Friday, 11 August 2017

Drain

I've posted about the bog woodland restoration program and the returning of the forests streams to their pre-Victorian meandering courses. I usually post an image of the restored meanders resplendent in diversity, now here's an example of what many of them looked like before. As you can see, a far more sterile environment. Notice the steep cut banks on which for the most part little is growing and where stuff is growing there's limited diversity. Notice the bare gravels, dry and lifeless in the summer season, where as the flow in restored streams may decline, on the whole they continue to flow and sustain plant communities. These drains may well have been functional and served their purpose, though as you can see didn't make too good an environment of diversity. Nor are they aesthetically pleasing as the gentle meandering stream. 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Sunset

Mmmm, night falls.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Himalayan Balsam

Attractive as these are, and on mass they really are, Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) is a non native invader of some veracity. It's a couple of meters in height and will quickly colonize and choke small waterways and wetlands. Once established it can spread at some speed either water-born or through its explosive seeds.  It's a shame, what with it being such an attractive plant, tall and elegant, with it's beautiful flowers, but it must be controlled for the good of our already endangered wetland plant communities. The forestry regularly clear stream banks of it, though it pops up again or pops up elsewhere. Control really is the word, rather than eradication, which I think would be a far harder job. As long as it's managed as it is and not allowed become dominant, it's nice to see it's colours at a time when other plants have already flowered. Hey, it's not as environmentally destructive as  rhododendron say, which must be eradicated at every opportunity, so destructive is it to our environment.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Crab Apples

It's been a good year so far for some fruits. Some of the Crab Apple (Malus sylvestris) trees in the forest are well laden. These fruits can vary widely in size and hue, though if you intend to use the fruit for jelly or some such, you could do worse than a tree like this whose fruits were of a very good size. So much so that I wondered if this example, not too far from habitation, was a hybridized example.  It's that time of year now when thoughts turn to harvesting and preserving nature wild and cultivated bounty, and this year could be a good one.

Parasol Mushroom

Back at 'the ponds' to check out the areas I've yet to explore. Up slope from the ponds themselves, up beyond the orchard area, is an open rough grassy area through which several parasol mushrooms were poking. Parasols are the largest of our 'standard' mushrooms, with by far the largest caps. Though when they're young their caps are still quite conical and resemble the thatched roofs of Iron Age roundhouses. I wonder if that's where people got the idea for their roofs from, watching the water run off these conical caps and seeing the ground beneath remaining dry.  Anyhow, they're a tasty treat. When the cap has opened if you collect a couple, clean them (they're usually quite clean anyway), cut them into wedges like a cake or pizza, dip them in a batter and fry them. Lovely with a dip or on their own.  Remember though, only ever collect and consume mushrooms that you are a 100% certain of, or you could die!

Sunday, 6 August 2017

The ponds

I've come back to that neglected orchard I discovered recently to have a better look around. My suspicion that there were ponds further on beyond the fruit trees was correct, there are numerous little ponds and two much larger ones. I don't know what was going on here, though something was. There are small fences around each pond, and what appears to be shelters, possibly for wildfowl or similar. A nature reserve of some kind? Several of the ponds also appear to be connected by piping, allowing water to flow between the ponds higher up the site to those lower down and eventually the two larger ponds, this may have been to prevent flooding and the surrounding ground becoming waterlogged, which is now becoming the case. Whatever was going on here it must have stopped some time back, as the fencing and other wooden features are decaying through neglect. A number of the ponds have become overgrown with flora and invasive trees, covered on the whole by that bitty type of really green weed can completely cover pools and ponds, some are now little more than swamp and bog. In one of the larger ponds there's a small island connected by a most rickety and decayed bridge, one you'd have to a braver man than I to chance.  This must have been some place at one time.  And, still more to explore, and more to find no doubt. I'm going to call this place 'the ponds'.

