Monday, 3 November 2014

Pas-times

As a young lad I was encouraged to learn countryside skills such as hunting, fishing, nature, craft, and a host of other little things to amuse oneself.  Learning how to make a whistle from a piece of a Sycamore sapling, especially in springtime when the sap was running.  That required a penknife which most young boys, and men carried daily with never a hint or threat of stabbing any one other than using it to skin a rabbit,  or gut a fish. My first fishing rod was literally a twig with some fine line, gut, hook and a worm.  The success rate was very low at first but perseverance and learning the craft of knowing where a trout might be lying waiting for some morsel to pass by soon produced results. More often than not a tiddler, and occasionally something big enough to take home and show the specimen before it was cooked.  Whatever was caught and taken home was never wasted.  Similarly, rabbits were in abundance and caught by trapping or snaring. Boxing day being a particularly good day for a catch. Again the same principle applied - whatever was caught was for the pot.  Such was the respect one had and learnt for natures produce.  Much later in my life hunting became a bad word to such an extent that learning countryside craft skills no longer exist.  Rabbits have more or less been eradicated by the introduction of myxomatosis, an awful disease to see.  On the other hand several species which had been tolerated and dealt with as pests as they ravaged the chicken runs, have now become protected, and there is a possibility in my view that they could very well become once again 'pests'.  Certainly the Grey Squirrel is having a pretty bad press for its traits of killing birds, and sapling trees and attacking the Red Squirrel.  Recently there has been a furore about the decline of the wild salmon in our rivers.  That, despite the high cost of being actually allowed to try and catch one.  There was once upon a time when my Great Grandfather and his mates caught salmon by fair means and foul to feed hungry mouths and even taking to smoking salmon in the large chimney spaces which every cottage had. The rivers and streams which once abounded with trout have been contaminated with slurry run off and pesticides.  Some streams have dried out through 'global warming'.  So it is said. Having seen virtually all the little pleasurable countryside tricks of the trade eroded I now find that there is yet another skill under attack.  I mean sea fishing.  I have been a rather infrequent sea angler for many years and enjoyed the many hours by the incoming tides waiting more often not in vain for that monster from the deep.  The same principle applied of taking what one caught for the pot.  Alas that now seems to be something which will be consigned to the deep along with the stock of equipment accumulated over many years. The Times Headline  "Anglers face EU limit of one sea bass per day".  Going on my experience of seeking out the elusive big bass at the rate of one a day is impossible.  Firstly because they are not around to catch every day of the year; and secondly when they are 'in season' the stocks simply do not exist. Take notice that the threat of reducing the anglers catch to one a day comes not from our illustrious mandarins, but from that other place - Brussels - yet again.  The poor sea angler of our shores does not stand a chance against the hordes of vessels which creep inshore under cover of darkness with navigation systems shut down to evade detection.  So one a day is now virtually one a year.  With the bulk of fishing  vessels trawling our grounds coming from the continent and catches being landed there daily it is not surprising that stocks of fish have depleted to dangerous levels.  So! here we have it once more, our traditions, our crafts, our basic way of  life is being determined by the gravy train in Brussels.  No wonder then that our yougsters prefer the xbox to a good walk and nature lesson in the country side and sea shore. UKIP?. Sorry I'm still a Tory.