Thursday, February 24, 2011

Catch and Release Dilemma

       Over the last couple of years, as the daylight hours lengthen and with the flora and fauna beginning to slowly shake off the shackles of winter, I have found myself in somewhat of a dilemma. The dilemma is a direct consequence of my place of work, and its affects upon a certain creature at this time of the year. Now before you start assuming that this is to be yet another thinly veiled tirade upon my beloved employers and their attempts to grind my bones for cattle feed, I’ll hasten to say it has nothing to do with them.

        No, the dilemma is connected in a way to my growing love of nature and the need to be able to do more to encourage it to flourish and to be able to interact with it where and when I can. Bear with me while I explain myself and my dilemma. At the rear of the factory building, where I while away the long hours of ‘the grind’, there is a large expanse of concreted road surface for the unloading of materials, storage of base product and general access etc. At this time of year the half observant person may notice several areas across the ‘yard’ which have little mounds of dark flattened debris, oozing a dark liquid,  or alternatively twisted, dried out husks that make a sound similar to dried leaves when underfoot. Closer investigation reveals that these remains are of a small creature either flatted by traffic, foot or vehicles, or those that have failed to reach shade in their nightly endeavor to cross the yard and have been dried by the now warming sun.

        If you are fortunate enough to have time to wander the factory yard upon these slowly warming evenings you’ll be able to spot these creatures before they’re flattened by traffic or dehydrated to a husk by the unforgiving sun. Your first impression may be that you’ve spotted a small lizard, but if you have a care to look closer at the creature that sits on this desert of concrete it proves to be an amphibian, the Smooth newt (Triturus vulgaris) to be correct.

Cute aren't they?

Had to belly crawl for this shot at 2am this morning

       This would explain the high numbers of flat or dried remains for this creature is certainly not the fastest around and coupled with its amphibious need to retain a moist skin, then been caught out on the unforgiving desert of the yard spells certain and slow death for it. I mention the word desert when describing the yard, and yes what may seem to be just a large expanse of hard surface necessary for the day to day function of a factory is indeed akin to a huge and unforgiving desert to these miniscule creatures. Why do they throw themselves, lemming like, onto the yard? Well I can only surmise that it’s the attraction of the factory lights that draw these delicate newts to their inevitable doom, there is now other reason that I can see for their suicidal behavior, certainly no source of food, moisture or shelter that would sustain them is available here. They make this journey from waste ground upon the factory’s parameter, an area with is out of reach to minions like myself being behind secure fencing and any expedition towards it is looked upon by paranoid higher beings with more than a little suspicion. The waste ground I assume has all the necessary needs for a happy newt but without fail at this time of year the procession of the doomed 'Lemming' newt is repeated once more.

        Here we come to my dilemma, I firmly believe that nature should be fully left to her own devices, the less humankind interferes with the natural process the more successful, resourceful and enchanting nature proves to be. Those who recall some of my earlier posts will know that my rear garden is the size of a postage stamp but within this small space I’m always looking to encourage nature to use it, whether just in passing or as a permanent home. At the same time I’m also trying to utilize the space to grow a small number of edible crops for my ever demanding plate, and combing the two is demanding but ever so rewarding at the same time. So how does this cause me my dilemma? When faced with the scenes of carnage on the factory yard my heart told my to save as many as these newts that were hell bent upon their own destruction whilst my head spoke of leaving well alone and let nature run its course. Whether rightly or wrongly my heart in this case won out and I resolved to save at least some of these newts last year. Normally I would not have removed a plant from its natural habitat let alone a living creature, true I will take a wild plant or animal for the pot upon occasion, but this brings me, I feel closer to nature and the way that I’d love to live, hypocritical? Perhaps, but what I’m trying to say here is that when I can I try to avoid interfering with the flow of nature but by, upon occasion, when taking and consuming wildlife (being flora or fauna) I feel that I’m being more a part of the flow than when eating a cellophane wrapped piece of meat harvested off a shop's shelf. Anyway moving on from this where I may be making not much sense, back to the newts.