Fruits of the forest

The fungi are fruiting early this year.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Outstanding natural beauty

When people talk about loving their country it's too often abstract, defined by flags, institutions and ideas of nationhood. I don't get that. What stirred in me today was love for my country, though in a wholly different context, through a feeling of deep connection to the land, it's flora and fauna.  I was out walking with an old friend amongst the hills and woodland of Cranborne Chase. Chatting bollocks, as old friends do, after I'd had too few hours sleep really to be out walking and still bathed in the warm afterglow of last nights fantastic psychedelic extravaganza, I drifted through the landscape as if in a lucid dream. The world around me appearing just that little bit more magical than usual. In every direction were stunning views that stir something inside of you, all around nature in full effect. Now this is the country I love. They're not wrong when they say Cranborne Chase is an area of outstanding natural beauty. It really is!

Friday, 4 August 2017

Cary Grace Band & The Luck of Eden Hall @ The King Arthur, Glastonbury 4.8.2017

It must be a rare occurrence that the two bands who produced your two favourite albums of the last year would appear together at the same venue, though that's exactly what happened with the wonderful The Cary Grace Band ('The Uffcolme Variations') and the awesome The Luck of Eden Hall in the shape of Gregory Curvey ('The Acceleration of Time'). So we found ourselves back on the road to our not so local local, the renowned King Arthur in Glastonbury. Traffic tonight was a nightmare and as the cars crawled along I have to admit to becoming increasingly anxious that we'd miss the gig in part or completely, or find it sold out. Fortuitously, the deities who oversee the musical world, in their benevolence, ensured we arrived in time. Now, when I said two bands, it wasn't quite like that, what we had was a merging, a melding of both bands to form one super band, lets call them - The Grace Curvey Collective. The Grace Curvey Collective were: Cary Grace on analogue synth and vocals, Gregory Curvey on lead guitar and vocals, Victoria Reyes on keyboards, Oboe, and vocals, Andy Budge on bass, David Payne on drums and Andy Thompson on Mellotron and synth. This was going to be good.

So, it was to be an evening of two sets, one dedicated to each band, and first up was The Cary Grace Band. And I thought that their set this evening was an inspired choice of tracks from the bands back catalogue, and one which gave Cary the opportunity to really utilize her voice, which has a stunning range. Cary's vocals are distinctive, powerful, strong and clean, yet diametrically delicate and magical, perfect for delivering her well constructed poetic lyrics, and, man, can she hold a note!  It's not just notes she holds, it's your attention too, there's an intensity in her delivery. As I've mentioned before, she's a mesmerizing artist. The set felt different in style to the ones we've been used to recently, with more tracks and those chosen were shorter, punchier and delivered in a harder rockier style.  I'm not complaining, mind, it's all good. The opening track 'cyanide', is off the fantastic 2015 'Tygerland' and is a powerful number with an air of menace, and one that allows Cary to show of her manifest vocal talents. Cary's voice was complemented on the harmonies when joined by Victoria who also has a wonderful voice.  On tracks like 'Without a trace', one of the bands most recent releases, their combined vocal talents blend sublimely, it's like honey to your ears. Victoria's doesn't just deliver wonderful vocals though, no, she's fabulous on keyboard and even found time to add some oboe to the mix. On drums David is a regular powerhouse who, whenever we've seen him perform, has fair beat the crap out of those drums to blisteringly good effect, and this evenings performance was no different.  The rhythm section is the foundation of a band, upon which beautiful things are built, and in the Payne/Budge combo the band have a rock solid construction platform on which to build. Andy B, as is the way of the master bass practitioner,  looks cucumber cool most of the time, vibranium fingers plucking out groovy licks and riffs with clear intent. Tonight though he was totally rocking out, clearly loving the chemistry and enjoying every moment of it. The whole band looked like they were really enjoying performing, as much as we were enjoying the performance. David and Andy B heavily contributed to whole 'rockier' vibe to tonight’s show. One of the magical elements of The Cary Grace Band is hearing how guesting band members effect the sound, putting a unique flavour to familiar and well loved tracks, crafting one off magic moments.  This evening there were two guest faces, on Mellotron and lead guitar. Andy T was on Mellotron (lovely sounding instrument) and synth, he made a groovy addition to the mix, adding nicely to the overall musical texture of the evening which was deep and richly woven. On lead guitar Gregory was faultless, his rendition of TCGB's tracks was perfect, as if he'd always been in the band. Whereas, this was only their second live performance together! That my friends must be the mark of a great guitarist! Gregory too definitely added to the rockier feel this evening, and along with Andy B and David formed a potent rock trinary. The band delivered every track beautifully, the sound was tight and clean. It was a real treat to hear tracks from earlier albums get an airing (check out that back catalogue, man, it contains gems). The set finished with an interpretation of the Stones 'Paint it Black', which did justice to the original by bringing new dimensions to it. The audience showed their appreciation for what was all round a fabulous performance of the type we've come to expect from The Cary Grace Band who never fail to deliver; tonight sprinkled with added Thompson and Curvey magic.

