Memorable Moments – September 18

The summer holidays were nearly over at the beginning of September however I still had plenty of chances to indulge my photography habit.

A walk round the Roman town of Calleva on the outskirts of Silchester brought me to these two beautiful spots. Just outside St Mary’s Church in Silchester I spotted a British Legion Remembrance silhouette – the sun was just in the perfect position I think.

Inside St Mary’s Church my wife Alison showed me the beautiful Carpe Diem stained glass window – it is in remembrance of two young locals who died tragically, six months of each other.

Silchester Bimble

I get lazy with photography so this month I decided to push myself a little be that with Panoramas and having my kids showing twice and with difficult light conditions such as I found in Abby’s barn.

Experimenting with photography

Mid month found me in North Wales with my Grumpy Chum friends from Crisis. The weather came in all forms from sunshine to hail. We had a fantastic time climbing and the light lent to some great photography moments.

North Wales with the Grumpy Chums

The end of the month found me in East Sussex at the annual Sea Cadet Chosin Cup competition. It was a fantastic Adventure Training weekend where cadets compete for the covetted Chosin Cup. During our Endurance race I snapped this picture of fellow instructor Niamh Kelly as she raced through one of the tunnels.

Chosin Cup

My final Memorable Moment of September 18 has to be my Birthday. Spent at home with my family.

Birthday Time – Picture by Alison Jones

Cheers

George

 

Spring Peaks with the Grump Crew

This post feels like a step back in time – way back to the spring in fact. As usual life is getting in the way of keeping my blog up to date.

My Grumpy Chums from Crisis headed off up to the Peak District in early April where nature was coming alive all around us.

Spring Life

We spent most of our time around the Hope and Edale valleys – These valleys do offer some fantastic photo opportunities such as these early morning shots.

Early Morning Mist – Hope Valley and Winnats Pass

Most of our time was spent on the hills and for the first time I noticed these little bronze castings set into the paved area around the summit of Mam Tor. Depictions of everything found around the summit of Mam Tor.

Mam Tor

Everyone who was on the hills that weekend seemed to be enjoying themselves, be that mucking about with daft photos, floating amongst the clouds or just generally chilling out and taking in the scenery.

Fun in different forms – Bottom right picture by Stu Arnold

Take the rough Cavedale track above Peveril Castle in Castleton and you come to a spot made famous by William Turner. I spotted the painting below of the castle when I viisted it and tried to find the spot William Turner stood to paint it – just about got it I think.

Trying to find Mr Turners spot

The Grumpy Chums – a fine body of men who in spite of high levels of grumpiness (and camera shyness) get on in fine fashion and like nothing better than getting away from the south of England as much as possible 🙂

The Grumps – Bottom right picture by Stu Arnold

This trip was the first time I ventured down into the Blue John Cavern. There was not a great deal of the stone to see on the trip (it is still a working mine I am told) but seeing all the old equipment and the caverns really caught my interest. I particularly found the ferns growing in the caves by the lights intruiging – they only exist because the lights are on continually.

Blue John Cavern

Near the end of the trip we were joined by Alison, Catherine and Finlay and spent the day visiting Stannage Edge. Did not have any climbing equipment with us so had to settle for enjoying the views.

Family Time

Cheers for now.

George

Memorable Moments – August 18

This year I took most of August off work and spent it with my family in Wales, Wiltshire and the Western Isles – it was a busy time but my camera was never  far away.

My Morning Classroom

I set up this parachute at the BCUK Bushmoot as an extra classroom – it was located in front of my tipi and as I got up one morning I was presented with this wonderful view.

My Morning Classroom

A Happy Cap’n

The Naughty Corner at the Bushmoot has two two things that never change – they are Cap’n Badger and his Skull. The skull is always being passed around the fire and it always has Kraken rum inside it 🙂

You have my thanks Cap’n for maintaining this tradition.

A Happy Cap’n

Demon Fire Face

Never one to let a good fire go unnoticed the pizza oven at the Bushmoot gave me this cracking Demon Fire Face this year – you can even see its right arm.

Demon Fire Face

A Bushmoot Wedding

Last year it was the engagement and this year it was the wedding. I took a lot of pictures for Phil and Magda but this one ticked all the boxes for me:

  1. I love a good wedding (do not get invited to many these days – must be an age thing)
  2. We were with the Bushmoot family
  3. I do love a good Log Rocket Stove 🙂
A Bushmoot Wedding

The Coastal Survival Crew

In the middle of August I spent five days with my lad Finlay at the Wilderness Gathering working with my friend Fraser and the Coastal Survival Crew. As a land lubber I have no idea why they keep asking me back each year but I am not going to say no – they are a great crew to work with.

The Coastal Survival Crew – Picture taken by a passing visitor 🙂

Running Free

The latter half of August found me with the family up on the Isle of Lewis – I ran free on the beaches there as a kid and it is great to see my kids and their cousins doing the same.

Running free

Family

I do not get to Lewis that often and rarely when all my brothers and sister are there at the same time – this year they were all there and I made sure I got this picture (thank you Alison for taking it) – as rare as ‘Rocking Horse Poo’ you could say.

Family – Picture taken by Alison Jones

Callanish Stones

The Callanish Stones are located on the Isle of Lewis and were laid down long before Stonehenge. It is a beautiful place to visit and all the more special when there is no one else there to get in your shot.

Callanish Stones

Breanish Falls

Thanks to my cousin Scott for taking the time out to show me the delights of the Uig coastline. Along the way we stopped to photograph many beautiful spots however the falls at Breanish really grabbed my attention.

Breanish Falls

Atlantic Sunset

One evening the whole family went out to visit my fathers grave in Ness – it is by the sea and this is the view he has – miss you Dad but glad you have a great view.

Atlantic Sunset

North Rona from Sula Sgeir

My family carry on the tradition of the Guga Hunt each year on the rocky island of Sula Sgeir. As I left the island at sixteen I never went on the hunt – this year though I went out with the fishing boat to pick up the lads and bring them home.

Looking out from this crack in the rocks on Sula Sgeir I was able to make out the other lonely outpost in the Atlantic that is North Rona.

North Rona from Sulasgeir

The Guga

Not all the Gannets were ‘Dressed’ on Sula Sgeir due to having to leave early because of the weather. I spent a day with my nephew Tam and the rest of the Guga Hunters preparing the last of the Gugas

The Guga

A good month for a holiday and a good month for photography.

Cheers

George

 

 

Memorable Moments – July 18

Travelling back from Manchester tonight I decided to re-instate my ‘Memorable Moments’ posts again. It has been a fantastic summer of photography for me – so here are just a few moments from July 18.

Nottingham Nights

On a work trip to Nottingham I happened across this little scene by the side of the canal – I wonder what the story was here?

Wonder what the story was here?

Foggy, Cyril, Cleggy and Compo

Meet three of the Sea Cadet ‘Last of the Summer Wine Troup’ – Graham, John and myself. We missed our final member Dave Lewis this year on our Brecon DofE trip – Hopefully you will be with us on our Peaks trip in October Dave?

Last of the Summer Wine minus one – Dave

Woodcraft School

We attended John Rhyder’s book launch (Woodcraft – A practical celebration of the tree) at his woods. It was great to see the book being launched and catching up with old friends – the kids though had a ball investigating all John’s camp gadgets.

The Camp Stove

A Scottish view from a Welsh hill

I happened across this view on the side of a hill in the Brecon Beacons. I posted it on my Facebook account for all my Scottish friends. I did enhance the purple a little for artistic effect 🙂

A Scottish view – A Wesh hill

Hanging About

My local National Trust property is ‘The Vyne‘. I do spend a bit of time there when I can with the family however on my last trip I went alone. I would never have gotten this shot of the Thistle Down seedhead if the kids had been pulling on my shirt tails.

Just Hanging

Boys and Toys

What can I say – boys and toys 🙂 Finlay and myself had a ball working at our friends Phil and Philippa’s farm – there is just something I love about driving tractors.

Boys and Toys

Farewell to a Friend

HMS Belfast – home to my Sea Cadet unit – City of London. I dont get down for a visit very often as I do not live in London these days. The visit was a sad one as it was for the funeral of our old shipmate Bernie – we did though give him a good send off at the Cathedral and the wake afterwards – Bernie was a WWII vet and a member of the Coastal Forces Association.

A rare visist

Parched Times

My final moment was found at the back of our church – St James. With all the hot weather over the summer I think we only had rain once or twice in July. I saw this wind blown Sycamore leaf lying on some very parched yellow grass and had to grab a shot of it. I used Lightroom to manipulate the colours so as to try and make the raindrops stand out a bit.

One Damp Day

Now for August.

Cheers

George

 

Settling In – Bushmoot 18

Things have been settling in here at the Bushcraft UK Bushmoot here in Merthyr Mawr.

Took time out to test out my new barbeque pan – well tested it out as a toast rack really – works a treat so everyone is happy 🙂

There was much to do in terms of getting the site ready for all the visiting Bushcrafters so we were all soon getting stuck into the prep.

Getting Started

A favourite of mine is helping out getting all the chutes up. Our secret weapon ‘Pete’ is a dab hand at shooting a line high into the trees.

Later that day I spotted that our handiwork was receiving some attention in terms of some art work.

Parachutes and more parachutes

My kids did help out a little however they are on holiday and soon got into the swing of things. They have been out playing every day getting dirty, crafting and generally having a great time.

Kid time

We got the range set up and it was soon on use. We will use it every day and have our annual competition next week.

Later in the evening I let the kids watch a movie and I spend a little time up at the Naughty Corner.

Evening time

Things are well set up now and we have everybody arriving – more on that in my next post.

Cheers

George

Early Days – Bushmoot 18

We arrived at the Bushcraft Uk Bushmoot (Merthyr Mawr in South Wales) on Sunday evening. I am here for the next week and a half working with the Mootley Crew on what is what I call – My Busmans Holiday.

Sunday night was a busy one with all the set up of the family campsite – 3 hammocks, one tipi for kit, one tent for daughter and the main tarp for the kitchen/fire area.

Late evening/Early morning

Needless to say we relaxed when it got dark and had an early night (Not before spotting all the Ooglie eyes on the trees).

Alison got her customary coffee in her hammock and we all got out customary pancakes – fair trade I think.

It was good to catch up with everyone as they started to arrive on the Monday. I did get a bit of relaxation time and spent it snoozing under the main tarp – woke up to some lovely shadows dancing above me.

Busy Monday

Alison headed off on Monday evening but thankfully she will be back later in the week.

It is all busy now setting the Moot up so I will finish here and catch up with you all later.

Cheers, George

Lowland Expedition Leaders – The 2018 Crew

Moving onto March of this year in my scramble to catch up on my blogging backlog, found me once again, involved in training our Sea Cadet instructors in becoming Lowland Expedition Leaders (LEL).

The 2018 Crew

The weekend was based at TS Black Swan – the Sunbury & Walton Sea Cadet unit on the banks of the Thames. After lots of the usual admin there was plenty of adventure training lessons to be gotten through. We try to get all the basics like Legislation, Health & Safety and Kit covered in class before heading out for outdoor sessions.

