Saturday, 11 March 2017

Last leg

Some trees are just tenacious in their determination to cling on to the very end! Nothing remains of the fallen upper portion of this tree, long returned to the earth. Yet, with only a small fraction of its original girth remaining this tree stands defiant to the last. You've got to respect such endurance, man.

Friday, 10 March 2017

The Neighbourhood Strange

A nice surprise to return home to after a damp walk under sullen skies. The latest 7'' waxing from Salisbury's premier psychedelic garage combo, The Neighbourhood Strange. A nice high grade cardboard sleeve with a colourfully tripped out cover houses a quality heavy weight vinyl. This second single is a double 'A' sider of glorious 60's infused psychedelia, and complements nicely their earlier release. Both tracks are organ heavy, guitar driven numbers with tight drumming, though both very different. The A side's 'let's get high' is quite a dancey number with a cellar club feel to it, great organ and jangly guitar give this track a really nice groovy feel to it, great vocals too. You can help but move to it. The AA side 'One last chance' has a slower feel to it, a lamenting number with an appropriately heavier feel to it, there's a heavier garage guitar sound on this one and some tidy drumming, again nice organ and vocals. Very happy with it. Thing is, listening to it just makes you want more, I want to hear what an album would sound like...bloody good I'd imagine. If not an album, at least an EP. Anyway, don't take my word buy a copy here

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Puddle

It may not be the most stable of nursery’s, not the most permanent and it's certainly susceptible to disturbance, possibly traumatic, but this puddle is home to this clutch of tadpoles. Tadpoles whose parents thought a puddle on a well used rangers track would be prime littlun raising territory. Still, they're resilient little buggers and have already survived the frosts and by the looks of the puddle, numerous boots, hooves and Land Rover tyres.  So, I sure they'll be okay.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Bratley Enclosure Bank

A mature Beech grows from the bank of Bratley Enclosure (1829). The known age of the enclosure gives a nice indicator of the trees age. It's also interesting to see how simple earthworks can remain prominent features of a landscape for hundreds of years, if not much much longer.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Young Turk

The Young Turks of the forest know the wheel turns and that their time is coming.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Broken Britain

That's what's wrong with this country, nothing does what it's supposed to. 

Up above the streets and houses

The weather was interesting today. When the sun came out it was really lovely, illuminating the landscape as if spring had come calling, though this was only ever out fleetingly. Then before you knew it, the winds drove the clouds back obscuring the sun, bring with them rain and hail. Then there were the moments when it rained as the sun shone, a foxes riddle and a monkeys dance as my old mother used to say; I don't know why, she was a bit bonkers. At these moments of weather transition rainbows formed. I was looking at one such rainbow over Ober Water towards Rhinefields Sandy's when I noticed that the rainbow passed in front of the trees of the enclosure, and by shifting my position slightly I could see where the ends touched down. I don't remember ever seeing a rainbow like that before; I got quiet excited. I also made a note of where the ends of the rainbow were, just in case.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Daffs

It's nice to see the life and colour returning to the forest. A solitary clump of Daffodils (one of the Narcissus genus, though I don't know which one) stood out as they shone in the morning sun.  I couldn't tell if they were a wild or cultivated variety, the petals were lighter than the flower (though not much) and they were quite small which would suggest a wild form. Though from their position at the confluence of two small streams where they become Mill Lawn Brook and them being the only specimens in the vicinity, I imagine they were placed there with purpose. The forest was good walking this morning.

Friday, 3 March 2017

The Greek Theatre 'Broken Circle'

I came across 'The Greek Theatre' through Mega Dodo Records and what a stroke of luck, because I found a gem of an album. At the core of The Greek Theatre are song writers Sven Froberg and Fredrik Persson hailing from Stockholm Sweden, they along with supporting musicians have created a fantastic softer folky end of the spectrum psychedelic joy...'Broken Circle'. Every track on Broken Circle is perfect, filled with interesting nooks and crannies for your ears and mind to explore. The duo are clearly influenced by the late 60's, with a good helping of the early 70's, that doesn't mean the sound's dated, it isn't. There's a real contemporary feel to it especially the vocals, although when the harmonies kick in your clearly leaning towards late 60's west coast, which is no more evident than on Ruby-Khon, a short plinky plonky guitar number with delicate out there vocals. My favourite track on Broken Circle is 'Paper Moon' an upbeat yet dreamy track with soft psychedelic pop flavours. There are heavier number too, well, not still not that heavy, overall it's an upbeat, though mellow album.  It should be a massive hit with folk who dig this end of psychedelia (that's me that is, and it is), that said, take this back to 1970 and I'm certain people would go wild for it. Maybe that just makes it timeless. Whatever, it's a great album, made up of well crafted songs performed by high calibre musicians. Love it!