During the intermission there was an opportunity to chat to band members, all lovely folk, all having a fun time, and happy to chat to their gibbering fans. The intermission was short and it was soon time for The Luck of Eden Hall set. 

Now, I'm ashamed to say, I'm a late arrival to the Luck Of Eden Hall party, 'The Acceleration of Time' was my first album. Though what an introduction to a band, the album is an absolutely sublime listen (an extensive, and rather groovy back catalogue is also available). So, imagine my joy to hear some of those tracks included in tonight's set. Like Cary, Gregory is a wonderful lyricist, who's words are well chosen and often convey  pertinent topics, take 'The Happiness Vending Machine', as an example, is definitely a song for our times. The quality of his writing both musically and lyrically are right up there, each track is beautifully crafted. Gregory's a really fine guitarist who undoubtedly knows how to get the best out of a guitar, and he's versatile too. During the TCGB set his style was clean and rocky, as the tracks required. Though now on musical home turf you could really hear TLOEH's familiar warm, more psychedelic, guitar sound coming through.  As with the first set, the Payne/Budge combo remained in full effect, to great effect, constructing firm footings for the others to build on. The rock trinary was still strong. Victoria's keyboard work was perfect, and along with Cary who twiddled and fiddled studiously with her analogue synth to stupendous effect, and Andy T's mellotron magic, crafted a fabulously rich tapestry of sounds and textures, through which Gregory's guitar could flow and dance. And Gregory made that guitar sing magnificently, whilst delivering some of his wonderfully insightful lyrics. For me the highlight of the TLOEH's set, had to be a live preview of the the bands forthcoming single, the totally epic, 20 odd minute long opus, 'make way for the mighty machines'. Man, epic is just what it is, so many different elements at play, so many diverse musical styles blended beautiful to create a fabulous whole, it's horizons huge. Elements of psych rock and punk sensibilities flowed through undertones of prog grandeur, it's a vast canvas and every inch bathed in a myriad of musical colour and flavour. I see the track as an anthem for positivity as disobedience to the prevailing negative mainstream narratives as projected through a corrupt corporate media, a rallying cry in the face of the developing storm born of capitalisms failings. It's immense, in sound and in scope, it's message salient. Our culture needs more musicians who give positive focus to our feeling of disenfranchisement, 'we're the resistance, we wont give in, to corporation blight' one lyric goes. It's a bloody musical masterpiece, man! Well, that's how I see it anyway. Even at over 20 minutes, it was over all too soon, as, sadly, was the whole set; time must have accelerated. Rapturous applause followed and was well justified; the audience had loved that. Gregory then kindly performed a solo number as an encore, which he'd arranged for his acoustic set in London next week. Lovely. All members of the collective delivered stellar performances, magic was created in that back room tonight. In both sets there was a tangible chemistry between all musicians. And, the quality of said musicians was testified to by their ability to, not just play the others music, which must be hard enough, but to be able to do each others music justice. I'm sure you'd agree, no mean feat, though one they appeared to have taken in their collective strides.  In particular I doff my cap to TCGB for their parts in 'make way for the mighty machines' were outstanding, kudos all round. What a performance, a unique evening to remember. If a recording was taken, I'd have a slice of that, just saying. Big thanks y'all.

If you've not yet, you've got to catch The Cary Grace Band, you really must, they're group of consummate musicians. We seen a few gigs now, and I can honestly say, I have never been disappointed. In the meantime you can pick up the bands releases here.  As for Gregory he's soon back state-side, though hopefully he and The Luck of Eden Hall will be returning next year, and be assured, they'll be gigs not to miss. In the meantime check the bands bandcamp page and pick yourself up a copy of something groovy, like 'The Acceleration of Time', a real must have album. Thanks for coming over and playing Gregory, man.