Students learn all about tents and stoves in a very hands on way. They need to learn fast as they are expected within a couple of months to be teaching these subjects to cadets (under supervision though).

Training and more Training

From the start we like to get the students practicing their teaching skills. In pairs they were tasked with giving short lessons in subjects such as map and compass work. I was particularly impressed with the cardboard compass they produced to teach everyone about its different parts.

Student Presentations

Much of the rest of the time was spent out and about practicing the use of maps and compasses on the North Downs. It was a much cooler time of the year as you can see from the pictures below – a time of year I find far more comfortable in comparison to the heat we are currently facing – as I write this in mid summer.

Nav Time

Here is to some cooler times soon (I am Scottish) 🙂

Cheers

George

Nottingham Nights

Work has brought me to Nottingham tonight. So I have decided to post using only my phone for a change.  Not easy but worth a try I think.

The evening has been warm and it has been great to visit old haunts for me like ‘Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem’.

Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem

The canal always offers a picture or two. Having worked with Crisis for the last 22 years I got a feeling that the shoes I spotted on the toe path had a story to tell,  what that story is I will never know.

Further along the the canal as I bimbled along it was all lit up by flashing lights – on closer inspection there was a real ‘mosaic’ feel to the whole moment.

Just before hitting my hotel a few more moments opened up for me including brooding skies, old & new signs, and a relaxed bunch of geese settling for the night.

Cheers

George

A Mountain Mooch – Carnedd Llywelyn Re-visited – Day 4

Day 4 of our North Wales trip last February with my Sea Cadet friends found us once again on the slopes of Carnedd Llywelyn. This time we were joined by a number of newer instructors looking to get a taste of the mountains.

We started off doing plenty of nav work and re-visited Jacques ‘Peaks in Peaks’ art work – unfortunately one of the peaks had subsided in the time we had been away 🙂

Lowland Nav

Once we had gone over the summit of Pen yr Helgi Du we enjoyed a great scramble down, along and up the ridge of Bwlch Eryl Farchog. The views were stunning and everyone got the chance to test themselves out.

Mid Hight Scrambling

Once up onto the slopes of Carnedd Llywelyn we stopped short of the summit due to the snow and sheet ice. There was though a fantastic temperature inversion to observe all along the horizon and the summit of Tryfan could be seen just poking out of the low lying clouds.

Around the Summit

We had a relaxing walk back off the mountains, passing by  Ffynnon Llugwy reservoir where Graham managed to allow his Bothy bag to roll down into it – after a slight ‘dip’ it was blown back to the side for him to retrieve (all in the video below).

Cheers

George

A Mountain Mooch – Llyn Geirionydd – Day 3

Some days are just meant for relaxing – Day 3 of my Mountain Mooch in Snowdonia was a thoroughly relaxing affair – The Snowdon Horseshoe did tire me out a bit the day before so all I wanted was a stroll and some hammock time.

I set out for Llyn Geirionydd on my own (everyone was doing their own thing on this day) with my rucksack packed with sandwiches, cameras and my hammock.

Chilled Day

Llyn Geirionydd is a stunning lake and thankfully had some nicely spaced trees to relax and watch nature go by. I did take a stroll around part of the Lake and tried to capture some of the colour that was around. It was late winter with little new growth happening but still enough to keep me happy.

Back to Nature

Feeling relaxed and renewed I headed back to camp to await the arrival of the rest of our group.

Cheers

George

A Mountain Mooch – Snowdon Horseshoe – Day 2

Day 2 of my winter trip to Snowdonia found me with Jacques on the Snowdon Horseshoe. We struck out early with a mind to tackle the horseshoe from the Crib Goch side first.

The day was slightly overcast to begin with and there was a smattering of snow high up.

Crib Goch

As it was early there were few others around as we ascended Crib Goch. The wind was negligible however you had to watch out for the sheet ice.

I do love scrambling along the edge of Crib Goch – especially when you have good vis from it.

We were soon up onto Snowdon itself and as usual (well it is for me) the clag was right down. There was a small group of climbers sheltering in a bothy below the summit and from the laughs they sounded to be having a good time.

Snowdon

After a short break we headed off down the Watkins path before veering off down to West Peak. It was crampon time here as the snow was pretty hard packed here – one of my crampons kept coming loose so I think a new pair are in order.

East and West Peaks

The weather really cleared up for us as we motored over West and East Peaks. The views were spectacular and we were even spotted someone para gliding around East Peak.

The Horseshoe

Coming off the horseshoe I was knackered however I was so glad I took up Jacques offer of a trek round the horseshoe once again. In the right weather and with the right kit it is a cracking day on the mountains.

I put together this short video of the day.

Cheers

George

 

A Mountain Mooch – Carneddau – Day 1

Last February the London Area Seacadet Adventure Training team headed up to North Wales for some staff training. This annual trip is one I really look forward to as it gives me a chance to test my mountain skills once again.

An advance group of us – Perry, John, Jacques, Jenny and myself all headed up a few days before the main group arrived. For our first day we headed out into the less touristy part of the Snowdon range – the Carneddau Mountains.

Heading Up

Our aim was to take a slow hike up towards Carnedd Llewellyn doing a bit of nav training, scrambling and winter work. All the winter work we planned was to play about in one of the lower snow fields where it is perfectly safe.

I went on ahead of the group at the beginning to find a good spot or two for photography. Jacques soon caught up with me and started playing about with some ice in a pond.

Firstly it was just a case of seeing if he could move the whole sheet with his poles but then as usual – he stepped on it 🙂 We found when it broke that it came out in quite neat triangles.

Peaks in Peaks

Jacques soon had a little range of ice peaks made up so I decided to make up a little video with him – titled by Jacques as ‘Peaks in Peaks’.

From the ice pond we were soon scrambling along ridges, throwing snowballs and watching Kestrels hovering overhead – quite dramatic scenery and hardly any another souls around.

Scrambling

Once below the summit of Carned Llewellyn in a gently sloping area we had a little play with some crampons and ice axes.

Winter Skills

The return home was just as slow as the ascent as everyone was pretty tired out from this first days hike however we were treated to some great views and a fly past by the RAF.

I put together a short video of the day below.

Daty 2 of the trip found Jacques and myself completing the Snowdon Horseshoe in ‘slightly’ wintry conditions – more of that in the next blog.

Cheers

George

Golden Peaks – 2017

It was late October 2017 (I know I have a lot of blogging catch up to do) and I set off North to The Peak District with my lad Finlay. We were off to join teams from London and Southern Area Sea Cadets undertaking their Gold DofE Expedition.

It was a busy 5 days and the weather was glorious resulting in some fabulous Golden Peaks.

Golden Peaks

The cadets and young instructors undertaking their Gold Expedition had four tough days ahead of them carrying all their food and kit as they hiked through The Peaks. It was a windy but warm Peak District that greeted us on their first day.

Setting off from Pindale Farm they soon passed through Castleton and ascended up onto Mam Tor. This is a steady climb but one that affords great views on a clear day.

Day 1

All the staff headed off to different locations to ensure that the teams walked the route (they do this without supervision) safely. I went onto the slopes of Mam Tor with Finlay and Dave Lewis.

After spending a bit of time watching out for the teams from the minibus roof we headed up the slopes some more. Finlay got a bit of nav practice in from Dave and a bit of flying practice from me 🙂

Mam Tor

After Mam Tor the teams headed West along the gentle ridge that is Rushup Edge before heading North down into the beautiful Edale valley. We met the teams a couple of times along the way but otherwise left them to their own devices as we explored the countryside and practiced our own nav.

Camp for the night for the expeditioners was the remote but rather well laid out campsite at Upper Booth Farm.

Edale Valley

Day 2

This was a tougher day for everyone as the route was up and over the Kinder plateau. The weather was clear so that made the nav much easier for everyone (including ourselves).

I did not see everyone leave camp as I set off to ascend Kinder from the small town of Hayfield on the Western slopes of Kinder with Dave, Nina and Finlay.

There was a temperature inversion that morning and the mist was trapped in the valley. The mist slowly crept up the valley until it topped out onto Kinder reservoir making for a great panoramic. I also spotted for the first time a Mist Bow. This happens rarely – when you get sunlight reflected off water and through mist.

Kinder Reservoir

Once on top of the Kinder plateau we settled down into some crags and got the hammock out. I carry my EDC Hammock around with me for just such occasions. We spoke with the teams as they passed through our positions and it was good to see them all in good form.

Kinder Plateau

After a while Nina, Dave Finlay and myself moved North over the Kinder plateau to observe the teams dropping down Snake Path. Finlay spotted a dead lamb along the way an got some more nav practice in from Nina – Dave got his head down and I got a few more pics 🙂

I followed the last team from a distance down Snake Path while the rest went back to Hayfield. We all met up again at the campsite the expeditioners were using that night.

North Kinder

Day 3

The weather turned on Day 3 with lots of low cloud and rain. Finlay had left the expedition the night before with my wife Alison so just Dave and myself headed off up into the woods over Ladybower Reservoir to meet the teams.

We eventually spotted them all as they hiked on through the clouds and rain. Eventually the clouds lifted but the rain did not. The teams walked up onto Stanage Edge later in the day and the wind started to pick up. Luckily they only had a short section to walk along the Stanage path and were soon down into the shelter of the woods and their camp for the night.

Stanage

Day 4

I did not see the teams on this part of the route but thankfully the weather improved greatly for their last day. Straight after breakfast they were back up onto Stanage Edge and hiking South East to the finish at the Fox Inn.

After a short de-brief all the kit was dried out and the ‘Survivors’ group photo was taken.

Endex

There ended a fantastic October expedition to The Peaks.

Cheers

George

A Winters Bimble – Life & Colour

lots of wind, snow, life and colour

Like many others in the UK today I woke up to a touch of snow this morning – not enough to cause any undue trouble but enough to make a photographer smile.

We visited our local church, St James, here in Bramley for the 9am service (Alison was leading the service) and afterwards I took a stroll around the church to see what stood out for me. The Daffodils had taken a bashing however when I got down low their beauty really stood out. Needless to say my kids were happy just to ping snowballs at me.

St James – Bramley

I then took a stroll around our local woods – The Frith and the first spot I found were these two horses in their winter coats nibbling on some hay. I adjusted my angle and got the lovely heart shape effect with their heads which you can see in the bottom right picture.

Equine beauty

At this time of year it can be hard to see the colour in the landscape but if you look close enough you can see it. The Hazel catkins were all fluttering in the strong wind but I did get a picture of some hanging nice and still in a more sheltered area – they look delicate and beautiful however they are tough little things ‘hanging on there’ in the wind.

Winter colour

I was hoping to spot some Deer in the woods however they were all out on the fields today. The wind was strong but the Roe Deer were in the fields on the lee side of the woods avoiding the worst of it. They kept a close eye on me as I passed on by – normally they sprint off but not today – there spot was just too good.

Finding shelter

I also spotted a few of our feathered friends in the woods from the Kite soaring overhead, the Robin flitting from tree to tree and the Pheasant making his presence felt in its usual noisy way on the woodland floor.

Airborne colour

As Bimbles go this was a pretty special one, with lots of wind, snow, life and colour.

