Friday, 31 March 2006


If you are interested in such things, not that I'm excited by the prospect or anything, there is going to be a story about this Ditch Monkey business in the Sunday Times colour supplement this weekend. I think on Sunday I will be mostly hanging about in coffee shops and other places where people read newspapers "what? Who me? Oh is that in this week? Well I never"
That's what I would like to do but Sunday is Boat Race day and I have never been before, Rob has a flat next to Hammersmith Bridge so I'm going to be heading there. Rob's balcony can fit a good three people and if you lean right out with someone holding onto your belt you can just see the river between two blocks of flats.


I didn’t sleep in the hammock after all last night, there didn’t seem much point not when there is a perfectly good ground to sleep on. Last night was thoroughly enjoyable; I skipped out on going out after work and just headed straight back home. It was the first night that I have got back in day light since the autumn and it was more than a little surreal, but it certainly made for a nice walk back home from the bus. It wasn’t raining when I got back and I quickly made a small fire to heat some soup on and then lay back resting on my rucksack with my feet up on some logs listening to the blues show on the radio. I remember thinking life doesn’t get much better than this. In the woods I’m my own boss, there is no phone, no bills, no one wanting me to do anything I don’t want to do, it’s a kind of freedom I guess. Not that it felt like freedom during the winter, that was more of a struggle and I am keenly aware that spring has started in the last week.

This morning for instance I woke and it wasn’t bitterly freezing cold this meant that, what with my being awake half an hour before I had to leave for the bus I could have a bit of a lie in. Previously lie ins have consisted of me trying to stay as warm as possible with the draw cord on the hood of my sleeping bag being done up so tightly that there is only a small space for air to get in. This morning I opened up the hood completely and lay back un-cocooned, it was nice, it was, dare I say it, comfortable! There was a light wind that was a little cooling but fresh and welcoming, such a change from the icy daggers that blew around me a week or two ago. Birds were singing, squirrels chattered and I walked down to the bus like a regular Dr Doolittle.

I had another one of those good ideas, like the idea I had to live in the woods for a year. Sometimes I wish I didn’t do thinking. I live very close to the Ridgeway, it is an ancient track that dates back to prehistoric times and travels from Ivinghoe Beacon for 85 miles down to Overton Hill near Avebury (big stone circle). My good idea was to walk the 85 miles, seems appropriate seeing as I live near it. I asked a friend of mine how long this should take with me carrying everything that I need for the journey, he said two days. Stupidly I agreed. So sometime in early June I’m going to walk the Ridgeway in under two days whilst carrying everything I need with me. If you think this sounds like a stupid thing to do and it will be very painful do feel free to click on the sponsor me link over on the right there and give some money to the Woodland Trust.

How you can help.

A while ago I blithered on a bit about a travel writing competition, well I have not had a chance to go about organising any prizes or anything like that I’m afraid. Nevertheless if you do have any travel writing you would like to see go onto an online travel guide then please do send it in to me at The only prize we have so far is a fork hand carved by me (fork may appear different to traditional fork design). If you have been to look at my profile recently you will have noticed that I have another blog by the name of Mission Improbable. What Mission Improbable is I can’t say just yet, suffice to say that Mike and I have been a bad influence on each other again. I had one of those ideas that are “just so crazy it could work”, Mike didn’t even get much further than me saying “I’ve had one of those ideas that are just so crazy it could work” before he decided that he was in on the plan. Some of the plan involves us setting up an online travel guide to the world, now there is a lot of world and only two of us so any input from you lot would be gratefully received. I can’t at the moment let on what it is that Mike and I are up to, if you are interested watch this space. What I can tell you though is that the travel guide will help with raising money for more trees so by sending in any travel writing you do have you could save the world, get some writing published on a soon to be stormingly successful (hmmm) web site and get the opportunity to win a fork! Offers like this do not come in everyday.

Thursday, 30 March 2006

A cunning plan m'lord

I have had an idea.

Note that I don't say that it is a good idea or a bad idea, just that it is an idea. Tomorrow I will be able to say whether the idea was good or bad. I'm going to have another go at sleeping in the Hammock, it might well be warm enough by now, it might not.

wrong footed

I would have thought that I would have made pretty much all the mistakes it was possible to make by now and would therefore be quite adapt at the living in the woods thing by now. I have been living in the wild for 9 months and 30 days now, that's plenty long enough to learn how to live out doors. Yesterday started off quite well, actually it didn't but I can't really tell that story in case the wrong person reads this blog entry and finds out what really happened. So let's stick with the yesterday morning going well and nothing untoward happening at all, I would like to add, just in case, that it was like that when I found it, not that I was there of course.

I work in two different buildings in two different parts of London, this causes problems sometime. Today for instance I am working in the building I don't normally work in, I have a suit here but it was necessary for me to bring a shirt and shoes. On Tuesday I managed to forget to bring shoes and so I spent the day strolling about in a suit and trainers, not quite the look that people expect. I had to make a special effort to make sure that I had everything for today; unfortunately all my shirts are at the dry cleaners and will not be ready until this afternoon. Yesterday lunch time I went out to buy a new shirt so that I would have one for today, I was a bit annoyed about this as I don't really want any more shirts. The problem I faced was how to get the shirt from one side of London to the other via a night in the woods without getting it creased. Stuffing it in my backpack would not be conducive to a neat and tidy appearance the next day so I decided to wear it home, hang it up from a tree when I got there, and then wear it to work the next day. I have to say that plan does have an element of genius to it and I have to say that this is not where my error lay, I am sitting here (erm on a lunch break or something) wearing a perfectly respectable shirt, it is even dry now.

I believe that where I went wrong might have been in the getting a bit carried away with the "it being spring now" thing. I decided to cut back on what I took with me into the woods as I had a sleeping bag hidden away for emergencies; it is not a nice thick winter but a summer one. The bivi bag (waterproof sack that goes around sleeping bag and me) was left around my winter sleeping bag which was cunningly stored under my desk. I also had left a piece of tarpaulin cut to size to shelter under; well it's cut to a size, just not necessarily the right size. Were I a foot or two shorter that bit of tarpaulin would be perfect. So last night I set off with the following

1 x Toothbrush
1 x Toothpaste
1 x Razor
1 x Spring (joy of)
1 x packet spare Razorblades
1 x Book
1 x Empty crisp packet – being used as bookmark (classy)
1 x packet soup
1 x pair Board Shorts (shorts worn whilst surfing)
1 x Pen
1 x Notebook
1 x pair smart black Shoes (learned from my mistakes I do)
1 x T Shirt

