A Personal Opinion
This blog is my personal opinion and reflections on my role as secretary - it is not the official
position of the club.
19 June 2021
Membership - now closed to new members (2)
Now I get the grief: "but why can't I join?".....because I've been waiting over 6 weeks for your form/photo/money and can't wait indeinitely on the off-chance that one day you'll send your fees. So it's defer to 2022 or removal from the list.
18 June 2021
Swift Ditch - Closed
Oh Heck! If it's not one thing it's another!
Just as soon as we get access to the pond restored, access to Swift Ditch becomes an issue. This is a really delicate issue, the land is joint owned and the 2 owners have fallen out. One owner says that we have access and can fish, the other says we don't, and can't.
Relationships between the 2 land owners have reached such a low point that communication is by lawyer's letter. The land owner who has given us permission has already taken legal advise and been told that their position is correct, W&GAC can have access. However, given the vitriolic nature of the relationship between the land owners the club has taken the decision to not inflame the situation at the moment and therefore close the fishery temporarily until the matter is resolved.
I apologise to any members affected by this but I'm sure you can undersand the awkward situation the club finds itself in, through no fault of its own.
If anyone knows of a stretch of the Thames that is open for a club to lease we'd love to hear from you.
17 June 2021
Membership - now closed to new members
Membership has now reached its limit of 200 members and I'm in the process of contacting anyone who was told they could join, expressed enthusiasm, but then did nothing about it. It's no use whinging now if I spoke to you at the beginning of May, sent you the application form and instructions, phoned twice since then to check you still wanted to join and still, 6 weeks later, haven't received any payment or documentation. Well, I'm sorry, but I can't just hold a space open on the off-chance you'll take any action, it's next year or never, now.
17 June 2021
Thames Water - update 2
Yesterday (Wed 16 June) Thames Water finished their work on Station Road and we now have access to the pond. This morning I called Thames Water and spoke to a very friendly lady (Christine Graham) who apologised for the lack of access and has promised that a flag will be put onto their systems to say that any further work at that location will need to allow vehicular access.
I hope that there is no further work and that we don’t actually have to test the reliability of TW’s systems, not that I don’t have confidence in them........just saying!
Last time we had this issue with access, back in March, I foolishly thought that was the end of the matter and binned all the paperwork with contact details etc, not this time! Oh No! Christine's direct line phone number is now safely recorded.
14 June 2021
Thames Water - update
The hole remains! Matt asked if I could get hold of someone at TW for an update, so........
A whole morning, wasted, trying to get through to someone, anyone, at TW who can help - mind you, just getting to speak to a human can be difficult enough. It's not the people on the phone who are the problem but the tight-fisted, greedy bastards who sit on the board and fail to staff the teams effectively, whilst paying themselves huge bonuses.
Anyway - live and learn - who knew that the track behind the pond is actually called "Station Road".
I finally managed to speak to someone (Kyle) in the clean water operations team (0203 467 3258 if anyone's interested). He has raised the issue with the relevant team and I am promised a call back within 24 hours, the job reference number is 1019781787 (just so that I've got a record of it this time). It helped that Kyle is an angler so, when I mentioned at I represent an angling club and can't access the fishery we had a point of reference to help the conversation along.
So, now we (I) wait for the call.
9 June 2021
Bloody Thames bloody Water have gone and dug up the entrance to the pond, again! Matt spoke to the contractor and apparently they didn't do the job last time because - after digging the road up - they realised they had the wrong part (and I thought the idea of privatising the water companies was to make them more efficient, obvioulsy not - it was just a ruse to fleece the users).
Matt is to meet the contractor again this evening (Wednesday) to find out when the road way will be reinstated.
3 June 2021
At the meeting on Tuesday I was tasked to order the anti-algae dye for the pond. This is now done, I spoke to the sales department at Dyofix to check the quantity needed and 1Kg will be enough for one complete treatment. I've ordered 2Kg to give us an immediate application and allow us to reapply in August. We'll monitor from there and see if we need another dose in October/November.
