Sunday, 17 December 2017

All the big things; are quite clearly, made up of lots of little things ..



Someone wrote; some time back; that the purpose of writing, for them,was to explain themselves, to themselves.

That was the most efficacious method, as far as they were concerned, of finding out what, and how, they actually thought.

And I think there is a lot in that, because if you are at all self conscious, or of a nervous disposition,  then being interrogated by others, who are actually there, can sometimes feel a bit threatening, or intimidating. Its not always simple, trying to explain yourself.

Not to mention the old 'people pleasing' instinct, that can be activated ...

"What does this person want to hear? Maybe I should say something approximating that?"


I know its very naughty doing that second guessing ; and it doesn't always make for total truth telling, but then what can?  How do we catch hold of that nebulous, amorphous, ever changing thing, that we would sometimes wish had a concrete form?

If you truly want to know what i really think about anything ; you might be stood there listening for some time.

Because I've done a lot of wandering about, on most subjects;  I'm not claiming to be very knowledgeable about lots of things ; more that there has been 'Much Pondering in the Shires' and constant updating, as new, information is incoming.

Perhaps, this is a consequence of spending many hours engaged in solitary manual labour; which once the task has been grasped; doesn't require too much cognitive effort; so there's lots, and lots of time for contemplation.


Brick distribution, and squash planting, rewarding but not overly taxing to the brain.


Things turned, and marinated, and revisited, and walked round, espied from the back view - often the most interesting angle - not always the presented most obvious 'face'.

Some might call it overthinking ; and that may well be so. But preferable perhaps; on the whole; to 'underthinking' ? Which can, ultimately, lead to reactionary ways of being.

And the reason behind this particular monstrosity of a preamble, is .....?

  A little while back, the weekend saw us heading East for a change.


Lots of interesting, and informative, and sociable agroecological farmer and 'any other' land based business was done at our annual  Landworkers AGM.

And marvellous food, and company was had by all too.


In truth ? A picture from another occasion, our farmworking womens weekend, held here, in September, but similar scenes of peasants well fed.


Once upon a time I was uneasy about mixing up the yoga teaching; and the farming.

Or rather, uncertain about letting people know that I pursued both of those arts, and crafts as a means of making a living.

As if I was somehow worried about being seen as a Jill-of-all-trades , maybe mistress of none?

Which resulted, in more than a couple of amusing discussions on the phone, whereby someone would have found my number, and be making the necessary enquiries about receiving either a veg bag, or attending yoga classes.

 Only for the realisation to slowly dawn upon them, that they were talking to the self same Ruth, who had been teaching them yoga, or supplying them with veg for years.

Thankfully, I'm over that particular worry now.

 For certain, and most definitely, being a specialist in one specific field, is a great, and vital thing to be.

It's just that I'm not particularly well suited to that way of being. 

The overview of the interconnectedness, and synergy, of all the little things, that make up the bigger things, is what does it for me.

Its not particularly difficult, to see the analogies, between a complex food web, ecological systems, and all the people involved, on a small food producing farm. And ultimately how that feeds into nourishing the local community.

And the interconnectivity, of all the parts, and placements of the body, and mind-breath connection that contributes to the greater health of the whole, when we practice Yoga.

To be honest, it can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming, as if flying over a landscape, and trying to take in the whole picture, all at once.

 But not only seeing the mappable 2D surface of the earth, or body, but penetrating the layers, of stuff, moving downwards, and also upwards into the overlying atmosphere, or breath.

It's a lot of connectivity to think about, all at once, or at least to keep in mind ; but that is really our job, to do, both as agroecological farmers. And also as Yoga teachers...

Blimey!

3D Chess, anyone?

No, me neither, thanks - way too complicated... That way a very hurty brain lies ..

And can even lead to overwhelm.

So do try to focus ; on one thing at a time ; but always with a mind ; as to how that element fits into ; and works in the bigger picture.

What brought this particular train of thought to the surface was the direct and immediate experience of this phenomena at our weekend event in rural Suffolk.

I'd offered to run an hours morning yoga session, for the landworkers assembled.

But I really had thought, what with it being scheduled earlyish, and there having been a bit of a bawdy knees up affair the previous evening, that it might be a three sheep and a shephardess sort of an affair.