Now you might think that a night in the woods in March would require something other than shorts, T shirt and black brogues; you might even think it would be a rather good idea to take a coat. You would be right. By the time I had walked to from the bus to the place where I had hidden the sleeping bag I was soaked to the skin, when I set off the idea of getting wet was not so bad, after all it was relatively warm, the reality of being wet was less good. I put up a quick ‘shelter’ made from the piece of tarp and stretched out the sleeping bag, I had to make a decision about which end of me I wanted to get wet whilst I slept and I chose feet. I got out of my wet jeans and rolled them up to use as a pillow and then decided to put my board shorts on. Next I had to take my shirt off so it would not get creased as I slept, this could not be hung up as I had planned – it was pouring with rain – so I folded it and put it on top of my bag under the ‘shelter’. Then I put my T shirt on and my wet sweatshirt back on top of that, soon the wetness from the sweatshirt began to permeate my T shirt. I went to bed. I was most surprised when I woke up to find that not only were my legs wet from having been stuck out of the bottom of the ‘shelter’ but my top half was also. Sadly I was in a bit of a rush so I did not get the opportunity to investigate quite how this had happened. I had stuff to do such as, put on cold wet jeans, take off warm wet t shirt, put on cold wet (un-creased) shirt and put on wet socks.

Tonight I are be mostly taking waterproof stuff with me.

Monday, 27 March 2006

Night on Bear Mountain

Saturday night I found myself out in Oxford with some of the lads from my College, Liam, Girvan, Sgt Bilko and Boswell. Both Liam and Girvan are Irish so it was in danger of becoming raucous, it was a relatively well behaved night although the two of them did seem to be a little overexcited by the 6 nations result. Why they seemed to have completely forgotten the world cup, which as everyone knows is the only thing that counts, at the moment anyway. So there we were in the Kings Arms, not the Turf for once on account of Wilko being the assistant manager, having worked the last 34 days without a break and being “fed up of the Turf”. You would have though that the five of us would have plenty to talk about, there was a lot of catching up to be done. We must have got tired of talking to each other as we were soon deeply engaged in conversation with the table full of girls next to us. One of them was from Australia so we sang, to the tune of “Yellow Submarine”, “you were born in a convict colony”, how she laughed. Curiously after this interlude our neighbours were still talking to us and so the conversation turned to actresses and the like, girls seem to find such things interesting not wishing to appear impolite we all feigned interest. Apart from Wilko who seemed to have a little too much knowledge about Katy Holmes and Tom Cruise. I was asked a question about a lady by the name of, can’t remember who it was as I had never heard of her, and when I asked who she was I was asked if I lived under a rock. My table collapsed in laughter, Girvan choked on his Guiness and it was a good minute or two before order was restored. All the while the girl, who had asked the question, Jo, sat there with a fixed grin and a look that went from mild confusion to deep concern.

It was not long after this that I was back in Lewknor and walking back towards home. It was a clear night, the stars danced between the leafless branches of the trees as I walked and yet it was dark, very dark, there was no moon. It was, if one were disposed to flights of fancy, a bit spooky. I was grateful that I am a reasonably rational person and so unafraid of shadows at night, this was very much the kind of night on which horror films are based I thought. It is a little bit unfortunate to be thinking such a thing at just the time you become aware of very light footsteps behind you, the next thought, being “I don’t have my torch with me”, offered little comfort. As I walked my hand slowly moved to my back pocket and my knife, there was a possibility that one of my friends was trying to scare me so I resolved that if someone jumped me I would not to stab anyone until I knew for sure that it was one of my friends or not. Emboldened by my weapon I stopped and turned, the footsteps low and quiet continued and I saw, or did I imagine? An animal shadow not much more than two foot tall. I growled and the gentle padding continued towards me. I was properly freaked out by this point, the hairs on the back of my neck were all standing on end as I turned and continued walking deliberately slowly all my senses on high alert. My ears strained to hear the slightest thing and every time I stopped to look behind to see if it was following me my eyes strained at the velvet darkness that seemed to grow from the very ground and threatened to draw me into it. My thoughts by this time were all over the place, maybe there was some malevolent spirit, maybe those horror films are based on truth, people do turn up dead in the woods sometime and who knows why. Scrambling up the hill to the relative safety of my carefully hidden rucksack I had to pause to cross a fallen down tree and something gently rubbed against my right calf I hastened up the hill and it came again a gentle rub, I yelped, spun around with knife in hand and heart beating in my ears. From a tall dead beach tree long ago struck by lightning an owl screeched in the night and is immediately answered by an owl over in the mass of shadows towards which I am heading. At this point I started to get a grip and realise that it was all just my mind playing tricks on me, but still the first thing I did when I got back was to light a fire, I used petrol just to be quick about. Sitting there protected by the fire from the creatures of the Id I eventually drifted off to sleep. I had intended to get my water bottles and fill take them down to the river to be filled, I changed my mind, far too many imaginary monsters out and about for that nonsense.


A dreamer like Tom Thumb, I scattered rhymes along
the way; lodging beneath the Great Bear.
My lucky stars would whisper softly at my ear...

Arthur Rimbaud

On Friday I ended up staying in the office for a while sending emails and generally sorting my life out so it was quite late when I left, the building was empty save for security guards. On the one had it was a bit annoying to be leaving so late but it did mean that I would not have to see a computer again until Monday morning. I was supposed to be going to a pub with some friends but was feeling tired and lacking in energy so decided to grab something to eat first. I went to an Italian place on High St Kensington called Il Portico; it was amazing, perfect service fantastic food and a homely atmosphere, highly recommended. I left feeling human once more and ready to face the weekend.

I ended up just heading home after eating as I was very tired, there is something about spending night after night shivering in the woods that really takes it out of you. There was a light drizzle in the air as I got off the bus and started to walk, save for the occasional lights of a car pooling past I was alone and once I had walked for ten minutes I was sufficiently far from the road to forget all about the world. It is quite a contrast to central London, the only signs of life being a Muntjack deer taking fright and crashing off through the undergrowth and the occasional call of an owl. It being the weekend there is no particular rush to get home so I take the scenic route home; this way leads me the way I used to travel before the bad weather forced me to take shelter behind the hill and under the yew tree. My feet are well accustomed to the track and the old familiarity of the trees to my left, the bush to my right and the very path that winds along the side of the hill wrapped around me like a duvet. The walk becomes almost dream like, I’m grinning to myself, I like it here it feels right. Maybe all this solitude has driven me crazy but I don’t think I have ever felt so at ease.