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Ramsons

The Ramson (Allium ursinum) leaves having been showing out for a while, though only now are a few flower buds starting to show.  These buds looked quite close to flowering. It's a real sign that spring approaches. I couldn't resist having a nibble on a couple of buds. At first they tasted very mild and I thought it might have been too soon try one, though that thought was quickly dispelled as the garlicy heat began to fill my taste buds.  Good stuff.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Seven to Eternity, Vol. 1 The God of Whispers

Image are really on a roll at the moment, publishing one fantastic title after another. One of their latest is 'Seven to Eternity Vol.1, The God of Whispers' written by Rick Remender (whose current projects I'm absolutely loving), who has created another world, grim and gritty, rich with strange and complex characters and set against a backdrop of magic, paranoia and fear. A world where through granting desires a brutal god king has eyes and ears in every home. A world where not to listen to this god king's offers or accept them will lead to destruction and death. The choices are limited for dying Adam Osidis, head of an outcast family, though that could all change, everything could change. Magic, mysticism and honour run through what could become an epic tale. Rick Remender's writing is stellar, fantastic plot and sub-plots, engaging dialogue and it travels at a good pace too. Jerome Opeña's artwork is just bloody lovely! Detailed, expressive, emotive, really nice lines, man. And, the colouring by Matt Hollingsworth  brings it all to vivid life, he's used his pallet to great effect. All round Seven to Eternity Vol.1, The God of Whispers is outstanding in every aspect.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Springs aproach

Spring swiftly approaches and today we were afforded a glimpse of what hopefully is to come.  The leaf litter covering the floor of Burley Old was crisp and dry as I sank into it. I love taking the opportunity to lay out in nature, breath deeply and relax. Gazing up through the Spartan canopy as it gently swayed you knew spring was near, you could feel spring in the air, hear it in the growing tree top chorus, even smell a hint of it.  I know it's only fleeting, but it wont be too long, and knowing that fills your sails and raises a smile.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Red Cup

 
The small Scarlet Elf Cup, or Cap, (Sarcoscypha coccinea).

Saturday, 18 February 2017

The Bunny

Even with the warm sun breaking through, the Bunny feels dank and weird, there's a strange energy to the place, a sense foreboding, something not quiet right. No matter when, the Bunny always feels peculiar. It's not just the Bunny, mind, it's all the woodland and common in these parts, they all feel weird. I walk all over the place, though the common (Chewton Common) is the only place where I feel compelled to look behind me, and I'm not the only one mention it. I wonder why that is.

Friday, 17 February 2017

The Chase

The Chase was wonderful this afternoon, you could feel your senses waking along with nature. Although the chill winds were testament to the land still being held in winters embrace, you could feel everything champing at the bit, ready to burst into life. All the signs are there. The wheel has turned and change is afoot.  Whist passing through the Iron Age enclosure in Mistleberry Wood (marked on maps as a hillfort, though I don't think it is), beneath the still bare canopy of a veteran tree, we saw three Hares gathered in conference, as we approached they broke in three equidistant directions and made off. You don't get a more potent symbol of Spring than that. Walking on, the woodland of Stonedown Wood, still naked, is alive with bird song and hidden movement, preparations for what's come are under way. Following old paths and winding tracks we come out of cover on the windswept ridge of the chalk downs. The views from the top of the chalk downs are spectacular in which ever direction you choose to look, as you walk along the distant vistas change and closer by secluded valleys are revealed, only to disappear a short walk further. There's magic in this landscape, you can feel it. We're lucky to have such beautiful and magical landscapes on our doorstep.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Heralds of Spring

Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) are the heralds of Spring, emerging first in one and twos, then to carpet the woods and banks. Lovely!