As it turned out, at least thirty of them turned out, to be maneuvered back into shape...
We focused on doing things for our backs.

However, yoga nearly always does lots of good things for your back, so it wasn't a difficult class to design.
 
There was a modicum of groaning, and huffing and puffing.
Maybe the previous evenings entertainments had some part to play in this?




But best of all people asked lots of questions - perhaps because the assemblage were comprised of folks who like to know what they're doing, and why, and how is this going to be effective?

What is best practice, to get best results?

There's nothing like a curious, and receptive audience to, make you believe that getting up at 7am on a non work day, is worthwhile. 

Then, within an hour of finishing, I was back on again.

Over exposure, or what?

Doing a turn this time, entitled ...

 "Appropriate tooling up, and technology for a smaller scaled vegetable farm" 

 Or somesuch.


Rewards of the earlier brick and squash labours... Thankfully, nowadays there's a lot more help to hand than back in the beginning. another recognition that trying to do so much, all by oneself cannot be sustained for ever.
Why not share the fun? Bonnets optional - except in this case ...



A rather last minute assemblage of pictures of kit from around the 'stead.
Thankfully I have a few on file these days...

Rather predictably the trusty tractor, and her attachments got a starring role..


I mean; who wouldn't want to look at lovely pictures of Massey disc harrows, such as this' with their relatively gentle but effective lift and slice action.... Akin to mini-ploughing, for green manure incorporation, and ground preparation, but without the undesirable soil inverting effect.





We also looked at the smaller, more homespun, and adapted bits and pieces that save a lot of time and labour.



Five burner, trolley gas powered flame weeder. get the timing right, and it will wilt seedling weeds, just prior to the direct sown crops emerging.



Hand tools, people power, and the judicious use of sheet materials, for suppressing weeds... Some folk get a bit sniffy about using black plastic, but the sturdy variety, well cared for, will last for years, and could legitimately be described as a very  broad, but shallow, tool in its own right. 


Then getting down to the really properly tiny stuff, such as well honed harvesting knives.



Some growing essentials whatever your scale - a knife that will take, and keep, an edge, a decent whetstone, and a proper big mug of tea. 


And finally back to zone 00 (thats you folks) to remember that our bodies and minds are the primary tools for the job, so we must give them due care, and maintenance too.

i.e. no point having lots of great gear, but no physical capability, or scant motivation to use them.

So, now of course, I have to practice what I teach.. and preach ... Mmmn ?

This is a problem with being an organic vegetable growing, yoga teacher.

In some folks minds; us wholesome sorts must never be ill, or bad tempered, or less than continuously virtuous, or have any mental health issues, or even contemplate having dark thoughts ; about anyone, or anything...

Hmmn, well, if it is that way for some people, then lucky them (maybe?)

 But could it also be; that some of us are drawn to these integrated ways of being; or operating ; not because we feel wholesome ; but in an attempt to become more so?

Always; gloriously flawed, works in progress.

 I reckon, if you've started from a point of nearly whole already; undamaged goods so to speak; then it must be much harder to comprehend the travails of those ; who most definitely are not...

(And you might even annoy everyone else; with your expectations that they constantly strive for perfection too :-)



We need to investigate ... And to cherish, whatever helps us to see the uneven, and often unlovely destiny of human beings in the world, with humour and delight. Rather than with absolutist rage for an impossible sort of perfection ...


More tools and equipment - this time for doing the right thing, and giving others the necessary, and welcome break from ones busy fingered company...

Turns out (thankfully) that none of us is indispensible ; or we certainly shouldn't be businesswise at least.

Bike on a ferry, no doubt to somewhere glorious.

  


 

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Thats another fine mess we've got ourselves into ...



What mess? 



Actual real people working in the countryside, a rareish site nowadays. We have a local marine base nearby, and the scary Chinook (?) helicopters often seem to divert their flight path to take in this holding ... Someone told me, that they do that because it's good practice for locking onto targets for battle scene scenarios... I don't know how much real truth there is in this macabre motivation, they're most likely just after an eyeful of the hot totty that works here, but if true, i'm not at all happy with aiding and abetting the military machine .