Things get better when I get back to the pile of branches that was until a few days ago my shelter from the weather, these branches of all different size are perfect for use as fire wood so there is no need to go searching. Sitting next to the fire, pot dangling in the heat I recover from the exertion of lugging all my possessions back and realise that it is not cold. This is a new development; it has been cold for about as long as I can remember and I find myself comfortably sitting wearing just a t shirt and a thin sweatshirt. I make the most of this by lying back on my bed roll and hands behind my head and with my feet up on a handily close pile of branches, “this is very much the life” I think to myself. Once the tea is made and the radio is turned on it goes from being “the life” to just about as perfect as it can be.

It turns out to be so warm that for the first time in a very long time I don’t need to go to bed fully dressed , going to bed not fully clothed was luxuriant in the extreme and my mood got even better. Every other night I have gone to bed wearing a balaclava, this acts not just as another layer against the cold but also means the air that I breathe is filtered through the balaclava. On the occasional cold night when I have forgotten to wear the balaclava I have woken with at least a sore throat and on one occasion a full on cold. Friday night was warm enough to get away with just wearing the balaclava as a hat.

Saturday morning was better still, I awoke not from being cold and shivering but because it was time to be awake, I was rested; in fact I ended up happily sleeping until about 11am. The sun was shining, when I awoke my feet wear lying in a pond of light that was taking them in the direction of hot. For once getting up didn’t involve a massive battle of the wills between the part of me that wanted to maintain what heat I had in the sleeping bag and the part that knew it was time to get up. I just got up, quickly got dressed for fear of passing ramblers and went for a little stroll around the grounds. It was in fact so mild and I was so keen to enjoy it that I didn’t even bother to put my boots on, preferring instead to feel the earth beneath my feet, the sun on my face and the wind in my hair. Standing on a low bank looking out across a valley to a distant wooded slope it struck me, this was it, I had done it, spring was here, winter was over. I had done it. I had survived the winter. Suddenly I felt elated and had I not had unshod feet I might well have danced a little dance. I went and put some boots on and then paced up and down feeling about as happy as it is possible to do. I couldn’t help but pace, I was excited, I had just survived a very long cold winter now that spring was very much in the air I began to realise just how nasty the winter had been. Being in the woods when it is not bitterly cold is really rather nice, there might be the odd rain shower but it’s a completely different ball game. I walked about here and there grinning to myself like a Cheshire cat that just got the cream stopping occasionally to examine those green frondy things that cover the ground where I live. I still have no idea what they are, they are a bit bigger than they were a week ago but other than that I’m none the wiser as to their identity.

The curious thing was that it took ages to light a fire, I’m not sure if I was too distracted by being excited at having made it through the big hurdle that is winter but it took me about four attempts. When I did have the fire going I was further excited by the fact that it was only necessary for the heating of food and not me. Liberated, that’s how I felt. I’m no longer tied to hiding under the tree for shelter, I don’t need to huddle away from the wind and depend on a fire for warmth, once again I can sleep out wherever. It might be a little too wet and cold to sleep out without the bivi bag and just the stars for a roof but those days will be here again soon.

and giggles


I used to share a house with a chap called Neph, I wrote a little bit about him at Christmas, he eats funny things. No not clowns, ants, Chinese eating ants to be exact, he got them sent from China in a jar and we had them for Christmas dinner. I’m not sure why I am telling you this when I should be telling you about his music taste, it’s the most furthest of far out since Apollo 13 went to the dark side of the moon to look for Mr Floyd. Anyway he is having a party in Oxford this weekend and although I have no idea what the music will be like I do know that it will be good. Check it out.

werkdiscs and vacuous pop present:


plus special guests: DJ NARRATION, EVEL and TROL23

"We'll play the mashed-up genre-defying tunes. You'll dance like a smack of junkie jellyfish. Deal?"

>> Friday 31st March, 9pm > 3am
>> CELLAR BAR (Frewin Court, off Cornmarket Street), OXFORD
>> £5 advance (, £6 on the door
>> 07976 575948 / for more info ...

If nothing else you have just learnt what the collective noun of jellyfish is.

Friday, 24 March 2006


Capital One

Capital One sent a credit card bill to the wrong address thus meaning I got charged for not making the payment because I didn't get the bill. When I phoned to tell them to take off the charges that resulted from their error they offered to take off some of the charges, not all, as a "goodwill gesture". I'm going to write to Richard D Fairbanks, the CEO of Capital One telling him exactly what I think of his "goodwill gesture", I'm thinking of charging him £20 to write the letter.

Moving swiftly on

A wise man once said "it's grim up north" and so, with a little trepidation and a lot of the symptoms of a rather bad cold I shuffled onto the train to Birmingham on Saturday morning. There is a school of thought that says Birmingham is in the Midlands, the argument they forward is based on the quack science of Geography and thus is not worth listening to. I was brought up in Somerset and I can tell you that the civilised world ends at Bristol, well quiet a bit south of Bristol if you must know but anywhere past Bristol needs to be treated with suspicion. Birmingham is way past Bristol and whilst I was looking forward to seeing all the whippets and Eskimos I was more than a little concerned, I took sandwiches.

My first impression of Birmingham, other than the funny accent, was good, the beer at the bar at the train station at the NEC was £1.49 a go, not that I had any but it was good to see anyway. You are lucky to find beer for less than £3 in London so instantly I was twice as rich, well half as skint really but I'm a bit of an optimist. The reason for my venturing off into the Northern Tundra was to pay a visit to the Outdoors Show at which I was giving a talk on Sunday afternoon. I was very nervous about this and had decided that the best way to avoid the worry was to pretend that it wasn't happening. One of the main reasons for being nervous was all the other people that were speaking; they were all like proper real grown up people who have actually done stuff. It was Rob who pointed this out to me, Rob is good like that, he said "those people have all done stuff, what have you done other than camp out in the garden for a bit?"

The outdoors show was great, I spent my time visiting the suppliers of all the bits of kit that I carry about with me and doing a bit of networking, a well worth while place to go. Then it shut for the night and there I was in the middle of Birmingham, an area not that well known for its high forest density but there was some suitable looking scrub land in which a ditch monkey could stay. After a couple of hours in a hotel bar having some food, writing my talk and discovering the beer cost at least as much as it does in London (back to being just as skint) I went to crash out. It was noticeably warmer than it had been for a very long time and I was soon comfortably lying down ready for sleep. You can imagine my delight when about an hour later I discovered that there were some warehouses about 100 meters from me when they started loading and unloading Lorries. After two hours of listening to boxes being dropped, glass smashed, metal poles thrown, and all manner of other bangs and crashes I'd actually had enough! So I went to get a room at the Hilton. No this isn't cheating, as regular readers (may they recover soon) will know I treat the woods simply as my home, I don't live in the woods 365. I act as I normally would but just happen to live in the woods. So if I stay out in London until 4am I'm likely to crash on a sofa rather than head all the way back to Oxford, that's what I would do if I lived in a house out where I live. Realistically then if I and stayed in Birmingham for a night I would have stayed in a hotel. I would have thought staying in a hotel would have been easy, it took about 20 minutes to get a room and when I got there it was so hot I had to turn the radiator off and open the window. There it was though, a bed, the first bed I've had to sleep on since I had bronchitis and I was looking forward to it. I had been looking forward to sleeping in a bed for a very long time so it was quiet a disappointment to discover that it was too soft and I couldn't sleep on it. I ended up sleeping on the floor.