Monday, 13 February 2017

Black Science Vol.2 Welcome Nowhere

I was given the first volume of Black Science 'How to fall forever' by a friend and was first struck by Matteo Scalera's artwork it has an old skool 2000AD feel to it and is beautifully coloured by Dean White who uses a vibrant pallet to bring Scalera's expressive art to vivid life. The Story written by Rick Remender is a sort of 'Quantum leap' style affair, with a group, The Anarchist League of Scientists, set adrift in a multiverse of parallel worlds by a damaged 'Pillar' (the machine which transports them), unable to control where they end up, though hoping for home. Each world is weirdly alien and yet structurally understandable, and they only have so long before they jump to the next. Volume one set the scene and some of the background (I really should have written a review of it, it's very complicated and moved fast, and without it anything I write now about the story beyond the bones would mean nothing to you). Now volume two 'Welcome, Nowhere' runs with it. The remains of the team find themselves in world which seeks the 'key' to the 'Pillar' to enable it's use, different versions of some of the protagonists appear each following their own agendas and purpose, as the bigger picture comes into focus and maybe the 'Pillar's' jumps are not as random as they appeared. Remender creates a rich and weird story, which Scalera populates with the weirdest of creatures and with White's colours the whole things a bit of a visual trip and a touch disorientating at times as you look and think 'urgh?'. It's all cool, mind, it makes sense. The dialogue moves the story on well and at a pace, and the art ensures you feel it. What a cracking read. I shall be seeking out volume three, for sure!  

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Illustrated Tree

The Illustrated tree still retains the title 'gnarliest tree I know'. You can spend an age exploring its myriad textures and shapes. Trees such as this are the secret gems of the forest, only found if you venture from the paths and search them out, and even then they'll often try and hide from you. It really is the grooviest of trees, though.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

The Naked Man

The remains of that venerable ancient Oak tree 'The Naked Man' have finally fallen. Some say it was vandalism, but I don't see it. It looks like a combination of age, weather and pony activity to me. I think the Naked man stump fell in bad weather with age, taking its rotten frame with it, and the outer fence, also rotten, was pushed over by ponies resting against it. Or some such. The fences have been visibly rotten and feeling weak and loose for some years now. Although a popular site and one associated with ritual activity for many years and continuing today (wiccans, pagans and alike), the sites origins are quiet macabre. The Naked Man or as it was previously know 'The Wilverley Oak' stood on what was a prominent road crossing the forest and was once a gibbet tree where smugglers (common in the forest) and highway men were hung. This origin is probably the origin of the naked man name, weathered bodies left hanging. There's been a companion tree growing on the site for some years, and people are talking about a stone or something as a record.  Something would be nice. 

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Nowhere

The forest is sometimes like this.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Clay Hill Bottom

At the moment over night damp and frost are battling for dominance and when the sun rises you see the victor. It's like a civil war within the element of water between the liquids and the solids. This morning the solids (with the help of Jack Frost) won, the liquids captivated by Jack's crystal embrace. 


Sunday, 5 February 2017

Stag Break Reeds

Since the instigation of the bog woodland restoration program, affected areas of the forest have become wetter, one of the purposes of the program was to hold water in the forest to encourage species diversity and now some areas remain waterlogged all year round. Phragmites Reed communities are beginning to colonize pools in the wetland hollows of the heath. I wonder how widespread this species was prior to the draining of the forest for forestry.  It's easy to forget that the forest we see today is in no way natural, and is all the result of human interventions over 5000 years. The forest must have been a wild place once and must have looked very different.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Spawn

Saw my first frog spawn of the year today, though I think the frogs have been a bit previous with hard frosts coming and going. The missed the water by a few feet too.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Renato Jones, The One%, season 1 by Kaare Kyle Andrews

Kaare Kyle Andrews has created a masterpiece, it's just perfect. Beautifully illustrated with stylish line work which is expressive and so compliments the writing, which hits its target square on.  A sidewinder up the tailpipe of the establishment, the One%. Our 'hero' Renato Jones, when a young child, is plucked from one cesspool of corruption and placed duplicitously into another, though quite different cesspool. He learns quickly that everything costs, everything has a price, and he already has a large tab. The One% of the story are that 'One%', you know the ones. They're shown in a less than flattering light, though one that I imagine, in some cases at least, is justified and probably not too far off the truth. We are not human to them. The topics in Kaare's work are pertinent and reflect the growing dissonances in society, inequality is becoming ingrained and the few live like gods, beyond all laws, untouchable. Something needs to be done and Renato Jones has a plan.  I can't say any more for fear of saying too much, read it!  Renato Jones, The One%, is a cracking read, fantastically written and illustrated, a real page turner. I can't wait for season 2.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Imbolc

The wheel turns and with it the season changes, you can feel it. Nature is waking from her sleep and the energy to transform is slowly forming. Imbolc blessings y'all.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Magic Bus @ The king Arthur, Glastonbury 28.1.2017

For the first time this year the fabulous Magic Bus pulled into Glastonbury to perform at that venerable establishment, The King Arthur. And, it would have been rude not to step on board.

