good winter flow and all of the unsightly gunk that built up in river during the low flow of last summer has been swept away. 

We have been subject to two surveys of late. 

One by wallahs from the Wessex Chalkstream Trust who are carrying out some restoration work on a stretch upstream and wanted to make an assessment of the Dever’s natural profile. 

The gravel drew rave reviews

The second by the weasels from the water company, who plan to put a pipe from a waterworks on the lower Test to a waterworks on the upper river in order to “relieve pressure on the aquifers” 

A Damascene moment perhaps with regard to a more sustainable provision of the old eau to society, although it seems a little out of character when they have been more than comfortable with their increasing over abstractions in recent decades, and is it finally a tacit admission that water is running short in these parts. 

If water entering the upper reaches of The Test system is increasingly of a "recycled" nature the river"s water quality will fall and the characteristic of the river will change.  No water treatment works can match a chalk aquifer for producing clean, clear and chemical free water. 

Grayling fishing has been disappointing. 

Despite the implementation of the flawed “Trout and Grayling Strategy” in 2015, numbers of grayling in this stretch have fallen off a cliff. 

Where a competent angler may have expected to catch 15 to 20 grayling in a day fishing here twenty years ago, today’s expected bag is below half a dozen. The grayling is very much the junior partner in this strategy, despite the number of anglers targeting them increasing over the years. Each grayling angler is a stakeholder in the health of a chalk stream and a supporter when it comes to protecting these precious rivers. I have not seen grayling spawning in numbers for a while. I put a video on the the “tube they call you” back in the day, of many adult grayling oblivious to my presence getting jiggy on the shallow in front of the Fishing Hut. Twenty years ago it was common place to find several seriously senior grayling dead on the weed rack in front of the Mill House in spring, exhausted by the process of spawning. I haven’t picked one off the rack for some years. The Dever doesn’t get bothered by Graculus in the way that the middle Test does and I know this type of thing can go in cycles, particularly with a true wild fish, but the lady of the stream’s plight needs a little more looking into than is currently being undertaken.

Looking ahead to the summer, we do seem to have a full book of rods ready to arrive to bother trout, with few free days available.

Which is a good thing. 

While out doing the left foot right foot thing in sustained efforts to prolong life. Madam, Moss and myself took in a dozen heron on the meadow upstream. 

Tightly formed up, although not in a Red Arrows kind of way, I don’t think I have ever seen so many in one spot. Away from the river but close to a spring ditch, they appeared to be holding parliament in the manner of the mad March hare. There’s a heap of greylag geese turned up as well and I’m sure that following the cold snap if I’d run Moss down the middle of the meadow there would have been a few snipe about. 

I think that’s all, 

Still in limbo here, working towards the impending trout season, but beyond that, who knows? 

Difficult to get away with no trips booked, which is a bit strange after Madam and myself had taken to gadding about and living for pleasure alone since the kids left home (it's on here somewhere).

Plans are slowly forming, but we are both very aware that in many respects there is a clock ticking with an increasingly voluble tick and a tock.