The mess we've made of our system of producing and consuming food. what can we do about it?

I've been involved in many discussions over the last few years, both in real life, and online, regarding how we move from our present, planet trashing, methods of agriculture towards a system that regenerates, whilst feeding our population (not just the lucky few) in a wholesome, satisfying way.

This isn't about self denial, or taking the pleasure out of food. 
On the contrary, good food should be at the centre of our civilisation, its what binds us all. 

The cultural differences in how we produce, cook, and eat food are fascinating in themselves.

But we all eat, (three times a day, if we're lucky) so the cumulative effects are massive, and current methods of purely profit driven modern agriculture are not sustainable in any way, not to the planet, nor to society.

The case against industrial agrichemical aggro'culture' and the harms that it causes have been made countless times over. 

The evidence of degredation in terms of soil loss, climate change, ecosystems breakdown, human health, and destruction of food cultures, is well documented.

But we seem unable to acknowledge this, or prepared to do anything about it.

I guess farming, and food production for most of us, is just seen as something that goes on 'over there' which results in us having this food 'over here' on our plates, or on the supermarket shelves.
Government departments, and officials, are by their very nature, bound up in city and office life. 

And if they think about farming and the countryside at all, they perhaps view it as a nice green, and fluffy thing happening somewhere else, its somewhere to go and recreate in at the weekend .... Hmmn

But we can't continue in this way. 

For example...

Between 2010 and 2015 there has been a 9% decline in birds living and breeding on the UK's farmland.

I've compiled just a few extracts from various online discussions around this subject... 

Firstly in direct response to the above....

All produced here, and in no way a chore to consume.
On birds, or rather their decline..

And lo, it did come to pass...
All the eco-mageddon that us tedious hairshirted greenies have been predicting for decades.
Gives absolutely no satisfaction in being right though.
We could maybe turn this round, if we stop dithering and waiting for 'further evidence' of the harm done...
Put the need for decent nutritious food for everyone at the heart of government policy making. Instead of worrying about export markets.
Shorten supply chains, so that good quality food, grown in a sustainable way, need be no more expensive to the consumer than at present, if a fair share of that money goes back to the farmer or grower, instead of the multiples, so that the supposed custodians of the countryside can be just that.

Supermarkets mainly supply cheap agri-industrially produced, over-processed calories, great for their profits, pretty much pants for public health, and ecology.
I was at a conference just lately where some high up defra officials were suggesting that we really need to combine our efforts around farming. ecology, and rural regeneration to get ourselves out of the mess we've made.
Well no sh*t guys...
 Alternative methods of farming folk have been saying the same, since forever, and been derided as 'starry eyed dreamers' unrealistic, and standing in the way of progress.
Progress it turns out is a race to the bottom in terms of poor food quality, soil degredation, ecosystems breakdown, and an ageing and dispirited farming population.  With very little opportunity for new entrants who might like to help turn things around, but whom have almost zero opportunity so to do...
There are plenty of people out here with ideas and energy to make things better. But this will require the behemoth of industrial agriculture to be dismantled.
 To allow a return of mixed, integrated farming systems that give proper weight to ecology, and social goods, and are not all about profit for the few.



This little farmlet does make a modest living, and is very productive for the acreage, whilst being stuffed full of bugs n birds.
 { in response to someone suggesting that maybe we need more regulation , rather than bribes, or subsidies for farmers}
 Alot of farmers are not even covering the cost of production.
Agri - environment schemes tend to benefit the larger landowner with the time and wherewithawl to implement them, and to do the necessary form filling, and hoop jumping.
We have done lots of tree planting, and other ecologically beneficial things here, but most of it is costly in time, and finances to us.
It does mean there are a lot of bugs and birds hereabouts, but bugs n birds, don't pay bills...
We do it mostly cos it seems like the right thing to do. But we have recieved zero pounds support for our efforts.
Holdings under 5ha get no financial support whatsoever.
There is presently no upper limit on area payments. So if you own a lot of land you get a lot of money, in return for ?