Given the fish-kill over the last 2 days (2 tench and a few roach) I hope we're not too late.
25 May 2021
I must admit to a certain frustration at times, new members are all too keen to join, some act promptly and send everything through but some....oh dear!
I have sent application forms to enough people to fill the club to its maximum 200 adult members, I can't send more in the off-chance some will not respond, so I'm left hanging on, chasing people to see if they are actually going to join. What should be a simple process of sending out the paperwork, receiving the forms back, duly signed, along with a photo, then checking against the bank download before finally sending out the membership cards becomes one long round of iterative chasing.
15 May 2021
I arrved at the pond a good 25 minutes before the work party was due to start at 9am, By 9:15 not a soul had shown up then, just as I was about to head home, Bob & Vicky arrived. There weren't enough of us to do a great deal but sufficient to get the pond ready for the match on Sunday.
13 May 2021
The photogaphed man
I have received an envelope addressed to "Wantage and Grove AC" containing 4 identical passport photos. Just that, no name, membership number, waiting list reference....nothing, nada, zilch! So now, not only am I club secretary, I have to adopt the mantle of detective.
However, a WhatsApp appeal may have enabled me to identify the culprit, whatch this space for updates!
13 May - Update - Yes! Got him, thanks to Matt for giving me his forename, from that I was able to check and there was only one person with that name who has paid his fees but I've not received the application form, a quick phone call confirmed and all is back on track.
12 May 2021
Platforms for disabled anglers
The BDAA team arrived bright and early on Tuesday (11th) and cracked-on with work on pegs 5 & 4. I had a long chat with the main man, Terry, I explained that we had a match on Sunday and would need the swims, he assured me that the platforms would be fitted and fishable by Sunday (even if all the rails weren't in place)
Went down again today (Wednesday 12th) only to find a singular lack of people working on the platforms. However, pegs 5 & 4 are fishable as they are and the unfinished platform can be moved from peg 3 temporarily to make that fishable.
I'm sure we'll get this work finished - just not sure when.
7 May 2021
Contractor meeting at the pond
Had a quarter of an hour meeting with contractors at the pond, this time to discuss the next phase of work into the corner from peg 10 and as far around towards peg 14 as the funds will stretch to. He's going to look at various options (the existing method of steel I-beams and untreated timber is probably going to be a non-starter due to huge increases in material costs), so possibly gabion cages or steel shuttering.
If we go with the gabion cages then the base could be a wide cage (say - 900mm front-to-back), then use 450mm cage above. That would leave a shelf that could be planted up. But time (and cost) will decide.
4 May 2021
Monthly club Meeting
Hooray - at last! We can all go to the pub for a proper face-to-face meeting. OK, so we had to sit outside and it was freezing cold but better by far than a flaky Skype call. Thanks go to Jonny B for his most important contribution of the evening - he got the beers in!
The meeting lasted the best part of 2 hours and there's quite a few action points for me (as expected). I'll start updating the website this coming week.
3 May 2021
Well, that's it for renewals, anyone who hasn't renewed now goes on the waiting list. A last scramble around by the laggards and it's onto the people on the waiting list. Most seem keen to join, one or two "waverers" and one applicant who has since moved to North Wales, so he declined my invitation to join.
25 April 2021
I know it's not my duty to call all those members who haven't renewed but five minutes spent here could save me loads of hastle later.
Why? Oh! Why? Oh! Why? ........ Why do some members change their address/phone number without telling me? How can I bloody well get hold of you if you a) don't respond to emails and b) have a new phone number.....Yes - I'm talking to you Nathan! If I hadn't contacted Bob to ask why you appear to have dropped off the face of the earth you would lose your membership.
Not just this member - but anyone who wants to stay a member - keep me informed of any changes!
Floating Islands - work party Saturday 24 April
After a desperate scrabble around the country to collect the coir matting - well, the stuff is expensive enough without the club paying £50 just for delivery! Then a chase for the pheasant netting because my original order was delayed - I managed to find a pest control company who sold me some offcuts, at least the platforms could now be built.
