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.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Giant tree Clams

The forest was aquatic this morning, so much so we saw some Giant tree Clams basking in the sun which periodically broke through. Being fed by a myriad of glistening brooklets which ran across the heathland and through the stands, Red Rise Brook had escaped its banks to capture any low lying environs. Open ground now lake, dry woodland now akin to Everglades. This situation is fluid though (no pun intended), it's not like wet season proper where it remains inundated for weeks, and on returning an hour later the waters had, for the most part, receded back within the confines of the Brooks banks. We could see where the waters had recently extended much further beyond the point at we saw them, neatly stacked piles of leafs mark the furthest extent of this flooding. The shape of things to come, maybe? 

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Breaking through

A momentary break in the clouds reminds us that the sun still shines beyond the blanketed which currently obscures our sky, as soft golden light shone through, illuminating stands and casting long shadows. It feels much colder today, but it's a different cold than that of recent, it feels drier. That may be as there's a little less wind about at the moment to force the damp through you. It feels rather nice, really, right weather right season, not something we get much of these days. I hope for a cold dry winter.

Saturday, 19 November 2016


Lets take some time to reflect.

Friday, 18 November 2016

They're lichen clean air

They say Lichen only thrives in really clean air, and there's certainly clean air out here amongst the stands, as is clear by the healthy nature of the forests lichen communities.  Bushy varieties are supposed to be the most fussy too, and they do particularly well out here. 

Thursday, 17 November 2016


We've got a couple of Acers in our garden.  For most of the year this particular Acer disappears, being green leaved it looks plain (compared to our other one which has deep red leaves), easily blending in amongst the other shrubs and young trees.  Though come autumn, it comes into it's own with a spectacular show of colours. I caught this shot in a brief moment of sunshine. Lovely.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Church Moor

The colourful Beeches of Church Moor in Mark Ash Wood.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Dead ringers

This is a phenomena I've not elsewhere in the forest, yeah, I regularly see where ponies have gnawed at trunks, usually Holly, extensively sometimes, and other species too. Though I've not seen mature semi ancient Beeches stripped in this fashion.  Dotted around Mark Ash Wood I saw at least 8, and I'm sure there'd be more, majestic beech trees completely ringed, their outer bark removed, up to  2m or more up the trunk on some.  It doesn't bode well for the trees survival, I'm sure. I wonder what it is that the ponies get from gnawing. Shame, they're some lovely trees.

Monday, 14 November 2016


A lot of shelter skeletons out in the woods this year, it must have been a good year for building camps.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Sunset over the Purbecks

No, I wasn't transported to an alien planet in order to capture this totally out of this world sunset. It's the view across Bournemouth Bay to the Purbeck hills from Southbourne beach. Totally far out! 

Friday, 11 November 2016


Some woodland recyclers taking a break in the autumn sun.

Remember what they want you to forget.

If you think today is about remembrance, you're surely mistaken.
'Maybe', it once was, but now the day has been taken.
By politicians who'd send our friends and family to die.
In their endless wars for profit, all based on lies.
We shouldn't wear our poppies with pride.
Because behind their red faces the real truth hides.
That the poppy is now used to stifle public dissent.
For those endless wars on which politicians are hell bent.
That politicians need us to wear poppies to hide the fact.
That those same politicians have broken the military pact.
That 10,000 soldiers sleep cold in the streets.
Whilst our politicians bath in the glory of their heroic feats.
They fell for our freedom is what politicians will say.
As they cynically strip those rights and freedoms away.
Remember the war dead and why they all died?
They died for nothing, and they'll continue to die for lies.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

The Fraud @ Chaplins 10.11.16

Heading the night's musical offerings at Chaplins were The Fraud. The Fraud are a superb 3 piece blues rock combo made up of Bob Redman on guitar and vocals, Kevin Roberts on bass and a drummer whose name is a mystery to me.  I stumbled across The Fraud through Snu peas, that fine pre loved vinyl emporium in Boscombe, just prior to their first performance earlier this year; I went to aforementioned performance and impressed, you'd never have imagined it to be their first outing.  I'd been looking forward to catching them again. The band do a very tidy line in rhythm and blues numbers built on rock foundations, nice tracks, man. They've a good solid rhythm section in Kevin Roberts on bass, who pulls some great musician faces, at some points he look bewildered, confused and possibly a little scared as if he'd seen a ghost off stage or had had too many hotknifes or some such and was trying to fathom out why, still, it didn't effect his playing he laid down some clean bass lines throughout. And, the mystery drummer, who remained a mystery tucked away at the back of the stage in drummers alcove, through he beat his skins and crashed his cymbals to great effect, together they created a fine groove. Out front and center was guitarist Bob Redman, a fine guitarist who has an easy understated style, which has depth and character, he's a high grade noodler and no mistake. The Fraud are a really tight sounding band of proficient musicians, and tonight they showed that,  supplying a stream of high quality tunage. I've only one complain, and it's the same as the last time I saw them... it wasn't a long enough set. A great performance though.  If you get a chance to catch The Fraud, take it, they don't disappoint. 

Before, between and after the bands this evening, quality sounds were delivered via the decks of DJWill from Snu Peas, as you'd imagine, great tunes. For those who know, you'll notice down in the corner of the photo, DJ Will.  A big thinks to all involved, it was another top nights music at Chaplins.