Cheers

George

 

A Spring Sunday

Hard to believe that just a couple of days ago we had a good covering of snow (nothing like in the North & West of the UK though) and then in a flash it was gone.

We have an informal and relaxed service at 9am in our Church – St James in Bramley that I attend when I can (other conflicts being Finlay’s Footie or Cadet weekends). After the service I left Jerry and Finlay to clean the hall and had a stroll around the cemetery to see what I could find.

I spotted a lovely dew covered Daffodil and a grave marker for one of The Old Contemptibles – James Johnson – I will have to try and find out a bit more about James and his time in the army. The term Old Contemptibles is supposed have come from from an order from the Kaiser at the beginning (as known then) of the Great War when he reputedly ordered his army to “exterminate … the treacherous English and walk over General French’s contemptible little army”.

St James

The Vyne

After dropping Finlay off at a friends house Catherine Alison and myself all headed over to The Vyne National Trust property that is near Bramley. The Vyne had been shut during the cold snap and just re-opened again.

My first spot was some Lungwort near the main house however as usual it was the sight of the 100 Guinea Oak that got my attention. This grand 600 year old oak (Quercus robur) is propped up by a couple of poles because of damage caused by the main road to its roots (the oak was there before the road) but it is still a magnificent sight to look at. For scale you can just see Catherine in the bottom right corner of the picture.

The Vyne

Old & New

I was not expecting to see too much but I was pleasantly surprised to see plenty of late winter/early spring plants such as the Primrose, Winter Aconites, Snowdrops and one or two Cowslips. All these dainty little flowers were popping up near the sight of a rather rough and silvery dead conifer trunk – quite a contrast.

Texture and colour

On the Water

I spent a lot of time watching life go by on the water. There was one lovely spot where the Snowdrops drooped over a stream, a Swan cruised by a wood carving of itself and the Ducks were happy to get some ice free water to feed under.

On the water

Amongst the Trees

There are a wide range of trees at the Vyne however the Cedar of Lebanon does produce a rather grand seed that sits upright. There were also plenty of nodules sticking out of the ground under some conifers on the bank of the lake – no idea what causes this but will check it out.

After a lovely coffee and cake it was time to pick the boy up from his friends and head home.

A Spring Sunday

A Happy Spring Sunday.

Cheers

George

 

Pen y Fan with Grumpy Chums – A Welsh Weekend Part 3

The final part of our Welsh Weekend with the Grumpy Chums (Rick, Gordon, myself and Stu – the order of grumpiness) last year brought us down to the Brecon Beacons and Pen y Fan. The drive from Cadair Idris was a long one due to an accident ahead of us but we got there eventually and soon had a fire on.

We stayed at the Pentwyn Farm campsite (I can thoroughly recommend it) which is 7 miles from Brecon Town and within easy reach of Pen y Fan.

Heading for South Wales

We headed off from the car park at Cwm Gwdi (old soldiers may remember this as an army camp) and headed SSE up the track on Cefn Cwm Llwch ridge.

Day 2 – Pen y Fan

We had very little in terms of wind so the walk was pleasant enough as we ascended the ridge however we were soon in the clouds with very little visibility (I like this route as it is usually quiet).

A young couple did overtake us on the way up (sprightly things) but after about half an hour they appeared out of the clouds heading down hill. We congratulated them on getting to the summit so fast but they quickly admitted that they had not gone too far ahead and had kept us in sight as we ascended. They lost us at one stage (probably when we stopped for a break) and so got a bit concerned for themselves in the thick clouds – turns out they had no map and compass. Thankfully they carried on back down the ridge.

Flossie having Fun

We soon topped out and joined the masses coming up from the Storey Arms,  had a dram and got a quick piccie of Flossie Ann before heading off down to Cribben. Along the way I did ‘splash about’ a bit – Rick had a few choice words for me 🙂

 

The boys having Fun – well I was 🙂

Once over Cribben (finally got a view) we were off down the Old Military Road back to Cwm Gwdi car park. Everyone had achy limbs by this stage and if you know this old road then you will know how we felt 🙂

As it was our last night we had a night out in Brecon Town where we downed one or two sherberts to toast our 3 days on the hills.

Endex

I had a great weekend with the Grumpy Chums heading over Snowdon, Cadair Idris and Pen y Fan and would thoroughly recommend this gentler 3 Peaks Challenge.

Snowdon with the Grumpy Chums – A Welsh Weekend – Part 1

Cadair Idris with the Grumpy Chums – A Welsh Weekend – Part 2 

Cheers

George

A Winters Evening Bimble

Today has been one of working at home as our trains decided the weather was not for them.

As I had been stuck at home all day but without the daily commute into London I decided to take a Bimble around our local woods – The Frith – here in Bramley.

An Evening Winters Bimble

The snow was falling gently and the light was fading slowly. Not having the kids with me I could walk slowly and quietly. I came across a forlorn looking nest, a fresh Pheasant track (could hear him but not make him out), spotted a Hare and saw plenty of Deer in the gloom. There was one Muntjac and a herd of Roe Deer.

I shot the pictures and video using my phone so the quality in the low light is not the greatest.

Altogether an excellent evening bimble.

Cheers

George

Cadair Idris with the Grumpy Chums – A Welsh Weekend – Part 2

A brilliant playground – Cadair Idris

Day 2 of our Grumpy Chums adventure brought us to the beautiful Cadair Idris range. These mountains are stunning to look at and a joy to walk.

The walk starts steeply, up through beautiful woods, with raging waterfalls and great views back down into the valley.

Heading for Mid Wales

Our route was in a clockwise direction up to Llyn Cau, following the Minffordd path, over Craig Cau, Penygadair, Mynydd Moel before returning to the car park at Dol y cae.

Day 2 – Cadair Idris Range

There was a good covering of clouds over the mountains however the views over Llyn Cau were stunning. Once we got up onto the Minffordd path we soon lost the views, except every now and then when a window in the clouds opened up to reveal Llyn Cau below. We stood and watched a helicopter buzzing over the water below us and I spotted a strange shaped rock on a cairn that reminded me of the ‘Sorting Hat’ from Harry Potter – someone had carved a Grumpy Face at its top for some reason (you can see this more clearly in the video below)

A tad drier today

We finally reached the summit of Penygadair however the visibility was as usual zero. We had a quick break in the bothy there and were soon heading over to Mynnd Moel and down.

Half way down the clouds lifted and we were treated to a breathtaking view of the whole horseshoe.

The beauty of Cadair Idris

Once we got down it was time for the long trip down to the Brecon Beacons.

Enjoy the video below of what I think is a brilliant playground – Cadair Idris.

Part one of the Grumpy Chums Welsh adventure – Snowdon with the Grumpy Chums

Cheers

George

Snowdon with the Grumpy Chums – A Welsh Weekend – Part 1

‘We need a new challenge’ – from a conversation one night in the pub with the rest of the Grumpy Chums.

The guys were looking for something a bit more challenging this time and I remembered seeing a picture on Facebook by my friend Shelly Bristow of her completing the Welsh 3 Peaks Challenge – Snowdon, Cadair Idris and Pen y Fan – so I put this to the guys and we were soon on our way.

Heading for North Wales

Unlike Shelly though we opted for the more sedate challenge of one mountain a day and to make a long weekend of the trip. We headed (last September) for North Wales to tackle Snowdon first. As the weather was expected to be very bad with high winds and driving rain I opted to keep the group to the main tracks. We started from Pen y Pass car park, followed the Pyg track to the summit and descended on the Miners track.

Day 1 – Snowdon

Starting off we were in the shelter of Llanberis Pass however as soon as we crossed over the pass below Crib Goch the wind really picked up. There was no rain but we could see the heavily water laden clouds above us – we made best of the views of Llyn Llydaw and cracked on up.

Ascending the Pyg Track

We soon entered the clouds and the rain soon got into every nook and cranny. On the way up I chanced upon two friends Jacques and Deano coming down from the summit (Deano had been getting his nav tested by Jacques in readiness for his Mountain Leaders assessment).

I spotted quite a few people ascending Snowdon in trainers, jeans and cotton jackets – it makes me wonder sometimes what people think mountains are all about!!!!

Getting a tad damp

Topping out on Snowdon was great as the wind and rain really tested everyones spirits. We did not hang around long but did chat for a while with a radio ham who had hauled all his kit to the top of the mountain.

On the way down I bumped into a young couple (a young lady and man) struggling to ascend in the wind and rain and after having a chat with them they decided best to try the mountain again the next day. The young man eventually agreed with me that a waterproof would be a better option the next day rather than the trendy leather jacket he was wearing – his young lady friend backed me up all the way 🙂

Wet but Fun

We all came off the mountain soaking wet but in good spirits. I put together a short video of what was a very drafty and damp day on Snowdon.

Parts 2 & 3 will cover our days in the Cadair Idris range and around Pen y Fan.

Cheers

George

 

 

Brittany Time

Over the last few years along with my family I have had some fantastic trips to France. Last August found us in Brittany once again spending some quality time with our friend Rick.

On the ferry out I caught my first glimpse of the new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth – no planes as yet but a sight to behold none the less.

Departure Time

I have known Rick for over 20 years now and he is always happy for us to visit him in this lovely part of France – I think the kids treat him kind of like a Grandad as he spoils them, then hands them back to us to calm them down 🙂

Rick Time

We have a few holidays throughout the year but not often are we all away together as a family. As there is so much to do in Brittany it is the ideal location for us to spend a lovely two weeks.

Family Time

I kicked the holiday off with a bit of Bushcraft. We had a barbeque on the first night and Rick invited the neighbours round. The kids heard that I teach Bushcraft so we soon had the bowdrill out and in action.

I must say that this was the first time that a Princess assisted me with this particular skill 🙂

Bushcraft Time

Up to now I have been creating videos and hosting them on YouTube – Alison introduced me to Vimeo. I find that this is an excellent platform for these family type videos.

The nearest town to us was La Roche Bernard and there is a profusion of artwork on display around the town. I even managed my own piece in the top picture below. It is the shadow of a yacht with a background of oily water – kinda cool I thought.

Art Time

No trip to Brittany is complete until you visit Escapades Verticales. When we first went Finlay could not do all the routes due to his age and height – this year there was no stopping him.

Cliff Time

Alison and Catherine were also in action on the routes and I tentatively filmed some of the action with my phone (paranoid I would drop it) – I now have a Go Pro but alas, not at the time we were there.

Some evenings we would stroll off down to the river and some days around the town. If you kept your eyes open, though, there was always something interesting to see from Mother Nature – I think the mole passed away from heat exhaustion as the cats were too lazy to do much.

Nature Time

Beaches are not usually my thing but I do make an exception on the Brittany coastline. I can usually find a cliff to scramble or a couple of convenient trees to put up my hammock.

Water Time

The heat may well have gotten to me on this trip (raising my grumpiness levels above their norm) but I really enjoyed my time in Brittany last year. This year we are off up to Scotland to visit the family so Brittany will have to wait till next year for another visit.

Wandering Time

A final few shots of our ‘Lazy Days’.

Cheers

George

The Bushcraft Days 2018 Calendar Shots

“dedicated to my wife Alison”

For the last few years my wife Alison has compiled a calendar from my photography to give out as presents to our close family. Alison is both a Publisher and an author and she inspires me each year to get out there and photograph life around me – so this blog post is dedicated to my wife Alison .

