Archive for the ‘wilderness’ Category

The falling leaves …

Posted: September 4, 2012 in food, wilderness
Tags: ,

As summer tumbles, with the leaves toward the autumn, the Pen has been busy doing garden chores and general tidying. Work merely gets in the way. So, there I was clearing the garage, something shiny caught my eye buried at the back, under the cycle trailer. I had rediscovered my Cobb barbecue. The One had been to a meal with her colleagues from work, she had eaten haloumi and veg kebabs, of the skewered variety. We had talked about cooking these but I had completely forgotten the Cobb, discarded when we stopped eating flesh. Anyway, a wash and shine, later and some locally sourced sustainably managed woodland charcoal purchased a Barrie was called for. A sunny afternoon and the kebabs prepared.


They were delicious and made a lovely end to a days labour in the garden.

At this time of year my thoughts turn to alcohol, well it is pretty much at the forefront of my mind most of the year, but this is Elderberry time! A morning spent rummaging around in the local(ish) hedgerows produced enough of the shiny black jewels for a gallon of the good stuff. Home to turn the raw material into the makings for some of the best country wine money can’t buy.


Just four pounds of fruit and in a few months a gallon of wine to enjoy.
The bug was perfectly placed to stop me picking the fruit but never mind, there was plenty more.



Pure goodness


I understand that a new phase of drilling has found evidence that 53 million years ago during the Eocene period there were palm trees, macadamia and baobab growing in Antartica. I can’t wait to see how the nay sayers hijack this. Apparently the scientists have also found Archaea which is a single celled organism that can indicate temperature at the time of their demise.

This is fascinating stuff and shows that life can go on. The investigation concludes that the mean winter temperature in Antartica was ten degrees centigrade, daily summer temperatures were in the 20’s. At the time of the eocene, CO2 levels were, apparently, almost double those recorded today. So in theory if the entire world population were to move to the continental Antartic we could live quite happily, like penguins standing huddled together. Not because it is a way of keeping warm, because there would be no room. The entire world would also have to become pescatorian as it is unlikely there would be much if any land capable of growing food. Who knows how long it would take for the seas to run dry of anything edible.

Furthermore, the Eocene period did not arise, in geological terms, overnight. There was a long period allowing creatures (no humans about then) to adapt to the changing climate. With the rapid increase of CO2 currently being experienced, there is little time for the diversity of creatures necessary to sustain mutually supportive guilds to adapt.  To take just a few examples, plants need to adapt to changed environments, but still need to produce pollen and seed. Bees are needed to pollinate the plants, they need to adapt and the bee population is already stressed by human attack and climate change. Mammals and birds eat fruit and scatter seed in their dung, they too will need to adapt, any one failure leads to a gap in the cycle of nature and, potentially, a failing of the system. These examples are of necessity over simplistic but usefully illustrate the point.

Of course the planet will regenerate, perhaps. But it will do so without people. The ultimate smack in the face from an abused planet.

Think about this, the Eocene was 53 million years ago. Homo Sapiens developed anatomical modernity about 200,000 years ago. The sun has about 5.5 billion years worth of hydrogen left, give or take. It is conceivable that in the time from our demise another civilisation could rise. They will probably use the carbon, stored by the earth from our bodies to fuel their vehicles cause climate change and repeat the sad cycle again.

The earth formed about 4.5 billion years ago, she has run about half of her life, assuming dependence on the sun. Multicellular life is believed to have formed around 580 million years ago. I can’t do the sums but that is about 3.9 billion years for life to even start.

Six million years ago our ancestoral line diverged from that of chimpanzees. The earth was formed 4.5 billion years ago and the planet existed quite happily for 4.4998 billion years before we pitched up 200,000 years ago. For 5800000 years the planet suffered no lasting consequences of our ancestors existence. It would seem that in what the beat of a gnats wing Homo Sapiens have managed to despoil our planet almost to the point of no return.

There is an expression used in these parts, ‘You don’t shit on your own doorstep’. Well, it seems we do.

It’s no good. I have been trying to think of something grumpy to say. A wrong to rail against, a politician to lambast, something to vent about. My heart is not in it.

The sun has come to Saelig Sussex in abundance. My rest days have arrived, Monday morning was lost due to the lateness of my finishing work but the birds woke me with their exuberant song. But hist, strange light through my curtains.

A few chores done, then out to the allotment. Devastation, my quinoa that was growing so well has been eaten, in place of the crop a few stmpy stems and weeds 😦

Four hours of weeding and re seeding followed. Not a cloud, just broiling sun.

An evening walk to the Downs, I have never seen so many cowslips.


In fact my new found sense of well being has become almost irrational. Tuesday broke clear and fine with another splendid day at the allotment, relocating a small poly tunnel and cutting grass that was ‘as high as an elephants eye’. Exhausted by the heat I went back to my garden potting up some seed (to replace plants destroyed by slugs, pigeons and whatever else has nibbled). The One and I decided to go for a walk. The Tesco walk. The ONLY good thing to come out of our local superstore is free safe parking very close to a stunning walk. It is the only thing I use the store for but today I am grateful for the facility.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I wonder what people think is more important, providing cheap sustainable electricity for the citizen, or a round of golf for the privileged?

Donald Trump, the well known ‘Green’ activist is apparently outraged.

