Friday, 30 September 2005

Busy busy

Hugely busy at the moment so there may not be much in the way of Blogs for the next couple of weeks, I am writing lots of notes in the woods long hand but do not have time to write them up.

In brief then

Tuesday - army sleeping bag donated by a friend finely found it's way out of the internal mail so went to check it out down by the river. Sleeping by the river in summer is bad because of Mossies, in the winter it is bad because of the damp. Tuesday day time I coughed a lot.

Wednesday - Rushed about like mad, got very wet indeed as I had to use my coat to keep my suits dry. Went to the Leather Bottle in Lewknor to 'dry out' and ended up staying for food, very good food as usual and a whole hearted recommendation. Ended up sleeping in the Hammock again and decided that I'm in love with it.

Thursday night - had a tiff with Hammock - it's all my fault I realise now, I should have remembered how to tie knots.

Wednesday, 28 September 2005

Another kind of Bush

Donald Rumsfeld is giving the president his daily briefing. He concludes by saying: "Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed in an accident" "OH DEAR GOD NO!!!" George W. Bush exclaims. "That's terrible!!" His staff sits stunned at this display of emotion, nervously watching as the president sits, head in hands. Finally, the President, devastated, looks up and asks.......... "How many is a Brazillion?"

Tuesday, 27 September 2005

Getting there

Last night was good, sure I left my alarm clock out in the rain and as a result it went off at 5am rather than 6 and sure I spilt the pasta all over the floor and this was the bit of the floor that was designated as my bed. However, when I woke an hour early I discovered that my perfectly built shelter made from my gore-tex sheet and a few branches had indeed stayed up in the howling winds of last night, not only that it had kept the rain out beautifully. It was just a shame that I had rolled out from its cover and was thus greeted with a wet and muddy sleeping bag. Ok so I lost my recently found wallet and wasted a bunch of time unpacking everything in the search for it. Nevertheless, it does feel as though I am getting the hang of all this. If nothing else I am getting enough sleep and the woods are really feeling like home now.

A question – who is up for a Party in Brixton on 11th November? Tim from Scram and myself are planning a party to raise money for the Woodland Trust and also because parties are good and Tim throws especially good ones. So, before we go and lay a bunch of money on the line by hiring a venue we thought it would be a good idea to see if anyone was up for it that night. If you are up for it (in theory at least) do you reckon you could email me? Just go to my profile and click on the email me option. Parties are good.

Monday, 26 September 2005


G'day folks

I have jsut been reminded that I am supposed to be keeping you up to date with developments in the life of Bruce. Well the little fella was looking perky last time I saw him, leaves a bright green reaching for the skies, he is looking a bit taller these days, not so much because he has grown but because someone trampled down all the undergrowth around him to give him the best start in life; I have no idea who that could have been.

The leaves are starting to turn yellow on some of the trees and the Rosehips are fully ripe on top of the hill but down at the bottom they still have a week or so to go before becoming ripe. Plenty of Sloes everywhere and they are getting fat. I noticed the first berries on Yew trees yesterday morning. All in all then the signs of Autumn are all about but Bruce is having none of it and appears to be putting in as much effort into growing as possible.


It was like that moment in 2001 where the hairy dude sees the big black monolith, picks up a stone and thus the development of tools begins. In my case the conduit towards my evolutionary development was less mystical shiny rock with accompanying orchestral sound track and more a nice cup of Jackson’s of Piccadilly green tea with mint, all of a sudden huge developments in the comfort of me where occurring.

It didn’t start off so well though. When we left off on Friday I was heading back to the woods to rescue my sleeping bag that was locked securely to a tree in a wire mesh thief proof bag, the key having been mislaid some days previously. The theory was that I would smash the padlock with two bits of granite that I had left near the sleeping bag for just such an eventuality. What I had neglected to mention was that granite is not naturally found in the area where I stay; having hidden the sleeping bag behind lots of branches it stuck me that two lumps of granite would stick out like a sore thumb and, not wanting to alert any keen eyed thieves to the presence of my sleeping bag I covered the granite with leaves and branches also. Now it’s easy enough to find a sleeping bag when you know which tree it is locked too, a sleeping bag is a big thing. Lumps of granite that have been left on the floor and covered with leaves are somewhat harder to discover, especially if it is dark and your torch is attached to the key whose loss is the very reason why it is necessary to scrabble around on hands and knees in the dark. Eventually I hit on the bright idea of burning bits of paper from my pockets and searching in the light that threw off, I cunningly but narrowly avoided burning a cheque for £38 but was less fortunate when it came to avoiding burning myself. Eventually I tired of this game and decided to see if it was possible to pull the sleeping bag out through one of the gaps in the wire mesh bag, hugely unlikely but it was a cold night and I was getting a bit fed up of sleeping out night after night without it. I pulled away the branches and then started to manoeuvre the sleeping bag within the wire mesh bag to a position from which it may be possible to remove it from its jail. After a few minutes of this there was a thud as something heavy hit the ground, it was a clear night and my night vision had developed sufficiently to see there on the ground the unmistakable shape of a padlock, clasp un-fastened, lying on the ground. Further investigation revealed that this was indeed the padlock that I had assumed had been preventing me from getting to my sleeping bag.