Again, massive thanks to the King Arthur for consistently putting on the finest of bands and events. The sound's always great, the atmosphere's always great, great staff and clientèle, have I mentioned it's great? My one complaint (a recurring one), where was everybody? Two great bands, a respected musician comes all the way from the states to play for us, and although the room was by no means empty, and all who were there were appreciative, it should have been rammed, man. We need to support bands and small venues, or we'll lose both and be the lesser for it. Anyway, thanks to all involved in creating this most memorable evening.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Fun guys

Left it late for a ramble today, the light was fading (which is how I'm going to excuse my crap photo) and an eerie silence muffled the stands, silent except for the occasional alighting bird disturbing the canopy and odd sounds of movement    It's only just first harvest and already it feels like autumn, and has done for a while now, that's not right. All over, fungi have taken advantage of the warm dank weather to stake their claim to the land, a bit previous if you ask me, still. I've seen dozens of types about, including parasols, boletus (a couple of types) and a whole plethora of others whose names I don't know. Though by far the most numerous are Chanterelles (Cantharellus cibarius), you see them all over the place. Hey, I'm not complaining or ought, they're very tasty. 

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Lughnasadh

The wheel appears to turn at lightening speed these days, the seasons rushing past, it's quite alarming really, and now Lughnasadh is with us, already! It's astounding, it only seems like yesterday we stood on the cusp of spring. Now is the time of first harvest, the grain harvest, when we begin to gather in the fruits of our labours, as our plans sown as seeds in spring start to come to fruition (if we're lucky). Some of my plans have come to fruition, others are yet to bear fruit, while others came to nought. This has been a good year on the land, at the allotment the crops keep coming, tomatoes, potatoes, shallots, beans, greens, peppers, fruits and of course courgettes, so many courgettes.  Out in nature the first blackberries are out, apples are bowing their boughs, the nuts are swelling, mushrooms are poking through, and across the countryside the fields of grain stand golden. Fingers crossed, our harvest bounties continue. Lughnasadh blessings y'all.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Holmesley Bomb Store

Whilst out walking it's common to see building debris poking through the tracks.  What do you think of when you see it? Do you consider what it was, or whether it's in situ or does it not really register, do you wonder what history lays beneath our feet.  This just looks like building rubble, what it is, is the scattered remains of the bomb store of Holmesley's World War Two Airfield.  Located off a dispersal track, away from the main airfield, all that remains of the storage area are areas of level-ish ground bounded by earthen banks, and occasional patches of exposed rubble. During the war they would have safely stored a variety of munitions, under camouflage netting, with the surrounding trees and shrubs  providing perfect cover.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Baby Ceps

Early doors. A cluster of baby Ceps (Boletus edulis).

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Kangaroo Moon @ The Square and Compass 27.7.2017

Ah, the Square and Compass, you don't know it? Man, you need to rectify that. The Square and Compass is a sturdy Purbeck stone built inn set on the brow of the ridge, at the head of the valley which runs down from Worth Matravers to Winspit Quarries on the coast. Good cider, good food, a museum (yup, there's a cool museum in one of the rooms) and tonight great live music in the form of the magnificent Kangaroo Moon.

Kangaroo Moon are a versatile bunch of musicians, who appear in different forms, with different musicians, playing all sorts different flavours, funky, rocky, folky, influences from every style and from around the world; the consistent feature throughout though is they're always fantastic. Tonight manifestation was what I think of as the more traditional manifestation, as their music is on a more folkier, earthier tip. I saw them back in April at The New Avalon Ballroom Weekender, where they were on a heavier funkier trip. Tonight the band are Elliet MacKrell on violin and vocals, David Williams on things with strings, other things and vocals, Gem Quinn on drums and Mark Robson on keyboards, Didgeridoo, whistles and vocals.

