The bane of bushcraft in my local forest – giant ant hills teeming with millions of large wood ants. Each time I kneel to photograph fungi or some other photogenic flora and fauna, massive ants crawl over my legs. You’d be amazed at where they can bite… and they bite hard. A hammock would be ideal.
I had a bit of a surprise when I saw this immense white bird standing in the stream. Looking like a giant white heron, the Great Egret (Ardea alba) was obviously lost and far from its native territory hundreds of miles to the south west in Hungary. Sadly, it moved before I could get the camera out and capture its face but its clean white wings in flight make it look angelic.
After the trip to Croatia and then the UK this summer, I was glad to have a little time back in the village in Slovakia to go off to the hills and forest and reconnect. The weather’s been awful so I had to time my walks between heavy rainstorms. This is the view from the hill directly behind my house. I’m very lucky to have such a wide expanse of bush to play in…
The hills are alive with flowers and insects. One thing I really noticed while camping in the woods in the UK earlier this month is the utter lack of insects, apart from the odd hornet. Out here, the ground crawls and the air buzzes with them.
We’ve had a lot of smooth snakes (Coronella austriaca) this year. Until you get close enough to see the stripe through their eye, they resemble adders. This one was lying dead just outside my front gate. I would have taken its skin but the wound on its belly was full of wriggling things…
“In What Am I Doing Here? Bruce Chatwin quotes Jünger quoting Stendhal: ‘The art of civilization consists in combining the most delicate pleasures with the constant presence of danger.’ An observation that echoes Élysée’s injunction.
The essential thing is to live one’s life with a brave hand on the tiller, swinging boldly between contrasting worlds. Balancing between danger and pleasure, the frigid Russian winter and the warmth of the stove.
Never settling, always oscillating from one to the other extremity on the spectrum of sensations.”
Thanks, Steve, for the book. I needed this right now.
During our trip to the UK we stayed over at a friend’s house in Mold in North Wales. He and his family took me and mine up the mountain Moel Famau.
Despite it being the middle of August, the weather was horrific. The rain lashed horizontally in sheets, the wind roared and a thick fog blurred the view. This was a very good example for my children as to why to tackle hillwalking well prepared as the weather can be both unpredictable and dangerous, even if it looks sunny when you set off.
I’ve just returned from the UK after a gruelling 33 hour drive. My family and I went to the Wilderness Gathering at Bison Farm in Wiltshire. Absolutely superb event. Very relaxed and lots of skills to learn from experts. I gave a couple of lectures on life in the bush out in the Carpathians and we camped in the woods with some friends. I’d recommend it to anyone.
Our last meal on the camp fire consisted of bison sausages, elk sausages and boiled quail eggs. We drove past Stonehenge on the way home, which rounded the trip off nicely.