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


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


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. 

Always with the racism

So, racism's on the rise you think, and of course you're right (no pun intended), there's no doubt that that ugly side of our human condition is gaining dominance once again, the EU referendum was fought and won on an overtly racist/nationalist platform, the papers sell on race/religion hate and people feel again empowered to voice their ill informed opinions on 'immigrants' at the drop of a hat. You can see the years of built up frustration born of the 'pc' years. It's worrying, without a doubt, but it's nothing new, racism rears its ugly head when times are hard, people are scared and governments need scapegoats. We just need to stay resolute in our opposition to it. Back in the 70's it was just as bad, if not more so than now. That said, I think we're moving swiftly back to that 70's mentality and morality on this topic and more, where casual racism was acceptable, funny even (there were always jokes), if you're white that is. Another example of how the politics of the present is dragging back into the past. Back in the 70's it was the National Front, the NF were fore runners to the likes of the BNP, EDL and Britain First. Just as misguided, just as potentially dangerous. You had two choices as a kid in the 70's, no, three choices: be a racist and align yourselves with the NF, oppose racism and join the ANL (Anti Nazi League) or just look the other way. Max, Ray and Steve, who added NF to their graffiti clearly took the first option. This piece of graffiti, along with a similar piece nearby are clearly from the 70's, dated by the nature of the scaring and the association, the conjoined NF. I'd thought (or rather hoped) that we'd seen off the racists, or at least sent them scurrying marginalized into the shadows, but it appears they're back with a vengeance, like dark Obi-wans, strike them down a come back stronger than we could possibly imagine.  

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Hawkeye Vol: 5 All-New Hawkeye

Sunday, 8 January 2017

A Primrose!

I know the Primrose (Primula vulgaris) is one of the earliest flowering of the spring plants, they're usually in flower from about the end of February / beginning of March, but surely the first week of January is taking the piss. That said I do love them, especially when carpeting an ancient woodland. Years ago a friend and I used to make a lot of flower and fruit wines, and on one occasion came across a secluded (I mean really secluded, to the point of being hardly accessible) wood in Purbeck packed with Primroses, where we collected enough flowers to make a gallon of wine each (you didn't need that many really). The wine was very nice as I remember, and even after we'd collected you'd not have known we'd been there.  You don't have to have a destructive impact on nature to enjoy her bounties.  I've been back to the wood many times since and it still hosts a thriving Primrose community. 

Friday, 6 January 2017

Music of the Andys @ The King Arthur, Glastonbury 6.1.2017

Less than a week into 2017 and we're at our first gig of the year, Music of the Andys at the King Arthur in Glastonbury; a great band in my favourite venue. It might be a bit of a journey (2 or so hours each way), but the 'Arthur' never fails to facilitate top evenings, and is always worth the travelling. For those who don't know (you need to sort that out!) Music of the Andys are Andy Roid (Andy Roger) of Here and Now on keyboards, synths and assorted twiddly stuff, and Andy Burrows of, er..., remiss of me as it is, I don't know if Andy B is in any other bands, on guitar.  Two bloody good musicians, and jolly nice chaps.  Music of the Andys have only existed for a year, though you'd never guess that by their tight sound and clean performances, and for just two fellows (yeah, there are three people in the photo, I'll get to that) they create a big sound that fills a room to bursting.

First though there was a support act, Shifty. Shifty are a four piece, Andrew Shackleton on laptop (I know there's more to it than that, but I don't know what it is) Andrew Schofield on vocals, harmonica and drums (he also had a utility belt of musical things), Graeme Lawson on guitar aMauve La Bichend Paul Boswell on bass. I'd not seen Shifty before though thoroughly enjoyed their performance. I don't really know how best to describe their sound, they're dancey, with electronic elements, rocky segments all delivered with punky gusto (here's their promo). Front man Andrew Schofield was very animated and I loved his use of harmonica. Great festival music, I reckon. I was saying to a friend I could imagine bouncing about to Shifty in a festival marquee. They played a good set. I think (though I could be wrong) that they're a relatively new outfit, and with that in mind, I for one look forward to seeing how they develop.