Things where looking up, I looked up and saw it was a clear night. The stars where out gleaming against the deep blue of the night’s sky, without cloud cover it would be a cold night but I had a sleeping bag now so it didn’t matter. After the past few nights having a sleeping bag to sit one was luxury, I cooked up some fresh pasta, mixed in some organic pesto and some Covent Garden tomato and crème fresh soup, settled into the warmth of the sleeping bag and felt myself to be pampered beyond belief. After the pasta, and then eating the rest of the soup that I discovered the packet of green tea with mint, I used to drink nothing but green tea but of late had been drinking PG, the discovery boosted my already chipper mood even further. Within half a cup a thought started to formulate within my mind. It was dark, everything I was doing I was doing in the dark. I had a candle. My the time the tea was finished I had cut the candle in half which instead of destroying the candle left me with two candles (warning this does not work with light bulbs) and there I was bathed in light sitting next to two lump of granite.

Sunday, 25 September 2005

Need your help

I'm in a rush so going to have to be quick.

Have spent a really good couple of nights in the woods - everything seems to be going right!

Anyway the thought that I had last night whilst sitting next to a fire and listening to Judge Jules went a little like this

I'm off to Germany for a week at the end of next week and I'm going with work who are putting me up in a hotel. Like I have said previously I don't view this as cheating as I am trying to live a normal life, albeit one where I happen to live in the woods whilst living it. In fact I am not particularly looking forward to it because I know that I am going to loose all the toughness I have built up whilst pampered in the hotel and it's going to end up being a bit of a shock to the system when I return to the woods. Anyway I'm owed a bit more holiday so I have a deal to put to you lot; if by the time I get back from Germany (9th October) £2000 sponsorship has been raised I will use my holiday to spend 9 days solid in the woods without coming out and only taking with me what I can carry. So if you want to see how I cope with that, get sponsoring and hassle your friends to do the same. If £2000 isn't raised I'm going to swan off to Barbados or something and see how life in a Hammock is there.

The ball is in your court.

Right got to go and meet some friends and go watch 'It's a Knockout'.

Got some excellent pictures over the weekend, should be up soon.


Friday, 23 September 2005

Ferrero Roche

I got an email from my mate Whiskey today, he suggested that I pop round and get the spare key for the lock I had borrowed from him to attach the sleeping bag to the tree with. I wrote back and asked if this was the same spare key he had lent me and I had put in a ‘safe place’. Apparently it was. Fortunately when I locked the sleeping bag to the tree I also hid a couple of bits of granite in the area, the theory being that if I lost the key I would be able to smash the lock between the bits of Granite I think it has come to the point where the lock has to be sacrificed. Best go buy Whiskey a new padlock to lend me.

Last night was a bit of a contrast to the normal Wood living antics, it started off at the a Fashion show at the Argentinean Ambassador’s residence, lots of clothes, lots of models wearing stuff like this lots of champagne and a whole bunch of mischief. From there I managed to find my way to Brick Lane, somehow loosing my friends and wallet on the way. When I got there I discovered another fashion show going on, this time all the clothes had been created from recycled clothes. Green and funky, and plenty of good music. Soon though the lure of the Big Chill bar proved too much and it was time to regale the crowd with a display of woodland dance moves. I resisted the urge to show off a move I witnessed, but have never managed to replicate properly, performed by Dave in Oxford a couple of weeks ago; the Dance, I was informed, is called “The Squirrel Dance”. The Dance, I belief, proves beyond doubt that Dave has Lakota Indian ancestry; it requires him to go into a trance like state and find his spiritual guide, which in Dave’s case is evidently a Squirrel, once communing with his guide he allows the spirit of the Squirrel to take over his body and soul. Once this has happened the result is breathtaking, Dave adopts the manner and movements of a squirrel that is so convincing it is possible to forget that it is a person who is dancing and not indeed a squirrel. On one occasion Dave was chased up a horse chestnut tree by a border collie named George. I am hoping that Dave will be persuaded to perform this dance at the party, if so maybe you too will witness this rare treat. Details of the party are coming soon, promise.

