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. 

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

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.