 Yes you guessed it, you get paid for the privilege of being rich enough to own it... No wonder the price of land has skyrocketed in the last ten years.
It's a great investment, if you have spare money to spend.
Maybe payments need to be based on supporting productive farmers producing wholesome food, in a way that doesn't trash ecosystems, and that enhances the fabric of rural life.
How we achieve this is complicated, but it could be done.
One of the major problems is that this will disrupt the business as usual system of land ownership and control.
Who has the most power to change things?
The very same people who are quite happy to see business as usual continue ...

{ In response to an understandably, weary sounding dairy farmer, who felt he was being attacked for not doing his bit for wildlife, whilst feeling totally underappreciated for his food production labours,} 

 .... I was sticking up for you.
I am well aware of the woeful situation in the dairy industry, and dairy farmers being nailed to the floor in terms of milk price, by contracts such that Arla or the big multiples operate.

As someone from Farmers for Action was saying only the other day, you guys need to work together, to stop yourselves being shafted. And get the public onside too.
The public really needs to care about how their food is being produced, and by whom, and not to just hope that everything is OK; it really isn't
There's way too much power in too few hands , the bully boy multiples and big processors need regulating, and the consumer needs to be there to support the farmer, especially the small, to medium scaled independant farmer
And yes when we Brexit there will be even less regulation, allowing most likely low quality milk powder, and products onto the UK market.
The UK public claims to care about animal welfare, and the environment, but when they get to the shelf in the supermarket, this is conveniently forgotten.
Operating under WTO (World Trade Organisation) conditions, will most likely be a death knell for the home dairy industry, which in many cases is only keeping going because of EU area payments.
And under present market conditions, there's never any money left over for reinvestment in essential infrastructure.
I do know how much it costs to refurb a milking parlour
I have spent periods in my farming career milking cows for other farmers, I know how much hard work and dedication it takes, and the pride that farmers generally take in animal welfare and keeping the farm in as good a state as is possible, whilst still having to pay the same ol drear bills that everyone else does.
Support should be given to productive farmers. (Which isn't always the landowner - but they usually get the dosh) Farmers should be paid fairly for their quality produce - cut out or at least massively regulate the profiteering middle man.
The Groceries Code Adjudicator should actually have some teeth to ensure this.
And a simplified form of payments made to encourage practices beneficial to wildlife.
Without it requiring a full time paid farm staff member to oversee.

Followed by this
When I was at agricultural college thirty years ago we were fed such gems as
"Soil is just the substrate in which you stand plant roots, whilst you feed them with chemicals"
"The farm is just a factory floor for production like any other industrial unit."
"FYM ( farm yard manure) has very little plant feeding capacity compared with this bagged nitrogen, and now lets do the lab tests to prove it."
{Absolutely no mention that the atmosphere is full of Nitrogen ( for free!) and that if you use that FYM and other amendments wisely the soil and its life will feed the plants just fine.}
This and many other exciting modern methods, which bypass natural systems were promoted , and still are , only now its biotech, and GM - which is not the exact and controlled science that its proponents would like to suggest - i've spoken to ex- GM scientists who have some terrifying 'cock up' stories to tell..
Trying to farm in a ecosystem, and bank balance friendly way is extremely difficult in todays climate. Even if you have a good solid direct sales customer base, thirty years of hands on experience, and lots of willing help.
Not all of us can supplement our income through 'doing the right thing' for a short while, then writing nice books about it, although i did enjoy John Lewis Stempels offering, [ someone mentioned {The Running Hare, which I read sometime last year... as it wasn't the usual rural fantasy, harking back to the never really existed good old days nonsense.
But he did inherit his farm so presumably he has no mortgage to pay on it?
Don't blame the farmers, so much, they've been shoved about, being told what to do by various bodies, 'we know better than you' experts and commercially interested agri-business salespeople.
They are operating in a market that has commodified food, and like anyone else they need to make a living, and don't wish to be derided as backward thinking, alternative crackpots.
Now of course they're shoved about by supermarkets, who dictate prices. Most consumers have no real idea of the larger environmental and social costs of the cheap convenient food theyre buying.
Until more people take a real interest, buy accordingly, and tell government that they give a sh*t about these things, then nothing will likely change.

Someone asked what if anything was being done to address the shortfall in British grown fresh produce.
I directed them to some of the solutions being offered here.