Anyway if you are interested in having your old clothes funked up go check out this lot

Thursday, 22 September 2005


Note to self - find key to the lock that is curretly securing sleepingbag to tree.

How to save the world, look tough and impress girls before breakfast.

I used to windsurf, jolly good fun it was too but I kind of managed to mislay all my kit and I don’t live near the sea so it’s a bit of a distant memory. Anyway I was no good at it but it was a lot of fun, although the state of the sea in this country left a lot to be desired. You would think as someone who was once a paid up member of Surfers Against Sewage that I would be all for the odd splash of soap into the water system to clean all the mess up; far from it. In fact I’m dead against it, fish and the like don't take to kindly to soap, bit like aquatic crusties really.

An equation to illustrate the point

soap + water = bad for fish and stuff, therefore:-
less soap + water = better for fish and stuff.

I used to use great big canisters of shaving foam and all the huge amounts of foam I used everyday would wind up getting washed out into the water system and contributing to the pollution of rivers and the like. When I moved out into the woods it rapidly became clear that the key to success would be to have to carry as little as possible and thus I looked to reduce the size of everything I carried. It was then I discovered shaving oil, tiny bottle, wet your face, two or three drops et voilla smooth faced but tiny amount of environmental harm. Sure it took a day or two to get used to but soon enough I was wandering why I had ever used anything else. But there is more, and this is where the impressing girls bit comes in, a while back and through no fault of my own I discovered that I had misplaced my shaving oil but needed a shave before work. No choice for it but to shave without, I guess the three months of using shaving oil had toughened my face up because it was as easy as shaving with gallons of foam had been just three months before and now I no longer use even shaving foam. So, if one day you find yourself shaving minus the soap looking for all the world (at least in your own eyes) like a later day Crocodile Dundee and some honey, eyes widened by such a blatant display of masculinity, asks why you don’t use soap. You know what to do. Just tell her that the thought of the foam getting into the water supply and ending up poisoning little baby seals that frolic in the surf was just too much to bare so you gave up using it. Result.

In answer to Hajo's comment

there are diferent brands

The two main ones are Somerset and King of Shaves they can be bought in most pharmacies along side all the shaving kit, if you can't find them there they should be in your local camping shop.

Tuesday, 20 September 2005

Nearly forgot

still itchy

Sundy and a bit of Monday

Have you seen those big wire mesh bags that can be bought in camping shops? They are designed to put rucksacks in so that they can be chained securely to lamp posts and the like thus freeing the traveller to wonder off to take photographs and drink too much of the local brew. I had always rather frowned on such things deeming them to be of no more use than to alert potential thieves to the fact that you have something worth stealing. Anyway a friend of mine gave me his and I hated to say that I thought him stupid for having it so wound up taking it. I started off just using it when I wanted to go running. I could secure my pack to a tree, cover it with branches and run off happy in the knowledge that my stuff would still be there when I return. It is of course vitally important that one remembers where to return too. On Sunday morning I ventured to leave my sleeping bag and a few other vital bits of equipment into a waterproof bag which I then locked to a tree. Hypocritical I know but I have to say that there is some merit to this chicken wire thing after all.

Sunday was spent introducing a visiting professor from Bellarus, Julia, to the finer points of British culture, Roast Dinner, music, Pooh sticks and beer aplenty at the Turf Tavern seemed to be an itinerary that covered pretty much all of it. I chose music that I consider to be quintessentially British.
"What is a Wurzle?" asked Julia and I have to admit that I was stumped for a minute.
The thing not to do if you lock your sleeping bag to a tree is to loose the key, that would be most unfortunate. The night was spent sleeping with all my clothes on and the Gore Tex sheet alternatively put over me to create a pool of warm air around me, or underneath to stop the cold ground sapping so much heat.
I awoke early and ran to the bus with my rucksack, minus sleeping bag of course, only to discover that I had lost my ticket and had no money. Fortunately this minor challenge was overcome and I was soon warming up and enjoying Danish. The reason for the rush was that I had to get down to Sussex for a sale there and had to meet Yolanda who was giving me a lift. Yolanda was waiting in the car and claimed that the boot would not open. I opened the boot with a look that apparently questioned her sanity threw in my rucksack with it’s supply of clean socks and shut it again. Try as I might I could not coax it into opening again for a good 12 hours in fact I have to admit that it was Yolanda who eventualy opened it and she was sure to give me a withering look when she succeeded. In the mean time though we somehow got to Sussex despite Yolanda’s best efforts to drive into oncoming traffic. When I got to Sussex I discovered that I had left my shoes in my Office in London and had to phone some up to bring them down with them. I was fairly convinced that big muddy boots would not be a good look with a suit. When the shoes arrived I was happy to discover that I was wearing white socks, not exactly ideal.
Got to go, lunch break over and there is a rumour that I’m supposed to do some work this afternoon.