After a quick change over, the 'Andys' wasted no time in setting about opening trans-dimensional portals to a plethora of swirling soundscapes. The 'Andys' skill in forging amazingly textured soundscapes, deep and sumptuous musical worlds to get lost in, is a wonder. We've seen them a few times now, and at each performance they just keep getting better, which is some achievement as their first gig (first one we saw, anyway) was a corker. From the get go the Andys began our immersion process. Andy Roger is a master of keyboard and synth, appearing to effortlessly create wondrously textured ethereal musical vistas on demand, which he did to great effect. Studiously draped over his stack of keyboards and twiddle boxes, head in close, as if communicating with them, Andy R built up layer upon layer of lovely trippy sounds, on a foundation of wonderful hypnotic trancey beats and rhythms. Maybe there's some crazy symbiosis going on between man and machine? He's also known as Andy Roid, remember. The foundations of their musical universe established, Andy Burrows now set about overlaying it with some magnificent guitar work. Andy Burrows really knows how to make the most of his guitar, he's all over his fretboard like a rash, his fingers a blur, not only that but he's using the whole guitar as an instrument, tapping it here, stroking it there, doing whatever it takes to get his desired sound. Like a guitar wielding silver surfer, or more aptly the silver shredder, Andy B's guitar noodling glid with ease through the musical universe they'd created, stitching it all together. These guys know their onions! Tracks this evening included: the 'Goose of Perception' (a favourite of mine) a long floaty ethereal number which you simply melt into and drift along with, just beautiful; it also includes a great sample of performer Matthew Silver (good choice). There was the 'Banger' a much heavier droney number with a powerful and repetitively hypnotic back beat (like a steam hammer) overlaid with great synth twiddling and some far out shredding and noodling showing off Andy B's guitar skills. Finally, as a special treat, for their last track 'Killed by Yoga' (a new track) they were joined by Mark Robson (of Kangaroo Moon and Here and Now) on didgeridoo. Killed by Yoga has a softer hypnotic drone which slowly built up as it phased in and out, pulsating almost. A magical musical meditation, beautifully performed by three music yogis; the addition of the didg was inspired.  The end of each track was met with enthusiastic applause, well, it would wouldn't it. Well played, sirs!

But then, it was over. Well, the Andys continue to surpass themselves, I for one could have listened to more and I know I wasn't alone. That was a memorable set, I thank you. I think the Andy's enjoyed it too, which is nice. Word on the street is Music of the Andys will be releasing something in the coming months, and if you can't get to see them (though I recommend you do), whatever they release will be well worth getting a copy of. In the meantime to sample their magic, check out 'the goose of perception' on their bandcamp page.

As usual the Arthur was a treat, nice staff, nice regulars (we saw Annie, though she ignored us) and a great sound. It's mad that we'd travel 4 hours (round trip) to a venue with such regularity, but the 'Arthur' really does consistently come up with the goods, booking after booking of class acts. Looking forward at their 2017 calendar, so far this year looks like more of the same.....fantastico! Cary Grace was at the show tonight, if you've not seen Cary live, you must. I saw on the Arthur's calender that she's got a couple of performances pencilled in, one with The Luck of Eden Hall (or at least some of them); I can't wait.  I must mention that Shifty's Andrew Shackleton provided some lovely visuals which complimented the Andys music perfectly, well played, sir.  

Well, what a top night and what a great musical start to the new year. Cheers y'all! Much appreciated.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Fruit on the bough

I've noticed there are still quite a few clumps and isolated apple on several of the Crab Apple Trees (Malus sylvestris).  Not in bad condition either, remaining firm and still juicy. I tried one, still tart, though I feel winters chill has tamed them some and you'd find uses for them. A good wild resource, especially at this barren time of year for foraging.

I am not a money cow!