A bit of luck

I got back to Lewknor at about 11 last night feeling rather tired and keen to get to bed. It was raining, not a lot but there was certainly water falling from the sky. It smelt dusty which was probably the action of the rain kicking up the dust, it’s very worrying all this being dusty in the march in the UK. It is supposed to be wet, very wet, everyone knows this. The rain was a welcome site and walking back through the woods it was good to see a bit of mist in the air, this is how it is supposed to be not dry. I got home, I’m fairly confident that I am in a minority here as I doubt many other people returned home last night to discover it had fallen down. It wasn’t much of a surprise to find it on the floor rather that up in the air, many has been the morning when I have lain in bed looking up at the lean-to and thought to myself “there is a bit more lean to this lean-to than there was yesterday”. By the time I got back last night it was all lean and no to. Not the best thing to find when its raining but curiously it really didn’t matter that much. It was warm and I felt that sleeping out in the rain might be fun. I’m trying to really experience this outdoors life and recently this has consisted of being cold. Spring is here, I said so yesterday remember, and so the best way of experiencing this is by being wet. Besides I was beginning to have a few feelings of disquiet about the lean-to, it was beginning to feel like a step in the direction of domestication and that just won’t do. It was the begining of a slippery slope, the next step being a mortgage then washing the car on a Sunday, marriage, kids and who knows what other terrors. I think I’ve just had a narrow escape.

Thursday, 23 March 2006


Spring is here its official, I say so.

Yesterday I heard the first wood pigeon, and if that’s not a sound that evokes images of sunny days in the woods I don’t know what is. This morning I woke up and it wasn’t just light there was a patch of orange sunlight dappling the ground next to me, orange light! The green frondy things are all looking a bit bigger now and down at the bottom of the hill I even found a clump of daffodils, far from flouring but there they were nevertheless. There were also a few more birds singing this morning I’m sure. Now it might have been minus quite a lot of degrees last night, my toothpaste could well have been a bit solid with the cold and the ground was frozen and frosty this morning and so one could well be forgiven for thinking its winter still but it wasn’t. It just felt different, the atmosphere in the woods had changed it felt, well, kind of springy. Boing. Now I admit that this could be a subjective opinion as I went to the gym last night and had a sauna and a swim and another sauna and a cold shower and a sauna and a go in the steam room and a shower and so left feeling really good about myself and then I had a good nights sleep; it could be because of this that everything felt spring like this morning but because I’m feeling so positive I’m going to ascribe the feeling to it being spring now.

So there.

Wednesday, 22 March 2006


Cooking a tomato sauce to go with some pasta, the green stuff is pesto.


Bedroom ceiling later in the Autumn


Sloes on the branch just waiting for the first frost so that I can pick em and make em into Gin.


Autumn afternoon, boiling water for tea.

Another shot of my ceiling

Another Autumn day and another shot of my bedroom ceiling.

Bedroom ceiling, early autumn

Lying back on my bed one sunny autumn sunday this is what I saw, there are worse things to wake up to.


This one being of Bruce, taken back in the summer when he had lots of leaves, bless.

Sleeping bag hanging up to dry

This one was also taken back in the autumn and is of the sleeping bag I was using back then hanging up to dry inbetween rain showers.

A picture from the autumn

This picture, if it comes out, is the view of my fire complete with cooking pot taken back in the autumn.

Tuesday, 21 March 2006


I’m feeling much better now, I realised when I woke up at 5am this morning with cracked lips and a pounding headache that one of the things wrong was a touch of dehydration. This presented me with a problem, I did have a litre of water next to me but it had been out in the cold all night and was thus going to be very cold. I was not exactly warm and the idea of drinking cold water wasn’t appealing as it would lower my temperature further, I realised at that point that I’m not a big fan of cold weather. I made a very interesting discovery when I tried the water and that is that pounding headache + ice cream headache = not very nice. Who would have thought it?

I think if I ever decide to live in the woods during the winter again I will take a winter coat with me, think that would make life a bit easier. It is supposed to get a bit warmer tomorrow so it may be a bit late to buy one for this year. Warm would be good, I like warm. It was warm in the shower this morning, I had to use all my determination to get out of the shower and go and do some work. It’s not exactly appealing, leave warm place and go to work place.

Just realised, I have three months to go! Technically this year finishes on the 1st of June but I have decided to keep going until the 21st of June, i thought what with it being the summer solstice that would be a good time to finish. I thought it would be nice to invite you all to join me for on big camp out on that last night, not at mine though. For all I know you could all be weird and smell funny and stuff. Why not, if you so feel like it, spend a night sleeping out on the last night somewhere near you, get back to nature for a bit - no tents please - and raise some money for the Woodland Trust in the process? You know you want to.

Monday, 20 March 2006


just had a shower and started to think positively and now back on track. Its all in the mind. Another cup of tea it is then.

I'm little bit tired actually

I spent the weekend up at the Outdoors Show in Birmingham, more on this at a later date, and there were no end of explorers, mountaineers and what not who push themselves to the very limits of endurance to achieve their goals. Whilst I might spend a lot of my time, seems like all of it, carrying about a massive rucksack I tend to do it in slightly less dangers situations than, for instance, someone attempting an ascent of the North Face of a Tiger, the most dangerous place I go is Waitrose. Not that this is not without danger, oh no no, I learnt some time ago to judge how much wider than I my rucksack is, I no longer come to an abrupt halt when walking through doors of a certain width. Some people must be really stupid as it is not uncommon for someone to walk straight past me into my rucksack and then tut at me. They tut, at me, in Waitrose! Now I know this isn't quiet falling into a crevasse, going snow blind, loosing your head to frostbite or whatever but it is pretty full on stuff I can tell you. The thing to do if you get tutted at by someone is not to laugh, far from defusing the situation it can lead to dirty looks no less. I’d rather wrestle a Polar Bear for my breakfast Penguin than get tutted at whilst choosing which brand of cornflakes to buy.