Monday, 19 September 2005


now my eyes itch


Das bugs

OK it’s Monday morning and there is Friday, Saturday and Sunday to talk about. Cleverly I took a diary with me and took lots of notes on Friday and Saturday so I would have lots to talk about today. My diary is currently in the back of a Renault Laguna, I would go and get it but the central locking is broken so it can’t be got at. Also in the back of the car are most of the clothes that I need for work today.

Right now the thing I want most in the world is to have a few extra hands to itch with. That’s the problem when you have been bitten all over, it’s not possible to scratch everywhere at once. I am sitting here trying to develop a Zen like state of being wherein the fact that I itch all over is matter of no concern for someone as spiritually advanced as myself. Unfortunately all I manage to do is sit still with a slightly more glazed expression than usual on my face for a couple of seconds before the urge to scratch becomes overwhelming. The best bit about being covered in bites is that this will provide me with an interesting little diversion to my work tomorrow. Tomorrow I will be part of the public face of my company, tomorrow I will be stood in front of about 100 to 200 people on a stage for about four hours. Best suit and professional demeanour is the order of the day. Some how I will have to muster up an image that is not one of a hedge dwelling buffoon scratching like a skag head on day two of cold turkey. The problem is that I am only capable of some much concentration at anyone time, all of that concentration will be used up on doing my job and thus I could well end up scratching away without noticing. The other option is to concentrate on not scratching but the problems with this is that I would be using up valuable brain power that is needed to be doing my actual job. I wonder if rubbing vodka into the bites would alleviate the itching?

Friday, 16 September 2005

The doors of perception

Last night was a bit urban, I went to Victoria Jones' Gallery opening on Wandsworth Bridge Rd and had a really good evening. Victoria gave me a copy of The London Jungle Book by Bhajju Shyam as she thought I would appreciate it. She was right, it is a book written and illustrated by an artist from a small village in the forests of central India and it is about how he, as someone who had never traveled before, views London. It really got me thinking about how we perceive the world around us, I'm just wandering how many of my ideas about how the woodland works will have turned out by the end of the 12 months to be merely perception and the truth to be very different.

Whilst I'm recommending things I would hugely recommend The Gods Must be Crazy - quite simply the best film ever made. It looks all a bit home made for the first 5 minutes but it is well worth sticking with it.

Thursday, 15 September 2005

The origin of the species

Terry is, even when painted in the best possible light, a hooligan. It’s not so much that he looks for trouble that would suggest that he had moments when he was not causing trouble. He likes nothing better than to annoy people and the problem is that if you let on that he is annoying you he will continue with renewed vigour.

A couple of weeks ago Terry bought himself some new headphones for his Ipod, he made a trip into town especially to get them and paid quite a lot for them, he was indeed a happy bunny. That evening I somehow end up sat next to Terry on the train to Yorkshire I was trying to sleep and Terry was rather keen to try out his new headphones. Now I dislike Happy Hardcore as much as the next man but whey you are trying to sleep and all you can hear is the tinny top end sounds (of which there are plenty) it really starts to grate. For some reason I forgot that the worst thing to do with Terry is to ask him to stop doing what is annoying you. I asked him to turn the music down and his response was to turn it up and dangle the headphones in front of my face. The best reaction is of course to ignore him but sadly Terry knows me too well for that and after a full five minutes of my lying there pretending to be asleep Terry was still dangling the headphones in front of me, I snuck a glance at him and saw him grinning away to himself well aware of how much he was annoying me. This could, I knew from watching Terry in action on a number of occasions, go on all night. There was only one thing to do. I cut through the headphone cable. Terry is a big chap and as soon as I cut the cable there was tension around the table, he is not averse to hitting people – all in good fun of course. There was silence as everyone waited for what would happen next, Terry started laughing; I started laughing everyone started laughing. Terry stopped laughing the guy on the other side of the table stopped laughing, I tried my best to stop laughing but couldn’t. Then I saw the look in his eye; I stopped laughing. He would have his revenge and I knew it, if this was the case there seemed little point in agreeing to buy him new headphones, this didn’t improve his mood much.