The performance space at the Square isn't large, lets call it bijou, and it soon fills to the brim. The band begin to play, and instantly there are smiles all round. There's a real warmth to Kangaroo Moon's music, which always draws you in, it's joyful. It's not long before the crowd begins to move, as one by one more people connect with the music. It's so easy to connect to. Many of their songs have traditional themes and flavours, which resonate deeply. On every track Elliet's violin soars, whether lamenting or raising us to the dance, it sings to your heart. Violin is such a emotional instrument, you really feel it, and when played as well as Elliet, you're under it's spell and follow where it leads. With what appears a perpetual gentle smile of deep contentment, David Williams exquisitely plays a succession of stringed instruments and tiny things (of which he has an extensive collection laid out on a bench), which harmonise with Elliet's violin beautifully. Together they create a swirling musical sound-scape, which rises and falls, as we're taken on our musical journey. The songs keep coming, and the audience are transported. Driving everything along are Gem Quinn's drums, the beating heart of the songs, to which all our feet thump. I recently saw Gem perform with Here and Now, he was bloody good then too. That's what you notice with this calibre of musician, their versatility. Finally there's Mark Robson (also long time Here and Now member) surrounded by instruments, multitasking throughout, providing wonderful keys, whilst twiddling things, breathing a bit of didg here, and a toot on a whistle there, all the time delivering soulful vocals as he steers us through stories of gardening, amongst other things. I look around and all I see are smiling dancing folk, people having a proper blast. Lovely!

There's a brief break for people to refresh themselves and natter excitedly. Then the music resumes and by now the audience were totally engaged, I mean totally! Everyone's dancing, individually or together. I see there's a guy dancing whilst playing the spoons, the entire room are now up on their feet and dancing wildly, and the band just kept taking us higher. Gem's driving us along, then drops a marvellous solo, stirring the crowd right up. All the band member laid down stunning solos at one point or another. What an atmosphere! So much joy in the room. Music like this stands outside of time, it's eternal, if civilisation crumbles and people are scattered to the winds, music like this will continue as it always has. This is real music, it resonates in ways other music doesn't. The band look like they're having fun too. At one point I see Gem laughing at the antics of the audience. It's a proper Cheshire Cat grin type of a gig, and people are going for it, and why not. When times are dire (as they currently are), music takes on even more importance, it's a means of transportation. And, man, Kangaroo Moon were out of this world tonight, and they took us with them, what a performance! The audience would have taken more, though after noisy calls for such came to nought, we settled for bathing in the warm afterglow of a really fantastic gig.

A memorable evening for sure. I hope they return this way again soon, you can never get too much of what they bring.  In the meantime check out their site, buy some of their music, you'll be glad you did. As for The Square and Compass, bijou as it is, is an excellent venue, as well as an excellent inn, check it out. I thank the performers, the venue and the other audience members for a blast. Cheers y'all!

Winspit

Purbeck is also known as the 'Isle of Purbeck', and there is a definite sense of other in the place. Standing on the high ridge of hills which stretch from coast to coast, and looking across the Great Heath, across the expansive harbour to the creeping metropolis whose nucleus is Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch, though now spreads well beyond, inching into the countryside, you feel you're on an island, the difference so striking. And, even more striking is when you stand on Purbeck's rough grassland coast with views over the rugged limestone cliffs where land abruptly meets sea. Magnificently wild and exposed, a foreign land, and yet so close to the south coast's biggest conurbation. The older houses too are rugged, telling of hard lives lived and worked in this hard landscape, on the land, on the sea and underground in the warren of shafts, galleries and quarries providing dressed stone of quality for high status buildings around the world. That industry, though still going, is on a considerably smaller scale than its hay-day, all that's left of that now are scars in the form of abandoned and decaying workings. It's a landscape worked and shaped by man for millennia, though through it all its wild spirit remains unbroken. 

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Scrumping

Hey, found a neglected orchard out in the woods today. Apples, both cookers and eaters, and pears, although they, like other pears I've seen, are not doing so well this year.  Apple pies it is then! Whatever this place was, something went on here, there's a lot fencing of various heights and types, though what ever it was it stopped a while back as much is ruinous. I remember walking this way many years ago and there was something here, but I can't remember what. Patches of wetland foliage suggest there were ponds, now overgrown, and there maybe a bigger pond through the undergrowth.  More exploring to be done. 