The thing that I have recently noticed is that I am really very tired, this woods living thing is a lot more physically demanding than I had anticipated. I don't think being daft enough to get out of my sleeping bag and sleep in the hail the other night helped much. Just now I had to spend about five minutes figuring out if the clocks were going forward or back next week and if that meant I would get to stay in bed longer, my brain aint working today. The bag feels heavier than ever and I am very weary. My head aches, everything aches, I have very little energy and er, it seems like I occasionally loose my chain of thought. Hmmm. Generally, for the first time since I started out I started to think it would be nice to go and live in a house or something for a few days. Not that I'm going to, I'm just being weak and it will pass. I think a cup of tea should do the trick.

A cup of tea did help as did some tomato soup and a little time has gone past and now it’s time to go home and it seems like a huge effort, nothing that I do is really that much effort, carrying a bag about, sleeping outside there is nothing too taxing there but it’s the cumulative effect that is hitting me now. The best way of describing it is by comparison with some form of endurance sport when you get to the point where you just want to stop, curl up and pretend you never wanted to do it anyway. This though is a bit slower paced than any sport I know of, it has taken 9 months to hit the pain barrier.

Note to self, start eating healthily again.

I'll write more tomorrow when I will have stopped being wet in the mean time here is a joke I found on the internet.

Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson go on a camping trip. After a good dinner and a bottle of wine, they retire for the night, and go to sleep.Some hours later, Holmes wakes up and nudges his faithful friend. "Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see." "I see millions and millions of stars, Holmes" replies Watson."And what do you deduce from that?" Watson ponders for a minute."Well, astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful, and that we are a small and insignificant part of the universe. What does it tell you, Holmes?" Holmes is silent for a moment. "Watson, you idiot!" he says. "Someone has stolen our tent!"

Saturday, 18 March 2006

Massive cold,


Friday, 17 March 2006


I must say that I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a book

Groucho Marx

I have been playing fantasy possessions for the last few days, I imagine I have something, say a 30 inch plasma screen TV and imagine if it would improve my life. A plasma screen TV would be all very well, I was watching one for a bit in Dixons the other day and it was showing some amazing shots of penguins. Ultimately I decided that if I had enough money to buy a plasma screen TV I would rather spend the money on going to look at penguins in the wild. According to the internet penguins are not found in Brazil so I doubt if I will be seeing them in the near future. Off all the things I have imagined having thus far; sandwich maker, toaster, running water, bookcase; it is only running water that I would really like to have. I did thik about imagining a big comfortable bed but decided it was probably best not to go there.

Last night was freezing, very windy and not that nice. Tea and crumpets soaked in butter and Stoke Talmage Jamage made up for the grim weather but not even the fire was keeping me warm so I went to bed wearing every item of clothing I could find to try and get warm. It worked and I was nice and comfortable. For reasons not even known to myself the lean to shelter that I made is not as wide as I am tall, when I sleep my head sticks out one end and my feet the other normally this isn’t an issue. Last night I had a new experience, being woken by hail hitting me in the face, rolling over onto my side solved that one but every time I rolled back onto my back I got woken up by the hail again. Eventually it stopped hailing and the temperature rose, I would have thought that it being warmer would have been a good thing, it wasn’t. I was wearing far too many clothes and once it warmed up I woke up sweating, gasping for some water and feeling very uncomfortable indeed. To cool down I crawled out of my sleeping bag and fell asleep on the ground next to my roll mat (I did away with the bed I made a few days ago). It was cooler like that, amusingly though it then went and got cold and started hailing again and so when I woke shivering at around 5am covered in a light layer of hail I wasn’t feeling so good, a bit of a headache, no energy, drained and uncomfortable, I felt rather like I had just been beaten up. That’s a good way to start the day, why I’m full of the joys of spring today.

Talking of spring there are all kinds of little green frondy things sticking out of the ground now, I have no idea what they are. I will keep an eye on them and see what they turn into, my guess is big green frondy things but we shall see. There are a few nettles popping up as well, nettle soup sometime soon then. One of the things I hear every morning now is Woodpeckers marking out their territory by hammering on dead trees.

Thursday, 16 March 2006


"But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing. Only a person who risks is free. - "
William Arthur Ward

Scottish Mike, a legend in his own tea time, has of late been living in Scotland, this is his way. For a very long time he lived in Oxford and for a while we shared an apartment in Greece in the middle of a madcap unplanned attempt to cycle around the world; it wasn’t the most successful expedition in the history of expeditions, we both flew to Greece and only Mike brought a bike with him. Mike later left the bike in Italy and I somehow ended up somewhere in England, I know not where, with no money and no sustenance save for 6 olives that had been picked by a Spanish stripper who had lived in the apartment next door. I walked around the strange cold town feeling rather dejected and not having much of a clue what to do, it was most pleasing to find a national express bus stop complete with national express bus with Oxford written on the front. A quick chat to the driver later and I was sat comfortably on the bus and he was six olives “hand picked by a Spanish stripper mate” the richer.

I then lived in Oxford for a while. Mike and I had our plans for a completely environmentally friendly take away with home delivery service scuppered by a lack of money and a complete disinclination to put in the required amount of work. Mike ended up going to Scotland to work and I found myself in London. This was a good thing, Mike is a bad influence. He is the kind of person who can persuade you over a cappuccino to try and travel around the world by bike when you don’t own a bike. Mike didn’t even own a bike at that point; we had been walking around Angel persuading cafes to give us free drinks as part of some research we were doing. Sitting at a pavement table in the early spring sun enjoying the fruits of our lack of labour and chatting I had no idea that this was a morning that would so affect my life. Then it happened, the noise, it grabbed both our attentions immediately, investigation revealed that it came from a bicycle bell / horn contraption attached to a bike that was being pushed towards us. Normally someone ringing a bicycle bell expects no more than for people to get out of the way; I doubt very much that when Bruno, that was the guy with the bike’s name I soon discovered, expected to sell the bike to some tall Scottish guy called Mike. I doubt still more that he expected to receive a postcard from Mike, and bike, from Greece. I am fairly confident that Bruno was even more surprised when he received a postcard from Mike, and bike, from his home town in Italy giving instructions on where he could find the bike and the combination for the lock. I rather suspect that the bike is now being ridden around by an Italian postman. Not only did Mike buy the bike during the coffee but he also persuaded me to come along on a trip around the world, money was no object he claimed; “look we got these drinks for free”. That’s the kind of logic you can’t argue with, I was in.

