Saturday, August 28, 2010

In response to a question....

Hi Casey and Norseman,
With a good nights rest and a somewhat clearer mind I've given the question some thought. After yours and Norseman's pieces and their comments have been fully digested I've come to add my tuppence worth, although I'm probably the least qualified in experience to add to the discussion here!
The people that I follow or indeed do myself the greatest of honor in following my ramblings all seem to have a common thread in their lives no matter what they blog about, and that is a deep, sometimes understated, love of the outdoors and of mother nature. My reasons now for blogging have surprised me after the initial tentative escape into this blogosphere which was in all honesty supposed to be filler to while away some time whilst I recovered from an operation and was unable to pursue my love of just being ‘out there’. Now far from filling in some time whilst I wait to be outside the blogosphere has become an important piece of being ‘out there’, it’s where I come to learn from others about many different aspects of the out doors and also about being more environmentally aware and friendly (although I think you all know that I’m not some ‘away with the fairies’ eco warrior). Without the information shared and lessons taught by so many of you I for one would have been much less of a person, even in the short time that I’ve ‘been here’.
So for me the fact that so many genuine people share their out doors has been of terrific benefit to my awareness and understanding of what is truly out there. As to the question ‘by highlighting the outdoors do we, in around about way, encourage its demise?’ It’s a difficult one, yes I love the outdoors and I love the solitude that it offers at times. Yes I hate to see sign of man upon the trails that I walk because usually the sign is discard manmade detritus polluting pristine areas. So do I want to encourage people to get ‘out there’ crowd my walks and despoil the trails with their rubbish? What I want to do is share with people the wonder and beauty of nature, to encourage them to feel the wind, rain, sun and frost on their faces, to smile as the smallest of animals grace them with a fleeting glimpse as it pauses, crossing the paths ahead, to stare open mouthed as a falcon ends it’s vertical stoop clutching that unlucky pigeon in it’s talons, to hear and feel deep inside the call and pull of the buzzard's cry as it circles the thermals above, to feel the peace and at ‘oneness’ when sitting or standing in a sun kissed forest glade whilst nature flows around you. If I and others can impart these feelings into just a few people and they respond by looking at nature with open eyes and in awe of her, then maybe, just maybe they will walk the trails taking want they need, whether that be food for the table or food for the soul, showing this natural world the respect and awe it deserves and once their journey is done and they sit beside their hearth there is no trace of their passing upon the trails, no man made crap to pollute the woods, no discarded filament to snare birds along the river’s banks, no stench of an discarded carcass left rotting, its spirit taken for ‘fun’ then its body not used for the table, and no desecration of the wild and wonderful places that are still out there.
So for me the simple answer to a less than simple problem is yes; write your tales of the outdoors, talk about the wonder and awe felt ‘out there’, share with and teach others the shear joy of being at one with nature and if just one more person changes their views and actions to respect this fragile world then it’ll be a start because I’m damn sure that with the writers and outdoor people, folk certainly far more capable than I, here on this blogosphere more and more will become more in tune with the outdoors and nature and show it and her the respect it deserves.
Well so much for a five minute comment, time to ready myself for tonight’s ghost shift upon ‘the grind’, till next time thanks for reading and take care.

Your friend,

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Feeling small in the scheme of things

Funny how sometimes it’s the smallest of things that can put a little perspective upon one’s life. For a while now I’ve been in what only could be described as a brooding mood of late. It just seems that where ever I turn or what ever I attempt there’s always something awry which tempers any feeling of achievement or that life is heading the right way. Take this week (oh please do), for the first time that I care to remember I was actually looking forward to my pay packet, after struggling and scraping for ages, this was to be the first one which was not going to have to fight against a bank balance that was in the red and would give us the chance to dream a little more realistically about the future. But oh no, God farts in my general direction once more and hey presto the turbo has blown upon the not so much fun anymore cruiser, repair bill will be three figures oh just bleedin’ wonderful. ‘The grind’ has contrived all month to make my blood vessels burst with the incompetence of management and the ineptitude of some of my co-workers, so much so that for the first time in a long time I’ve been bringing my anger home, not big and not clever! These, with a myriad of other silver lineless clouds have contrived to make me a surly and moody bugger of late, and believe me when I say that’s not pleasant for the people who love and care for me as they tend to get the brunt of my moods without me even realising it.