Smaller scale regenerative agriculture, has often been derided as 'playing at farming', or irrelevant, or uneconomic, or unproductive, especially in our get bigger or get out system of 'aggro'culture.
Well it isn't actually so in reality.
Natural systems self regulate and keep themselves. within sustainable and workable bounds, if they are over exploited, or over worked then the system collapses. Its basic physics and biology, when you think about it.
And so it is, with the way agriculture needs to re-culture itself.
Most people instinctively know this, and are drawn towards more diverse, interconnected ways of working, that doesn't exclude the natural world from having its fair share of space and resources..
Yes these ways of working can be more complicated, and require more skilled, people to operate them.
But isn't fulfilling, meaningful, useful work what many people crave?
Aren't we aiming to create more jobs?
Not to say it isn't hard graft sometimes, but if the workload can be shared, and more of that profit margin can go back to the farmer or grower, then it doesn't have to mean much higher prices to the consumer.
Produce from this farm is sold direct to the customer, they get a good deal and get very fresh veg. The business makes a modest living and employs local people too.
Plus, i spend absolutely zero on gym fees :)



Growing and farming on a more human scale , means that people from non traditional farming backgrounds are more likely to want to get to get involved. Voluntary work, and training experiences, can turn into job opportunities. and encourage new entrants to consider farming and growing as a valuable, and valid career option..  

Arising from a question as to whether organic food production can reasonably be expected to feed our population 

In the long run organic growing is more productive, in all senses of the word, if done properly.

But it is generally more labour, and skill intensive,
Its about using methodologies that build soil in the long term.
People want cheap food,

The supermarkets with their overarching power, and market control, mean that producers are running at very slim margins. With very little wiggle room left for such niceities as wildlife conservation, or worrying about rural jobs.
Those 'bogoff' offers are funded in the main, by the producer not the supermarket for instance.
On average only 8% of retail price goes to the primary producer.
Most farmers are relying on area payments (CAP money) to continue farming, as the cost of production is just about met by farm gate prices.
Farmers have been instructed ( by banks, and society in general ) to run their business like any other - short term profits, or at least bills paid ( if they're lucky)
they have not been encouraged to farm for the future health of the environment or soil health.
This situation will continue so long as food is seen as just another commodity, rather a central underpinning element of human health, society.
Current agricultural practices have a massively debilitating effect on the environment, and human health.
Until this is recognised and we are collectively willing to act (and buy) accordingly this will never change.
The trouble is government ministers, and officials are by their nature urban creatures.
Farmers, and rural folk in general are often seen as somewhat backwards, rustic props to their bucolic fantasies about the countryside, and what its for..




Taken a couple of years back, but you get the idea... Compact, purposeful, productive, and profitable.

Feeding the local community with wholesome food that it wants and needs. Making room for wildlife and people,  and generating a livable income ... What is not to like?  So why is there not more of this kind of thing going on?



i have paraphrased the interjections from various interlocutors, and even edited some of my own responses so as to avoid so much repetition 
{and corrected any spelling and grammar mis-usages that makes me unhappy. :-) 

There's lots more, to be compiled and edited at a future date, the debate is unfolding, but the public need to get involved, and show that they care about this stuf ... On top of having to care about everything else that needs attention.

But food, and how it's produced is a pivotal issue, we notice pretty quickly, when enough of the decent stuff isn't there. 
Lets not find ourselves in that situation.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Oh goodness my.

Hasn't it been a while?

I think I got a bit stuck, behind a lot of things, including my own self - silencing gremlins.

Backed up by a few external voices, saying, or at least implying the same.

And if you're default internalised message is "Shut up, be quiet, don't make a fuss, no one is really interested" particularly around more difficult issues , then that is what you will do.

To keep feeling safe, or safer at least.

But I'm often telling myself, and others too for that matter, that fear arising can be interesting.


It should be examined for its source, to see if it is valid, and reasonable, and if not, to find out what fascinating things, and experiences are just the other side of that fear.

And that's what I have generally done. in my life... There are plenty of things that I do now, that initially I found pretty scary, or nerve wracking.
But now, they are just part of normal life.

So why should I be afraid of writing down a few thoughts and feelings?