Looking at the pictures in the calendar they have brought back some great memories of the last year.

January 18

We spent a day visiting our friend Molly from the Field Farm Project earlier this year where I spotted Henrietta the Hen (no idea if this is her name) wandering amongst the Daffodils.

01
January 18 – Henrietta the Hen

February 18

Anther trip was to Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove (went twice in 2017). As the sea was so calm on the first trip I had to get really down low to get any sort of wave action in Lulworth Cove.

02
February 18 – Lulworth Cove High Seas

March 18

I took lots of wild flower pictures this year however I decided to see what the underside of a Snowdrop looked like – I was pleasantly surprised at the green stripes and the shear number of petals.

03
March 18 – Snowdrop in the Hand

April 18

On a trip to Chesil Beach to meet my friends Fraser (Coastal Survival) and Dougie (an ex army buddy of mine) we spent time as a family building a Beach Henge. We came across one of these structures years ago on Chesil so decided to build our own.

04
April 18 – Beach Henge

May 18

This year I got myself a new phone – a Samsung S7 and I decided to test out its zoom abilities. The Stitchwort flower below was probably only a centimetre in diameter so you could say I was happy with the phone.

05
May 18 – Stitchwort in Profile

June 18

Throughout the year we take time to head out into the woods as a family. This shot was in our local woods at Pamber Forest – I must admit to emphasising the blues a bit but I did like the effect this had on the trees.

06
June 18 – Family Bimbles

July 18

July found me in Ashdown Forest with the Sea Cadets. In between classes I found time to stalk a herd of wild ponies, Using my phone I managed to get this cracker of a skyline as the sun was setting.

07
July 18 – Ashdown Ponies

August 18

August was holiday time and every couple of years we spend time in Brittany with our friend Rick. There are great beaches on the Breton coastline however we did find time to do a bit scrambling at Pénestin.

08
August 18 – Brittany Beaches

September 18

September is a busy time for me with the Cadets and although this picture was not taken in that month it does epitomise to me the adventures we have. I was working as a Mountain Leader Safety Officer with the Royal Marines Cadets on  the Brecon Beacons earlier in the year doing a mountain night nav when I managed to snap this shot as the sun was setting. It was a long night on the mountains but everyone came off safely and had a great time.

09
September 18 – Marines on the Moor

October 18

My son Finlay is 9 years old now and had expressed interest in getting out into the hills a bit more. In October I took him along with me on a Gold DofE Expedition in the Peak District. Needless to say Finlay showed no fear of heights while exploring Kinder Scout.

10
October 18 – Father and Son time

November 18

My daughter Catherine has not expressed that same wish for roaming the hills however she is extremely happy roaming the woods. I loved the colours of this winter shot in our local woods near The Vyne National Trust property.

11
November 18 – Golden Girl

December is winter time and although I was wishing for snow in Southern England there was not much to be had. This shot was taken earlier in the year on the side of Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons. We were there to celebrate the Dining Out Weekend for our friends Perry and Graham.

12
December 18 – Brecon with the Boys

Cover Picture

This was a tough one for me but Alison decided on this shot of a Swan taking off from the River Thames. I was delivering a course at my friend John Kelly’s Sea Cadet Unit – TS Black Swan and decided to spend a half hour seeing what life was going on on the Thames – a good half hour I think.

Cover 2
Cover Picture – A Thames Evening

Thanks Alison for taking the time to putting this Calendar together – without you I know it would never happen.

Cheers

George

 

Wilderness Gathering 2017

This August I went to the Wilderness Gathering to help out my friend Fraser Christian of Coastal Survival with the running of his stand. It was a busy stand however from time to time I ventured out around the show and spotted some real gems.

Wilderness Gathering 2017

Starting at the end of the Wilderness Gathering I got tipped off that JP from Woodlife Trails was going to get ambushed by the Coyote Kids – Needless to say the tip off was spot on 🙂

Just off to the main area of the Wilderness Gathering is the pond. In here the canoeists have fun, we soak our willow for our fishtraps and I like to sit here watching nature go by. This year my friend Jason Sears decided to use it as a platform to light his tinder bundles – more of this in the last video in this post.

Life on the pond

The Coastal Survival stand was busier than any time I can remember. The crowds gathered outside the stand when Fraser was demonstrating food prep and his hot smoker were fantastic.

Obviously Danny and myself were very professional and serious at all times:-)

Time with Coastal Survival

I shot quite a bit of video this year and made a video of some of the activities we at Coastal Survival got up too – including the ancient and near forgotten art of Basketeering!!!!

One thing I love to look out for at the Wilderness Gathering is all the art – I use the term art here to describe the beautiful work that is always on display.

Below are the stunningly sculpted Kuksas from Jon Mac, the intricately carved spoons by Giles Newman and the finely twisted bottle opener by Dave Budd.

Beauty in many forms

The bottle opener I spotted being made by Dave Budd as I strolled by. Dave was making one as part of a one2one training session and it did not take him long to craft it.

The bottle opener now lives in France with a friend of mine.

Still on the lookout for art I was taken by these three scenes. The first was a basket of beautifully coloured mushrooms on the Bushcraft Magazines stand. The second was spotting this Roman Centurions profile in the flames of our fire (it is something I do looking for fire faces). The last one was all the colours in the flint arrow heads I spotted on the Bushcraft Journal stand.

Art in many forms

Further on on my strolls I came across loads of other sites where learning was going on. This was in the form of demonstrations, one2one’s or class work. I could only spend only a short time away from the stand but my time strolling always threw up little gems of learning.

Loads of Learning

A particular favourite subject of mine is building Log Rocket Stoves and my friend Des Cattys shares this passion. I spotted him one day starting a demonstration and decided to hang around to see how the class went (always looking for new ways of building these stoves)

In the evenings the music got better and better each night. There was a wide variety of artists and a particular favourite of mine was Vojta. Bushcrafters are not normally known for their dancing abilities but the front of the Bushcraft Magazine stand was buzzing each night with revellers.

Night Time Music

After listening to a couple of Vojta’s songs I decided to record his last one of the night and I am glad I went with that gut feeling – a great session.

If you are patient while out and about at the Wilderness Gathering you can usually get a treat or two. The wild food tasting at the Bushcraft Magazine stand kept me hanging around for ages, Fraser’s great smoked sea foods were as usual highly sought after and I got to observe Roli Jones in action baking large loaves in his oven.

Wonderful food

In amongst all this learning and art you will come across the odd and the unexpected. The Scout instructors were the ‘Bog Squad’ and worked hard to keep our loos in clean and working order – I take my hat of to you guys. As they walked by in formation I had to get this shot.

My friend Danny got a soaking while canoeing one day and decided to show off his fine ‘manly’ form to us all – I will leave it to you to judge this 🙂

The final unexpected moment relates back to my first video of JP being ambushed – I captured the moment he was turfed into the pond by the Coyote Kids and is one of my favourite pictures of the whole event.

The Unexpected

My final video was put together to try and capture the essence of the Wilderness Gathering.

Maybe see you all there next year.

Cheers

George

A Spider Snack – A Video Post

Sorting some Adventure Training kit in my garden this afternoon I heard a buzzing sound to my side. Looking down I spotted this little scene being played out.

All I had to film this was my Samsung 7 Edge  phone. I was not disappointed with the results though.

I was enthralled at how quickly the fly was wrapped up and happy to see the amount of detail my phone camera picked up.

Cheers

George

Bushmoot 2017 – Brilliant

a magical two weeks

A ‘Brilliant Moot’ is how I would summarise this year’s Bushcraft UK Bushmoot. It was action packed from start to finish for me as I juggled my time between looking after my kids, running workshops and doing a lot of filming.

I will let the pictures and video do most of the talking so will keep the text to a minimum.

Bushmoot 2017

The first few days for us ‘Mods’ (forum moderators) were all about setting up the Bushmoot so that everything was in place for everyone arriving later in the week. We did not rush things as it was a holiday for us as well but over a few days the Bushmoot was soon set up.

Set up

There are some great places to camp at the Bushmoot which makes for stunning photography. The Mods’ corner is great to photograph on a sunny morning.

I have used the same camping spot for a number of years now and even though a year passes between each visit it feels as if I have never been away when I return.

Camp life

Early Workshops

There were a couple of early workshops this year – Open Fire Cooking with Neil and a 48hr Survival Course with Fraser from Coastal Survival. Both courses covered a lot of different areas so my photos are just a snapshot of their content – needless to say on both courses all the students eat well.

Early workshops

Videos

I put a short video together of this early part of the Bushmoot – including a scenario where my son pretends to chop my head off with an Ivy sword 🙂

Also a short video on the Lolli Stick Fire on Fraser’s course.

In amongst all these workshops and general setting up my kids took themselves off exploring. I went with them on one jaunt and they took me to the ‘House of Doom’ (as they referred to it). I think film companies use the site and they had left this massive Gothic barn – quite beautiful but eerie at the same time (the axe was for posing with only by the way).

Exploring

The Bushmoot is all about ‘Family’ as far as I am concerned – this family extends out to all my Bushmoot friends I see time and time again as I return each year.

Friends

Getting out of the woods one day with my friends Ian, Catherine and Liz (and assorted kids) we went Dune Diving. Merthyr Mawr sand dunes are the second highest dunes in Europe, apparently, and there is one dune in particular that the kids love.

Needless to say I joined the kids as they threw themselves down the dune – great fun even for a 50-year-old kid like me.

Dune riding

Core Day Workshops

I have no idea how many different workshops we ran this year and I only photographed or filmed a small number of them. We always start with a tool safety presentation (normally three different groups) before starting the main workshops.

Core days – part 1

Fire lighting in its many different forms is a staple of the Bushmoot and this year was no different – below are pictures from the bowdrill, the damp tinder and the flint and steel workshops.

Core days – part 2

Other workshops included Baking, Pottery, Rocket Stoves, the Starter Course, Basketry and Wood Spirits (to name just a few).

Core days – part 3

Watch the video to get a feel of the subjects we cover at the Bushmoot.

Bushmoot Life

Outside of all these workshops and background work life goes on at the Bushmoot – food I can tell you forms a big part of that life 🙂

I am no great chef (tend to prefer building Campfire Cooking Constructions) but can when needed put something together – thankfully though there are plenty of people around like my wife Alison willing to put together a good spread for the kids and myself. Highlights of the Bushmoot are the Group Meal and the Hot Chocolate evening.

All things food

A favourite of mine has always been the archery range. We had another great competition this year. The winners from last year (Marek and Louey) were also presented their made-to-measure bows from Wayne Jones of Forest Knights.

This year we also had a catapult competition run by Steve (Mesquite) Harral and a workshop from David Colter on the Pellet Bow. Around the site we had various smaller ranges for axe, spade and pin throwing.

Down on the range

The Naughty Corner

No Bushmoot would be complete without the Naughty Corner and I try to get up to it for an hour or two each evening. This year my friend from the Sea Cadets Alan Lewis joined me at the Bushmoot for the first time and as he is a chef found himself drawn to the pizza oven.