Monday, 24 July 2017

Trio

Colour is brought into an old deserted forest gravel quarry in the form of water lilies which grace the quarries ponds. Radiant aren't they.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Strange days

Still solidly entrenched is summer, and yet autumn comes knocking. A bit previous if you ask me.  The air shouldn't be damp and filled with the aroma of petrichor and autumn, mushrooms shouldn't be poking out all over, though that's just how it is. Strange days indeed, man.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Puffy

Mosaic puffball (Handkea utriformis)

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Clouds

Clouds, man.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

The Chase

Cranborne Chase is such a wonderfully rich landscape, it's a diverse landscape too. It's high chalk ridges and hills rise from a rich undulating agricultural landscape of thick hedge bordered fields and isolated copses, through parcels, some extensive, of ancient woodland which cascades down  many of the combes and promontories that punctuate the two long ridges which straddle the Wiltshire/Dorset border. The land looks carefully sculpted, it's sensual curves, rounded and smooth.  At every turn are views that stop you in your tracks. And, throughout the diversity in flora and fauna, plant and insect life, in birds and mammals, and reptiles too, is extraordinary. I find it's a good environment to keep my wild plant knowledge (limited as it is) up to scratch by saying the name of a plant I see, recalling and reciting its properties or uses. There are just so many. It's not just nature which is abundant out here, but also our impact on it, from the affects of farming practices, through centuries of occupation, to monumental constructions, the Chase is packed with human history from our earliest of activities.  What a fantastic place to walk. I never get bored of threading the Chase's tracks.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Adder

First Adder (Vipera berus) I've seen this year. Lovely as it is to see, and it is, man, I'm so glad we live in a region with few poisonous stingy bitey things.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Woolly Thistle

The Woolly Thistle (Cirsium eriophorum) is one of our rarer thistles.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Rusty Shoe

A rusty Horse shoe from a long forgotten ride. That's archaeology, that is!

Friday, 30 June 2017

These boots were made for walking.

These boots were made for walking. My walking companion Norris is an old fella now, and having walked thousands of miles with me over the years has developed arthritis in his paws, particularly his front ones. So, it's orthopaedic boots for him. He's still a bit unsure and still has the occasional trip, though he's stopped walking like a dressage pony and certainly finds gravelly surfaces easier. Looks quite dapper too. I may well get a back pair, then he'll have 'four paw drive' for those difficult off road walks.

All aboard!

Typical! You wait ages for a Magic Bus vinyl, and the two come along! I'm not complaining, mind. I've been waiting eagerly for Magic Bus's new Album 'Philip the Egg' to be released on vinyl since it's release on CD at the beginning of May. Though I was unaware that they were also releasing their 2014 album 'Transmission from Sogmore's garden' on vinyl. Both arrived this morning, and will be played relentlessly throughout the day.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Badbury Rings

The magnificent ancient earthen edifice of Badbury Rings Iron Age Hillfort.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Avon Water restoration

They're doing more river restoration on Avon Water. Avon Water was another one of the forests really straight 'drains'. When the kids were young we used to don old cloths and wade up its length, ducking and climbing a variety of fallen or half sunken trees and branches, like a wet obstacle course.  They've already restored a lengthy section of the stream between the A35 at Holmesley Tea Rooms and the path which runs under the second old railway bridge, and it's looking all the better for it. All the works to date have been done very sympathetically, naturalizing quickly and encouraging an explosion in diversity. Its restoration to it's old course is also more aesthetically pleasing too, meandering where it should; luckily the pre-straightening and cutting course of the stream was still defined through the adjoining woodland.  If it's the same crew and the current works are carried out to the same standard (as it looks like) give it 5 years and you'll never know the stream ever flowed elsewhere.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Japanese water iris

Not a local, nor indigenous, this Japanese water iris (Iris laevigata) has somehow found its way into an isolated  forest wetland hollow and set up home. It's not uncommon to find exotic escapees in the forest, though I have to say, this was a particularly lovely find, and I'd imagine one which doesn't pose a threat to the forest, as the gardening sites suggest they require experience to grow. There were about a dozen plants, several of which bore flower, so they'd been doing quite well on their own. A rare and beautiful find. 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Summer Solstice sunset down the quay

As it began, so it ended, in natures majesty.