What bad consequences could there possibly be?

If ones own personal blog * isn't a safe space to do this; then where?

But there has been a lot of discussion lately around people speaking, or not speaking of their experiences, around power misused, and abused.

Its interesting though, how once someone does, then others feel empowered to speak about it too.

I'm not going to go into any gory details here, I think anyone has as much right to stay silent about personal matters as they do to to speak out.

It shouldn't be incumbent upon anyone who has been hurt, to expose their wounds, if they don't feel comfortable so doing.

They do not owe their stories, or experiences to anyone.

 They were owed being properly treated with respect in the first place - that is what is key

A genuine, unfettered right to choose, a right to self determination, is generally what most victims, or survivors of ill treatment are asking for.

And a right to be heard, actually listened to, if they do want to talk to someone.
But not forced, or coerced into speaking, by some sort of social obligation.




Tea, wellies, and an innocuous looking grey box, pre distribution... Nothing happens before tea, as you know.... The wellies came on a rather fine walk in The Peaks as wel,l just lately, but more of that another time., perhaps

Anyway, be all that as it may.

Its been a while for many many reasons, not least general busyness, accompanied by superficial distractions.

In the course of the last few months Ma, you would normally have called or visited to find out how things were going, and what I'd been up to.

Well sadly that's not going to happen any more, is it?

 But i thought I'd check in anyhow, as I know you did use this channel as a way of keeping up with general news, and meandering ramblings about the farm, and further afield.

This picture was taken on the eve of what would have been your birthday in July.

Not long before you left us, you furnished me with some funds to buy something 'silly' (your words)

Well a tent isn't reallyproperly 'silly' its a very practical piece of kit,.

But it might I s'pose allow the pursuit of what some might call silliness, or at least unabashed fun.







Here it is... Pitched at the top of the hill here, it's a' Tarptent Moment' imported from the States (don't ask how much the Customs duties were) a quality item that should last, and very light for carrying on my back, or bike.

 Crafted, I very much hope and believe, by stitchers who would have been paid something like a decent wage, for their skills. And if properly looked after, should be sheltering me on many an excursion.

She's been on a good few nights out already, and has lived up to her name - up in an instant, and sheds the wind well.


July Sunrise on Beacon hill.

 I stayed up here in my little grey tent, with your ashes in their little grey box, overnight.

Then at first light (yeah right) or thereabouts, took most of them on a meandering ramble, distributing them amongst forty two of the trees that grow here.

We could make out that's some kind of witchcrafty magic number maybe, or the meaning of life or somesuch.?

But all sorts of different native species, which will each claim a few of your molecules, and grow taller with them.

So then you can look down from your vantage point, and check that I'm not slacking off with the farm work.

 Although I am trying not to overdo it so much it these days, and have lots more help with things in general.... All work and no play, life is short, etc etc.

I've saved a few spoonfuls, to go under a fruit tree, to be planted this autumn.

Probably an apple, given that they are so versatile, as were you, in the kitchen.

 Plenty of Devon varieties to choose from.


Since this morning pictured there's been loads going on, farmwise plus all sorts of other busyness.

Most of which you would approve, and I will get round to writing about a lot of it, just in case the internet connection is better where you are, than here in 'fibre free' Country Bumpkin Land.

Not that you were, so much one for approving or disapproving, of other peoples business, or doings. More concerned generally, in having an interesting life well lived, according to ones own principals, and values.

With plenty of leeway, and understanding given for those all so very human fallings short, fallibilties, and failings.

You asked me to read something at your not-really-a-funeral-but-more-a-tea-party-for-freinds which basically said this, but in a lot more lines...

"Try not to be sad that I've gone, but be happy that I was here"

Which is all very well and good in theory, but it is quite hard not to miss people who so very much brightened, rather than dampened life...

However I'll try to live by that one, and make the most of things, and stuff.

And in addition I would say to anyone else angsting over what to do with their own short existence and 'How they should Be' in this totally crazy, frustrating, but ultimately rather wonderful world...



Be Brave,

Be Silly,

Be your own Magic,

Be Present,


Be Full of Surprises,

Be Adventurous,

Be Kind,

Be Free,

Be You.