As I mentioned just now we didn’t quite make it around the world but over the course of our adventures we came up with a plan, a plan that was so mind bogglingly simple and unlikely to work that it just might work. However, the realities of life dictated that jobs had to be got and money earned. I hadn’t seen Mike for ages and then he suddenly appeared at the party in the AKA bar on March the 3rd, he ran around for a bit buying everyone drinks and himself a hammock before disappearing with two very beautiful Russian girls. The next day he called me from the comfort of Dan’s floor and we met for lunch. Mike now had a hammock it only made sense for him to come and stay at mine for a while. It became apparent over the course of our conversation that the plan we had developed on our mission to cycle around the world could work, first things first though. Mike has now quit his job and is coming to learn the way of the monkey, he will have to learn to hold down a job and live in the woods at the same time, he is due to arrive over Easter. In return Mike is going to teach me how computers work, soon there will be photographs.

Ladies and Gentlemen it gives my great pleasure to introduce to you UDM; Unoriginal Ditch Monkey.

Wednesday, 15 March 2006

Wherever I lay my hat is my home, or it would be if I hadn't lost my hat.

Tuesday, 14 March 2006


The Turf Tavern in Oxford is one of my favourite places; I have the coordinates plugged into my GPS so wherever I am in the world I know how far in what direction it is to the Turf. The GPS is a clever device and also lets me know how long it will take to get there at the speed I am travelling at the time; this function can be a bit depressing if you are struggling up a mountain at 0mph and it accordingly will take an eternity to get to the pub. On Saturday I got there via the magic of the Oxford Tube and it didn't take long at all, I had some beer and some quality burgers from their barbeque out the back and then at about 10pm I suddenly started flagging. This was, I said at the time and maintain now, not due to the Guiness or the vodka but was entirely down to the fact that in order to get up in time to go to work I go to bed at 10 every night, I was I'm saddened to say ready to call it a night.

On getting back to Lewknor and waving goodbye to the nice girl I had been pestering I discovered two things, it was very cold and it was further to get home than I wanted to walk. As tempted as I was to sleep where I was it was far to cold for this to be a viable option so I donned my coat and balaclava and started to walk. After about five minutes I woke up and realised that it was a really nice night and I might as well take advantage of it by going for a walk before bed. It's amazing how quickly a walk in the fresh air can wake you up. On my way I found a swath of land beside the path covered in long dead grass from last summer, just the stuff to light a fire with, normally I collect a couple of pockets full of the stuff but on Saturday night I was a little more enthusiastic. By the time I continued on my walk I had my arms full of dead grass, and I sang a little song to myself about being a scarecrow. I don't remember the words but I'm sure it would have been a chart success had it been caught "on wax". Not much later as I walked along by the light of the moon I spotted four torches coming my way and before I knew it I had been blinded by them tripped over a branch and stumbled into a puddle, shielding my eyes behind a hand I got passed the torches to discover four people in yellow high visibility vests attached to them. How very odd. Not much later I was again blinded by another 4 torches borne by 4 people in high visibility vests and then again almost immediately after. This was getting a little tiresome and not a little worrying, what kind of people walk around the woods by night dressed in high visibility vests? In the distance I saw yet more torches and decided to take action, I left the path and went and hid behind a tree and waited for the people to be close. Once they were within earshot I let out the most blood curdling wolf impression that you ever did hear, apparently this wasn't the most blood curdling a howl they had ever heard as one of them asked if they were supposed to be scared. Feeling rather sheepish I gave up on the night and went home.

When I got back I discovered that I had had a visitor, the tin that I keep under the bed and use to store butter and cheese in was lying out on the ground catching the moonlight. I got down on my haunches and stayed dead still for a minute or two in case whoever had moved it was still there. Hearing nothing but my own breathing I investigated the tin, it had been pulled out by some animal which had bitten it so hard the lid had popped open, the cheese and butter had gone. Blimey, must have been a Badger, or a fox or maybe a runaway dog. It reminded me of the story I heard of Bears in California that have learnt to recognise coolers as a source of food, they used to break into SUVs by smashing the windows but now they clime trees and jump down on to the roof, this pops the doors open and gives them access to the picnic.

In the morning I had a bit of a realisation, the coat I was wearing had been bought in an army surplus store; I figured that if I wanted to stay dry I should really get military kit as it is going to be good. It\'s also a lot cheaper. So when these people with their torches and high visibility vests bumped into me coming the other way without any torch at all, I was wearing a camouflage coat, balaclava, shielding my eyes and carrying a massive bundle of dry grass, think that must have been a lot more disturbing than the wolf impression.

Friday, 10 March 2006

Competition Time

A quick heads up.

Back by popular demand, having had literally one request I have decided to have another competition. Hopefully this time there will be some proper prizes and also, just in case you are upset at having not won a lovely hand carved ‘spoon’, there will be the opportunity to win your very own fork as made by me! You won’t win one of them on the Euro Lottery.

It’s a travel writing competition so get your thinking hats on all you budding writers. You can define travel as widely or as narrowly as you like, it could be about a trip across the Sahara by bike or an expedition down to the shops on a number 38 bus. The choice is yours, it could even be a story about a night in your local it might not be travel for you but for someone on the other side of the world it could be invaluable information. As well as the possibility of winning a prize there will also be the possibility of your entry going into an online travel guide. More details and information to follow, entry into the competition will also require a small donation to the Woodland Trust.

Good luck and remember - you could be the proud owner of a two prong fork, why with only a little practice you could even eat with it!

Wednesday, 8 March 2006

Discoveries various

“It would be well perhaps if we were to spend more of our days and nights without any obstruction between us and the celestial bodies……..Birds do not sing in caves…..”


All winter there has been a pattern of weather that has been hugely annoying; there has been a cold spell during which it has snowed to alternatively the west, north and east of Oxford. Oxford itself has only been privileged with the odd sprinkling of snow and none of the bucket loads that have so graced the rest of the country. Now it might surprise you to learn that I am actually rather childish, no no really it’s true, and accordingly I’m rather keen on snow and had been looking forward to thick coverings of the stuff. Igloos could be made, snow ball fights had and busses sledged to in the mornings, all these things I was looking forward too with eager anticipation. Did I get any decent snow? No. It would be very cold for a few days and dumping snow everywhere else in the entire world and then it would warm a few degrees and pour down with rain. This happened over and over again. It was little surprise then that after a few days of sleeping in sub zero temperatures and waking covered in only the lightest dusting of snow that yesterday the temperature raised a few degrees and it has not stopped raining since. I know it’s a good thing, we are desperately short of rain and so we need loads of the stuff but it is a shame that it can’t be delivered frozen.