I am not a money cow, man, and object to being treated as one. We appear to be on and endless conveyor belt of consumption, no sooner has one purchasing opportunity passed, then another rears it's head, thrust before us. And of course, you're expected to participate, the media makes that quite clear, or you'll be different and you don't want to be different, do you? It's deplorable. The all pervasive pressure to continually consume the unwanted and unnecessary in pursuit of the material dream is damaging to us as individuals and collectively.  It's a multifaceted scourge of misery, dressed with enticing bling. We end up encouraged, no, pressured to spend too much, eat too much, get into debt, to participate in these norms and values of our society's events and activities you're told you 'must' participate in to be 'normal'.  Those exhibitions of gratuitous overindulgence shown in Christmas or Easter (substitute what ever event or festival) adverts reflect reality, don't they? No, they suggest that if you're not living like that then you must have failed or just missing out. Which is bollocks of course, but effective bollocks, as people flock to overspend on demand. And when we've messed up, overspent, eaten and drunk ourselves stupid, we're pilloried for our poor choices and lack of self control.  As the song says, 'it takes two baby'.  Yeah, we could exert more self control, but that would be a lot easier if we weren't constantly bombarded with pressure to consume. Sale after sale after sale, endless opportunities, must haves, adverts coming from every surface, speaker and screen.  Though all responsibility is removed from the purveyors, the sellers, the 'dealers', no, the ownness is all on us. What you see in the photo above is selling at its most cynical. We're being encouraged to buy products so in advance of an event (Easter is 15th of April) in the hope we'll consume them and have to buy more. Cynical fuckers! We need to take a stand, man, as Zamo said 'just say, no!'.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Frosty morning

You can't beat a nice frosty morning.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Back in the field

Today was my first proper walk, and first in the forest, since the weekend of the Levellers at the beginning of December. At the Levellers gig (which was fantastic) it became apparent that I wasn't 25 any more and center front may not be the best place for me in a vigorous crowd; it was a buzz though. Anyway, as a result of my 'youthful' exuberance I damaged my medial collateral ligament and was unable to walk any way for a few days, and not much further for a while after and I still feel the need of a knee brace now for stability (when out walking anyway). Over the last week I'd worked myself up to 5 miles, though today set out to test myself, and ended up doing 10.6 miles. The walking on the flat gravel forestry tracks was dandy, up and down hills not so much and off road somewhat precarious and ill advised, every slip causing a sharp twinge (I was certainly right to wear a knee brace). Still, 10 mile plus wasn't bad, and (touch wood) my knee feels okay for it, stiff, but okay. It was great to be back in the field, back in the forest amongst the stands and out in the open heath with its spectacular views. It may have only been a few weeks, though it felt like an age to me. The forest was bathed in winter sunlight, her streams flowing well, engorged by the recent rains, the air clear and clean, it was a joy to all the senses. Our route took us past the Eagle Oak and his two Yew companions, an ancient Oak with a sad tale, set (along with a few other dispersed ancient Oaks) amongst a much younger coniferous plantation.  It's association may be sad, though there's a pleasant calm air to the site, which is always worth a visit, as are any of the forests ancient inhabitants. Lovely day.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

The Green Man

Whilst out cycling today I happened upon this Green Man wood sculpture, I must have seen it before, though I have no recollection. I like seeing art out, especially art with an organic aspect, and even more so when it has a spiritual/folklore element.

Saturday, 31 December 2016


Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a funny plant, it flowers at the most peculiar times. Ours has flowers on it now, lovely purple pink flowers. I use Rosemary quite frequently in cooking, it's always available and versatile too. We put a £2.50 plant in, 5 years ago and now it's like a head high shrub. I wonder how easy it is to take cuttings from it?  I had this idea of propagating herb plants and guerilla planting select combinations of them, seeding useful herb communities. They could be culinary or medicinal, 4 or 5 plant combinations. My hope for them would be twofold, firstly that they would self propagate and become self sustaining populations, secondly, that they'd become a useful resource for people. I know how much I value and cherish the herb/plant resources I know. Might be a worthwhile undertaking. 

Friday, 30 December 2016

More mists

They're playing misty again.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Misty Morning

A Misty morning over the common, everything is quiet, muffled. The sun through the mist gives an alien feel and adds to the atmosphere of weird. It great how a simple weather anomaly can transform a well known landscape in to something magical and exotic, and allows your mind to wander and fantasize.  