Like or loathe Alex Salmond he has said that he wants Scotland to produce the equivalent of 100% of his countries, let’s not pretend they are really a part of the UK anymore, electricity needs from renewable sources by 2020. I would have thought this is a perfectly sane and rational decision from a Scottish Parliamentarian to take in his nations interests.

Mr Trump thinks that the presence of a mere 11 wind turbines in Aberdeen Bay will so blight the spot that his one billion pound golf resort will become less profitable. The turbines will spoil his customers sea view. Shouldn’t you keep your eye on the ball when playing golf? He claims that Scotland will become a third world wasteland that foreign investors will avoid. At least it’s citizens will be able to make tea into the future!

Thanks BBC for the information here

Now far be from me to criticise Mr Trump, I am sure he is an altruistic kind of guy. He has said that he will spend 10 million pounds on fighting the wind turbines erection. The erection of the turbines will bring lasting fiscal benefit and employment opportunities stretching into the future beyond the demise of Mr Trump and his personal money making enterprises. He complains that wind power is not effective without subsidy. Well, if we all paid the actual cost of things instead of subsidised costs of things perhaps we would all be less inclined to use more than we need.

Who the hell does Trump think he is? He is not Scottish, he does not live in Scotland, he has only invested a paltry 1bn pounds. The offshore farm is worth 30bn of investment.

Trump cares about the planet I am sure, that is why he seems to take every opportunity to fly everywhere. He could surely have presented his evidence to the committee via internet conference call or whatever. However, he chose to fly to make a personal appearance.

Perhaps Mr Trump is feeling the pinch in these financially straightened times, in November 2011 he claimed to be worth 7bn dollars US. At 65 does he think he has time left to spend all the money he has made off the backs of the poor and the blighted?

Trump is supposed to be a businessman. A business man looks for opportunities for profit continuing into the future, rather than the blinkered view of the flash Harry quick buck merchant. Mr Trump it seems has become myopic in his dotage, he cannot see the extended profit of wind power. The capital cost may be large but the investment stream will last way beyond the grass he is cultivating.

Does Trump really believe that leisure should take precedence over investment in infrastructure? An infrastructure designed to work far beyond peak oil, when his customer base will no longer be able to fly, except maybe by airship or hot air balloon. He could probably provide all the hot air, at a cost, for his chums to inflate said balloons.

Employment for the local economy? I suppose Trumps customers can look forward to being caddied by exclusively Scots caddies? Accommodation serviced by exclusively Scots staff? I think not, cheap labour flown in from the Phillipines or wherever.  If they are looked after by Scots people, they will probably be humiliated by being forced to wear the Tartan Trump, wear plaid and walk around greeting guests with a cheery ‘Och aye the noo‘ and other US held stereotypical attributes given to the Scots.

Trump would probably rather we used oil, coal or nuclear. If the Scottish Parliament collapses and agrees not to put the wind farm in the bay, I hope they put a socking great nuclear plant right next door to Trumps Tee.

Mr Trump, you cannot be a nimby here, even your yard ain’t that big.


A peaceful day, sun shining, the South Downs like a reclining venus sunning her curves in the first spring sunshine of the year.

Hunting pink abounds, there are harsh cries on the downs. Yelping harpies no longer filled with their former blood lust. Now hunt and hounds seem content to chase men not foxes. The followers follow, the hounds howl, the hunting horn calls vue halloo but the quarry is either sacks dragged by quad bikes or men in Nike running shoes, ‘just do it’.

No! Please don’t just do it. My stroll up the to the ridge was shattered by 4x4xfar driving past in convoy each blue fumed spewing monster slower, noisier and fouler smelling than the last. Once they had gone the trail was overtaken by quadbikes carrying men with overloud voices to let us know they were ‘hunting‘ (as if we hadn’t guessed, they assume my IQ matches their’s perhaps) all this traffic interspersed with lovely horses carrying less lovely humans, ‘Rather” ‘Eh What’ ‘Good show.’

At the ridge the gathering behaved as hunters have since they first started to chase foxes in this way, stirrup cups, nibbles and bearing down on the footborne peasantry to make them remove themselves from ‘Moi Laaand’ and for God‘s sake stop making the place look untidy.

The only positive was that the fox appeared not to be the main quarry of the day but a piece of foul smelling sacking dragged behind and equally foul quad bike driven by equally foul men.

Once the horse and hounds had outstripped the casual bystanders, glad handing each other at being able to take part in such a spectacular event, there is no telling what hounds found. My guess is the master of hounds took them away from the noxious sack and they probably found some living breathing creature to chase; or am I overly cynical?

Fortunately for me the hounds rode East, I was walking West. A and I left with our thoughts and stunning views across the downs to the Seven Sisters. was the white chalk really stained red? Or was that just my imagination running wild.


No, it seems it was just my imagination (queue song) …

Extreme Frontiers

Posted: December 13, 2011 in BMW, Canada, Charley Boorman, KTM, mountain, wilderness

Charlie Boorman in Canada, stunning views, open roads, mountain peaks, motorcycles and wide open wilderness. Why do motorcycle adventurers currently give their trips names? Extreme Frontiers, is just the latest named adventure.
How much cash has Charley generated for BMW? What a coup when they decided to sponsor Long Way Round. How much did KTM lose out?
Charley’s language is ripe but when your that high on a mountain ridge with eternity beckoning to both sides what do you say.