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Showing posts from October, 2021

Meet the neighbours episode one: The Stonefly

 This is the first in a series of short notes about some of the flies you’re going to find in your tray when you start kick sampling the river. You don’t have to be starting to kick sample to read these notes: if you are here then it is a good bet you are interested in the river in some capacity and if you are, then hopefully you will enjoy reading about these flies whether you are going to go out and actively study them or not. All the flies featured and photographed here I’ve collected myself and are from my local rivers, either the River Goyt or the River Sett in the Peak District, which is at the top end of the Mersey catchment,  just on the Derbyshire side of the Derbyshire - Cheshire border in England. The exception is the adult willow fly, photograph below, which has been kindly contributed by entomologist and angler Stuart Crofts. First up is the stonefly, and in the photograph is the willow fly, one of the family of stoneflies that you’ll often hear called needle flies. When y

In the shadow of the Whaley Bridge dam

This was first published in The Spectator on 6th August 2019. I didn't want to lose track of it. It was two days after the storm, or ‘extreme weather event’ as we call them now. I was trying to get into the Derbyshire town of Whaley Bridge, which sits below a reservoir with a crack in its dam wall. The reservoir had topped over during the night and the build-up of pressure meant the wall was beginning to crumble. Fifteen hundred people in the town have been evacuated since the storm, with hardly even the time to pick up their keys. They have sought shelter in school halls and with friends and acquaintances in nearby towns and villages. The world’s media quickly descended on the town and before journalists could even scribble down ‘closely-knit communities', the newly-installed Prime Minister Boris Johnson was parachuted in. He had a ride over the dam in a helicopter, and visited bemused Whaley Bridge refugees in a Chapel school gymnasium, urging them to carry on demonstrating

The Conservative Party in Manchester

Mid morning in Manchester and it was quiet in the centre. The sun shone so it wasn’t the weather keeping people away. In Piccadilly Gardens the fountains in the square pulsed with synchronised spurts then died down. It made a fine backdrop to the people who sit on the low wall around the display and children often play in it but today there weren't many people there, though there was one young woman who had two small children with her. The woman looked good sitting on the low wall against the fountains and I tried to take a photograph when it was shooting right up, so she was silhouetted against this curtain of bubbling white water. She was leaning over the two children and then when she saw me with my camera she glared at me so I couldn’t ignore it. “I don’t want pictures,” she said. “No pictures.” “It’s not of you,” I called back, “It’s a landscape, a wide angle,” I drew a big ‘V’ with my hands. “You are just a very small part of it,” I had moved closer to her by now to talk to