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Last light

I love those last beams of light as the sun sinks in the evening, those ones which pierce and illuminate the stands, always a deep rich orange in hue.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

The sounds of Christmas

I did well this Christmas for vinyl, some things old, some things new, something orange, some thing blue. A new copy of Pink Floyd's 'Meddle', as mine has always had an awful squeaking noise throughout 'Echoes', and you don't want that. Copies of the Levellers 'Levelling the Land' (double album) and Primal Screams 'Screamadelica' (double album), both of which I'd only ever had on tape, and always wanted on vinyl. Three from the Fruits de mer stable, Us and Them 'Fading within the dwindling sun' (on orange 10inch vinyl), The Honey Pot 'Ascending Scales' (double album different blue discs) and Winkle 26 Fruits de mer compilation (7 inch). And finally, something I wanted, though would never have bought myself, The K Foundation (Kate Bush) 'Before the Dawn' (luxury 4 vinyl disc, plus booklet). I'm a lucky music listener and very grateful. They all sound magnificent.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Winter Solstice 2016

I hope the birth of the new Sun warms the soil ready for the seeds of your future dreams.

Friday, 9 December 2016

The Levellers @ O2 Academy Bournemouth 9.12.16

I wasn't going to go this evening, I'd got myself into that weird head space I can sometimes occupy, the cutting my nose off without rhyme nor reason head space. I'd had the tickets from the day they went on sale, the Levellers are a favourite band of mine, whose music is never off my playlist and they were playing their seminal album 'Levelling the Land' in full. Still, I wasn't going to go, damn those puppies of the black dog. But then I was told to go in no uncertain terms, though with love. I'm thankful for that push. I arrived late missing the first support and half way through the second. As I queued for a drink (long queues) I somehow got to the bar before the guy who'd been in front of me, so as is only right I let in front. And, he bought me a drink. Which was nice. I then made my way towards the front and the stage. The second support finished and as I looked about a woman asked me if I was looking for my friends, I said 'no, I'm on my own' to which she gave me a hug and suggested I join her and her group. Two acts of kindness one after another, I felt uplifted and even more grateful for that push to attend.

Then the main event. The band showed a short pre show film, a montage of news clips from the 80's to now, political, social, cultural, interspersed with adverts of the periods. The Levellers have remained true to their original values throughout their career, which is laudable.  If you know the album then you know the track listing, if you don't know the album you should, Levelling the Land. From the get go the crowd seethed, a sea of smiling faces, arms in the air, choruses joined in with on mass, the atmosphere was electric, the energy was fantastic, love flowed through the audience, it was brilliant.  Every track delivered with a passion undiminished, masterfully tweaked slightly here and there, but still to perfection; the band understands how cherished these songs are by the crowd. They didn't disappoint, each musician producing a faultless performance. An album, no matter how magnificent, doesn't last long and soon enough the final notes of 'Battle of the Beanfield' merged with fevered cheering. That was Levelling the land. Fucking marvellous!  All I'd hoped for, now even happier I'd been cajoled into coming.  Of course there was more though. Now a parade of favourites, 'This Garden', 'Carry Me' and 'Men a Tol' to name a few. All were delivered with the same level of gusto.  The first encore saw 'Julie' and of course 'Beautiful Day' had to have an outing. For the final encore some of Ferocious Dog joined the band for a rousing rendition of 'What you Know'.  What a fantastic gig, enjoyed with lovely people, memorable. Nights don't come much better.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Practice makes .....

At this time of year, with the threat of harsh weather to come, my mind turns to bushcraft skills. If truth be told, my mind often turns to bushcraft usually prompted by some threatening government policy or disturbing news article, the consequences of which may find me having to survive in the woods, eating squirrels or similar and bark. Though today I kept with the basics, fire. Whilst walking I gathered the required materials (papery birch bark, bracken, graded kindling), and finding a suitable exposed gravel river bed prepared my fire. It didn't take too long to get a fire started, it shouldn't have, the conditions were good. A much harder feat when the elements are against you. It's always worth keeping that in mind.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Fight, fight!

Who'd win in a fight, brambles or bracken? I ask as there's a battle for supremacy going on over the common as to which which of these two species will dominate. You see, a couple of years back some yoof burn a huge swathe of the common, it's a fairly regular occurrence, although this time it was on a grand scale. All but the larger trees was razed, even some of them were damaged beyond saving the ground was charred black. As time has passed brambles and bracken have colonized in equal measure, climbing over each other to get a foot hold.  I get the impression they're both opportunist invaders, taking advantage of our environmental ineptitude.  Time will tell who will be victorious.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Pony stripping

Further to my recent posts about ponies stripping Beech tree in the forest, an in-particular around Mark Ash, I came across this short piece of footage taken in Mark Ash of ponies stripping beech bark. It really needs dealing with urgently.