My thanks, and those of the club, go to Bas Sutton, Gerry Auston & Daniel Brooks for their work over a four and a half hour period! We managed to get 1 platform built, planted and positioned and another platform built and floated, but not planted or in its final position. Next work party scheduled for Saturday 15 May
Platforms for disabled anglers
It appears that building the platforms is a greater task than the contractors allowed for. I get the feeling that they have just changed the materials that is used to build the platforms and this is causing unexpected issues. Consequenty they are going to have to come back next week (from Thursday 29 April) for a few days to finish everything off.
17 April 2021
Shoring-up of bank, pegs 5-8 (5)
Had an on-site meeting with the contractors and Matt to review the work. After much discussion we argeed to leave the work as it is and settle the invoice. It was futher agreed that we would review the work after a few months and the contractor would revisit it if anything was starting to move.
16 April 2021
Delivery of material for plaforms for disabled anglers
Having originally been given a delivery date of Thursday 15 April for the material I receved a call from the suppliers on Wed 13th that this was postponed to the Friday, with a delivery slot between 11am-3pm. I called Terry at the BDAA and he didn't know of this change so his team had to re-arrange their plans..
Friday dawns clear and bright and just before I head off to the pond to meet the other lads on site I get a call form the driver to say we're his last drop....sigh!
My thanks go to Danny, Phil, Gerry & Johnny B for sticking with it and waiting for the delivery to arive at about 2:15pm. One pallet of items was handballed off and the second brought out on a pallet trolley. Thanks also go to the driver who sat in his cab whilst an odd-ball selection of the elderly unloaded his lorry.
All in place now for the BDAA team to come back on Thursday 22nd and start the installation.
14 April 2021
Shoring-up of bank, pegs 5-8 (5)
At about midday on the 12th I went to the pond to check on progress only to see that one of the posts had moved. The contractor was on site and he said that they were getting an 8 tonne digger back in (at their cost) to drive a supporting RSJ behind the one that had moved.
On the evening I get various messages from members about a "collapsed" bank (licence for melodrama not yet approved - so let's tone the rhetoric down a bit, guys).
Yesterday evening (Tue 13th) the contractor calls me to say that the supporting pole is now driven in and the back fill will be completed.
Hopefully that will be the end of the matter.
13 April 2021
Grant from the Environment Agency
Got the purchae order from the environment agency so promptly created the invoice. I sent it to Richard & Matt for checking, Richardgave it the OK so I emailed it off for payment asap.
Hopefully the money won't take long to arrive - if I remember rightly the money for the generator in 2019 arrived quickly after the invopice was sent.
12 April 2021
Grant from the Environment Agency
All that hard work - all those emails - all those metings at the pond (well, OK, maybe only one meeting) this morning I get the purchase order from the EA for our grant to cover some of the cost of the bank restoration and floating islands.
It's an barely credible £4,500. What a great result for the club, this will take the pressure off this year's finances and allow us to start planning the next stage of work.
I will raise the invoice on the EA and get approval from Richard before sending.
High fives all round!
10 April 2021
Shoring-up of bank, pegs 5-8 (4)
I had what I thought would be a quick visit to see how the work at the pond was coming along - what a change! There is what looks to be a huge flat area some 4 feet (1.2metres) back from the edge of the pond, it is so big at first I thought that the contractors had gone further into the pond than the original bank but that’s an illusion. The bank remains in the same place but because they’ve cleared the slope away it just looks bigger.
This led me to think “there’s quite enough space between the water’s edge and the road to seat an angler. Do we need the platforms?" So…..I call Matt and he came down for a look, he agrees, there’s no need to reinstate the platforms.
What a result, that means the club doesn't have to spend time, effort and money putting the platforms back and the work party scheduled for the 24 April can concentrate on the floating islands.
To make access easier there is going to be a chain with a clip behind pegs 6, 7 & 8. To get to the pegs the contractors will cut a couple of steps (using the now redundant boards from the platforms), all members have to do is unclip the chain when they arrive and re-clip it when they leave.
