Researching my family history has been no mean feat, especially in view of the fact that my starting point, my great-grandfather, was a chap called Fred Smith who lived somewhere in Wiltshire – that was all I had to go on. Anyway, it’s surprising what you can discover and I have managed to trace the line back to the early 1700s.
One thing that strikes me is that nearly all of the men in my family have been listed by the census as ‘Ag Lab’ – agricultural Labourer. Peasant.
Every one of them, to a man, would be ashamed of me today.
Yesterday I spent the day pulling Himalayan Balsam as part of the MRA‘s Going Native project, aimed at eradicating invasive, non-native species from the Monnow catchment. Just six hours of manual labour has me searching for a place on my body that doesn’t ache. How on earth did the labourers of old do this every day?
To off-set the aches and pains I have the knowledge that the MRA has made huge strides towards the project’s aims, and going back to areas that 12 months ago were completely infested with HB I can see a huge improvement. The weed is mostly confined to isolated pockets which is easily pulled by teams of volunteers in a few short hours. That doesn’t mean that the job is anywhere near done – the whole-catchment, top to bottom approach means we will be going back over the ground that we have already sprayed/pulled for several years to come, and there is still a lot of un-touched ground in front of us but, there is hope – I have seen it. Monmouth beckons and we will be there sooner than anyone could have anticipated.
On behalf of the MRA I’d like to thank all of the volunteers who attended this weekend. I know some of you travelled from far afield to offer your assistance – your efforts are both vital and hugely appreciated.
Neil has some great ideas. On Thursday I had a message saying he was taking the van down to the Monnow to camp for the weekend. He’s taking Ollie & Shane [splendid fellows both], and that I was welcome to join them if I wish. I had no hesitation in accepting.
It’s 10:30, Friday morning. My van is packed. I’m sitting in my conservatory trying to hear the TV [Paul Young – Hooked on Fishing, Golden Piranha in Argentina] over the noise of the rain bouncing off the roof. The gutters are over-flowing, the bottom of the garden is starting to flood and there has just been an almighty clap of thunder.
If the weather on the Brecon Beacons is anything like it is here we’ll be more likely to catch Piranha than trout this weekend.
Taken on the opening evening of the Monnow Social 2007 – Anyone want to hazard a guess at what this sagacious looking lot are saying?
Only a few days until we have to do it all over again 🙂
For those that can’t the post is here. Anyway, it seems that planning for the 2008 version is already at an advanced stage. I’ve been lucky enough to secure a place at what is surely the Welsh Marches’ premier social gathering of the year and, once again, in the driving seat are Rob Denny, Dave Smith, Tim of FREE BEER fame and Neil Marfell. The most important person there will be chef-du-camp Tom, who’s breakfasts are legendary and who’s peppered steaks summon the reluctant angler away from the river at dusk.
If you’re thinking social refinement and sartorial elegance; think again! If last year is anything to go by ‘rough & ready’ will rule the day. There will be much drinking, some falling over [especially if Neil let’s me anywhere near his Jack Daniels again], a fair amount of bragging, a HUGE amount of p1ss taking – in summary, a damned fine fishing weekend. Can’t wait.
To steal a line from Tom Chandler – see you in the river.
Right! I’m off! To Longtown in Herefordshire to be precise.
I found out that Neil was sneaking away for the weekend to fish the Monnow so I invited myself [I know – cheeky bugger 🙂 ]
Almost 6 weeks since I last posted anything. I haven’t been lazy, there’s just been so much going on. Work, family holidays, family illnesses, the Monnow Social – ah yes, the Monnow Social…..
Originally posted 02 September 2006
Dave & I have been promising ourselves a day on the Monnow for a long time but work & family commitments have constantly conspired against us. Yesterday we finally managed to get our collective acts together & we met at the Bell Inn at Skenfrith. Dave had graciously left the choice of venue to me & I had a hankering to fish the Malt House beat; the problem being that I had no idea of what river conditions were like so I decided to wait and take a look at the river before making a decision.