So what’s shown me the bigger picture? What’s put life a little more into focus you ask? Just the simplest of things really; a walk through the woods on a very blustery morning with Lucy at my side (oh alright sprinting ahead denying me once more of any chance of bringing you pictures of woodland fauna!). It didn’t hit me like a bolt out of the blue, indeed it was sometime afterwards that life sat a little more comfortable upon my shoulders. Let me try to explain and make some sense of what I’m trying to say for you, if I can;

In keeping with my recent resolve to lesson my impact on our living planet we set off through the streets of Buckley heading towards the nearby footpaths around the crops of corn that surround Bluebell woods. A mile into the walk our feet (and paws) left the tarmac of the road and headed down the access track to the sewerage works that border the corn fields. Already it felt as if something was amiss, the usual long grass between the tracks ruts was flattened and muddy, a little further on clear evidence of the culprits could be seen; about a dozen sloppy n still very fresh cowpats. At this point we’d come level to the corn as the track opens out to it with no dividing fence, what should have been a seemingly impenetrable border of corn, eight foot high, had been laid to waste over large areas with what resembled masses of vole runs blasting there way through the field, only these were cow size voles! Thing is I know where these cow came from, an adjacent field just a little further down the track. We moved on until the gateway of the field came into view where a distraught and very angry farmer was repairing the smashed remains of the gates fixing mechanism. It turns out that some local kids had thought that it would be a blast to release the cows, instead of playing on their X boxes or hanging around street corners trying to look menacing. Funny thing though that amongst the cows was a hired bull, which had apparently put the fear of god into the kids as he came through the herd hell for leather scattering them like so much chafe before a wind, pity he didn’t catch up to couple of them. But for me there was another downside, the footpaths around the fields were now basically impassable, one because they resemble a battlefield after artillery action and secondly there was still a herd of escapee cows and one pissed off bull hidden in the corn, not the place for me or a bog monster then. So we turned tail and headed home, disconsolate and in an even darker mood.

We trudged back up my driveway, where Lucy plonked her arse down by the cruiser (notice no fun) and looked at me as if to say “is that it then?” Well the cruiser is still drivable; albeit as flat as a pancake, so with thoughts of planetary concern as far as way as they could be we loaded up and headed towards Nercwys woods, at a very sedate speed I might add.

Even at this point the day had only served to darken my mood with no shining light of inspiration lighting my path. The first part of the walk took us through an area where the pines had been cleared about three years ago, overflowing along the pathway’s edges were swathes of plants that had dominated the area up until the man made pine forest had stole the light from them back in the 1960’s. Now with only the youngest of pine trees to compete with the old moorland plants such as heathers, gorse and bilberries burst forth drawing a more diverse range of fauna to the forests edges.

Upon entering the established woods  only the odd, light starved, vestige of plants that had once dominated the surrounding hills could be seen, with the forest floor now dominated with shade loving fern, fungi and smothering carpets of moss and lichens prospering in the dank, dark conditions. 

But as I continued on with Lucy now dripping with detritus from her latest mire find (should that be dire mire find?) I realised something about these woods that had nipped at my thoughts for a while but had never risen to consciousness; that these woods were new and young with no age whatsoever. Yes they were tall and dark in places and could be a great backdrop to a film about were-wolfs, you should walk here at dusk with a light breeze making the branches rub and the trees talk – you’d see, and compared to me they were oldish, truth be told about the same age. But they are not old, not when you compare them to the small areas of deciduous forests down south or the remains of the mighty redwoods across the pond. They are just another crop to be harvested by man, nothing more, they don’t even consist of trees native to this small island and so add little to the wild make up of it. Six thousand years ago Britain was covered in what we call today the great wildwood, a forest that stretched from the cliffs of Dover to the highlands of Scotland. Now that would have been a wood worth walking through, where the trees could have told stories that went back even more thousands of years. Where boar, wolf, bear and wild cat roamed unhindered and the tapestry of life was rich beyond compare. Now we just have the vestiges of woodlands to wander through and are so much, I feel the poorer for it. This land has seen many changes since the great woods were felled, from Victorians mining the limestone here for its lead, to masses of sheep grazing windswept moors.