Membership renewals - cash payments
I can hardly believe it, despite every missive I’ve sent about renewals quite clearly stating “No Cash” what happens? Correct in one guess, you clever old thing. I get home from the pond to find an envelope stuffed with notes (well – maybe not stuffed, but you get the idea). So I get on the phone, said member will collect the cash and either use online banking or post a cheque – I know a cheque isn’t ideal but better than folding currency.
8 April 2021
Big web site update
Lots to update on the website, most notably the publication of the match calendar. Also added details of the social to Orchard Lakes, and a call to arms for the work parties on Sat 24 April & Sat 15 May.
7 April 2021
Shoring-up of bank, pegs 5-8 (3)
Took a call from the contractor, Lee, at about ten thirty, he said he'd be at the pond for another hour or so, I wasted no time in dasing down to see him on-site. When I got there I had to wait for about 10 minutes at the entrance whilst the JCB was unloaded - that I didn't mind - it meant work was starting. Had a good conversation with Lee about what he's doing and went through a couple of extra items with him. Also, had a brief discussion about the next phases of the work needed. He had some interesting ideas that could save us money. I'll discuss at the next club meeting (4 May)
6 April meeting update
Another productive meeting, lots of things agreed (and lots of actions coming from it). Notably, the EGM agreed that juniors will no longer count towards the 200 membership limit, allowing kids to join parents without having to sit on the waiting list. Must update the website, send email etc etc.
There was a long discussion about who has priority for the platforms for disabled anglers once they are put in place. Called the BDAA for advise but they don't have a policy on it
6 April 2021
Spending a few minutes to make sure that I have everything for this evening's Skype call meeting: minutes from March, proposed change to the constitution regarding junior members, list of items for the fishery plan, agreement of spending limit for floating platforms, working party schedule, confirm new (minor) work from Lee (shoring contractor), update on renewals and the state of the waiting list, vetting of new members, discuss covid restrictions on pegs 16 onwards.
I think that's all but may keep this as a useful aide-memoir for the meeting.
Shoring-up of bank, pegs 5-8 (2)
I knew it was too good to last, these things never go according to plan - I took a call from Lee (the contractor) yesterday (Easter Monday) to confirm that there is a delay to the delivery of the timber for the shoring-up work, he expects a delay of no more than a couple of days.
I did say that there's a hard deadline of Wednesday 14 April as the BDAA are arriving on the 15th to fit the platforms for disabled anglers.
31 March 2021
Shoring-up of bank, pegs 5-8
Two steps forwards and one back, had a conversation with the contractor for the bank shoring work (to confirm he can start on the 6th), only to be told that he's waiting for the timber and it's stuck on a boat "somewhere". It's European timber so hopefully not queuing in the Suez canal.
Time will tell, watch this blog for updates.
21 March 2021
Platforms for disabled access
Well, that's a result, and no mistake. The BDAA have awarded us a grant for the cost of two platforms for disabled anglers. Delivery of material is scheduled for Thursday 15 April and work to install the platforms is expected to take 3 working days.
25 March 2021
Access to the pond - Thames water update (hopefully final)
I went to the pond yesterday (Wed 24th) only to find that all the rubbish excavated from when the hole was originally dug had been removed and the hole had been filled with hard-core to within 8-9cm of the road level (I assume in readyness to make good the road surface - by yet another team!)
This morning (Thu 25th) Danny kindly called me to say that he'd been along the A338 past the pond and that the road-surfacers were on-site. Hopefully this will see the end of the works by Thames Water and we can, once again, have access to the pond.
I can only apologise for the loss of amenity but as a club we knew nothing about it, although I tried (numerous phone calls to plead our case) there seemed no way for an inconsequential organisation such as ourselves to get TW to speed-up their process
23 March 2021
Work at the pond
I have spoken to the cointractor doing the bank work (pegs 5-8) and have agreed that he'll start on Tuesday 6 April. This means that the pond will be open for members over the Easter weekend.
Consequently the pond will be closed from Tuesday 6 - Friday 9 April to allow the contractor to work unhindered.