It only strikes me now that there could well be some link between the sudden appearance of biting creatures in my sleeping bag and Terry. It would be just the sort of thing he would do and I did see him the evening the creatures first appeared. I think it may be wise to appease him by buying some replacement headphones after all, I believe it my be appropriate to coat the bit that goes in his ears in chilly sauce first.

Wednesday, 14 September 2005


Went for a walkabout last night and met a guy walking, I was informed that there where hoodlums about who had just set fire to a car and that I should watch out, that would explain the Police Helicopter that was buzzing about like a demented bee on a stick of light. I thought the best plan would be to go and find the burning car. I would have thought it would be fairly easy to find a burning car in the countryside; there are very few cars of any description at all so I had imagined that a burning one would catch the eye. Not a bit of it, couldn’t find it anywhere, and I did search sensibly i.e. the sort of places where cars tend to congregate, like roads. I did smell burning at one point so imagined myself to be on the right track, a track that led to a car park. Just the sort of place to burn a car I deduced with razor-sharp reasoning honed to perfection from years of watching Poirot and Morse. Far from being met with a merry blaze to toast myself by I was greeted by the site of many people who had driven out to the car par to walk their dogs. I backed away slowly for fear of being savaged by one of the creatures and decided I had had enough adventures for one night.

I found a mossy clearing to bed down in and got a very good night’s sleep occasionally I would wake to the sound of the wind through the trees, no doubt the edge of the tail end of Hurricane watsit that hit Sweden last night.

Tuesday, 13 September 2005


Last night was warm and clear so I chose a field on top of a hill to sleep on. Ed from the Independent came out for the night and brought beer and sausages, luxury. England winning the ashes, beer, food, English countryside – sorted.

Slept very well, not sure about Ed he was asleep on the bus when I got off. I guess I must have got used to sleeping on the ground again. The other night I woke up and found that I had been rolling about so much in my sleep that I was about 2 meters from my starting point, this is what I mean by my being incompatible with a Hammock, there is not 2 meters of rolling in a hammock, even with the best will in the world. I was reminded that if I had attached the Hammock properly last time I used it, it would not have swung about so much, this is true and in light of this I will get it out some time soon and have another go at sleeping in it. I am not convinced I will like it.

Bruce says hi

Monday, 12 September 2005

The Life of Bruce

I have adopted a sapling and named it Bruce, Bruce is about 7 inches tall and of the genus, tree. I will be keeping a constant update of Bruce’s life until June. Bruce and I met on Saturday, he lives in a clearing in the forest and his hobbies include standing around in the forest and growing taller than his rivals so he can get to the light first. Bruce got rained on a lot over the weekend, apparently this was a good thing as the summer has been very dry and he was rather thirsty. His main worries are being eaten by rabbits or being trodden on by me. I will, if anyone will trust me with their digital camera, take regular photos of Bruce and post them here. Should I forget to keep you up-dated in the world of Bruce do drop me a line and I will be sure to go and visit him at the next available opportunity.

Sunday, 11 September 2005


Covent Garden Chicken and Corn soup in nutritious and delicious, fortunately I remembered this before I packed the carton into my rucksack on Thursday night, choosing instead to carry it by hand.

Friday night was soggy in London, the tubes flooded and traffic ground to a halt, it took an hour to travel 200 meters through the congealed London street, movement was in short slow pulses but I did not care. I had all my possessions with me and so was effectively home already. It took about 2 longer to get to a rain sodden Lewknor and I chose to go to the Leather Bottle for a quick couple of pints before facing the rain. A fine pub indeed and I think in the winter they will be prising me out of there come closing time.

I slept until Saturday evening getting very wet in the process, there were at least two cloud bursts but I was so tired from the past week that I ignored the water and slept on. Everything got soaking, except my laundry. For some reason I had put my laundry into a waterproof bag but left my clean clothes loose in the rucksack, so my clean clothes got wet. The only time I did get up for breakfast and discovered that my petrol stove was completely dead – I think it just needs a clean but I don’t know how, and besides it is a bit on the cumbersome side. I decided to clean it up and give it to someone for Christmas and get myself something a bit more reliable. The petrol stove is fine for holidays and the like but I would not like to have to rely on it in the dead of winter.