        So last year I made the conscious (and quite probably illegal) decision to remove a wild creature from its environment, however unnatural, and relocate it elsewhere hoping to promote its survival. But then the next issue arose, where should I release these creatures without altering the balance of another area or even just dooming them to another form of premature death? I considered the edges of the factory, but besides being grilled with a thousand questions of what I’d being doing near the parameter and shouldn’t I have been greasing something or other, there was nothing to stop the little buggers heading back and becoming the smallest mounds of road kill that you’re likely to see. I’m not aware of any local populations of smooth newts where to introduce the recuees and also the introduction of them to an already thriving population may have disastrous effects, tipping the numbers balance, introducing disease for which I cannot test etc. So this left me with a slightly uncomfortably but perhaps viable solution, my garden. Now before some of you go lecturing me upon about self interest whatever, this choice was not taken lightly and although not a perfect solution does have some redeeming points in its favor; Within the confines of my garden there are areas of habitat that are favorable for these amphibians, as well as a well planted pond there are perennial borders continually refreshed with compost and leaf mould which in turn leads to damp areas of cover teaming with invertebrate life, there is an shady area, albeit small, set aside for a rotting woodpile and what ever grows there is left alone which is proving a haven for allsorts of fungi, flora and fauna not usually associated with urban gardens, here also is a pile of half pipes and roof tiles covered with more leaf mould which attracts a mired of fauna. Coupled with the insect attracting plants that I’m endeavoring to increase and areas of shade and damp provided by my mainly container driven food planting area it is an amphibians nirvana, on a small scale. Also the surrounding gardens offer other varied habitats and more diverse possibilities.

Waterfall into pond - plastic you know

Release point

Already amphibians here, point of danger?

No sign after 10 minutes from release this morning

        So at this time last year a total of five Smooth newts were recovered from a premature flattening and released into what I hoped would be a favorable habitat for them. For the majority of the year I saw neither head nor tail of them and to be honest as the summer months stretched towards autumn all thoughts of the immigrants had been forgotten. But then, whilst moving some planters to enable an attempt at crop rotation, there, blinking at his rude exposure to the evening sun was a male smooth newt in what appeared to be excellent health (although I’m probably better at judging the health of a dog than an amphibian!). Watching him closely I finished rearranging the various planters and was lost in wonder for a while as I observed him make his way to the cover of a crack in the flagged step (see Clare, I told you that leaving cracks between the flags was OK). On a couple more occasions I came across newts, definitely a couple of different individuals, whilst tidying up for the onset of autumn which confirmed to me that although maybe not strictly the moral thing to have done I was justified in that the habitat provided was able to support the newts and they had indeed settled, not needing to move away in search of something better. Even saying this I still have a pang of guilt about relocating them and my interference, but given the choice between being flat or discovering new lands I know what I’d pick. This year the newts are at it again, littering the concrete with their tiny corpses, once again I’ve relocated a few, but doubts still nag at me as to whether it’s the right thing to do, after all I advocate mankind to interfere less with nature yet here I am, perhaps playing at a amphibious deity? I tell myself that I’m allowing some small part of nature survive when, if left, it would most certainly be jam but it doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m right.

        Now perhaps some whom think that they know me might mock or even have the odd titter at this grease monkeys attempt at wildlife preservation, after all surely there are more majestic and deserving animals that would better merit my attention? But, and I’m not exactly what you’d call a tree hugger here, there’s wonderment and awe to be found in all the different faces of Mother Nature. It does not have to be a tiger, panda or elephant to deserve the right to survival, all nature is connected in ways that are far beyond our comprehension and to lose just one species through our ignorant lives is a sad thing indeed. Yes perhaps to some these newts are not worth a second thought and have no place or purpose in our ‘ordered’ world, but I but you a pound to a pinch of salt that if asked, the newt would have something to say about it! Maybe this grease monkey is becoming slightly tree huggerish, who knows, it may not be a bad thing after all. Not my usual ramblings I know, but hey without a poor post how can I tell when I ever manage to present you with a good one? someday I promise it'll happen, someday.....

Your friend,


Monday, February 21, 2011

Under the weather

Have to say that I’ve been a tad ‘under the weather’ so to speak over the last few days. So much so that I turned up for my first shift of the grind yesterday and after just over an hour promptly vomited my porridge down the ol’ porcelain trombone. Needless to say I informed my line manager that I was off home. The wonderful, caring reply being; you know that you’ll probably not get paid for this and will you be in tomorrow, oh the care, the warmth, the bastards. In any case I slept most of yesterday and arose this morning feeling a little better but still as much use as a one legged man in an arse kicking competition. So after informing my beloved employers to my plight (tomorrow night then?) I spent a less then active morning doing sod all.

