Tag Archives: Animals

Lockdown – so it begins

Due to being immersed on my Bushcraft course as well as XR stuff, and with work also keeping me busy, I’ve really not had a lot of time to keep my blog up-to-date recently. I think I’ll have the opportunity to keep it more current over the next few months now that, as of tonight, we’ve entered lockdown in the UK. As well as updating on what I’ve been doing on my course, I think it’ll be good to keep a journal of how events unfold with the CoronaVirus and COVID19.

I’ve been working from home for about a week now, having loaded my car with my office chair and desktop setup, and trundled it all back to my house. Whilst it’s good to have the face-to-face contact and banter with team mates in the workplace, which I’m going to miss, I can work pretty efficiently at home; in some instances more efficiently! I am also already pretty well stocked-up with supplies, due to being a bit of a prepper by nature.¬† At least the lockdown Boris announced tonight might stop some of the panic buying going on; bit worried I’m going to run out of essentials like wine, and sausages. In seriousness I wonder what counts as ‘essentials’? To some people it appears to be toilet roll, which seems slightly ridiculous given you’re at home and there are alternatives, such as having a wash. I believe the Romans used to use a communal sponge on a stick, soaked in vinegar…nice…not sure I have a sponge actually.

So I’ve got tinned food, some flour, some stuff in the freezer, salad growing in the garden, other seedlings sprouting, plenty of other bits and bobs to graze on. I’ve also got a warm and comfortable house, the internet, a TV, my guitar, spoons to whittle, loads of books to read, study to do, and a garden to rejuvenate. In some ways this is a bit of a relief as it’ll give me a chance to catch up on some of the stuff I’ve not got close to doing recently. Who knows, I might lose some weight too, as long as I continue to get in one bike ride a day; although my touring bike saddle post broke the other day, so only got my Trek 1120 off-road tourer, with it’s fat tyres – will be fun though!

Compared with other parts of the world the majority of us are going to be pretty comfortable during this lockdown, as long as we’re sensible. COVID19 is a serious disease, no doubt, however other parts of the world have serious threats to lives going on all the time and they cope; war, diseases that can be far worse, famine, drought, climate change impacts such as super-storms and mass migration. Reckon we’ve got it pretty easy by comparison, although I know it’s going to be comparatively hard for many, and there will be a lot of grief doing the rounds. COVID19 is a bit of a leveller really; it doesn’t care about privilege, status, how much money you have (although of course those with more money are more likely to survive), colour or creed. I’m also hopeful that some of the changes we are seeing start to happen, such as less unnecessary travel, working from home, more home grown produce, and communities really working together, become the norm. The world could certainly be a better place for it; air quality is already improving everywhere, although I’m a bit worried we’re going to see temperatures spike due to a reduction in global dimming.

I’ll attempt to keep this blog going with regular updates and reflections, and I’ll post up some of the stuff I’ve been doing on my bushcraft course over the last few months. It’s been amazing so far, learning more about trees and plants, natural medicine, tree-felling, fire starting, track and sign, crafting, shelter building, outdoor food and water, deer management and butchery. Lots that might be useful over the coming months perhaps!

I’m also pondering setting up a YouTube channel to do a bit of VLOG’ing, but not sure about that yet. I could record me playing my guitar a bit I guess, might be fun, or might make your ears bleed. Or produce a few short lectures on stuff I’ve learnt. I’ll ponder some more.

To end today here are some photos from a couple of walks in the outdoors from the weekend. Nature continues its rebirth as Spring gathers momentum, carrying on regardless.

The above were all down by Salhouse Broad, which is a 25 minute walk from my house. I hope to continue to get down there for a bit of regular exercise, whilst observing social distancing rules. It’s one of my favourite places locally and a brilliant place to sit quietly and reflect, immersed in nature; an angry wren was telling me off on Saturday though (small bird angry syndome). Some more pics from there below; I’m experimenting with different ways of displaying them.

On Sunday I nipped the woods to help with some coppicing work, it being the last chance we’ll get this year as all the trees are starting to leaf now, and birds will be nesting soon. The coppicing is helping with some re-wilding work in West Norfolk. I hope to get back there later this year to see what plants have germinated from the previously shaded dormant seed banks, and to see what other wildlife may have moved in.

Finally, my tomato seedlings are coming on well. As usual I’m probably going to end up with far too many tomatoes, but that won’t be a bad thing I reckon; will feed them to the neighbours!