Also, the BDAA are to install a double sized platform for disabled angler on peg 5 w/c 12 April, again the pond will be closed during the duration of the work, details to follow once confirmed. We'll need bodies on site to handball the materials from the delivery lorry to peg 5 when the time comes.
21 March 2021
Membership renewals (3)
Here we are, three weeks into the renewals process and 72 (out of 200) members have renewed so far. I have a horrible sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that thre's going to be a mad rush at the end of April.
19 March 2021
Access to the pond - Thames water update
Not really much of an update, more of a frustration. On Tuesday I spoke to a manager at TW and was told the work would only take 3 days. OK, I thought, there's no point pushing our case if the work's going to be completed by Wednesday.
At 4 o'clock on Wednesday I trundle down to the pond to speak to the guys on site to discuss progress - there was nobody there, but still a huge great hole, completely across the access road, about 2m across and 1.5m deep. Even my untrained eyes could see there was no way that access would be available by Thursday morning.
Thursday dawns and I decide to go down to the pond earlier to make sure I'm there before the team knock-off for the day. I get there at 2 o'clock and there's no one there, again! Also, it's obvious that nothing has been done since my last visit.
A quick call to my new buddy at TW confirms that the work is finished but the team that does the back fill and make good isn't booked until next week!
Ooooh, it makes my blood boil, they can inconvenience many people with complete impunity and there's no recourse. Not only W&G members but the alternate lane traffic lights remain in place, holding up traffic for absolutely no good reason.
16 March 2021
Access to the pond - update
Finally managed to talk to someone at TW in the works team. He could see the job on screen but there was no start date associated with it and no permissions received. He's checking the situation.....but don't hold your breath!
Well, what do you know - I got a call back from TW. Apparently, the work is scheduled to be completed by the morning of Thursday 18 March (just 2 days away). We've agreed not to take action (as there's little we could do between now and then anyway) unless the work overruns, in wcich case TW will try to put something in for the weekend to allow access.
Work on the pond
Cor! What a busy day!
Not only dealing with TW but have now also got a date for the work shoring up the bank between pegs 5 - 8, due to start on Thursday 1 April, however, that's Maundy Thursday so we may need to put the start date back so the pond can be fished over the Easter weekend. We'll need a work party to remove the platforms from pegs 6, 7 & 8 before work can start.
Work on the pond (2)
The busy day continues! The BDAA are now scheduled to fit the platform for disabled anglers week commencing 12 April. We're going to need bodies on site when the material is delivered as I've been told it comes on a forty-footer, and there's no way that can get down the track by the pond, so it's all going to have to be hand-balled out.
15 March 2021
Access to the pond
Had a message this morning from a member that Thames Water are digging up the access road to the pond and we can't get down there. I spend 1 hour 14 minutes and 9 bloody seconds on the phone to Thames Water and nobody really seems to know much about it (other than there is work scheduled at that site). So, off I trundle to the pond to actually see what's going on and talk to the guys on site - sure enough, there's 2 guys, a digger and a huge great hole where once there was a road. They tell me that the work is scheduled for 2 weeks and that there's nothing in their works order about providing access.
I've tried to call the works department at TW again, no answer, left a voice mail. I'll keep at it.
10 March 2021
Environment Agency - meeting at the pond
I met our local EA rep at the pond today & showed him where the work will be carried out between pegs 5 to 8. He kindly donated floatation tubes and corner return pieces to help us build the floating islands that are required as a condition of our grant application. He seemed confident that the club would be awarded a grant and that we should have a formal offer (and paperwork) within the next couple of weeks - watch this space!
9 March 2021
A good meeting I felt, attended by 8 (which is as many as we've ever had for an online meeting - apolgies to Les but we couldn't get the link to work). Lots of things were discussed so lets's just list the most important as I see them. Firstly, the club closed off the year in the black, which is always a good situiation to be in.
Matt suggested that the club look at a 5 year membership to allow us to get funds up-front for major works at the pond, this is for next year's renewals at the earliest, it was decided against asking members for loans as the club doesn't want to carry debt, and I can see that's a reasochnable position.