There was only one choice left; to light a fire. When I was a kid I could light a fire in the rain with only one match no paper and have the thing big enough to cook on within minutes, for some reason I had thought that lighting a fire would be like riding a bike; a skill you never forget. Sure enough it only took one match, two sheets of paper, some more matches, some meths, more matches, petrol and virtually all the gas in my lighter. When the fire was lit I diligently stuck the pasta to the bottom of the pan. It was then that I remembered I had thrown the pan sourer away. I was not so keen on putting a sooty cooking pan into my rucksack, all the wet clothes in there would get dirty and that would be no good. I stashed the pan in a hedge to be cleaned later, joy.

I went to see a friend in Oxford on Sunday and hung my sleeping bag up to dry from it’s base. I had, you may recall, previously turned the thing inside out due to some bighting creature having taken residence within. What I had not realised that this had meant the the inside had become full of what had been on the outside – leaves, twigs, moss and who knows what else from the woodland floor. I got to examine this in close up a couple of hours later when I went to collect the sleeping bag and found a big pile of woodland floor on his bathroom floor.

Friday, 9 September 2005

Mind the bugs don't bite.

Whatever it was that was living in the hood of my sleeping bag on Wednesday night was not there last night, it had moved into the main body of bag. I gave up trying to count how many times I was bitten but there are plenty of welts. If itching was a profession I would be top of my field based on today's play. It took me until about two in the morning to realise that the way to cure the problem of the un-wanted guest was to turn the sleeping bag inside out. Fortunately there is a huge storm brewing right now and I hope the ensuing downpour will drown the critters tonight.

Last night though, I had the best night's sleep I have had for ages, I was positively cheery when the German TV crew turned up at six to film my morning routine. I was a little less cheery when they shone a big light in my eyes and started asking insightful questions that required a lot of thought but an immediate answer. All this before the morning caffeine hit. I'm not sure that my answers would stand up to close scrutiny but I think I got away with it.

Looks like it is going to rain a lot tonight, oh joy. I was going to go out in Oxford tonight and maybe stay over at a friend's house. Trouble is that if it is raining like this that would seem the unsporting thing to do.

Thursday, 8 September 2005


It was a fine night last night so it was simply a matter of having my sleeping bag out on the ground and going to sleep under the stars. Perfect, or it would have been if it had not been for the Police Helicopters flying about overhead for about two hours and stopping me from being able to sleep. By the time they left it had started to get cold so I pulled up the hood of the sleeping bag, something bit be on the ear I brushed it away. A short while later something bit me on the eye lid, so I brushed it away again. Something bit me on the ear again; again with the brushing away. After about five minutes of being bitten I gave up on the hood and slept with my head in the cold. Occasionally during the night I would pull the hood up so as to keep warm, it would soon be taken off again.

Did a few press ups in my sleeping bag this morning so I would be warm enough to get out of the sleeping bag.

Wednesday, 7 September 2005


It seems there is a little confusion about what this is all about. My aims in doing this are to raise money for the Woodland Trust; this is what I care about. The secondary aim is that I hoped that people might see what I was doing and think about how much waste / pollution they cause; the hope being that maybe people would see me going to such an extreme and then realise that they could put the effort in to reduce their waste production. I just thought if I can live in the woods for a year and still lead a full life then maybe some other people would think that they could put the effort in to recycle; choose products with less packaging and that kind of thing. Sadly I don't think I have quite managed to get this point across. To reiterate then; this is about the woodland and conserving them and that is it. If you read this blog and enjoy laughing at my trial and tribulations then please donate a little money to the Woodland Trust.

Next time you are in the supermarket buying vegetables. Compare the price per weight of the loose and pre-packaged vegetables and you will find that invariably the loose veg are cheaper so buy them and don't get the ones with all the needless polluting packaging.

There is no way the countryside could sustain everyone doing what I am doing and it is looking like the environment can't sustain what damage we are doing already. The point is simple - Plant Trees and Waste Less.

Now I really don't want to preach and bang on about it so I now intend to get back to trying to live in the woods, learn about art and build myself some sort of future. Oh and avoid being found frozen to a remote patch of Oxfordshire countryside come the spring.

Light and Dark

Swistoni I hope this answers your question.