Sunday, 4 December 2016


A good learning method if you're looking to hone your skills in relation to understanding terrain, is to take a walk in seasonally inappropriate footwear. Not boots in the summer, you'll gain little from that. No, go walking in the autumn/winter in summer trail shoes. That'll learn you. You'll pay far more attention to your footfall, learn to understand possible ground condition by flora, learn to look for subtle changes or indicators which will help your feet stay dry and most importantly learn to read the land ahead, making better informed path choices. Some changes or indicators can be very subtle too, you have to really look.  It's a totally different experience to walking in all weather, all terrain boots where you can just clump along protected; you have to think a lot more. Your reward, you'll notice a lot more though and gain a greater insight into terrain in general, and most importantly, you'll stay dry footed.


For the most part the New Forest deer must be either fearless, reckless or complacent; I go for the latter.  The consequence of predator-less environment, no doubt. If you were of a mind, I'd imagine taking a forest deer would be a breeze. I got to within meters of this group of stags before they ambled away; it wasn't the first time on today's walk that I got close to deer. 

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Red raw

Another Beech stripped bare by ponies, a worrying trend. This red raw example stuck out wildly amongst the other trees.  I saw dozens of trees like this on my walk today, not all freshly gnawed, but stripped in recent times. This example was, again, in Church Moor, a hot spot for this behaviour, as I can see. Chris Packham reckons says it's 'heartbreaking to see', and, man, I too feel that pain too when I see the forest I love being destroyed through mismanagement and greed.  The bodies supposed to be managing and safeguarding the forest are the very same responsible for the damage.  Action to reduce the pony population is needed quickly if we are to save the forest. Over dramatic? No.  Gnawing on Hollies has been commonplace for years, the Hollies appear more resilient and endure, whereas, I don't remember seeing Beeches gnawed until relatively recently (last few years), but this year I've seen an explosion in the number of trees damaged and, more urgently, destroyed.  I've also pointed out to those walking with me, the lack of saplings setting and growing up to take the places of the fallen. If something isn't done soon, there'll be no future forest.....and that doesn't bare thinking about.

Friday, 2 December 2016


The forest was proper frosty this morning, and all the more beautiful that frosty dusting. The was a magical ethereal atmosphere amongst the stands. The canopies were silent, the ponies stood motionless and throughout the forest nothing appeared to move, a deserted landscape where every footfall could be crisply heard.  If there were other walkers about, I didn't see or hear them, to all intents and purposes we was alone, the forest was ours.  It may have been f*cking cold, and it was (the coldest I remember for some time), but it was welcomed, I'd have a morning like this over a wet one any time. Lovely.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Graffiti gone!

There's an interesting stand of Eucalyptus trees in the forest where once stood Holmhill Cottage, a long gone isolated forestry commission property. The Eucalyptus were planted in 1977, after the last inhabitant of the cottage died and all remnants of the dwelling (a cottage, stables, outbuildings and paddocks) were removed and the plot ploughed over. The trees are tall, and some hang with long strips of papery bark, the trees ex-foliated skin. At some time in the past 'Bob' had carved his name in big letters into one of the trees, a mark on the semi permanence on most trees, although a mere temporary mark on the Eucalyptus. I was fascinated to see how 'Bob's' deep carving (as it looked like it was deeply cut originally by the scaring) was being grown out, simply peeled off, leaving behind it a fresh clear new growth of bark. Cool, stuff, a sort of organic etcha-sketch .

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Puff the magic mushroom

Puff the magic mushroom lived in the woods. Of course, this isn't a magic mushroom it's a Puff Ball. The forest floor is carpeted with the exploded shells of hundreds of these puff balls, their spores dissipated, ensuring future puff balls.  