And how has this helped me you ask, it made me realise that on another scale my life and its problems, imagined or otherwise, does not really make a jot of difference to this world. When mankind is long gone, just like the heathers bursting anew from underneath the false woods shadow then the flora and fauna that make this planet so amazing will burst forth and once more find a balance. My troubles are small and irrelevant in the scheme of this planet, the best thing that I can do is smile, inwardly as well as outwardly, and face each day as a challenge, a challenge to show my love for my loved ones and a challenge to heal some little of the hurt of this world. Will I still have dark thoughts? Of course I will but there will be less and less of them as my journey goes on.

Thank you for reading this perhaps self indulgent post, sometimes though I find ‘speaking’ to faceless friends here in blogsville a way of sorting some of my thoughts out (although they still probably don’t make sense to you, the reader!) Oh and when the cruiser has its turbo fixed and can once again be called fun, if you know of some ancient or at least very old deciduous woodland that would welcome a bog monster and her long suffering companion onto its magical paths.......

Your friend,


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cowboys n Bees'

So there I was standing in next doors overgrown strip of land between his house and my garage, sorry, my sacred refuge and den of a thousand projects, looking up at the balls up my cowboy builder mate (that word between very gritted teeth at the time of writing) wondering what the bloody hell had possessed him. A quick picture in words is required at this junction I feel. My garage is in two halves, the original and the extension, with the extension being wider by about five inches. The whole ensemble had previously been sheltered (a loose use of the word as my garage at times contained a mini lagoon!) from the elements by a roof of two halves, one of felt and the extension of corrugated steel. My, to remain unnamed, cowboy builder mate (teeth still gritted) had been commissioned to reroof the lot, at the same time changing the fall from back to front too a fall from one side to tother. Yep he’d changed the fall, yep the garage no longer leaked and yep the roof is now of a uniform, clad steel, material. But the Roy Rogers of Buckley building had conspired to make a pair spherical shaped objects heading in an upwards direction of one item; the new roof over the wider part of my sacred hideaway was trimmed to the very walls edge leaving no bloody overhang for me to erect guttering beneath, bollocks!, and his answer when apprehended by posse Wooldridge? "Oh it’ll be alright till the winter I’ll sort something then", double bollocks!!!!!! So here I am looking at me poor 'temple to many projects shield from the elements' thinking ‘I’ll be needing the ladder then’. Have I ever mentioned before that I absolutely hate heights above two inches above terra firma, no? well I bleedin’ well do. With appropriately cut sheets of roof cladding to slide under the new panels I set forth on my quest for an overhanging roof (I’ll be hanging somebody else after this episode I can tell you!).
All was going reasonably well, I’d gained the heights of the roof, removing the necessary retaining coach bolts to enable me to raise the existing cladding, and had managed, now grounded once more and with a modicum of huffing and puffing, to slide under two of the required five extension pieces into position when this slight feeling that something was not quite right came over me. A glance down at my stubby little legs confirm my suspicion, for there, like several miniature bi-planes swarming around a greying (and now sweating) King Kong, was a host of perturbed bees. Yep yours truly had managed to discover some more deeply interesting ‘townlife’ by taking the dried grass top off a colony of hitherto unnoticed bees, doh.
Like a lemon I just stood there, legs akimbo, waiting for the inevitably searing pain from a host of distraught and to be honest rightfully pissed off little bees. Damn thing was it just didn’t happen, oh they swarmed above and around me, but they were far more interested in repairing their own, now less than pristine, roof. I was fascinated, so much so that all thoughts of the job in hand evaporated and my sole focus was on the nest I’d unwittingly disturbed. I crouched and watched the industrious little insects now having no fear of a deserved sting. The majority covered the now exposed hive cells whilst others laboured to pull grass to the nest to repair my damage.

 It became apparent that this was a hopeless task and that soon the nest would be discovered by either wasps or others and in its present state was indefensible for the bees (not that they seemed to be willing to defend themselves from this clumsy oaf!). A cursory glance located the domed grass roof of their hive, which I promptly plonked upon top of the nest.

 Amazingly within fifteen minutes the join had been repaired so that only by the closest inspection could the bees’ exit/entry to the hive be seen. I still have not fully identified the type of bee but after checking upon the nest the following day and being mesmerized for an hour by the bees’ comings and goings I’m happy that the nest is safe and functioning again.
Oh and the roof? finished and awaiting payday and the guttering that it will bring, no thanks to Roy Bleedin’ Rogers that is.