This afternoon the tide felt that it had turned and remembering a request from Karen, I decided that a little fresh air was in order. Bundling the warthog into the back of the car (with recently made by yours truly, yet to be painted, dog guard fitted oooh) we took the short drive to Loggerheads.

To be honest the one and a half mile gentle walk took me as long as six miles did the other day on the steeper trail upon Moel Famau! But the air was fresher, although still a little misty, and being ‘out there’ certainly did my soul some good. Willow actually had her first meaningful chase and the lucky squirrel just beat her to the safety of its tree by a hairs breadth. Not sure how she’d have coped if she had caught it but I think that soon the inevitable will happen and something small and furry will meet an untimely end (hope it tastes ok, perhaps grilled mmmmm). No pictures of the chase I’m afraid (like trying to pin down jelly) although I’ll leave you with some views of the trail, I hope that you like them.

Oh and especially for Karen, the last two photographs  of the day.

For now, take good care my friends,

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Just for fun

Now I know that I'm a 'grease monkey' in my job of work, but come on boss this one breakdown is taking the p*ss

Friday, February 18, 2011

My take on fishing

 “This blog entry is my submission for the GreenFish and Outdoor Blogger Network Writing Prompt Giveaway” 

Scanning through the Outdoor Blogger Network’s writing prompt page yesterday I came across a combined prize giveaway and writing prompt. Sponsored by GreenFish, a site that I’d not previously heard of the prompt was to air ideas upon “sustainable fishing” and what this phrase means to the individual blogger. My interest was piqued and coupled with slimmest chance to receive some goodies to boot well this ol’ pirate could hardly refuse now could he? So here it goes my, probably somewhat misguided, thoughts on what I consider sustainable fishing means to me.

For a start I indulge in two types of fishing, one for sport and occasionally the other for the pot. Taking the sport option first, the type of fishing that is loosely called sport is more what I would term recreational fishing. It’s a chance for myself and Clare to ‘out there’ together along side some beautiful stretches of water immersing our selves in the solitude and wildlife that comes with the territory. On this side of the pond it is termed ‘course fishing’ and basically covers any fresh water fishing apart from fly fishing or trapping (nets, long line etc). I say solitude as even though we go together once we’re fishing we may as well be a million miles apart for usually we’re not in sight of each other and only converse when a decent specimen is landed (usually by Clare!) or it’s time to get the hot water boiling for a brew.

But ‘sustainable fishing’, to be honest I had not given thought as to regards to this activity of course fishing when we’re involved. On reflection the practices, when course fishing, that we follow are akin to this idea. Firstly to lesson the damage to the fish we use barbless hooks, easier to remove although sometimes more skill is required in landing the fish (yes I did say skill). We do not follow the practice of hording the fish within a keep net until the end of the session. I know some folk like to see their results at the end of the day but I’d prefer to unhook, perhaps take the quickest of photographs, and then release the fish as gently and as quickly as possible. It only takes a few moments to admire your catch; there is no need to over handle the fish causing more stress than has already been done. This is also the reason we don’t match fish where hauls of fish are kept in the net till the end of the day when they are unceremoniously dumped into scales for gratification of folk hoping to win some imagined esteem.