Life is tough darling ... But so are you.





We change, we live, and we grow older, but hopefully we can still retain some childish wonder, and delight in this world.




* please see disclaimer that these are all my own thoughts, and opinions,and always subject to change , particularly in the face of a cogent well thought through argument ( I wish) they do not, nor never have, represented those those of any ya de ya company, singular or many faceted deity, nor any other general factotums.

If in doubt as to how to proceed, in the light of all this, please consult a grandmother, or any other female tribal elder  ... They really do know stuff ....

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

The scheme of things ...

That which didn't get done, probably doesn't matter much any more.

I had a truly lovely time in the mountains, and will tell you all about it no doubt, over time.

But I also had moments of that deep mountain sadness, which having gone there, many will have experienced...

The realisation that one day, I will be too broken, tired, old, or even too dead, to go, and witness those wonders.

And of course, that should make one want to seize the moment, and glory in it, all the more.

But also it makes you cry, lots, for the sheer tragedy of it.

They say "better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all" 

But sometimes you can't help wishing you'd not seen, or felt, that which, one day you know, you will never see, or feel again...

So yes, if one day, it takes a final wander, into the hills, and a lying down to sleep, from which one never arises.

 I will very much forgive you, and wish you endless sweet heathery dreams...




Knowing that one can't always take, even those closest, on some journeys.



That awful realisation of being a separate, sentient creature, who has only one set of eyes to see, and only one  heart with which to feel. 

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Walking, a conversation with the landscape...


So to take a hiking trip, first select a promising location, and a reasonable route. 
 Equip yourself with essential kit, and good nutrition (light enough to carry, for days on end, and potentially up and down some steep climbs) 

Have navigational abilities, and be realistic about your hill skills,  and levels of fitness

Get yourself to start, of proposed route, and start walking...  That about it. 

People who don't indulge in this type of 'holiday' will enquire, "Don't you get bored, just walking all day?" .

Or, "What do you find to talk about, if you're  hiking with the same person, day after day, after day?"  

Well, often, aside from practicalities, such as way finding, or snack stops, or pointing out wildlife, whole hours can go by, in perfectly companionable silence. 

And anyway,  there's not always enough breath to spare on chat, if ascending, for hours on end. 

Negotiating boulder fields takes full concentration, if the skin on your shins is to be preserved. 

So ultimately, the conversation is with the landscape, physically as one negotiates each step, over uneven terrain. 

The narrative, is a sensory one, stories are incoming, from  near and far, twists of plot occur, moment, by moment. 

How, could that ever become dull, if given ones full attention? 







Friday, 1 September 2017

Going places.


Go nice places, do fun stuff.

Well yes,  why wouldn't you,  if lucky enough to have the chance...?

And due to a blessed team of women, willing to tend the 'stead, in my absence, that's what I'm currently doing.

Stomping up and down some fine Pyrenean valleys, over high passes, and generally enjoying the geology, and fine views.

The weather has been mixed, the sun doesn't always shine in Spain, but when ascending for hours at a time,  some cloud cover can be very welcome.

Eight or more, hours,  per day of hard walking; whilst carrying all the requisite equipment for shelter,  and nutrition,  might not be everyone's idea of a relaxing holiday.

But each,  very much, to their own.

The company, in the form of reliable, way finding* trail-mate is plenty congenial, even entertaining on occasion.

But it would be an untruth, to assert that these excursions are all fun, all the time.

Undoubtedly there are times when the hills are just a tad too steep, it's overly hot, mighty cold, rather wet, or one is too tired, and hungry for comfort.

Even 'the way' through unmarked scree can be hard to discern..
Only mild peril, really, yes, but more peril, than usually found in everyday life..

But I guess, in part,  that's sort of the point.

Not to make oneself suffer intentionally, but it certainly gives a sharper appreciation of the basics..

Food, shelter, rest,

Walk, eat, sleep, repeat.

Through some astonishing scenery.

But also, being out of contact with what passes for the 'normal' world, for a while makes me appreciate, more fully, how some unnecessary parts of it, were making me uncomfortable in other ways.

And how, like so much,  it could be done without...

As is the case so often - Less is generally more :-)