Your friend,


Friday, August 13, 2010

Follow the link

Just checking the blogs that I follow whilst awaiting the second night of hell of the grind, when I clicked upon the wonderful Diane-Sage's blog; Blackbird. Her latest post is the simplest any could put up but one that really puts life into perspective. Don't get me wrong I'm certainly no softy but this one opened my eyes a good deal, now I'm not saying it'll alter anything just  follow the link, judge for yourself.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Away from the 'townlife'

Evening all,

Just a short excursion on my blog before the grind calls to me. I seem to remember that my last post was speaking of the virtues of ‘townlife’ and the vast majority of creatures that are making their home alongside of us, well more likely above or below us. As regular readers (3.6 and growing) will now have come to know I’m slowly trying to lesson my impact and live more in kilter with mother earth by the taking of small steps. Part of this (yes I know I’m covering old ground but I may get another reader soon – well one day) is to lesson the use of the fun cruiser. So, for the past week or so the walking has been restricted to meandering around the pavements and local fields of less than sunny Buckley.

Now don’t get me wrong I’ve enjoyed the walking and the closeness to some fauna, with which the bog monster being off the leash had before now remained elusive to say the least, but there it is, a but that I just couldn’t quite put my finger upon. Walking – check, Lucy – check, wildlife – check hey that’s everything isn’t it? Well no, it’s just not everything and I really didn’t know what the but was until yesterday. I had to go and pick some essentials up from the town of Mold down the road so to kill two birds I piled Lucy into the back and away we went, walk first then the shopping.

We drew into the car park at Nercwys woods and piled out into an atmosphere which was muggy and cloying. I glanced up at the darkened sky and thought better of the walk thinking that we could hit the pavements once home, even Lucy looked subdued and uninterested in the trail ahead. Bugger it we were here now so let’s round a short circuit, get it over with and call it quits. Twenty yards from the car it starts to wet rain, yes I know full well that rain by its very nature (it is water after all) is wet but this was wet rain. You know the type, like walking through mist or fog but without it actually affecting your vision (no spook game then, thank god), rain so fine that you don’t actually notice that your getting wet until your soaked to your underwear, yep wet rain. But I was in that sort of mood, yes I had a coat in the car but I really just could not be bothered turning around to get it, lets just get it over with. Oh and another thing about rain Lucy hates it, I do not jest, no the monster from the filthiest dregs of water imaginably hates it (maybe because it’s clean?) down goes her head and between her legs sits her tail, abject misery. Did I mention the flies, no? bloody hell we were being eaten alive by the little sods, oh how we were enjoying the walk.

Funny thing though the rain had a miraculous affect upon us, the air cooled and the flies albeit disappeared within another half a mile were fully into our stride and the walk was falling into its usual pattern of John sees animal, John raises camera Lucy hurtles past and John curse her for the umpteenth time. Yep we were enjoying ourselves and each others company one more. Ok my underwear would require wringing out and Lucy would defiantly have to have a shower once we returned home (though I could’ve wrung me underwear out in the shops) but the flies had lessoned considerable in number and as we moved into the thickest part of the woods there was something else, something far deeper.

 Call it primitive perhaps but we both were more alive for want of better words, the smells, taste, feel and vision of the woods swamped our senses and we were both feeling at one with our surroundings. Lucy even managed to put a rabbit up (unexpected this deep into the woods) and would have surprised herself if the cunning little critter had not turned sharply as she, with the turning circle of a super tanker, achieved full momentum. The freshness and countless variety of life after the walks in the suburbs is truly overwhelming.

Now don’t mistake my intentions, suburban walking will still fill large amounts of my walking time, I am truly serious about lessoning the impact I have, but I refuse to give up the wilds, even if it may mean upping sticks and moving at some point down the line, after all the future is a blank page yet to be written. The past days have been busy with several bits that I could post about and when I get some more time I’ll be letting you know how I’m doing on the path that I’ve chosen, although it may be a few days or longer before I have chance to compile some more posts. Until then from Lucy n me take care and thank you for taking the time to read.

Your friend,