Walking back home in the rain is not as nice as walking back home not in the rain, I’m sure you must have noticed this yourself. As the saying goes

Some people walk in the rain, some people get wet.

Anyway I was walking home last night, getting wet, feet slipping and sliding in the ooze and even though it was not necessarily what one might call nice it was good to see such weather. It is after all supposed to be damp and rainy in our woodlands and so, it being the right weather for the place an season, it was a welcome environment to be in. Nevertheless, I was glad to have my lean-to shelter to head home to. I have had my fill of sleeping on muddy ground, waking up wet and cold with all myself and my possessions floating in a quagmire of misery (not that I’m being overdramatic of anything). How welcome it was to know I had a little patch of dry to call my own and it was with positively high spirits that I ducked under the branches of the Yew tree stood up inside the inner dome the branches make and was home. Tucked away behind the trunk was a pile of sticks that look to all the world like a pile of sticks, it is not it’s my home, my retreat from the world. Here I am king of the castle, no rent, no mortgage, no bills just somewhere nice and dry to sleep. What more do I need? I flung my rucksack into the space between my bed and the back of the lean-to, its even a luxury to have somewhere not muddy to put my rucksack, having an area of dryness makes a huge difference. It even allows me to be a little lazy; I had left my thermarest mattress out on the bed and so all I had to do was sit down and get organised rather than crouch in the damp trying to keep clean. Shelter, at least to my mind, is a good thing to have.

I sat down and made a discovery, or rather I made two discoveries simultaneously but it was only the first one that was really important. The first discovery was that my shelter is not waterproof; the second discovery was that the thermarest is. I was sat in a puddle, quite a deep one. Being of a practical nature I turned the mattress over splooshing the water away fully expecting to find it dry on the other side, it wasn’t. At the time I accepted this as just another minor annoyance but now I think about it I am rather perplexed as to how the underside of the mattress was wet. Perhaps Gerald (the mouse who lives under my bed) had something to do with it. The only answer then was to lay out my sleeping bag in it’s vaguely waterproof bivi bag and use that as a seat, this is perfectly comfortable and makes for a rather nice seating arrangement. It was at this point that I made my third discovery, I had left my fleece in the office but fortunately it was not that cold.

It seemed then, in the circumstances, that a fire was in order. It was wet, I was sneezing, it wasn’t the warmest place in the world and it would be rather good to have a cup of tea and something to eat. I was rather pleased that I had had the foresight to gather up some dry grass and twigs and store them at the back of the lean-to and hugely glad that the rain seemed not to have got in that far. Discovery number four was that I had tipped all the water that had gathered in the thermarest all over them. “Oh dear” I said and went off to gather some dry twigs. Dry twigs are a valuable commodity to someone trying to light a fire in a dark wet wood, but if you know where to look they can be found. The trick is to find dead branches that have not fallen completely to the floor, being off the ground they will not soak up so much water and so should just have a surface wetness to them which can be dried off on a handily worn rugby top. Another trick is to cut a series of small cuts into the wood and this gives the fire access to dry wood and is a good way of getting thicker wood started. Dead grass, necessary to get the twigs going, can be dried to a certain extent by being placed in a carrier bag with small holes init and twirling around your head (this is a good way of drying salad leaves) and then drying them off on the inside of a handy rugby top, the outside being thoroughly wet by now.

I’m lazy, I’m the first person to admit this and as a result of this affliction of mine I have lately got out of the practice of lighting a fire with the fire steel. I have had a box of matches you see and, well, it is so easy to light a match. Looking in my pocket I found only five matches, in theory this should have been more than enough as on every other night I have lit a fire using just one. The problem was that whilst I had tried every effort to dry the materials all my tinder and kindling was a little wet still. Five matches has to be enough I thought to myself before witness them all one after the other flare up briefly and go out. Oh dear. Fire steel it is then, only I have not used it for a couple of weeks, maybe I have forgotten how? Seeing as no one was looking I decided to cheat and use a piece of tissue paper for tinder and it lights first time and soon there are flames and smoke and hope then less flames and more smoke and blowing and then nothing. Drat! More grass is gathered and I restructure the fire taking a little more care and attention this time, lighting fires in the rain is a different ball game to doing so in the dry. It takes patience and focus and I had forgotten this. The second time the fire lights and soon enough I’m drinking tea as a simple vegetable stew prepares, all the peelings of the vegetables have been scattered around my camp and as I fall asleep later in the night I hear the various animals attracted to these offerings eating and scampering about.

Tuesday, 7 March 2006


Last night was distinctly warmer than any since the autumn and I was reasonably happy just sitting around in a rugby shirt rather than the usual 6 layers. It was so warm in fact that I saw the first moth of the year, it became attracted to my head torch and buzzed my head twice before becoming fatally attracted to the fire. So much for being an environmentalist.

back on track

‘The true founder of civil society was the first man who fenced in a piece of land, thought of saying “This is mine”, and came across people simple enough to believe him.”


I managed to leave work in reasonable time last night and was back home by about 8.15, had I not bimbled about writing emails I would have been back about an hour earlier. The first thing I noticed after getting off the bus was that is had rained, not much but some at least and it had stirred up a smell of dust in the air, that same smell you get after summer thunder storms. I have been told that the smell is dust that has been picked up on the wind across the Sahara and then dropped with the rain on us. That would make sense as what wind there has been lately has been from the south. This has caused a few problems, I built the lean-to to protect me from the weather that blows in from the north and cunningly placed the fire in front of it. Whilst I am reasonably naturally protected by a hill from the weather that blows in from the south there is still enough of a breeze to blow smoke into the shelter. I sat in smoke all weekend. By the time Monday morning came around I was fed up with the smell of smoke, I got the feeling that the lady sat across the aisle from me on the bus was none too keen on the smell either. It was great to get into work, get a shower and put fresh clothes on.

When I got back to the lean-to I was greeted by the smell of ash and smoke that had somehow managed to linger in the air, this I was not happy with. Some wood smoke smells lovely but this had a distinct smell of the ground about it and had become associated in my mind with being cold, tired, dirty and breathing smoke rather that the nice fresh air that the woods has such a bounty of. The first task in hand was to light a fire and make tea, tea after all is the answer to everything.