Bending Space @ Chaplins 10.11.16

Earlier in the year we caught some bands performing at the Anvil, one of them was called the Acid Valley Nomads. Tonight was the inaugural performance of 'Bending Space', who are in essence a reduced Acid Valley Nomads, as two band members are working away (word is that the Acid Valley Nomads will be back performing in the Spring, which is something to look forward to).  Bending Space are Pete Jones on drums, Luke Skinner on bass and Luke Furr on guitar, all great musicians. A three piece, Bending Space really know how to make some noise and create a buzzing atmosphere. Delivering a stream of short, fast, and blisteringly energetic garage, psyche, surf numbers with sprinklings of punk, all delivered perfectly, with passion and humour; fuck, man, did they belt it out good style. The whole set was tight and beautifully performed. People were loving it. At one point the band played the Acid Valley Nomads number 'He made friends with a window pain' twice by popular demand, which got plenty of folk up dancing.  The end of every track was met with thunderous applause, and rightly so. The band too appeared to be having a right good time, all smiles.  There was a real old school feel to their performance, it made me think of the late 70's and the energy that live bands of that period possessed. It all went too quickly, really.  For a first outing in their reduced form, I thought they were outstanding, and look forward to catching them play again. A big thinks to all involved, it was another top nights music at Chaplins.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

The autumn forest

Rock Hills

Ponies dotted the wet heath below Rock Hills this morning, grazing lazily in the late autumn sun, which just occasionally broke cover illuminating and warming the land, only briefly mind, before another blanket of cloud obscured it.  A proper autumn day. 

Monday, 7 November 2016

Kimmeridge sunset

After our walk we decided to hang about for a while and wait to see how the sunset developed, and waited on the hillside above Kimmeridge Village. It was worth the wait.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Moon Knight

From the same creative team that brought us 'Injection', Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire, comes 'Moon Knight - From the Dead. Moon Knight remained quite a mysterious character to me, having seen him appear only as a cameo in other stories rather than ever reading any dedicated 'Moon Knight' stories.  From this volume, I gather I've been missing an interesting character. Moon Knight is Marc Spector, a mercenary who whilst looting an archaeological dig in Egypt dies at the foot of a statue of the god Khonshu after trying to protect the people his group are looting from.  He's returned to life by Khonshu as Khonshu's earthly avatar, and after returning to America, in an attempt at redemption, becomes a crime-fighter. That's really only the origin of the character, there's much much more in his development, alter egos, mental illness, all sorts, he appears a very complicated and conflicted character under his cool exterior.  Although this volume assumes you know his long and complicated back story (which I do not), it still works well as a stand alone introduction to the character, and for me, left me wanting more.  This is a collection of short, issue long, stories with Moon Knight employed by the Police to solve some mysterious and eerie crimes (it's a bit tripped out in places), there's also an overarching sun plot. The writing is high quality, it would be, it's Warren Ellis! Though the dialogue is kept to a minimal, with the stories really being delivered through the art. The art and colouring are beautiful and carry the stories with ease. I love the way Moon Knight is depicted in black and white, whereas the rest of the story is rendered in glorious colour.  It really works. I've read it twice in a couple of weeks and was captivated by it both times. It's certainly left me with a hunger to read more Moon Knight.

Thursday, 3 November 2016


Through a friend of a friend we ended up visiting Springhead Gardens in  Fontmell Magna near Shaftesbury, Dorset. What a wonderful spot. Nestled in Dorset's idyllic ancient Downlands, the gardens are created around (as the name suggests) several natural springs of clear clean water flowing through the chalk of the downs.  We caught the gardens towards the end of their yearly display, although there were still plenty of beautiful colours and forms, enough to make the gardens visually exiting. I'd love to see them at other times in the cycle. We took the opportunity to drink straight from the spring, a wonderfully natural act and sensation. It would have once been common place for people to drink straight from springs, now it's a novelty, how we've progressed, ay? 

A big thanks for the opportunity to visit and the interesting historical background.

Salutes to the Sun

It was freezing first thing this morning, exposed on Spy Holms. The first real frost I've seen this autumn dusted everything, and your breath hung in the air.  I hope it's a sign of what's to come, we could do with a cold winter. It didn't last though, as soon as the sun cleared the horizon proper, the frost was gone and you wouldn't know it had ever been.  A good sized herd of ponies, maybe 30 or so, cantered excitedly up from Red Rise and stood facing the sun, bathing in the lukewarm rays, which although weak were still welcomed.  I bet it gets mighty cold down through Red Rise, cold clinging mists frequently hang around the stream and its dank environs through wet months. They must be made of sturdy stuff these forest ponies.

Clay Hill Bottom

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Burley Old

Quiet now increasingly blankets the stands of the old enclosure.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Lean on me

As Bill Whither said, 'We all need somebody to lean on'.

Monday, 31 October 2016


Samhain blessings. I hope last harvest finds both your physical and metaphorical barns stuffed full with all the things you desired from the seeds sown earlier in the year. Flags, Flax, Fodder and Frigg y'all

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Mudeford sunset #13

Mudeford sunset #13 A sunset of autumnal hues.