Monday, 28 November 2016

The Flanders pigeon murder

The ghost of the Flanders pigeon murder must be stalking the stands, poor Speckled Jim and friends. I'm currently seeing loads of pigeon kill sites wherever I'm walking. It's that season I suppose, the old and weak who wont make the spring, are succumbing or being picked off. There are lots of pigeons on the ground in the forest at the moment, walking through the stands you'll often disturb a group of 10 or more, who'll noisily take flight back up into the bare canopy.  It's a weird one, like foxes, I'm always somewhat surprised to see groups of pigeons in the forest, I associated them with the urban landscape and forget they live in the woods naturally, it's us who've built on their woods.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Saturday, 26 November 2016


I needed some air today, though it was one of those walks where you walk with a thick frown on your face, wondering when you'll learn that drinking too much on an empty stomach is a mistake, and trying walk off the horrible way you now feel. Immersing myself in the forest I hoped to take my mind of my woes. I've mentioned before that when you immerse yourself in your walk, immerse yourself in the landscape you're walking through you start to see more. And when you walk a landscape long enough you'll notice anything out of place. Walking through the tall majestic beech of Church Moor this afternoon my eye was caught by a pile of stones amongst the leaf litter at the base of one of the beech. You get plenty of piles of stones in the forest, after all, the forest overlays gravels, sands and clays. But, this pile looked out of place.  As I walked over I saw stones of colours and types which were alien to those found locally. There were quartz, and lots of rounded pebbles amongst others. I can only assume that they had been placed here on purpose; a marker or memorial most likely.  A special spot to someone, imbued with meaning.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Ulysses and The Neighbourhood Strange @ The Winchester Gate, Salisbury 25.11.16

Blimey! That was a night out, and some; good company, good music, good venue and if I'm honest, too much alcohol on a near empty stomach. The evening was Ulysses and The Neighbourhood Strange at The Winchester Gate in Salisbury.  We'd seen The Neighbourhood Strange supporting Carlton Melton last year in another Salisbury venue and knew them to be good, and I'd been looking forward to catching Ulysses for some time now (I was hoping to catch them earlier in the year with Magic Bus). The Winchester Gate was a new venue for us and we were pleased to find it; a fine establishment and venue by all accounts,  manned by friendly staff (who humorously served drinks in a variety of inappropriate glasses, I had shots served in a standard whiskey glass, a wine glass and several in half pint classes, by far the funniest) and equally congenial patrons. We'll be watching for more at the Winchester Gate.

First up were Ulysses, a four piece rock combo out of Bath via the 1970's. Ulysses channel a variety of rich and diverse 70's musical flavours, polish them up a touch, put a contemporary spin on them and loose them with love on an  audience.  Tonight’s audience who filled the low ceilinged room were hungry for what was being served, enjoying every bit of it, plenty of dancing smiley faces showing their approval between tracks with thunderous applause. The band played tracks of their current, and hugely listen-able, album 'Law and Order' and kept us entertained inbetween with witty banter and a story about a car which as I remember was never resolved. All round a top band both live and on cassette, yeah, that's right cassette!  A great performance, I'll be looking out for them again. Next up were The Neighbourhood Strange a psychedelic/garage beat combo out of Salisbury via the days of future past, again diverse musical flavours at play, blended with care and skill, this time from a decade earlier, there's certainly an echo of the mid/late 60's going on, what's created can only be described as, nice (as said by the Jazz guy on the fast show). I enjoyed  The Neighbourhood Strange when I saw them last, and I enjoyed them even more so this time around.  Again, the audience loved it, the room was packed with dancing smiley faces, great atmosphere, home audience an' all. The nature of the songs, the names of which are unknown to be (but for the few I've listened to online), bridged time, in essence late 60's tunes though feeling very current and contemporary, all of them beautifully crafted, were a joy to listen to. I hope there's an album on the way. Both bands created immersive atmospheres in which you could really experience and enjoy the music to its full, well, it's definitely music to be enjoyed. Top night, bravo to all involved.    

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Hide and seek

The hollowed trunk of a slighted leviathan made an ideal hiding place, of course I was up against a master in the art of location and was soon to be found.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Stacked leaves

When the waters of Red Rise Brook swept across the adjacent forest they swept with them all the nearby trees fallen crowning glories, and when the waters receded they left them neatly stacked in vertical uniformity winding as ribbons through the stands.