I wake up at six and it is pretty light by then, I was up at five one morning and it was still dark then. Most nights recently It has been dark when I get back but I have reasonable night vision so it's not such a hassle, I did walk into a nuber of braches and get a little bit lost last night trying to prove to myself how good my night vision is. I'm not sure how to judge what time it becomes 'dark' as my eyes adjust as the light fades and it's only when I come to need to look for something and I can't find it that I realise that it is dark. By this time I usually spend so much time looking for things that it's probably about half an hour before I find my clock. Then I tend to realise that in looking for the first set of things I have put a number of other things on the ground and they now need to be located and put away. When I have done this something that is supposed to be at the bottom of the rucksack will suddenly appear behind me so I have to unpack everything in order to get that in to the bottom of the bag; then there is the task of locating once again everything that was taken out and putting them away again. By this time it would usually be time for bed, I have to get up early after all, and so it's time to set the alarm clock and turn in. After this comes the search for the alarm clock. I have come to view this nightly ritual as a rudimentary form of entertainment. It's what your Grandparents probably meant by “we made our own entertainment when we were kids". The morning ritual is a little quicker as I can see things.

Stupid Hammock

The last few days have been quite busy and so I was glad to get back to the woods last night; I am finding the woods to be the perfect setting for quiet contemplation. Certainly on the bus on the way in this morning I was properly relaxed again and ready to face the day.

I was in Brick Lane yesterday evening and Andy and Tania invited themselves over for dinner, only fair really as I have been making full use of their hospitality. The problem is that not only are they demanding I make something special to eat, but they demand it be a black tie dinner. The thing I like about my friends is the way they rally round to make my life easier.

It was about midnight by the time I gat back to Chez Monkey and I decided to have another go at sleeping in the Hammock, this time I made sure to tie both ends at the same height and to make sure that it was far enough off the ground. I have had enough of lying on the ground cocooned in the Hammock. There is a handy mosquito net permanently attached over the top so the entry is through the bottom, the problem is that it is quite tricky to get in and into a sleeping bag. I am sure there is a knack to it but it has as yet eluded me. I have tried getting into the sleeping bag first and then worming my way in, there was much cursing. Getting into the hammock first and then getting into the sleeping bag was even worse; I managed to get in up to my waist before finding my movements so constricted that it took about five minutes to negotiate my self back to freedom sat on my rucksack. Last nights assault on the hammock consisted of equal parts enthusiasm and determination and it was a mere ten minutes before I achieved comfort. I discovered that true to its claims it is possible to lie flat in the Hammock and mighty comfortable it is too, unless you move. Move and the thing starts swinging, this is a bit disconcerting if you are used to sleeping on stationary things, like the ground. This would become quite an issue were you to be the sort of person who rolls about all night, I roll about all night. By the morning I had rolled about so much that a flat back was a distant memory and I was only being held from crashing to the floor by the mosquito net, I was quite surprised that it had not ripped. It was also quite cold maybe I was rolling about to try to find some warmth. The shirt I had been using as a pillow was wrapped around my neck and I have to admit that I had ever such a slight sense of humour failure. I think I might keep the Hammock for guests.

Tuesday, 6 September 2005

What will happen?

On the Just Giving site there is a thermometer charting how much progress has been made in reaching the they have on Blue Peter. What I'm curious about is what will happen when the target is hit; will the thermometer explode or will the site stop taking donations? Chances are that windows will shut down. What will happen? To help discover please leave some money for the Woodland Trust by clicking on the Sponsor me link to the right and would the person who takes it over the £1,500 mark please leave a comment so we can all find out.

A big thank you to everyone who has given money so far.

This is Radio Perth (The Verbal Ammunition)

One of the weirdest things that has happened in the last couple of days was a phone call from Radio Perth requesting a phone interview with me at 10:30 this evening (that’s morning their time). Sounds like a lot of fun, if nothing else it would be an opportunity to ask them to make sure the Ashes are sent recorded delivery. The problem is that I was supposed to be taking the call on someone else’s phone this evening and for reasons beyond my control I’m not going to be with them and so they can’t call me, not only that I didn’t get their number either. I am writing this in the hope that they check up on this blog tonight and realise.


Last night I had visitors, members of the press came out to stay. Fortunately it was a nice night, although there was a little moisture in the air. I hope they had a comfortable night, I’m not convinced they did – apparently I snored and there was an awful lot of strange rustling in bushes. I’m guessing that those are the same noises that used to keep me awake; although I lived in London my room was actually quiet at night. Unless my housemate was drunk and playing play station, in which case I would invariably be assisting in his efforts so I was used to quiet at night. The woods are not a quiet place at night as all the animals go about their business so it takes a bit of time to get used to all the movements I guess. It was really good to have company, we sat around and had a chat and slowed from city pace to the pace of the woods, I made some hot chocolate and then threw it away as it tasted of soap. I had washedup with wet wipes last night but obviously had forgotten to rinse.