Summer Solstice sunrise at Knowlton

I'd pondered where to spend the Summer Solstice sunrise and was glad that I'd decided on Knowlton Henge, a Neolithic Henge, part of a wider ritual complex embodying 5000 years of ritual activity, including the a ruinous post Medieval church. Even at 0430 as the sky began to colour, heralding the rising Sun, a crescent moon hanging magically above the nearby Great Barrow, it was warm enough to comfortably wear a t-shirt, amazing. Quite a few people had gathered to watch the sunrise, several of whom I knew, old freinds like Mick, who I've known for over 30 years and his girl friend Ang, Nick who I've known since the early 90's and member of the Dorset Grove who I'd not seen in a while; it's always nice to catch up with good people, it's something I need to do more and there's no excuse not too, only the barriers my mind creates. The Sun rose majestically, beautifully through the morning clouds. I say to myself every time I watch the sun rise 'I must do this more often', though still only manage it on the 8 days ascribed as important by my path. I left the henge with my spirits lifted and a smile on my face, though still with a corner of melancholia in my heart at how much I've changed. I hope the seeds of dreams and plans you planted in spring are blooming nicely. Solstice blessings y'all. 

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Lizard king

This male Viviparous Lizard (Lacerta vivipara) didn't appear to bothered by my attention, that said, as soon as I moved back he scuttled off into the undergrowth. You've got to keep your eyes peeled if you want to catch sight of the forests more elusive residents. I often wonder how much I miss, I bet it's more that I'd think.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Dartmoor

Oh, man, Dartmoor, how I love thee. From the very first time I drove through it's rugged ancient landscape it stole a piece of my heart, I was smitten. The subsequent years of walking its wooded valleys and austere granite topped hills, camping in its secret places and dipping into its chilled waters, have imbued its landscape with deep layers of memory, of times and people. It is a special place to me, a magical place. I feel differently here, I feel excited like a child. Today's walk was up the wonderful Walkham Valley; a beautiful wooded valley through which the crystal clear Walkham flows around boulders and islands, forming rapids and pools amongst dappled light. It's a place we've walked for 30 years or more, and even though it's been some time since we last walked here, and there have been changes, walking here feels like coming home. Taking in all the sights, sounds and smells which abound around us we make our way up the river as it slowly narrows, and just before it emerges from its wooded valley, out into the open moor and the high origins of its source, we turn abruptly upwards through the humid wooded valley side. It's steep and the climb is hard.  Though when we reach the woodland edge and brake cover we're greeted with stunning views across the wild expanse of the moor; up towards our destination, Kings Tor, and looking back down over the wooded valley we've just left. Stunning. We continue, threading a path between natural boulders, then through the expansive detritus of the stone working industry of the previous 2 centuries, and finally, up atop the granite stack of Kings Tor. From up here we have views out across the moor and way beyond, off into Cornwall and out to the coast. What a spot. We can't stay here too long though, out here with no shade, and under today's blazing sun, it's too much. So, down we go, back tracking through the piles of waste stone chippings and half formed blocks. It's not too long before we find ourselves back in the welcomed shade of the canopy. The humidity is high, and as we descend through the trees the sound of the river grows; it's calling us to take a dip. Well, on a day like today it would be rude not to. The water bubbles up from deep below and even on a baking day like this is freezing cold, immersing yourself is a spiritual experience as much as an invigorating and refreshing one. Wow. It's amazing how refreshing it is, for the remainder of our walk back to car I feel air conditioned, in fact, I could feel the effects of our 5 minute dip for the rest of the day. Too soon we were back at the car, where we'd left a wounded member of the mission who'd missed out on the walk. I say 'wounded', massively hungover in truth, though he had recovered on our return, which was good. What a walk, man, not too long, sub 10, and virtually every step arduous, though the reward was massive.  As I said in yesterdays Here and Now gig post, life can kick the shit out of you, and to pinch a Here and Now lyric 'it's the little things', the simple things which give you strength. Today's walk and last nights gigs will charge my batteries and keep me running for some time. Oh, happy days.