Last night I had buried the fire in ash and earth party to extinguish the flames and prevent any more smoke blowing into the lean to as I slept (two nights of breathing smoke as I tried to sleep were quite enough thank you) and partly to make some charcoal. The best thing is that it actually does make charcoal! I remember reading about this being possible in Swallows and Amazons when I was a kid and I was hugely impressed when I discovered it did actually work. Raking through the mound of ash with my folding shovel I was amazed to discover a piece of charcoal as thick as my thumb and as long as my hand that was still glowing on one side. That was why it smelt of smoke, some oxygen was getting in to the embers of last night’s fire and some smoke was getting out. 22 hours after I had buried the fire it was still going. Probably best not to be burying fires in the summer then. Diggings deeper I found another two pieces of reasonably sized charcoal that were still glowing and a number that were still hot. In theory all I would have to do to relight the fire would be to place the three glowing pieces of charcoal together and they would erupt into flames of their own accord. I decided to test this theory and placed the glowing pieces together and then gathered the hot bits together to place on top of them. Then I put the hot bits down again so I had a free hand to replace one of the glowing bits that had fallen in the hole I had dug looking for more charcoal, this process I repeated about three times before solving the problem by filling the hole back in.

So there I was, knelt in the ashes in front of a small pyramid of slightly smoking ever so slightly glowing charcoal no doubt grinning maniacally to myself as I waited for the spontaneous eruption of flame. The grim fades, I shift my weight to a more comfortable position impatience takes over and I lightly blow onto the coals and a small flame briefly appears only to disappear as quickly as it appeared. Encouraged I blow on the coals again, this time with no little enthusiasm and, in between spiting out ash and rubbing clear my eyes, I see a flame a little bigger than the last that burns a little longer before guttering out. A big long slow controlled breath resulted in the three coals erupting into flames as per expectations and licking healthily around the hot charcoal atop them. Raking through the ashes with my fingers I discovered a deep vein of charcoal yielding some lumps the size of my fist, some tiny and some that burnt my fingers. Piling these as best as, and sometimes as quickly as, I could a respectable blaze was soon going and to this a couple of small logs were added to give the thing some longevity. I sat back to admire my handy work well pleased with my self, there is something very nice about a cool winter night, a small fire flickering away and the occasional hoot of an owl. I coughed, stupid smoke.

A Y shaped stick stuck in the ground acts as a support for a longer stick stuck into the ground at 45 degrees with a blackened billy can dangling from it into the flames heating water for tea really enhanced the aesthetic beauty of the scene. Smoke in the eyes from the southerly breeze distracts from the idyll I reasoned and so I quickly put up a temporary wind break so that the smoke would rise about the top of the shelter before getting caught by the wind, it worked! There is a lot to be said for walls, I’m surprised more people don’t have them. Drinking my tea as the remains of the hot water was useded to boil a potato and a parsnip (conservation of effort and energy) it struck me how simplified my life has become and how pleasing this sometimes is.

Boil potato and parsnip until nearly cooked
Bung in a load of shredded Savoy cabbage on top to steam.
Once cooked, drain the water.
Add butter and pepper and stir through.
Heat chilli oil in lid of billy can.
Shape vegetable mix as a kind of potato cake and fry until crispy on the outside.
Serve with tasty cheese and maybe a bit of cold chicken

I got enough sleep last night and it wasn’t bitterly cold so I could concentrate more on being comfortable rather than warm and so I woke as it started to get light at about 5 – 5.30 and happily lay in bed listening to the radio until it was time to run to the bus whilst wishing I hadn’t lain in bed for so long.

Monday, 6 March 2006

Syd Barrett

Slowly the signs of spring are showing; the sun, when it shines, has some heat too it and quickly melts away the night’s snow. It’s noticeably lighter longer and yet I still find that when it gets dark I want to sleep even if it is by 7pm. I wake up at the very beginning of first light but somehow always manage to get back to sleep again; it is as though I am hibernating sometimes. The shoots on the Hazel and the elder are a little bigger than last weekend; those green shoots that were popping out last week are also a little bigger. I’m not sure but it seems that the Owls are getting frisky; they are certainly making a lot more noise now.

I forgot I seem to have a pet mouse; he lives under my bed and eats bits of carrot and bread crumbs. I use the space between the branches I use as a bed as a fridge and keep milk there and have a tin in which to store butter and cheese – no mouse is getting in there. I got home on Friday evening and looked into the fridge to pull out some milk for tea and there frozen in the light was a tiny mouse, I don’t know why I call him Gerald. One thing I have noticed about using the gaps between the branches I use for a bed as a fridge is that its not necessarily the best place to store eggs, on the bright side though one survived. On Sunday morning then I had a boiled egg for breakfast and then roasted a chicken in the earth oven. Though I say so myself it was cooked to perfection. About mid-day on Sunday I went for a walk, really apreciating the weather, it was one of those clear winter days with a bright blue sky and little fluffy clouds. Everything was good.

Having learnt the lesson last weekend that not buying enough food is a bad thing this Friday on my way home I bought loads. Far too much as it turns out, I was expecting visitors though so I thought I would be able to palm some of it off on them. Far from it, two of them brought food with them. The third declared that he could not possibly eat my food as he was worried I might run out. I have perfected the art of baked potatoes, they are so much nicer cooked in the fire than any other way – absolutely delicious. Rubbed with olive oil and salt to help the skins crisp and then buried under the fire and served with butter, strong cheddar and freshly cracked black pepper. So good. I think tonight I shall have chicken stew, I’ll make a stock out of the bones left over from Sunday and add bung in loads of vegetables.

Friday, 3 March 2006


It's eight o'clock on Friday evening and I'm just leaving work, hence not being able to write right now. Next week I'm not going to be nearly as busy as I have been for the past few weeks and so I'll get back amongst writing properly.

One little thought though before I forget, there was an article in Metro yesterday proclaiming the wonder of time saving devices, it seems that cooking a microwave lasagne can save you 5.5 hours over cooking one yourself. I would like to point a few things out,

Microwave lasagne, even the 'finest' ones you might find, taste like cak.
Cooking for yourself provides a sense of achievement, you feel good about yourself for having done something.
Whilst things are cooking it is not strictly necessary to stand over them for the entire 5.5 hours, you can do other stuff like sit about and drink beer and watch the rugby and just stir stuff occasionaly.
You don't need lots of plastic packaging for a home made lasagne.
Home made is cheaper and you can make a huge one and heat up the leftovers.
I could go on but I wanna go back home and sit by the fire.

Faster is not neccessarily better

Have a good weekend

Thursday, 2 March 2006


Ditch Monkey is experiencing technical dificulties, normal service will be resumed shortly.

Wednesday, 1 March 2006


Tonight Party

Party tonight

AKA bar

Ladytron DJ set

Beyond the Wizard's Sleeve DJ Set


Free cocktails

Click the link to the right for more details.


Bought six eggs last night, considerably less than that survived the journey home, still picking splinters out of my left hand. Water bottles froze last night, so did my toothpaste.

Come play at the AKA