A friend of mine from work has given me a waterproof army sleeping bag I think Winter is now sorted, noticed last night that mine offers virtually no warmth at all anymore. So a big shout out to Andy Sessions.

Monday, 5 September 2005


First off a big thank you to everyone who has contacted me after the Observer article, sorry if I have not got back to you yet but life has become very hectic, much more so than I had ever imagined.

I had a cunning plan; I would use those little fiddly one portion UHT milk containers so I could have white tea. A splendid idea I thought when I put a couple of the containers in my fold away saucepan along, with all the other bits and pieces that get stored in there, three days or so ago. Now I don’t know when it burst but it was certainly long enough ago to cover everything in a thin layer of sour milk, what a lovely smell. I had to use some of that valuable drinking water on washing everything.

After a while I realised that the flashing lights in the distance were probably a speed camera, there being no roads, and was more likely lightening. There was a storm brewing, a big one and it was heading towards me, I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to test out the alleged waterproof properties of the Hammock. It was only when I had finished tying it to three trees and one bush that I remembered about the whole not sheltering under trees in a thunder storm; it then occurred to me that perhaps it was not the best idea in the world to strap myself to three trees in the middle of a storm. By now it was raining quite a lot and I thought it best to take the hammock back down seeing as there was no point in it getting wet if I was not going to be in it. Imagine my delight to be lying on the ground in the rain, some of me stayed dry. I think I got a couple of hours sleep. Fortunately I believe that body heat will dry the sleeping bag tonight.

Friday, 2 September 2005


Coming soon.

Your invited to a party round at my place. Well I don't have a place at the moment so those nice people at Scram (seee the link to the right for their latest info) and Hedonismhelps have decided to run a fund raising club night in aid of the Woodland Trust.

Watch this space.

Reflections and misadventures

The story so far, three months into a one year challenge to live in the woods for a year I have just spent a week in Scotland with work where I was put up in a hotel. This isn’t cheating, the aim is to live as normal a life as possible whilst living in the woods, the woods is my home and I treat it as such. If your work sent you to Scotland for a week and offered to put you up in a Hotel would you refuse and rent a house for the week? I’m off to Germany next month, again with work, and hope to sleep out then; I’m actually really beginning to enjoy this life out doors and have started to prefer it to a life indoors. Possibly by the end of the year I will have regressed completely and will be dressed in rabbit skins and communication using no more than grunts and gestures – little change there then.

I am currently using a small bag / day sack to carry just the bare essentials of what I need for the night, and it just holds them with little space to spare. I forgot this when I bought the hammock. The hammock takes up about half the space in the bag yet somehow I managed to get everything else in as well before checking out of the hotel with the bed and the TV and all the other trappings of modern life I, possibly rashly, shunned. Now I’m not big on cause and effect but I assume that cramming the hammock in had something to do with the fact that when I got to the pool later on I discovered that my bottle of Lynx shower gel was completely empty! Further investigation revealed a vast amount of the gel living a free range life in one of the pockets of the bag; mostly it was all over my board shorts. A quick spell in the Jacuzzi and a few bubbles later and the problem was solved. Sometimes life is simple.

It was a bit of a shock to come from the rarefied atmosphere of Gleneagles to the hustle of Heathrow but it was good to be back in London, a quick stop off in Whistle Stop and then back to the woods. Once again the hammock proved no trouble to put up and it being a clear night I looked forward to lying in it under the stars.

My stove, as I mentioned, is in the process of giving up the ghost and so it took about 20 minutes to boil water for tea which I used with one of the foil wrapped tea bags that I had pilfered from my room. What I hadn’t realised that it wasn’t foil wrapped but paper wrapped and so the shower gel had soaked through the paper into the tea bag. If it had not of been dark I would probably have noticed the bubbles. Lynx shower gel is neither delicious nor nutritious, but my mess tin is nice and clean now.

I believe that I thought the hammock to be the most comfortable thing in the world last week when I tried it for the first time after three months of sleeping on the ground. Having just spent a week in a hotel sleeping in bed wider that I am tall I think that I might have been a little hasty with my previous beliefs. However, it was certainly nice to sleep out in the fresh air again and to hear the owls, deer and badgers. I wasn’t so sure about the Owl that woke me at about 3 am by screeching from just above my head, or the deer that woke me up by barking or even the badger that woke me up by scratching about under the hammock but other than that it was fine.

It is definitely getting colder and there was a bit of a nip in the air when I woke, bit of a taste to come. The walk to the bus was really refreshing and I got into work feeling better than I had all week.