Phil and Magda as usual kept us well fed each evening and Cap’n Badger made sure we were all not too naughty 😉

The Naughty Corner

The Sand Pit

The evening socialising is not restricted to the Naughty Corner – usually for a couple of evenings lots of folk congregate under the big chute by the kids sandpit for a bit of a shindig.

We were supposed to have a band along one evening but for some reason they failed to show up – thankfully Marek and Gemma with some others started their own musical session that lasted well into the evening.

Sandpit evenings

The Main Chute

This is where we meet each day, talk about what will be happening, answer questions and celebrate people.

The Bushmoot is run by Tony and Shelly Bristow (along with us volunteer Mods) and as often happens the Bushmoot coincided with Tony’s birthday. We also remembered our dear friend Drew who passed away so tragically at a young age in 2013. We do this by giving each year an engraved Swiss Army Knife to the person we feel has contributed most to the Moot.

Our good friends John Fenna and Steve Harral raise money each year for Cancer charities. Steve gets John to dress up in a different pink outfit each year and we make lots of donations in various ways. Also John has an award he gives out called the John Fenna Award (a Teddy Bear with lots of bushcraft kit) and this year it went to Cap’n Badger for dedicated service to running the Naughty Corner – or undetected crime as I hear 😉

Life under the main chute

Kids’ Fun

All this talk of fun would not be complete without mention to what we organise for the kids (I mean the young ones here). We are not against technology and I am happy to let my kids watch a movie in the evening by the fire (gives me a breathing space to get on with camp chores).

The Bushmoot is a family friendly place and there are always workshops and games planned in for the kids. When there are no planned activities the whole estate is their playground and it’s great to see my kids roam free as I once did as a kid growing up in the Western Isles.

Kids – old fun and modern fun

My last video on the Bushmoot looks at this ‘Bushmoot Life’.

A Celebration

When I popped up to the Naughty Corner one night I got chatting to our chefs Phil and Magda and found out that they had just got engaged – Phil had popped the question to Magda that day down on the beach and she had said yes.

The next day we got Phil and Magda to announce the engagement to everyone under the Main Chute – congratulations guys.

Congratulations

Me

I am mostly to be found behind the camera lens so you do not see many pictures of my silver mop at the Bushmoot. Over the last 10 years I have really embraced photography and am always on the look out for something unusual to snap.

Fire Faces are a favourite of mine – spotted the BFG in one snap I took this year – but there is always something interesting to photograph at the Bushmoot.

Just me

A bit of Magic

This year at the Naughty Corner it was hard to miss the fact that the fire was making a good impression of a Rainbow. It turns out that Cap’n Badger had acquired some Mystical Fire  and popped it into the fire. I took a few snaps of the flames and caught a lovely shot that I call ‘The Dancer’.

My kids loved the stuff and so we popped a couple of sachets on our campfire one evening while they watched a movie.

Rainbow flames

Alison

My wife Alison did not attend the whole of the Bushmoot (she pops back and forth from home over the fortnight) as she runs her own publishing company and this year was focused on finishing the first draft of her own book while we were at the Bushmoot.

Needless to say when Alison returned at the end of the Bushmoot she did so with a bottle of bubbly to celebrate the fact that she had finished her first draft – well done darling 🙂

Congratulations Alison

That is it from me on the subject of the 2017 Bushmoot. Thank you to Tony, Shelly, all the Mods and all the other helpers who organised everything and helped make it such a magical two weeks.

Cheers

George

Bushmoot 17 – Bushmoot Life – A Video Post

Over the last few years as I have made videos of the BCUK Bushmoot I have noticed I tend to video the workshops. Looking at the footage I shot this year I saw that I had captured so much more.

This is the 3rd and final video in my Bushmoot 17 trilogy focusing on ‘Bushmoot Life’ outside of the workshops and is dedicated to my wife Alison as she completed the first draft of her latest book during the Bushmoot – Congratulations Alison and look forward to reading it.

The other videos in the trilogy are:

1) Bushmoot 17 – Early Days

2) Bushmoot 17 – Core Days

Cheers

George

 

A Birthday Present – The GoPro Hero Session

This morning I opened a few presents (being it is my birthday) and one contained the GoPro Hero Session camera – thank you Alison :-).

I have been wanting one for quite a while now so I was soon of out at our local National Trust property – The Vyne.

Nothing strenuous or exciting I am afraid as I just wanted to see how it performed under water. Here is a very short video of it in action.

The Hero Session did not take me long to get used to and I really like that it is waterproof without the need for an extra casing. It is not the most expensive GoPro, nor does it have all the features such as the Hero 5 but it is simple to use and waterproof straight out of the box – just what I need 🙂

Looking forward to using it in my adventures in the future.

Cheers

George

Vojta at the Wilderness Gathering 2017 – A Video Post

Over the last few years one of the changes I have seen at the Wilderness Gathering is the quality of the music in the evenings – this year it was particularly great.

Roger Harrington of Bison Bushcraft and Dom Harvey (they run the Wilderness Gathering) had great music playing each night however I was particularly struck by one young musician – Vojta. He is a violinist at heart but somehow brings in many other instruments to his sessions.

Here is the last number he played at this years Wilderness Gathering.

Cheers

George

Dave Budd – Master Blacksmith at the 2017 Wilderness Gathering

While having a wander around the Wilderness Gathering this year I spotted my friend Dave Budd – Master Blacksmith – hard at work.

I was unsure at first what he was making so hung around and filmed the process.

I liked the end result I bought it as a present for a friend.

Cheers for the show Dave.

George

JP & The Coyote Kids Ambush

My 300th Blog Post

This last week I have had a great time at the Wilderness Gathering here in the UK with Fraser Christian of Coastal Survival. I will write a more detailed report on the Gathering later but just wanted to share with you today a little video I grabbed just before I left.

I was approached by Ian Cresswell from Lonescout Bushcraft and told that he had heard that the Coyote Kids group had planned to ambush our friend JP and dunk him in the lake. So at the appointed time I was on hand to see the snatch and witness the dunking – enjoy the video  🙂

Cheers

George

Bushmoot 2017 Highlights

Over the last week and a half I have spent some glorious (and somewhat tiring) days on the South coast of Wales at the BCUK Bushmoot.

I will write a fuller report later of the event with lots of video but for now here are some of the highlights.

As usual there were far too many workshops being run for someone to attend them all. A particular favourite of mine is the Damp Tinder workshop run by Rich59 proving you can get a Fire in the dampest of conditions.

This year my friend Alan Lewis from the Sea Cadets came along. Alan is a trained chef and was soon helping Phil up at the Naughty Corner with baking the Pizzas.

On Monday the whole Moot community came together and created what is now our traditional communal meal. Everyone brought along Dutch Ovens full of different concoctions for everyone to try out.

In the evening we were expecting a band to turn up but for some reason they did not make it. Undettered we soon had a group jamming away making for a perfect end to the evening.

One of the highlights of the week is the Hot Chocolate evening around the main campfire. I was hoping for a cupful but the demand from the kids for seconds put paid to that 🙂

Now it is time to rest for a few days, tidy up camp and then head home.

Cheers, George

Woodcraft School – Stepping Up

it was about 9 years ago or so that I was coming to the end of my Bushcraft Leadership course with John Rhyder at Woodcraft School. With my fellow students we had to prepare a couple of weekends training to visitors to prove we had mastered our bushcraft skills and also that we could pass these skills onto others – in May of this year I was back down at Woodcraft School but as a visitor this time with this years students.

Fire By Friction

I had received an invite and so popped down one morning in late May. All the classes had been set up and after a quick chat catching up with John it was time to get cracking. There was a class on bowdrill by Jack which was great but I was not. I failed to get an ember – excuse – I was not allowed to use my knife to make adjustments as I had not done that class yet 🙁

There were classes on campfire cranes (a particular favourite subject of mine loyal readers will know), safe carving techniques and different methods of using a firesteel.

Cranes, Carving and Birch Bark

Another favourite of mine is the Atlatl (I think I was one of the first students on John’s courses to teach this). We carved our own Atlatl and were soon pinging darts down the range.

I also had a chance to see how all the extras the we had built a couple of years earlier like the kitchen area and the raised fire pit were doing.

Atlatl

Then it was time for a stroll in the woods looking at useful plants. John runs an Ethnobotony course (which I hope to attend one day) and Lucy our instructor had completed this very in depth course previously – her knowledge on plants and their uses really came through on the day.

Ethnobotony

Back at camp Lucy had prepared about 15 plant specimens and we had to identify each plant and note its use correctly – tough but we got 100% after a bit of conferring 🙂

Time for a test

Lucy had also collected up some cleavers which she crushed up and boiled to make a green tea – this was really enhanced with some Elder flower cordial she had made earlier.

Cleaver Tea with a twist of Elder Cordial

My final class was with Lee looking at animal tracks and signs. Lee certainly knew his subject however I had to leave (to run one of my own courses) early and did not get out on the tracking walk he had planned.

Tracking & Signs

It certainly was great to get down to see John and the students at Woodcraft School and I wish all the students well for the future – as to you John, thanks for the invite and as per usual a job well done I think.

Cheers

George

My Kind of Glamping

Family camps tend to be busy affairs for me – setting up the tipi, sorting the fire etc, etc.

Not for this weekend last April- my wife Alison booked a Pod at the Durdle Door Holiday Park for us all.  It was a weekend of exploring, swimming and eating – without touching a tent 🙂

Dorsetr Days

The Pods were tall enough to stand in, had two single beds, one double, plenty of storage and electricity. We even had space to put up some hammocks (not an April shower in sight) and treated Finlay and Catherine for lunch at ‘Finley’s‘ cafe in Lulworth Cove.

A spot of Glamping

So after a quick emptying of the car into the Pod it was off around Scratchy Bottom (I love that name) to get the views from Swyre Head down onto Durdle Door. Along the way the Hawthorn trees were all bent into that classic ‘South Westerly’ pose.

Scratchy Bottom

Just to the East of Swyre Head is a crevice with a rope down it. This is an escape route off the beach if you get caught out by the tide. We though decided to take it down to the beach so we could approach Durdle Door from a less busy route.

We spent a little while relaxing by Durdle Door before deciding to pop over the rocks to Man O’ War Cove.

Durdle Door

We told the kids to just paddle as it was evening time but before long they were both saturated and having a ball. For myself I was up and around the cliffs trying to get a good shot of the Cove and some of the local plants.

Man O’War Cove

Saturday

Next morning it was time to head back down to the beach at Durdle Door. It is a pretty steep decent to the beach and Flip Flops are definitely not recommended for the descent.

We were lucky to arrive at a time as a couple were paddling in and around Durdle Door – kinda lent well to photography. The kids though were soon back in the water in their wetsuits having a splash about – not many folk ventured into the chilly April waters so I was quite proud to see them having a go.

Lazy Morning

Then it was back over to Man O’War Cove for a family dip – boy that water was cold.

We ventured East a bit more digging ourselves into the beach and finding bits of driftwood that looked quite artistic.

Along the coast

Along the way I put this short video together.

Before venturing into Lulworth Cove we stopped off at Stair Hole. This mini cove is a delight to photograph with its caves, blow hole and folded limestone strata.