It has become the trend here to catch bigger and better (ahem) fish. Many private fisheries have set up announcing that they have such splendid specimens of mainly carp but also Wels catfish and you cannot fail to catch. I do have a tiny problem with this mentality. The growth of this type of fishing has seen, in my opinion, a drifting away from what fishing means to me, which is connecting with nature and using skill and natural baits to lure a wild animal to the river bank for that chance to connect with it just for a moment before releasing it back from whence it came. Another problem that I have with this current trend is that it is now causing the falsification of natural environments, much to there (and our) detriment. From what I see large numbers of fish over the years have been imported to these shores to enhance the fishing experience but in my opinion this has tipped an ecological balance for the worst in a lot of waters. How so?, well firstly some of these species were not natural residents in our waters, fish such as Zander (the pike perch) or the potentially huge Wels catfish. It is only in recent yours that it is becoming apparent and now more accepted by a broader public that introduced species into any environment, potentially, can be an ecological nightmare. Other fish introduction does occur mainly in the form of specimen Carp, although the species has been native to this country since the 1300’s and now is considered a native species, these ‘monster’ carp that are now being introduced (after large sums of money have oiled the process, I assume) come with three things that I’m not happy about, firstly there is the potential of spreading disease to existing native fish, remember that here is basically a large island and in so being has kept species isolated and free from continental disease, (until you know who’s interference that is), secondly our natural waters have never produced specimens as large as these from abroad, so how can they be expected to support them now? It is only through artificial methods and feeding that this can happen, all having impacts of lesser or greater effect upon our waters, and finally the amount of unnatural bait that is being loped into what were once naturally balanced waters can only add to the pollution within, whether they are eaten by these ‘monster’ fish and then defecated or just rot on the floor of the water, either way the balance is lost. It’s for these reasons that I feel that fresh water fishing is not sustainable in its present state and that’s why I fish as I do, trying to use natural baits, leaving no sign of my visit to the bank side and just enjoying it for what it is – a connection, however briefly, to another side of nature. Some of the best days fishing that I’ve had have been days when I’ve blanked, it’s shouldn’t just be about having that fish on the bank.

            But, as mentioned, there is another side to my fishing, one that Clare does not participate in, and that’s fishing for the pot. Although I only indulge in this rarely (far too rarely for my liking) I do enjoy this type of fishing, but for other reasons that the tranquility that course fishing provides to me. When fishing for the pot it is always from the sea, our coastline is vast and varied and offers many opportunities to fish for different species, and there is the added bonus of possibly a fresh meal at the end of the day. But even here there are issues to be found, where ‘holiday’ anglers think nothing of hauling a bin bag full of mackerel from the sea only to disregard them and leave them wasted upon the rocks or in the dockside bins. There are areas so overfished that where once abundant stocks could be found, the only thing you’re likely to catch are dog fish or crabs! Also there are still issues with the unholy amount of detritus left behind by so called fisher men, causing serious harm to waterside wildlife (an issue on fresh waters as well). It’s true that, as folk are becoming more enlightened, practices are changing but it’s a slow a laborious process and the damage to our coastlines may have already cut too deep. Of course it doesn’t help when mankind’s growing population demands more and more from the oceans larder, but the perception that it is a larder is possibly the core problem, after all it is another complex ecology that is affected by all our actions. Personally I try to adopt the same principles when sea fishing as I do for course fishing. Natural baits, leave no sign and just take the bare minimum for what I need for the pot. Admittedly I do use barbed hooks, after all the idea is to catch something to eat, but the fish has always been dispatched as quickly as is possible. There is nothing better than grilling a pair of fresh caught mackerel, stuffed with lemon and dill, over driftwood embers whilst watching the sun dip beyond the horizon, oh perhaps there should be a rock pool chilled bottle or two of cider there as well. But sadly this may one day become just a memory if fishing practices are not changed. From what I hear New Zealand has some great ideas on this, reserving large areas of the coastline and island surrounds with no or extremely limited fishing allowed, the apparent upshot of these areas is the abundance of fish that spill out of them into surrounding, fishable areas – perhaps it’s time that other country took note because I for one do not want to remember eating fresh fish on the rocks, I want to do it till the day that I die and hope that others follow for millennium to come.

            Of course these are just my observations and thoughts on this subject, we all have our own take on life. I’m no scientist (as you all well know) and these views are formed, rightly or wrongly, from my own experiences. As usual your comments are always welcome and are looked forward too.