Tomato plants growing fast now

Tomato plants growing fast now

Take care everyone. And please send wine if you have spare ūüôā (essentials only)

The animals of Cycling Europe

From the Arctic tundra of northern Norway, to hot arid climes of Spain, and the varied landscapes of Eastern Europe, I came across a variety of flora and fauna as I pedalled my way around Europe this summer. Whilst some of the animals were too quick to be photographed, such as the Black Woodpecker I saw in France, or just to fast as was the case with the hares in Sweden, I did manage to capture a few on camera; mostly dogs and cats as they tended to make their presence known, whilst in search of fuss or food.

In the far North there wasn’t initially a lot to be seen, aside from a few friendly trolls lurking around Nordkapp.

On the road South to Honningsvag I was pleased to see reindeer, but reminded of Scandinavia’s penchant for hunting at the hostel where I was staying.

I came across more reindeer and a couple of living  moose on my way to Finland and Sweden, and was constantly accompanied by the sounds of birds singing, as the snow thawed and Spring arrived.

I was of course always accompanied by an animal of sorts, Travelling Lobster, and I shouldn’t forget that I am also classified as part of the Animal Kingdom. I couldn’t have done without my ‘jovial’ companion, even if he wasn’t one for doing much pedalling.

Travelling Lobster modelling a catalogue pose in Sweden

Travelling Lobster modelling a catalogue pose in Sweden

The Lobster had a fondness for cows. I’m really not sure why, however it could be to do with his addiction to chocolate, and realisation that cows are integral to its manufacture. It was he that ate all the chocolate I was forced to buy to feed this addiction…honest.

Has anyone else found that some cows get quite excited when you cycle past them? I quite often found they’d follow me as I pedalled past their field, and that they’d sometimes break into a run to keep up. This happened to me a lot on my cycle tour in Scotland in 2013, and I’m wondering if it’s something to do with my red panniers.

As well as cows I encountered lots of goats on my way around Europe, more so in the South where herds sometimes blocked the road, and sometimes on campsites where they were used as environmentally friendly lawnmowers; don’t leave your washing out near them though.

Birds were often to far away to get a good picture, or moving to quickly, however wildfowl proved more easier to photograph, especially when they wanted food.

I lost count of the number of birds of prey I spotted, ranging from huge numbers of buzzards, to Black Kites, massive¬†eagles where I couldn’t be definite on the species, countless Kestrels, and soaring falcons. They were often being mobbed by gangs of crows intent of driving them off; crows a long with pigeons were a constant feature around Europe. Birds of prey weren’t the most lethal of¬†feathered friend I came across, although thankfully I only saw a sign warning of the dangers of the following.

Pretty sure flying sheep don't count as birds, but a worrying development nonetheless

Pretty sure flying sheep don’t count as birds, but a worrying development nonetheless

Yep, sheep, I really hope they don’t evolve wings, no one would be safe. I encountered many sheep ambushes on my tour around the coast of Britain in 2013, and became convinced they were after me and possess some kind of hive intelligence, with a grand conspiracy in play. I came across many more sheep in Europe, however they weren’t quite as vicious as their British cousins.

On the dangerous animal front there isn’t much to report. The only bears I saw were on signs, stuffed, or statues thereof, and although I visited a wolf sanctuary I didn’t see any as they were all asleep.

I guess the most alarming animals of the whole trip were the dogs encountered in Greece, Turkey and Eastern Europe in general. Often wild or feral, they would chase me, snarling and barking. My scariest experience of the whole tour was being surrounded by a pack of 7 or 8 growling feral dogs in the hills outside Thessaloniki. On the flip side I came across a lot of friendly hounds, who were more than happy to say hello and stick their noses in my panniers looking for snacks.

Cats were also a common feature along the way, especially further South. They’d often arrive to inspect my tent and panniers, or to just say hello and settle down beside me in the sunshine.

Horse drawn vehicles became more common in parts of Eastern Europe, however I happened upon many equine beasts elsewhere.

On the farm animal front, I met a few when staying with friends on their farm in the Ardeche, a wonderful break on my tour that I’ll always remember.

And then there were a few exotic or miscellaneous beasts, or imaginary creatures, that I came across.

Finally here are a couple of nice landscape shots, although really I could do a whole series of blog posts just show-casing some of the amazing panoramas I pedalled past.

Poppies in France, not far from Paris

Poppies in France, not far from Paris

Spain also had some stunning countryside

Spain also had some stunning countryside

All these pictures were taken using the camera on my iPhone 6. I considered taking my Canon digital SLR, however it’s just another piece of baggage and thing that I could potentially lose or get stolen, so decided against it in the end; good decision I think.

Still thinking about ideas for my next cycle tour adventure; likely to be a series of shorter expeditions I suspect, to fit around work, but looking forward to whatever they will be next year – for starters mountain biking around some bothies in Scotland has got to be a good plan.