Stair Hole

After a spot of lunch we spent some time at Lulworth Cove. If you have never been here before I do advise a trip as it is quite beautiful (even on a busy day).

Lulworth Cove

At the end of the day we walked up onto Hambury Tout hill. There is a large Bronze Age Barrow on its summit that still stands proud. We hung around for long enough to catch a quite lovely sunset to end the day.

Grand Views

Sunday

After a quick pack up (love this Glamping business) we headed west for an hour to Chesil Beach. Here we met up with some friends of mine.

Firstly we met my friend Fraser from Coastal Survival as he was running a course on the beach. We left him be teaching and went off for a paddle and also met up with an old friend of mine – Dougie Gray (from my days in 15 Para) and his lovely wife Carol. It was great to catch up with Dougie and see all the pictures he had brought along from all these years ago .

Chesil Beach with friends

While we were on the beach we decided to start a couple of Beach Henge’s. This was something we came across on Chesil beach a number of years ago and decided it was time to build our own.

They take ages to complete as you need to scour for the right stones but well worth the effort for the cracking pictures in the end

Beach Henge

After saying goodbye to Dougie, Carol and Fraser we headed East to see our friends Brian and Jane in Southampton. As a treat for us their daughter Annabelle had made the most wonderful cake and scones for us to enjoy

Perfect End – Time for Tea

Thank you Annabelle for putting the icing on the cake of what was a wonderful weekend.

Cheers

George

Tai Chi with Alan Lewis

Okehampton Army Camp on the Northern Slopes of Dartmoor will conjure up many memories for some folks – mostly of a wet and windswept type.

Not last weekend though when I was there with instructors of the Sea Cadets and Royal Marines Cadets. The weather was glorious, there were loads of activities undertaken but they were all started off with a gentle bit of Tai Chi.

The session was led by Alan Lewis who is 79 years young and still attending our trips on a regular basis – I may be looking into this Tai Chi business a bit more in the future then 🙂

Cheers for the great session Alan.

George

Lifting the Lid on The Vyne – A Video Post

A few weeks ago I had some Father and Son time with my lad Finlay at The Vyne National Trust property here on the outskirts of Bramley in Hampshire.

History and Archaeology have always been of interest to me so to get up close to see the renovation work going on at The Vyne was a chance not to be missed. Along the way we also took time to watch the Greylag Goslings and spotted some of the many Lego characters hidden along the way.

If you have not been to see the renovation work then I urge you to pop along to view it before the roof is all covered over again.

Cheers

George

Bushmoot 2016 – A Video Post

I have finally put together the little footage I took last year at the Bushcraft UK Bushmoot.

A nice reminder of what is coming up next August when the 2017 Moot kicks off.

The Grumpy Chums

Groups of friends usually have something in common – with my chums from Crisis it is Grumpiness ;-( The ‘Grumps’ are Rick (1), myself (2), Gordon (3) and Stu (4). Gordon has numbered us however there is much debate about his 3rd place in the grumpiness rankings. We do grumble a lot and it is remarked upon from time to time however we like it and it makes us happy 🙂

We have worked together each Christmas for 20 years or so at one of the homeless centres for Crisis in London. During the year we always try to get away together. This year Gordon organised a trip down to Durdle Door on the Dorset coast here in the UK early in March.

Foggy Friday

I had never been to this part of the coast before so was keen to go. We set up camp at Durdle Door Holiday camp (I insisted on sleeping in my hammock while they all got the tipi) and then headed off towards the coast.

The fog was well in but I insisted we go all the way down to see the arch at Durdle Door. I am glad I did as it looked stunning in the fog.

Once we had finished there we headed on over to Lulworth Cove and Stu and myself headed on down to see Stair Hole. It was a bit of a hike down but it was worth it to get the pictures. The rest of the evening was spent between the pub in Lulworth Cove and the one in the campsite where I was presented back with my Flossie Anne. She had just come back from one of her epic trips with Rick – this time she travelled from Japan through China, Mongolia, Russia and the Baltic states (she must be the most well travelled bear in the world).

Friday Night

The Saturday

I woke up at daft o’clock on Saturday morning to the sound of the Crows roosting above my hammock. The tranquil nature of the rest of my view made up for that racket though. The rest of the morning was a relaxed affair (apart from the Crow poo all over my tarp and tipi) and Stu had brought along some great coffee to brew up.

Once brekkie was over we headed back down to Durdle Door (Rick was very concerned for a young lady as she descended the steps!!) and I got a good look down the coast over the Man O’War beach – it really is quite stunning. We pootled around Durdle Door itself (well I faffed really trying to get a good picture of it) before heading west.

Durdle Door

As you head west you approach a great big headland named Bat Head with an archway called Bat Hole. It is beautiful to look at however there was no way round it for us with the tide being so far in (I have no idea if you can get around the headland at low tide).

Gordon and Stu were not paying attention and were soon ankle deep in swash 🙂 We back tracked and spotted an escape route up off the beach. It was a ravine with a weighted rope in it. After a quick recce everyone was soon up on the coastal path overlooking the beach.

We had a leasurley stroll up the coastal path to Swyre Head where we enjoyed the views and I stalked a crow to get a good shot of him 🙂

Along and Up

From Swyre Head we moved off inland around a natural bowl in the landscape called Scratchy Bottom – there are some brilliant place names in this country. It was here Rick spotted a group of wildflowers. Once I got up close I could see they were Speedwells – this being early March it was my first spot of them this year.

We made our way back to Durdle Door through the campsite (after cleaning off some more Crow poo from my tarp and tipi) down onto Man O’War beach. There were plenty of people on the beach but as we travelled on the numbers soon thinned out. Eventually we were onto rocks and we were the only ones in sight. Looking back Stu spotted the strange rock formation at Dungy Head you can see in the picture below (on the right) – Looks like a large bloke with a big round nose and a woolen hat on his head to me 🙂

Changing Scenery

There were a number of kayakers on the water and they made for some lovely photography but I could see that the fog was starting to come in again. As it thickened up two beautiful yachts came out of Lulworth Cove and headed west along the coast. It was really difficult to photograph them with the fog and because they were both white but I think I got a decent shot in the end.

Sea View

We tried to get all the way to the entrance of Lulworth Cove but it was just not possible. We found a section of Cliff that was easy to scramble up and were soon in Lulworth Cove once again.

I left the lads to potter around the village (code for pub) and spent a half hour down on the cove photographing it. The waves were non existent so I had to get down really low to get a half way decent shot (bottom picture).

We had an evening of watching rugby and trading grumps before heading back to camp. Somehow I ended up getting Stu to do ‘shadows’ in the tipi and when I looked at the picture below his shadow looked to me like a giant ginger bread man 🙂

Saturday Evening

The Sunday

We had decided the night before to de-camp straight away and head on over to the New Forest on the Sunday morning. It did not take long to pack everything away (after cleaning of more Crow poo) however due to the rain overnight (Rick ended up a tad damp in the morning) we had to have Stu’s VW van pulled off the campsite.

Once in the New Forest we stopped off in Lyndhurst for lunch and where I got myself a proper camp coffee pot for hanging over the fire – I did though leave it behind in the cafe and had to go running back 🙂

We drove onto the carpark by Beaulieu Rd Railway Station and headed off to the woods by Denny Lodge. There were plenty of ponies around and quite a few deer – though the first lot were in an enclosure (all stags in an enclosure called Stag Park). I spent some time making up some birch firelighters and looking for fungi and burrs.

Sunday New Forest

There was still plenty of standing water on the heathland so a detour here and there was required and just as we headed back to the van we spotted a herd of female deer in the open.

I took my time and got as close as I could to them. They were very flighty and soon they were off but I did manage to get a decent picture.

A Great Bimble

I liked the campsite in Durdle Door so much I am back down there in a weeks time with my family to stay at one of the camping pods they rent out – fancy a break from always having to put the tent up.

Thanks to Gordon for organising the weekend and for all my fellow Grumps for being ………well so Grumpy 🙂

Cheers

George

The Strange, The Sad, The Stupid and The Stunning

You stroll down a country lane and something catches your eye!!

From time to time I get to go out on a bimble on my own (no kids in tow). When I do I really take my time and explore what is going on around me. In doing so I spotted some strange, sad, stupid and stunning scenes on my travels today.

Today was the first spot for me of this years crop of Bluebells. They were just popping out amongst the Wood Anemones. This combination of white, green and blue was great to see after the drabness of winter.

First of the Bluebells – ‘Stunning’

We have our share of stupid people here in Bramley as well it would seem. There is a spot that is hidden from the main road and this burnt out car has been rusting away there for years.

I visit this area as there are lots of wild flowers appearing at this time of year – I was expecting to see a little bit of colour – just not this colour combination.

I classify this one under ‘Stupid’

As I headed off onto a footpath I came across this sad scene by the side of a field. I have no idea what had happened here however nothing good I would imagine.

Oh so ‘Sad’

I put this under the ‘Strange’ category due to the sign – ‘Ground Nesting Birds’ – somehow I don’t see too many nesting birds.

These signs appear everywhere around our area with others saying to keep out as the woods are conservation areas. Most of these woods from what I see (and hear) are breeding grounds for pheasants.

Very ‘Strange’ indeed – Ground Nesting Birds – Seriously!!!!

As the weather has been good these last couple of days the insects are up and about. The bees were busy today and this little fella was shopping on some Forget-me-nots – quite stunning.

BumbleBee at work amongst the Forget-me-nots – ‘Stunning’

You stroll down a country lane and something catches your eye!!

Not sure what else I can say here other than they looked pretty new and were caught up on the hedge – a pretty colour combination I would say 🙂

Another one for the ‘Strange’ category

On my bimbles around ‘The Frith’ woodland I like to stop at a little pond and have a snack. When I got there today I was saddened to see that the local farmer had now closed the area off to everyone.

As I took a picture though I spooked a Heron – you can just see him taking off over the pond.

This for me is so ‘Sad’ – Also spot the Spooked Heron

In contrast to the very bright and showy bra I was also drawn to this very delicate subdued scene. I have a soft spot for some reason for taking pictures of ‘Down’ caught up on plants. It is the simplicity of it all that makes it so perfect to photograph and a fitting one to end on.

‘Down’ on the Wind – ‘Stunning’

Cheers

George

Spring Bimbles

Spring is a time I am normally found out and about with my camera looking to see what is afoot. This year my work has kept me much busier than usual so my usual bimbles have been curtailed slightly – though some may disagree 😉 I did though get out a little and here is a little taste of my bimbles this last month.

Early in March I was at a conference in Lincoln and as all the town centre hotels were full I ended up at the Branston Hall Hotel on the outskirts of Lincoln. As soon as I booked into the hotel I was straight out to explore its beautiful gardens.

There was not much in the way of wild flowers about but the local birds put on a fantastic display. The Black swan was majestic, the Cormorant stayed aloof and kept an eye on me and the Heron came blasting by.

Lincoln Life

When I am out and about I keep a little pocket hammock seat (the EDC Hammock) in my bag. As I was out on a couple of trips with the kids and their pals I needed to carry an extra hammock with me.