Your friend,


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Some mileage under the belt

            It does seem a while since I wrote about a simple walk, after all tales of bog monsters and gentle strolls used to be the mainstay of this blog. But as regular readers would know (I think that’s at least three these days!) times change, the bog monster has moved on to new adventures and I’ve found other topics to fill the page, which don’t seem to have been received non to badly, thankfully. But as well as change some things do have a habit of coming around after a time. So here I am, legs tired and aching, settling down to the keyboard with a bottle (or two) of Budweiser wondering how to start today’s tale of a walk.
To be honest I have not, ‘not’ been walking lately, but these have been mainly road walks at night or short walks on nearby trails. The whole thing being geared to slowly increase Willow's stamina (and mine!) and bringing her to be able to walk a worthwhile distance without causing her any undue harm, now or in later years. It’s been a steady process and to be honest she’s exceeded my expectations with muscle development and her overall condition coming on in leaps and bounds. So today we headed out to the trails around Moel Famau hoping to clock up a reasonable distance.
As we approached our destination with the fun cruiser’s music throbbing away in our ears (bet you didn’t think that Willow was a sucker for Iron Maiden?), the weather around the upper two thirds of the Famau did not appear too promising. Mist could be seen covering the majority of the hill and it seemed that the walk may well be curtailed a tad. But in for a penny, in for a pound as they say and to be honest I couldn’t think of any where else at short notice to stretch our legs, probably because my brain was still addled from this weeks crap stint at work, oops shouldn’t be writing that bit as we’ve received an e-mail citing that we’re to be charged with mis-conduct if we mention work in a bad light on the internet, well face book anyway. Don’t you just love management that have got nothing better to do than this; rather sort the real problems facing this mis-managed company? (Bugger, done it again and I haven’t a clue where the delete button is!). Anyway back off my soap box and onto the walk, so with addled brain we set off from the car park into the mist, which fortunately for me was none too dense (unlike me) and was also breaking up nicely.

For the first mile Willow followed her now usual pattern of running up ahead for a good way and then hurtling back towards me in what appears to be a demonstration of her speed, and oh boy is she fast now (see no picture), she truly raises my spirits when she’s at full pelt as she seems to change from a clumsy ragamuffin to the personification of speed and grace. I really do not have the words to describe the sensations felt watching her glide over the rough terrain at a amazing rate of knots, its just something that you’d have to see for yourselves (now there’s an open invitation). We found ourselves passing through stretches of mist, none of it dense, and with a wry smile I found myself thinking that my new walking companion had no idea how to play the ‘spook game’ and to be honest I’m quite glad about that as I don’t think my nerves, or neck for that matter, could take much more of that. Walking at a fair pace now I could feel the muscles in my legs (stop tittering in the back there) warming and the pulse of my heart beginning to thump gently in my neck, sensations that I must admit have been lacking for sometime now and it felt good to know that once more I was stretching my body. Don’t get me wrong, the main reason that I walk is for the connection it gives me to being ‘out there’ but I have to admit I do get a buzz from stretching myself and pushing my body a little further. It’s a good feeling sitting here, typing away, with my legs just letting me know that they’ve been used today, but also as I type I revisit the trail and its beauty in my mind as I try to recount some of the walk, hopefully for you to enjoy. Oh I’m going off on a tangent a lot tonight, must be the ale (or lack of it?), well at least I haven’t mentioned the incompetent, self back patting leadership at work yet – I have? – Bugger. Right that’s quite enough of that back to the tale.

Even though I chose the least popular trials when walking, we followed the looping trial without coming across other walkers what so ever, perhaps the mist had put people off. I can’t say that I minded as I’m not the world’s greatest conversationalist at the best of times, especially with strangers and so I do prefer my own company. That’s not to say that I’m a miserable so n so, it’s just that I like to get to know people before discussing war and peace. Which I suppose could be difficult getting to know folk when I’m hesitant to talk to them in the first place (time to put the bottle down I think, just a little bit of a ramble starting here). Willow had now settled into a loping pace as she cris-crossed the trial, nose to the ground. It’s pleasing to see that she’s taking note of what’s around her and several times her sharp senses alerted me to movement well up the trial. Even with the dank conditions, or perhaps because of them we were fortunate enough to spot a reasonable amount of wildlife, to my shame none of which I managed to take a decent photograph off. To be honest though most of it was at range to far for my camera, me thinks that I’ll be pinching Clare’s in the not to distant future shhhhhh.

As we covered more distance we came across a scene that proved that the winds up here have been the strongest for some years, with whole swaths of trees that have stood for years felled across the trail. What at first seemed an impasse was soon breached with some delicate footwork from yours truly! It was only when I looked back to take a final photograph of the carnage did I see the danger that I’d put us under as high above was one last tree at 45 degrees looking ready to topple. Sometimes when faced with a scene that fills the mind with awe it is easy to lose sight of the position that you’re in, lesson taught me thinks.

From this point on the mist lifted to reveal thin cloud, with the odd ray of sun piercing its mantle. We left the forest trials and skirted Frith Mountain, surely named by an English man as tis more a hillock than a mountain to a Welsh man, where we came across a tenacious fellow who certainly seemed more than able to hold his ground.