Magic Bus are the grooviest of bands, comprised of excellent musicians who have a very pleasing sound, steeped in psychedelic, folky, prog, rock flavours, they also do a lovely line in harmonies too. They've certainly got late 60's early 70's running through them like Brighton through rock.  I love 'em. I really dig that 70's sound and to hear it played with contemporary flourish is a real treat.  You see, the 'Bus' (no one calls them that) aren't period re-enactors they're creating not copying, creating upbeat progressive psychedelic music for the now, and doing a bloody good job. Singer/songwriter Paul Evans pens some masterful psychedelic ditties with flavours of vintage south east England blended with summer of love sun drenched west coast America, Paul's got the voice to do them credit too. Combined the band produce some top shelf harmonies to drift off smiling on. As usual Jay Darlington looks as cool as a cucumber sat relaxed behind his incense fuelled keyboards (I assume they were incense fuelled, he did burn some nice incense this evening, it was either that or magic), man, does he get some sweet sounds out of those keys or what. I love that vintage organ and keys sound, it's just so right. A new addition tonight (well, new to me) was Mitch Pike on drums,  I felt Mitch certainly brought a different energy to the mix (that's not to say previous drummer Connor wasn't good, just different), a more powerful, heavier driving beat, a bit metal, not heavy mind, just more 'rock'! Together with Wihll Muellorz on bass they created a solid rhythm section, Wihll, like other bassists makes bass look effortless, of course it can't be. Mitch's drumming seemed to have Terence Waldstradt rocking it a bit heavier than usual too. Not that Terence's noodling doesn't hit the spot anyway, it just felt a touch rockier than when we've previously seen the band. In fact a few of the numbers seemed rockier in places. No complaint, mind, the Magic Bus brought it. Of course, weaving in and out through all the tracks, dancing like joyfully butterflies, was Viv Goodwin-Darke's magical flute. Like organ, I love a bit of flute and together, well, they're made for each other aren't they. Add it to the mix and you had all the ingredients for some tasty musical bliss. Their set tonight was a mixture of favourites with a liberal sprinkling of new tracks off their forthcoming third album due out in a couple of months (includes a vinyl release), I for one am looking forward to it. The new tracks sounded great, and were all well received by the audience to loud applause, as were all the tracks, the room was filled, everybody having a blast, lots of folk up dancing.  Gigs never last long enough, (well that's not true, I saw Busted and McFly once) tonight was no exception. Great performance from a band you always come away happy and a bit floaty from. They're a lovely folk too are Magic Bus, friendly and happy to chat. Top night, cheers. Check out their albums especially 'Transmissions from Sogmore's Garden', a great listen (if you like it you can buy it here, always try and support the artists if you can).

Ah, and The King Arthur, our not so local local. We were remarking on such this evening, even though it's the best part of 4.5 hour round trip, we're there so frequently for gigs it feels like our local, there's no other establishment we visit as regularly or feel drawn to. The staff are friendly and welcoming, the clientèle equally so, the atmosphere is conducive to good times and the sound here is always on the button.  If you're in Glastonbury and in need of a drink (or food, they do food too), you'd be remiss not to visit. 

Friday, 27 January 2017

Music of the Andys virtual gig on Visual Radio Arts


The Music of the Andys performed a live set at Visual Radio Arts in Frome which was streamed live on friendface this evening, and fantastic it was too. I don't need to describe it as it available for you to watch and enjoy, both the musical content which is top shelf, but also the interview sections which are treat and rather funny. Obviously it'll never replace a real gig, though these virtual gigs aren't a bad thing to add into the mix. Enjoy.  

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Mists of time

Mists render the forest timeless.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Owl Tree

In a part of Burley Old enclosure is a stand of larch, amongst which, sited in majestic isolation is this decaying hulk of a tree. It has been in a state of decay for as long as I can remember it, at least 20 years. I first noticed it whilst walking through on a evening walk, I might have passed it bye unawares if I hadn't been attracted to it bye an owls hoot.  Searching the tree I saw the owl perched high on the stump of a broken bough, surveying its domain. I remember watching, thrilled, it's always a buzz watching natures wonders. I'd imagine the wizened leviathan makes an ideal hunting station.  Of course, eventually I disturbed it, and it was away, lost from view in the maze of trunks. I saw an owl at that tree for several years after, and though I've not seen one for ages that doesn't mean that they don't perch there still, just that I've not seen them.  

