Monday, 31 August 2009

New Technology,

This is the second night of my writing this blog from the woods via an Ipod. I bought it specifically to use to write the blog as a lap top is too cumbersome and has a short battery life. I found that i jist did not hace time or insperation to write during the day. With this I can write whilst here in the woods and the ipod will automatically email it next time. I have wifi access. It does seem a little incongorous to be sat here typing away on a little hand held touch screen device whilst getting back to nature. Things have come a long way from when I did this Oxford, then I only had a small radio for company, but I did have a job at Sotheby's that required me to sit in front of a computer all day with no work to do. There was plenty of time to write a blog then.
Hopefully this new technology will allow me to write much more regularly, at least until it gets so cold that I have to wear gloves and this can't type any more. Drat, I hadn't thought of that before. Well I'll worry about that when it gets cold.
Things should start to get interesting soon as the night time temperatures are falling, although it is quite mild tonight at 12.2 degrees C so I will not be needing all the extra layers I brought with me.
That's you up to date with the latest technical developments, will write about something interesting tomorrow night. Possibly the ongoing debate about possibly using an old snowboard as part of one of the walls; is this cheating? You never know by tomorrow night i may have thought of something interesting. Fingers crossed.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

First signs of autumn

The summer season here in Verbier is drawing to a close, friends are leavimg, not to return till the snow comes. Bars are shutting. As the resort closes down the first chills of autumn replaces the holiday makers, there is a definate cold snap in the air tonight and as I sit here in the dark I am begining to think that I may not have enough warm layers for tonight.

I have just got my sleeping bag out only to discover that the zip is completely broken, in the open position of course so now the sleeping bag is as much use as a thin blanket.

I'm not sure how cold it got last night, it was 8.2 degrees centigrade when I woke at 8.15 and the sun had been up for some time by then so it was a bit nippy last night. I have been fattening myself up over the summer on the basis that my body is probably going to need all the reserves it can get, last night I felt as though I was taking from those reserves for the first time. It's all good though, I'm going to have to get used to the cold at some point.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Bed Building

Breakfast courtesy of nature

As I may have previously mentioned, the woods are not a hugely comfortable place to sleep. I have been putting up with discomfort on the basis that it was probably a good idea to toughen myself up a little before the onset of winter. A couple of days ago I took an executive decision, decided I was not tough enough and set about making a comfortable bed. To my mind, a bed needs to be flat, soft and warm. I am only aware of these required attributes on account of having been trying to sleep without them. The first challenge that I faced was to build a flat platform for the bed. Flattening the ground with a shovel was out of the question on account of the rock sticking out that, on closer inspection, turned out to be the tip of the iceberg. A wooden frame built around the rock and over the dips in the ground would create a flat surface. So I scouted around looking for some long strong straight bits of wood, only to discover that I had used all the local examples of such in making the roof. It took a lot less time to take the roof down than it had to put it up and soon I had a rough frame for the bed laid out on the ground and propped up at one end with a rock.

Next, I lay lots of sticks on top (see photo below), followed by some spruce bows, of which I forgot to take a photograph. I only took bows from a tree that had already fallen down as I thought chopping trees down wasn’t in keeping with the whole ethos of the venture. So I was left with a bed that was essentially a pile of sticks with some thinner sticks on top. It was not very soft.

I knew that one of the three vital attributes of a fully functioning bed was softness; I was going to have to find some. I figured that spruce bows layed thickly enough would create a reaasonable level of softness. I would need to find another recently fallen tree. As I walked around the forest, I noticed the ground beneath my feet was all springy and soft. It turned out I was standing on a big rock that was covered in a thick layer of moss, and furthermore that that layer of moss peeled away really easily. So, within half an hour I had a thick layer of moss covering the bed. It was time for a test run. I tentatively lay down, half expecting the entire structure to collapse, pitching me down the mountain side. But it held firm and remarkably it turned out to be flat on the first build, though perhaps a little lumpy. This was nothing a little re-organising of moss wouldn’t sort out. Best of all the moss is soft enough to be a pleasure to lie on. The whole structure also acts as fantastic insulation from the ground so that, for the moment at least, I’m nice and warm at night in only my summer sleeping bag.

mmmmm comfort


There was a massive thunder storm last night and you may recall that I took the roof down to make the bed. I discovered that a properly functioning bed has four attributes; the fourth being dryness.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Ninjas and Berries

It has been a while since I wrote so I best give you an update on developments. The mountain is as steep as ever which is resulting in my building up some muscles in unusual places, such as along my shin bone. Fortunately the mountain side is virtually awash with wild strawberries, raspberries and blueberries so the walk to work or home is punctuated with breaks to fill up with fruit. Apparently there are a lot of wild mushrooms, specifically chanterelles and ceps but I have seen neither yet but have eaten lots in a local restaurant but was disapointed to find discover that their mushrooms were brought in from Eastern Europe rather than from the adjacent forest.

Currently the weather is hot, constant blue skies with the day time temperature in the high 20s to low 30s during the day yet it is still cold at night. There is a feeling, at least amongst my friends, that we have had enough of summer now and it ought to start snowing pretty soon so we can go out for a slide on the mountain. However, summer seems fairly relentless and, not having been in the Alps at this time of year before, I do not know what signs would indicate the changing of the season. Certainly 99% of the trees here are coniferous so there is no tell tale leaves turning to brown. Further down the valley there are many more deciduous trees so by looking accross the valley to the side of the mountains opposite which seems to stick up almost vertically it is possible to make out perhaps the first signs of autumn. Looking at the trees there is like looking at the top of a head of broccoli and one can just make out a few dark spots, as though the broccoli was starting to go off, I assume each of these dark spots is a tree whose leaves are starting to go brown. For now though it is still August, it's nice and warm and I suspect I shall come to regrett wishing for winter to come quickly.

In expectation of the coming winter I have bought a one piece snowboarding suit to use as a pyjama during the winter, pictured bellow, I think I look like a ninja but apparently I look like an idiot.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

I'm back, lucky you.


So I went to the UK for a holiday, it rained, drove back through France, it rained, got back to Switzerland, it was raining, went back to work and the sun came out. Sorry not to have been writing recently but I've brought my girlfriend back with me and I've not really spent any time with her since before Christmas so I've been giving her my attention rather than the blog.

Normal services will now be resumed.

You'll be glad to hear that you have not missed much. I did manage to get the long suffering girlfriend to come out to the woods, the promise of wine, starlight and picnics will work miracles I find. Curiously there is nothing that will tempt her to come out to stay in the middle of winter.