We looped around and rejoined the woodland trails from the farmland, coming across one or two items worth a photo.

That’s one of the problems with Moel Famau, because it’s a managed forest for timber, the flora and fauna is not that diverse. The majority of fauna keeps at a distance, well away from the trails whilst the flora can at times seem pretty uniform and mundane. Don’t get me wrong, I love it up there and I’ve seen my fair share of the wildlife on offer, it’s just that I’m being a tad selfish I guess in that the more that I’m ‘out there’, the more that I want to see and experience what Mother Nature has to offer. Getting the photograph is not that important, I use this media only because I don’t have the vocabulary to describe the beauty that I see ‘out there’. What is important for me is being able to immerse my senses in all that Mother Nature has to share and I just wish that I could bring half of the joy that I feel when out there to your understanding with my limited use of words. So guess that it'll soon be time to seek out newer and more diverse trails this year, as both our fitness levels are improving it should make for some interesting tales.

As we sauntered back to the car park I realised that Willow has wormed her scruffy way into being an indispensable walking companion, and that her story on the trails is just beginning. Although this post has turned out a little bit rambling I hope that you’ll stick around and follow the little warthog’s development.

Your friend,

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Gear Review - Glacier Gloves

           I’d been fortunate enough to have been handed the chance to review these Glacier Alaska Pro gloves by the folk at the Outdoors Bloggers Network back in December 2010. Due to postage circumstance the items arrived Mid January 2011.

            Produced by Glacier Glove they are advertised as “… waterproof and has 60 grams of Thinsulate Insulation. Leather palms and index fingers allow for great durability and dexterity”. So I’m thinking warm and dry with the chance to be able to use tools etc. instead of having to remove my usual cumbersome gloves that I own, every time that I needed to fumble in my pockets..

            For me to receive this item to review was at first daunting as I didn’t really have a clue on how to go about the task in hand. I thought that the best thing to be done was to just stick them into my walking coat and head out onto the trails, after all this is what I do and where they would get the most use. So wrapped up and with gloves to hand, so to speak, I headed for the higher trails on and around Moel Famau where the temperature upon these walks did not rise above -2 degrees centigrade and was usually around -6 degrees centigrade, not as cold as the previous month but with the wind threatening to sear off any exposed extremities on the more open areas of the trial I should receive some idea on how that they perform temperature wise.

            Putting them on initially in the car park the first thing that I noticed was the fit and feel of these gloves. My other gloves have ‘cuff straps’ to secure them and once one glove is on the second is not easy to secure comfortably. The Glacier Pro has elasticated cuffs which meant that both gloves were easy to put on, involving no deep blasphemous mutterings from yours truly. The polyester lining give the gloves a ‘soft’ feel to them and the whole item felt lightweight making me wondering how they’d perform once on the more exposed parts of the trial. A small gripe about the fit was that although the fingers fitted well enough upon my thumb, index and second fingers the other two fingers were slightly long on both hands, not a problem that I’ve had with other gloves, although barely noticeable and certainly not uncomfortable, the thought of would they be ok when undertaking tasks that require some dexterity without having the need to remove them crossed my mind.

            As I climbed higher and reached the exposed areas on the tree cleared shoulders of the hill the exposed area of my face was beginning to feel raw as the wind blasted the already cold air into me. At this point it should be noted that when faced with such conditions previously I’ve found my gloved hands buried into my coat pockets as the wind seemed to find a myriad of ways through them. But here the full value of the Glacier Pro could be felt, or that should read could not be felt, for it was only further along the trial in the hospitable lea of the hillside that I’d remembered that I was wearing these gloves to test. To be honest I’d forgotten that I was wearing them as my hands felt warm and unencumbered, not once had the thought of them retreating into the depths of side pockets had come to me, a testament in it’s self I think. Rated at 60 gram Thinsulate there are heavy options for more extreme conditions but as long as your active I’m confident that these are more than adequate for the weather I’ll be experiencing over a British winter.