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Stag Break

I've been checking out potential wild camp sites whilst out on walks this week, and have come with some possible contenders. It's silly not to make more use of the abundance of wild camping opportunities our area affords us, and the odd night out under the stars does wonders. 

Friday, 20 January 2017

Frosty Heather

Still at midday, wherever and whatever the suns light didn't touch remains coated in sugary frosting, even exposed ice retains it structural integrity. It is a glorious day to walk along the winding paths which follow the contours of the interface of two worlds, the heather covered plain and the tufted grass wetland. These paths, for the most part, are below the ridge and out of the wind which still pierces, even with the tentative young suns rays.  A deer breaks it's meagre gorse cover and makes of through the exposed wet grassland. It's weird, deer just can't hold their bottle, despite the deer's sparse hide, we hadn't nor most probably wouldn't have seen it, and we'd have passed by unawares. It gave itself away. Funny buggers.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Stag Head

Interesting little stag head graffiti on a mature Beech. As I've mentioned before, the multitude of variables that affect how graffiti ages makes it difficult to age, though I'd say it was at quite old. 

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Tangled canopy

Periodically somewhere up in this tangled canopy one tree was plucking and twanging another trees branches. No matter how hard I looked, and I did look and listen intently,  I couldn't see where though. As I get older you feel time more intensely, whilst peering up into the canopy it dawned on me, soon the sky will be hidden from the woodland floor again. It only seems like yesterday we were in awe of autumns multicoloured majesty, now in no time at all it'll be spring. I've noticed buds forming on some of the trees already. 

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Changes

A few years back they remodelled a stretch of Highland water from Camel Green to Queen Bower, the main stream now flows some way from it's former course, which is now mainly filled all but a little brooklet. You'd never imagine this small shallow slow flowing  brook was formally a 3 metre wide near straight deep drain. As I've mentioned before, when they undertake these 'restoration' exercises the immediate impression is one of destruction and disorder, though only a handful of years the casual walker, not familiar with the area, wouldn't know it had ever been different. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not going soft on conservation, conservation's bollocks, but reinstating streams to their less formal more natural pre Victorian courses that's more re-wilding, that's cool.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Ice-iverse

Galaxies of bubbly stars suspended in the ice-iverse. 

Thursday, 12 January 2017

First moon

First full moon of the year, therefore, first full moon fire of the year. I didn't think I'd get to have one tonight, the weather being as grim as it was, rain and sleet lashing down all day. Then with nightfall came clearing skies and by about 2030 the moon shone brightly in clear rich blue sky, with only the occasional loose cloud floating by. Still bloody cold, mind! So I whipped the trap off the fire pit and kindled a fire. It was slow going at first, some rain had got to my kindling, though with perseverance the fire grew, up to the point I made a rookie mistake and poked the young fire about, and then spent an age coaxing it back to life. Stupid move, and a move I should know better than to make.  Fire and light re-established I sat quietly under a radiant moon, I'd decided on no music tonight and so was left with my thoughts. The focal point of the fire is an aid to concentration, allowing to follow chains of thought more easily.  Of course, every now and again my drifting thoughts would be disturbed by the sounds of nocturnal activity, human and animal. I didn't mind though, I enjoy listening, imagining what's going on, it's nice to let your mind wander into the realms of imagination. Tonight's sounds were distant cars, barking dogs, the occasional owl and muffled conversations as people passed by.  It's nice just to listen to life going about its business. We used to have some Turkish neighbours who'd always on the phone talking loudly and excitedly, of course I could understand a word, but loved the rhythms of their conversations. I miss their evening calls. Tonight's moon and fire was a good start to the year.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Old wood

The old woods are slowly dying, recent changes in weather have laid waste to so many irreplaceable ancient trees, other trees are having their bark stripped by hungry ponies whose population has increased in the pursuit of profit and few new saplings rise to take their place as an out of control deer population sees them as a tasty treat. I know everything changes. I don't see the forest the Canadians and Portuguese saw in the First World War, whilst they didn't see the forest the admiralty timber growers of the 18th Century saw, nor they the Royal hunting forest of William the Bastard and he not the wild wood of the prehistoric inhabitants . Nothing stays the same. I know that, though still lament the passing of the forest I know and love.