We did lots of exploring but we did a lot of relaxing as well – the kids just loved using the hammocks and I was always hard pushed to get them out of them.

Hammock time

Over the last two weeks the early spring flowers like the Wood Sorrel and the Wood Anemone have started to appear. They are so easy to pass on by but when you get down close their beauty really shines through.

Rustling through the leaves we came across quite a few frogs and occasionally the odd boy 🙂

Exploring nature

Last weekend I was in our local woods at Pamber with my family and our friends Katie and William. The weather was gorgeous and the gorse was in full bloom making for a blaze of colours to photograph.

I took the picture of my shadow as it struck me I looked like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle – comes with having a nine year old son in the family I suppose.

Family time

As we move into April there will be another riot of colour and I hope a few more bimbles.

Cheers

George

Everyone Needs a Field Farm Day

Life is all hustle and bustle at times – so when it is you need some time out. A great place for this time out can be found at the Field Farm Project.

Our friends Mollie and Nick run this project and I feel as if I have entered a different world when I pop into visit. They certainly live up to their business tagline: Grow – Study – Make.

A Field Farm Day

I met Mollie on a Bushcraft instructor course at Woodcraft School and part of the course was to undertake the Basic Expedition Leadership (BEL) award. I did not do this part of the course as I was already a qualified Mountain Leader however as I run this BEL course myself now Mollie wanted to do a bit of a refresher on her navigation as she runs lots of outdoor classes.

Along for the day’s training as well was my wife Alison, daughter Catherine, Mollie’s friend Debbie and her young son. It was a lovely sunny day but with the northerly wind it was bitterly cold at times. Before setting off we were fortified by some hot home-made celeriac/parsnip soup with a side of freshly baked breadsticks.

Lots of Nav

It was not all map and compass work (though there was a fair bit of it), we had lots of fun along the way.

The snowdrops were still in full bloom and we investigated the colourful world that is their underside, had a stomp around a flint/chalk pile and petted the odd Llama and Alpaca.

Explorations

Eventually we wound our way through the footpaths and country lanes to one of Mollie’s outdoor training areas. The central Beech tree was festooned with woodland art that Mollie’s classes had made, there was a small shelter and plenty of benches.

Personally I prefer to use my hammock seat however my daughter Catherine soon had me out of that 🙂

A bit of bushcraft

The weather changed in the latter part of the walk with some heavy showers but that did not dampen our spirits. We were soon back at the farm where I took a little time out just to photograph the animals.

As we arrived home we were treated to a fantastic double rainbow over our house – a fitting end to a great day.

Back on the Farm

So if you are looking for somewhere to get away from the hustle and bustle of life then I thoroughly recommend spending some time with Mollie and Nick at the Field Farm Project.

Cheers

George

Dining Out – Brecon Style

The beginning of this year was the end of an era for the Adventure Training team in London Area Sea Cadets: our bosses Perry Symes and Graham Brockwell were standing down from their roles as Area Staff Officers after many years of hard work.

So to celebrate we headed off to the Brecon Beacons here in the UK for a ‘Dining Out Weekend‘.

Dining Out

It was a weekend of many parts – once we had settled into our bunkhouse at Gilfach Farm it was time for a ceremony of handing out certificates to those students who had recently passed their Basic Expedition Leadership Award.

Kev Lomas awarded Perry and Graham a cuddly neck teddy each to carry about for the weekend. Then it was off to the pub to get some dinner (a beer or two) and to plan for the next day.

Friday Fun

After a good breakfast I had a wander outside and was greeted by a cracking view of Pen Y Fan in the distance. She had a light smattering of snow however the skies were clear.

We were soon off in the cars and mini bus heading for our start point at Cwm Gwdi car park (old soldiers may remember this camp). This spot allowed us easy access up onto Pen Y Fan without all the masses you will find on the route up from Storey Arms.

Saturday Start

The majority of the group were outdoor instructors and all had worked with Perry and Graham in one way or another over the years . Today though the emphasis was on ‘doing your own thing’.

Alan and Dave Lewis went for a low level walk as Dave was carrying an injury while the rest of us set off up the Cefn Cwm Llwch track on the northern slopes of Pen Y Fan. The going was wet underfoot at first however we soon climbed above the snow line.

We snaked along the path, well spread out, enjoying the views and chatting as we went along. I decided to record my very first Live Facebook video on this part of the walk. The videos were not top quality because of the weak signal and wind noise but I enjoyed making them.

Pen Y Fan – The Approach

I spent most of my time scouting out good photography positions and ordering the lads to pose for me 🙂 Kept me happy and I think everyone liked that they could for once go at their own pace and do their own thing.

The final bit of the track up to the summit was quite icy but safe enough if you took your time. Once on the top it was like Piccadily Circus with all the folk coming up from the Storey Arms. We soon got the pictures taken and Ben found time for a few push ups before we set off.

Pen Y Fan – The Summit

It was at this point we broke up into three groups. The first set off at breakneck speed to ascend Cribyn and Fan Y Big. I bimbled along with the middle group but soon left them, ascending to the saddle below Cribyn. After a break on Cribyn I descended off the hill on its Northern slope down the Bryn Teg track where I met the third group being led off the hill by Jacques.

Descent Time

Soon the teams met up again and while Jacques sped off to pick up the minibus James produced a rugby ball from his bergen (there was not much else in it). I asked him why he had not produced it on top of Pen Y Fan and he said he forgot (would have been an excellent photo opportunity). Anyway the guys had a good half hour mucking about and doing the odd ‘Dab’ on the side of a bridge.

Waiting for a bus

The Saturday evening was spent in the Red Lion pub in Llangorse enjoying a slap up meal. We were given the upper floor to use and it was probably a good move on the staff’s part – it got pretty noisy at times.

When I arrived though we were all downstairs in the bar and some of the guys were playing pool. They had been there a couple of hours to watch England play in the Six Nations rugby championship. I was standing at the bar when one of the locals approached. ‘Be careful,’ he advised me, nodding at my kilt, ‘There’s a bunch of rowdy English fans in the bar.’ I looked over his shoulder – then back at him – and said that it was OK, those rowdy English fans were my so-called mates 🙂 His face was a picture!

Dinner Time

The evening was a great success with good food, plenty of wine, speeches, and a few war stories before retiring to the bar downstairs.

In the morning there may have been one or two fuzzy heads as we packed up and made our way to Dinas Rock located in the South of the Beacons. The plan was for some of the guys to do some Mountain Leader ropework on the rocks while the rest of us headed off to the waterfalls at Sgwd Yr Eira. In the end no one got there as we all kind of split up (after going the wrong way initially) and did our own thing.

I found a nice spot to sit in my hammock by the river while Jacques as usual dived in.

Sunday Stroll (top left picture courtesy of Ed Juanrude – top right courtesy of Dave Lewis)

It was a fantastic weekend and it was great to be part of it. I think the pictures confirm that Perry and Graham had a great time. Below, pictured in between Perry and Graham, is Ben McDonald, the latest Mountain Leader to the team who has taken over Perry’s role as Sea Cadet Area Staff Officer (ASO) for Adventure Training in the London Area. Perry aims to stay on as the Assistant ASO for a year before stepping back totally.

A Salute

The guests were (in no particular order):

  • Paul Kelly
  • Kev Lomas
  • Deano Nicholas
  • Jacques Daragh Moore-Hurley
  • James Rawlings
  • Ben McDonald
  • Ed Juanrude
  • Duncan Boar
  • Jim Stilgoe
  • Jacob Leverett
  • Jennifer Burdett
  • John Kelly
  • Alan Lewis
  • Dave Lewis
  • Chris Bonfield
  • Chris Cook
  • Graham Brockwell
  • Perry Symes
  • and myself 🙂

Cheers

George

Contrasts and Colours – Experiments in Photography

As a bushcrafter I like to keep an eye on what is going on around me. As an amateur photographer – ditto. This habit of always looking for an interesting shot has led to a few comments recently about my ‘Geek’ levels 🙂

Perusing my albums over the last few months though I felt a number of shots lent themselves to this blog of contrasts and colours – Geeky I may be but I enjoy it.

In Profile

The two ‘In Profile’ pictures above are of my kids Finlay and Catherine. Both shots were in separate locations but truth be told they were well posed. It was great to walk past a site – see its potential at that moment in time and then get the shots I wanted.

Up High – Down Low

Recently I was with a group of friends in the Brecon Beacons having fun in the mountains. I spent a fair bit of time scouting around on my own to get what I think are decent shots like the top picture above. I had fun ordering the guys around on the mountain until I was happy with the shot but it was hard work.

In contrast the picture of the guys sitting on the bridge, low down in the valley was at the last moment after an impromptu group photo. They all just decided to do a ‘Bolt‘ at the end of it and I just clicked away – easy.

Woodland Wanderings

I love to photograph my children and they love to be photographed. Colourful pictures in the late autumn and winter can be hard to find at times but they are out there.

The two pictures above were shot on different days however with a bit of good sunlight coming through the different colours in the woodland really stand out – a bit of action always helps to 🙂

Closed in – Opened Up

I really liked the contrast of the two pictures above. I stalked the deer for quite a while and waited until I could get the best picture of her as she finally noticed me. The woods were very closed in with lots of underbrush and noisy from the leaf litter.

The field though was different in every way and I only decided to take this shot as I passed by. It was so quiet and open however when I looked at the picture later I could see the subtle greens of the weeds coming through. Even though the pictures are so different there are similarities with the colours of the weeds and moss in both pictures.

Curves and Corners

The ‘Curves and Corners’ pictures are stills from some video I shot at the Surrey Hills Wood Fair last October. Not the greatest quality however these were two scenes that had me entranced.

The skills needed to form the glass bowl over the log and the carving of the links out of a single trunk make my mind boggle.

Woodland Skies

I went for a walk with my family in Basing Wood at the end of last year. It was a dark and dreary winters day – the type that could really do with a great dollop of snow to cheer you up.

Not to be put off with this greyness I kept looking for something a bit cheery. I found this where the trees met the sky when the sun finally came out.

The kids woodland play park arch came alive when shot from below – its depth really stood out at this angle. The bottom picture I love because of the bands of colour you can pick out in the weak afternoon sun. My wife Alison was the one who suddenly stopped me and pointed me in this direction – so easy to just walk on by…………

Same Spot – Different Angles

Last weekend I was teaching near the River Thames and in the evening spent some time standing by the river waiting to see what happened. One Swan swept by and I managed to get a shot of him clear of all the buildings. I enhanced the evening skyline to make the picture warmer and was pleasantly surprised by the results.

In contrast the B&W picture below I nearly deleted. It was a nice enough picture in colour but nothing special I would say. A niggly thought bugged me as I hovered over the delete button so I went with it. Glad I did as the B&W version really works for me.

Alison

A single last picture – no contrast – would not dare 🙂

I love this picture of my beautiful wife Alison as she led the Christingle service at our local church – St James here in Bramley last year. I could not use a flash and relied on a zoom lens. The colours and the smile really make this picture for me and a fitting one to end on.

Good luck with your experiments.

Cheers

George

Looking for that Moment

Looking for that moment‘ – always something at the back of my mind when I am out and about. These last few months I have been extremely busy at work so my Bimbles have been severely curtailed however there were one or two ‘Moments‘ over the last few months.