            As for being able to perform tasks whilst wearing these gloves? For even none too dexterous tasks my original gloves would require removing, exposing digits to cold and wet conditions upon numerous occasions. About the only thing that they were good for would be holding onto my walking pole. I was still concerned about the slight misfit on my two outer fingers but decided that I’d try them out at a couple of tasks in any case. For starters the walking pole was no problem, but its grip is wide and shouldn’t have been a problem in any case. With my heart in my mouth slightly, I decided to attempt to use my camera, after all it’d be nice to have toasty warm hands whilst providing you folk with pictures of the cold flora and fauna that’s part of my ramblings. Even with the slight gripe that I’ve already mentioned there was no reason to worry. As expected wearing any glove makes using something as fiddly as my camera a slower, more careful process which indeed was the case here. But I was able to use the camera with confidence as the pictures below go too show. Also clipping/unclipping Willow’s lead upon later walks was not a problem, this with it having clips on the smaller side (well she’s not a Wolfhound).

            One final observation is the pattern covering the gloves, advertised as RealTree Max 4 pattern. Although differing from my hunting coat the cameo pattern is not displeasing and appears to break up the shape of the hand better than my one block green gloves.

            Overall I’m impressed with these gloves, if it hadn’t being for the small gripe over finger length then I’d have been very impressed, saying that, the fitment in no way hindered me when I employed them in multiply dexterous tasks. They have now become a firm and fast addition to my winter gear, dispelling my previous gloves to the ‘it may come in useful one day drawer’. I have not had chance to employ them in heavy tasks to test how the hand grip works under more pressure put temperatures here at the moment negate the need for gloves and I really wanted to give my first impressions of these gloves to you. The bottom line is would I recommend these? Then the answer would be yes, definitely, but as in all things try the fit before you buy, I can live with the slight gripe as they perform so well in all areas. Oh almost forgot are they waterproof? Well ten minutes under a tap says yes, definitely.

This here is the first time that I’ve attempted to write a gear review in any shape or form so do not be expected to be blinded by science, deep insight or big words. I've attempted to write this review as clearly as I can, giving my honest opinion of the item. Oh and another thing is that I am in no way connected to the Glacier Outdoor company in any shape or form and have received no payment for reviewing this item. If you have any further questions ask away and I’ll answer as honestly and clearly as I can.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Camp-fire friends

            Those mischievous little monkeys Joe & Rebecca at the OBN have come up with the writing prompt ‘which outdoor bloggers would you like to meet?’, giving reasons for wanting to meet them (bugger). Bearing in mind that I’ve a snowball’s chance in hell of attending the first OBN Colorado rendezvous which would have been a stunning opportunity to meet a whole bunch of bloggers from across the pond I’ve tried to think of not to long a list and I thought that eleven would a good number making it a dozen voices around a camp fire on a long summers evening, after a day on the trail as the chill evening air is repulsed by glowing embers and a warming dram (or two).  If I’ve missed you out don’t be mad or sad – just remember that I’m a forgetful little Welshman whose concentration is a little weak at the moment with the six nations kicking off on Friday. So, who would be grand company around the fireplace swapping their tales and to chew the cud with?

            Casey Harn – I’ve been swapping comments with Casey since I first started blogging. His blog ‘Fungal Threads’ makes for some excellent reading and coupled with his keen eye for photography tells a rolling story of his outside adventures, along with his dog Trapper. Why would I like to meet Casey? Well over the brief time that we’ve known each other electronically a bond seems to have built up between us, we share similar fears, misgivings and doubts about life but also we also have similar humour and Casey reminds me of myself in so many ways. So much so I’ve come to know him as a friend and to meet up with him upon the trial and then to swap tall tales around a fire over a beer or two is one of my few genuine ambitions in my life.

            Keith Burgess – Going under the name Le Loup (the wolf), Keith’s the author of ‘A Woodsrunner’s Diary’, a historical blog of 18th century living. An extremely well formatted blog using various sources of presentation. Keith's attention to detail and excellent way of explaining his pieces and love of what he does are an inspiration for any who want to impart information to others. I just think that we’d hit it off if we ever had chance to meet, I warm to his no nonsense manner and I’m sure he’d be great company around the fire.

            Joe Wolf – Well if you’re reading this piece on the OBN link  then you’ll know of Wolfy and his excellent ‘Flowing Waters’ blog. Meeting Wolfy would be the icing upon the cake after again ‘talking’ to him since the earliest days of my blog and before his work with the OBN. The man is clearly a special individual (don’t forget I’ve entered your 100th follow giveaway Wolfy!) and radiates warmth and character, oh yes there’s defiantly a place around the fire for this guy.