The position of junior members was discussed and changes to the constitution will be voted on at April's meeting allow a maximum of 200 adult members and 25 junior members, thereby allowing juniors on the waiting list to get tickets straight away and joint their parents.
There were sometimes heated discussions about Colmoor Farm (do we keep it?) and the start time of matches in winter (match secretary's decision is final) - sorry Billy.
Lastly, unsettling reports have reached me of some members objecting to the rise in the ticket prices! What! Are these members totally divorced from reality? The committee works hard to keep the club going, we have to spend possibly about twenty thousand pounds in the next few years to maintain the fishery....and some people have the gall to snipe from the side lines and complain about a few more quid. A full adult membership is 67 pence a week. Go and find a sport where access to local and high-quality facilities are available anywhere near that price! #whingers
9 March 2021
Renewals (2) - Cheques, bloody cheques
Four of the blighters so far! It really is the most inconvenient method of payment, Now I have to go to the bank to pay the damn things in! Then wait for them to clear, all the while having to hang onto the membership cards thereby preventing the members from fishing the pond!
Get with the twenty-first century and pay online, please. Alternatively, go to the TSB yourself, pay by cash and credit the club's account - use the reference (membership No. & first 3 characters from your surname), then it's done quickly and neatly.
5 March 2021
As I'm no longer at work I've lost my access to MicroSoft Office so the club membership records are held on Libre Office (a shareware package to rival MicroSoft). It looks and feels very similar to the MS package but with just enough differences to make things difficult, it would be easier if it was totally different then I wouldn't use a familiar sequence of commands only to find it's done something strange. Anyway, with a little self-education (and reading the manual) I've managed to print the address labels for return of the membership cards.
So, just continue to send the cards in, pay the fees direct to the bank account and I'll get the cards out. There's probably a delay of a few days as I get downloads from the club's account twice a week, not every day (I do have to have a life outside being secretary for W&GAC).
4 March 2021
Netting results - Update
We've had the report on the netting from Moore & Moore and there's a shed-load of fish in the pond. In summary, the rudd have all but disappeared but the roach are doing well, as are the bream. The tench seem a little out-of-sorts but the netters were impressed by the number and size of the crucians.
See the website for the full report
21 February 2021
The netting was carried out as planned on Saturday 20 Feb, there's a page with more details on the website. To my untrained eye it went well, there's certainly no problems with the numbers of fish in there! One thing always surpises me is the lack of any predators of any decent size. The netters got a couple of chub and one, just one, big perch. Given the numbers of small roach and the way the bream are successfully spawning, it seems an ideal environment for perch to thrive. Maybe, and this is a personal opinion only, not club policy, we need a few pike to thin the roach and bream?
Notwitstanding, it was good to see so many healthy fish and I'm pleased and proud to be part of the team managing a successful, healthy, fishery - long may it continue.
16 February 2021
Ice, Ice, baby
A frozen pond on Saturday morning means that our intrepid chair, Matt and maybe a willing volunteer or two will remove the aerators this week prior to the netting on Saturday.
Please remember - do not visit the pond on Saturday as the netters need to remain covid compliant. Details of the results of the netting will be put on the web site and Facebook.
10 February 2021
Meeting - Fees
Well, yesterday evening's Skype meeting was interesting, lots to discuss, not least an increase in fees for the forthcoming renewals. The club has agreed a £5 across-the-board increase (except juniors) and the abolition of the concessionary rate, postponed for a year.
The rationale is that the club is going to need a shed-load of money in the forthcoming few years to ensure that there isn't wide-spread and wholesale bank collapse at the pond. To pardon the pun, the club needs to shore-up its reserve to meet these projected costs that could well run into tens of thousands of pounds. There were no dissenting voices at the meeting, the proposal was carried unanimously, but I bet there will be some howls of anguish from some quarters.
Anyway - it's done now and details are on the web pages.
We're all still getting used to the Skype meetings, we'll probably just about get the hang of them by the time we return to normal and can meet at the pub again (if any are left to re-open once all this is over).