Tuesday 7 November 2023


Still here, and as requests are being made for annual reports on the year just passed, I thought I should have a go at chucking up some guff by way of muscle memory and cranial stimulation. 

The river and house remain on the market and while there has been some interest throughout the summer, so far no takers. 

2023 was a Curate's egg of a trout fishing season on this stretch of the Dever. 

A super start with hawthorn and mayfly all that they should be. July and August were a little tricky, but then they always are, but September was particularly disappointing. Fishing here often picks up towards the end of the summer with some of the bigger fish put on the bank during the final few weeks of the season, but this year Salmo Trutta remained soporific throughout September. A dearth of late season fly may have been the cause but it was a similar story throughout the valley. 

The tale in The Times this morning of a chap who dipped his toe into the Kennet and contracted Sepsis with the accompanying lengthy stay in hospital was a bit of a worry. 

Unsurprisingly, the spot where he took the waters was downstream from a water treatment plant. While water levels remained good throughout the summer, it was a surprise to see such a proliferation of blanket weed in this stretch of the Dever from June onwards. It’s a sure sign of increased nitrates and phosphates, and I’m looking at you Southern Water and the efficiency of your Poo Poo plant a mile up stream from here. 

Public campaigns to call out the Weasels at Water Companies are both necessary and welcome. This house has been calling them out for some years. I first wrote about raw sewage being dumped into Plunket Greene’s Bright Waters fifteen or so years ago. It’s on here somewhere. I also wrote an article for the Shooting Times highlighting the river’s plight with an accompanying photo of a sign placed on several bridges warning the local populace of the dangers of allowing their pets to enter the temporarily fetid ditch. 

The editor of the ST at the time was a little disbelieving and it took a few emails to convince him that the article was based on fact and not the verbal ire of a disgruntled fisherman who hadn't caught anything that day.

Well done everybody for shouting about this matter and calling the water companies out for what they are and the impact they are having on precious aquatic environments in these Isles. 

Water quality done, I’ll move on to water quantity, and at the moment the Dever retains a good level, water is rising in spring ditches and it has been an encouraging start to the winter for rain in these parts, keep it coming. 

In other news the Suzuki Jimny blew up and now sits to the right of Odin in Jimny Valhalla. It was fourteen years old and had seen some service, only not the sort undertaken by a garage mechanic. An oil burning pig of a white van now sits in its place, which has proved to be very useful. 

Moss is still with us and we have also had the company of a semi tame Muntjac who has spent much of the summer alternating between looking in through the patios doors and standing on our small patch of grass staring at us while wine is taken on board early of a summer evening.

Out of the trout season I now seem to spend a lot of time on my own. I have started winter work with the chainsaw already up and buzzing, although Lord Ludg has gone wobbly with Parkinsons and can no longer be trusted with sharp saws.  The English has broken his leg following an incident somewhere in Oxfordshire. 

Madam’s departure just over a year ago has left quite a hole around here, a fact not lost on many of our anglers who have fished here for decades, just hope we get to do it all again next year. 

In travel news, it has been quite difficult to get away. 

We were due to fly to Nice at Easter, but on rising at 4.00 am to head to the airport we received a text from BA informing us that our flights had been cancelled. They had however offered us an alternative passage, albeit from a different airport two days later. The trip had already been curtailed to three nights as I had to be back to meet a potential buyer of this place, no other flights were available, so we cancelled the trip and went back to bed. 

Up a few hours later for breakfast to find that a fox had killed all the chickens and Moss was on three legs with what looked like an injured shoulder. It was quite a day, but hey, these things are sent to try us. 

No summer holiday, but we have just returned from a fantastic six day trip to Barcelona. 

We’d visited for the day when fishing the Ebro about fifteen years ago and always said we would like to come back, can’t think why it took us so long. 

We had a sixth floor Air BNB with roof terrace two minutes walk from the Dressandes metro station at the bottom of La Rambla, which proved to be a perfect base for exploring the Catalonian capital. 

Up the cable cars to the castle first to take in the view and marvel at the sheer size of the city. Olympic museum, Picasso Museum some other funky art museum whose name I forget (We had purchased five day “Barcelona cards which afforded free access to many attractions and also travel on the tube.) 

Lots of Guadi, who crops up all over the place, including Sagrada Familia a Leviathan that looms and manages to be both bonkers, breathtaking and also bizzare. 

Walked on the beach and briefly braved the sea (we had very good weather, above twenty degrees for much of our stay) 

Shopping was good (apparently) and food was excellent with some top tapas and super steak. 

I think I’ll leave it there. 

Brief break has restored no end of vim and vigor and I’ll try and get back to updating this a little more regularly, as there doesn’t seem to be any taker popping up for these parts anytime soon.