            Kari Murray – On the introduction on her ‘about me’ page of her blog ‘I don’t wear pink camo to the woods’ Kari describes herself as “Wife, mother, and self-proclaimed huntress extraordinaire”, oh but there is so much more to this hunting blogess. Kari has probably the best approach and style of writing on her blog than any other that I follow with her humour (at herself at times) and joy of life in general shining through above anything else, she has a way of drawing you in to her stories and life tales that is both enchanting and spellbinding (mmm Kari the witch). If you don’t take a peek at any of the others here you must check this gal out. I think that Kari would have us all roaring with laughter around the fire and her tales would be listened too intently.

            Gorge Smythe – ‘Gorges’ Grouse’ appears at first to be a gentle, rolling along sort of look at life in general blog and perhaps would not at first catch the eye of many. That would be a sad thing indeed for Mr. Smythe’s words are carefully crafted and weave some great pieces showing the man’s deep insight and understanding of life in general. To chew the cud with Mr. Smythe over the embers of the fire as the whiskey warms my toes would indeed be a pleasure.

            Mel – Over at ‘Blog cabin angler’  can be found a gentleman with a dry sense of humour who doesn’t post as often as he should. The blog title speaks for itself and I, for one, think that you cannot have too many fishermen spreading tales of the one that got away around the fire. Mel doesn’t fish as much as he used to but he’s a font of knowledge in the darker arts of fishing and we’d all learn a great deal during the evening’s chatter.

            Andy – Ah somebody closer to home (well you didn’t think that you there yanks couldn’t hog all the fireside seats – did you?). Andy is another with whom I feel, a connection via blogging has been made. ‘Damn the Broccoli’ is ……. well I’ll use Andy’s header blurb here: “One man's journey to self sufficiency. Alright one man and his girlfriend. Sorry one man, his girlfriend and two bunnies' journey to self sufficiency. Oh and a ghecko. (Plus chickens)” Andy writes with humour but there is also an underlying sense of striving for more in his life. Fortunately for me this upstanding chap resides on the right side of the pond so that evening of tall tales may be a distinct possibility in the future. Oh and did I mention he does homebrew and cider – guess who’s bringing the refreshments!!!

            John Gray – Somebody who actually lives in the same county as myself and yet I’m guilty of not meeting him and his menagerie of fowl and canines. John’s blog, ‘Going Gently’ is just that, a gentle look at John’s life in general, nothing fancy just day to day observations of the world around him in the village of Trelawney.  But John has a way of writing these observations down with insight and a wry sense of humour that draws me into his world. The man would be a hoot around the fire, and certainly would add balance to you gruff hunting and fishing folk.

            Albert A Rasch – A night by the fire would not be complete without the red blooded author of ‘The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles’ and my first follower to boot (seems like an age ago). Albert says what he likes and likes what he bloody well says (I’m sure he’s a Yorkshire man on the quiet) having said that he’s views are balanced and fair, it’s just that he’s not behind the door in expressing them. He’d certainly add spice to the fireside talk but his company would indeed be warmed too.

            Leigh Changes – Over at ‘Come by Chance’ Leigh tells her stories of her and her families life on their small holding with a warmth and feeling that so many of us find hard to express ourselves. In time, underneath her sometimes seemingly fragile exterior, you come to realise that she is a women of immense strength and vitality with a sharp and mischievous sense of humour. She can take what most of us take so much for granted and open our eyes to something heartwarming and special. Every campfire group needs a ‘Leigh’, with her balance and pose she’d add so much to the night’s conversation.

            SBW – Author of ‘The Suburban Bushwhacker’, I did question my sanity when included SBW upon the guest list here. The man does sometimes go off on a tangent but hey, it’s usually funny, very nearly always insightful and sometimes even a little strange. But as camp jester and provider of profound sayings I think that the company would be all the better for his presence.

So there we have it folks, sorry if I forgot your invitation, but like I said the six nations start this Friday and for us lovers of Welsh rugby tis the ol’ enemy! So please excuse me once more if I’ve missed you out, there are so many more of you who I’d love to meet but I set myself a scenario and a number. I tried to pick a group of folk that not only one day I’d love to meet but in this case would gel together to make for a special evening together under the stars.

Maybe you all ought to come along anyway, the more the merrier as they say.

Your friend,