The thing that the three pictures below have in common (apart from the obvious) is that I walked past each location and then purposefully double backed to get the shots – I am glad I did now 🙂 The colours came out beautifully in my opinion.

Natures Colours

As the nights have been drawing in I have tried to get a few night time shots in as well. The two shots of the moon I took using my DSLR however the Christmas Reindeer (outside Cardiff Castle) I took using my Sony mobile phone. I think I will be trying out a bit more night time photography in the future.

Light at Night

Walking in the woods on my own I find very relaxing as I can wander wherever my interest takes me however taking the kids out brings the woods more alive I think. There is something magical with the light in the autumn that the kids really love and I think it makes them more adventurous than when we have a heavy canopy of leaves – it certainly makes for easier photography.

Childhood

As winter approaches (strange saying that in January) I hope we get some snow here in Southern England to get out to explore and photograph.

Cheers

George

2016 in B & W and a Happy New Year

Over the last year I have dabbled with some of my pictures to see how they they fared in Black and White. I did look for pictures that gave me good shadows and high levels of contrast. I have no idea if that is the best way of going about it but I had fun along the way.

I hope you enjoy the pictures and wish you all a Happy New Year.

Port Beach – Isle of Lews
A Room with a View – Edinburgh
Fungi Forest – Banchory
Figure Four Deadfall – Merthyr Mawr
Fire Faces – New Forest
Family Faces – Brittany
Re-naturing – Bramly, Hampshire
Little Towers – Big Towers – Isle of Lewis
Chillaxing – Isle of Lewis

Have a great New Year Folks.

Cheers

George

Bushcraft Birthday Bash

There has been a lot of skullduggery going on in the Aitchison-Jones household recently and it all came to a head in September 🙂

My wife Alison made sure that a certain weekend in September was kept well clear in my diary. I was told to pack for a family camp to celebrate my 50th birthday (location unknown) – hard to believe I have reached such a lofty age, I know 😉

So after packing we set off on a magical mystery tour that stopped off at the Arrivals lounge at Gatwick Airport. Passing through the gates was ‘Darling Barney’ all the way from Southern France to celebrate my birthday with us.

The pictures in this blog are a mixture from Tony Bristow, Ian Woodham, Alison Jones and myself.

phototasticcollage-2016-10-30-10-53-22
The Bushcraft Birthday Bash

The magical mystery tour continued to our friends Philippa and Phil’s farm just outside Dorking in Surrey. I was directed to a field to set up camp and we soon had our hammocks up and fire on. That night Phil came down to join us around the fire, there was a Harvest Moon and real ale and I was happy as Larry.

Phil asked Barney and myself if we could help him and a couple of friends complete a bridge at his girls school the next morning.  I thought nothing of this as I normally help out Phil’s farm when I camp there and Barney is a carpenter/cabinetmaker anyway so his skills were needed.

phototasticcollage-2016-10-30-10-57-13
Friday Night – Saturday Morning

It was a good morning mucking about in the mud building the bridge and we even stopped off for a couple of pints on the way back.

Unbeknownst to me Alison had set up a secret Facebook page and invited lots of my friends to the bash. While I was away folks started to arrive and needless to say that when I was in the car coming back down the field to the camp I was feeling slightly bemused.

There followed a lot of hugging and generally turning around with a startled look on my face as more and more folk popped out of the wood. These Saturday morning arrivals were friends from various parts of my life. Barney and Steve from Raleigh International, Liz, Rick, Stu and Gordon from Crisis, Alan and Dave from the Sea Cadets, Tony, Shelly, Robin, Jenna, David, Ian and Archie from Bushcraft UK

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More Surprises

Alison had arranged for a delivery of groceries to be dropped off at the farm and a feast was quickly prepared. David Willis (Bushcraft With David Willis) used his bushcraft baking skills to make bread and our resident Sea Cadet chef Alan Lewis got on with prepping the skewers for the barbie.

I had gone from quite chilled out (must have been the two pints in the pub) to frantically running around getting the fires going, maintaining them and trying to chat with everyone who arrived. Those of you who know me personally know that multi tasking is not my strong point.

Added to all this confusion my friend Graham was spotted coming down the hill carrying a massive present all wrapped up. He told me I could not open it until later that evening around the fire.

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The Feast

After a few more beers (I kept opening one, putting it down, chatting, losing it, opening another……and so on, repeating the process) the food was ready and a lovely birthday cake produced.

Thanks to everyone who brought a present along – every one was appreciated and I am still working my way through all the single malts you brought along Rick, Gordon, Stu, Dave and Alan.

The wooden ’50’, Cliff, sits with my medals and other personal bits and bobs. It is a lovely piece of carving buddy.

Still not used the old military canteen, Barney, in case I damage it – it too will live on my bits and bobs shelf.

As for the Harrier knife carving, that log Graham that may take a while. (The massive present Graham brought me turned out to be a rare Harrier stamped knife together with a log from which to carve my own twelve-piece dinner service).

Thanks Phil and Philippa for the lovely honey you had just jarred 20 minutes before. As fresh as you can get I would imagine.

Thanks for all the Go Outdoor vouchers – I spent a happy couple of hours in there getting some extra kit.

Lastly to Alison for getting me that rather nice laptop I was really looking for (cheers for organising that Dave). It works a dream and I can process pictures so much quicker now.

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Partying

The rest of the evening was spent chatting and from time to time Alison managed to extract some stories from folks about myself – many had the ending of me being hit in some way 🙂

A real highlight of the evening was listening to Robin and Jenna singing Happy Birthday to me in Welsh – I am not normally an emotional person but that moment will stay with me for the rest of my life.

A surprise evening arrival to the party were my good friends John and Caron of Woodcraft School (apologies I did not get a picture of you at the party). They just sort of appeared out of the dark while I was chatting away (just when I was sure there were no more surprises I was proved wrong).

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Activities

Sunday morning soon came and those that had decided to stay for the night rose to a breakfast of bacon rolls and sausages before cracking on with some archery and Atlatls and posing for a Survivors’ picture.

Packing up was a sad business as everyone prepared to travel back home but I was still reeling slightly in a happy way from the whole surprise party.

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Survivors Photo

I am still amazed at the distances people travelled to come to the party – France, west Wales, Leeds and more. Some came for the day and others stayed overnight. Thank you to all those who could not make the weekend but sent me there heartfelt wishes instead.

Thank you everyone who came and a special thanks to Alison and Philippa for all your organisational skulduggery 🙂

Cheers

George

An Epic Scottish Road Trip

We clocked up nearly 2000 miles on the road this summer galavanting around Scotland visiting friends and family. Every couple of years we travel up to the Isle of Lewis to visit my family however this year we decided to call in at a few more friends en route.

Balquhidder

Our first port of call was to stop off at Balquhidder Church in the beautiful Trossachs in the Highlands of Scotland. This is where my Father’s side of the family come from and where Alison and I got married. Buried in the local graveyard are my Gran and Grandpa and the falls above the church are well worth a visit.

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Balquhidder

Isle of Lewis

Then it was off to Ullapool to pick up the ferry over to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. My mother Joan and stepfather Abby live in the village of Port of Ness at the northernmost tip of the island. This was to be our base for the next week.

Our kids Catherine and Finlay were really looking forward to this visit as they had not stayed at their Grannie Port’s house before.

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Port of Ness

Much of our time was spent down on the beach at Port or at Stoth as the weather turned out to be glorious. This is where I spent much of my childhood and it was great to see my children loving it as well.

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Beach Time

I took the family and my brother Finlay to visit my Dad Freddie’s grave. It is located on the Machair right by the coast and the view are stunning. My Dad was also a part-time lighthouse keeper at the Butt of Lewis so it was a pity that it was closed to the public – the views are fantastic from the top.

It was great to catch up with everyone such as my old mate Peche and his wife Jean who I had not seen for many a year. The kids spent a lot of time with their cousins Kenny John, Courtney and Lauren. Kenny John in particular was very excited that Finlay was coming to visit and the two of them had great fun, playing hide and seek and climbing trees together.

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Family and Friends

We spent time most days with my sister Tina, my niece Natasha and her lovely little daughter Lily Mai. As we only get to go north every couple of years the difference in the little ones is always amazing – the last time I had seen Lily Mai she was still a babe in arms.

My sister Tina is a keen walker and is out for a five mile walk most days. I decided to photograph her one day on the coast and was really chuffed with the results. It is not all play though as the peats were calling and I went out a couple of evenings to lift and turn them with my brother-in-law Kenny – the midgies won in the end on both evenings and we were forced to beat a hasty retreat.

It was also great to catch up with Andy Burns each day as we were out and about. Andy is a great photographer and gets some incredible shots as his croft overlooks Port Beach.

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Wanderings

While we were on Lewis my Uncle Dods was once again leading the annual Guga hunt. They arrived back the day before we were due to leave. I popped over to Stornoway to catch them offloading the Gugas. That night the kids, Abby and myself enjoyed a good feast of Guga.

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The Guga Hunters

Before we left we managed to get out to visit the Black House at Arnol where I had a great time talking with the wardens about traditional crafts and how they were made and used (for example making rope out of heather).

The time had flown by so fast and it was soon time to say goodbye to my Mum, Abby and the rest of the family.

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Farewells

Banchory

After picking up the ferry back to the mainland we headed for Banchory over on the East Coast of Scotland. Our friends Kate and John live there now. We met Kate on a Raleigh International expedition to Chile in 1996 and have been great friends since. They have two lads – Chris and Matthew.

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Banchory

We spent three days exploring the local area and managed to get a real feast of blueberries on Scolty Hill.

Stopping off at the Thundering Falls of Feugh we were hoping to spot some leaping salmon however we were amazed to spot an otter fishing in the falls below our feet – it was quite a sight.

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Otters and Adventures

Thornhill

Our next stop wasThornhill in Stirlingshire to visit our friends Kate and Roddy. Alison has been friends with Kate since University and we always try and visit them when we can.

We spent a great afternoon at Doune Castle exploring its secrets and walking in its grounds. Apart from its rich historical past in recent years it has attracted many tourists for its use in the film industry: Monty Python and the Holy Grail featured the castle and scenes from the TV series Outlander were shot here.

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Thornhill and a bit of Monty Python

Located nearby is the beautiful Flanders Moss nature reserve. It is one of the last blanket lowland peat bogs in the country and is home to some rare flora and fauna.

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Flanders Moss

Family Visits

The next stop was to visit my Uncle George in Crieff. It was also great to see my cousin Leanne and her son Robbi – another one who has shot up :-).

The we popped in to Callander to see my Aunty Catherine and Uncle Fred, who had just celebrated his 90th birthday the day before.

Our final night was spent back in England visiting Alison’s mum Beryl in Stockport. It was great to stop off there as no road trip North up the M6 would be complete without stopping off and letting the kids spend time with their Grandma.

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Family Visits

It felt like we covered a lot of ground on this holiday however it was over in a flash. I caught up with many folk I had not seen in a long time (it was hard to recollect names at times) but I left Scotland with some great memories – I hope my kids felt the same as well.

Cheers

George