“I’m the root of all that’s evil but you can call me cookie”
– Fire Water Burn, The Bloodhound Gang
Finally, after weeks of cold and dreary grey, the first snowflakes have begun falling. It appears that each year the onset of winter happens later and later.
Sheepskin jacket, wool jumper, Polish army winter boots and kevlar and thinsulate motorbike gloves…. and a woolen hat or baranica, of course….
This is the daddy of the Russian post-WW2 bayonet range, an AK47 made at the Izhevsk (Izmas, Izhmaesch) arsenal in Russia. Compared to modern bayonets it’s lacking in ‘extra features’. In fact, it’s designed for one thing only but it’s simplicity, practicality, and crude aesthetic make it perfect for that task.
Holding it in the hand really feels like holding a piece of history. The one I’ve got (in the photo) is covered in Cosmoline (that’s not rust on the blade but protective grease…) and the frog is still wrapped in the original grease paper. It’s just not feasible to use the AK47 bayonet as a bushcraft or survival knife, or for anything other than for what it was originally intended, but it definitely stands apart from modern blades.
It is amazing to see the evolution of bayonets over the last century as soldiers’ needs changed. The AK47 bayonet, with its long thin blade and blood groove, and lugs serving as handguard, is the last vestige of the old 1st and 2nd World War fighting knives, a shortened version of the short swords which used to be affixed to bolt action rifles for close quarter confrontation. The modern soldier, with his snub nosed assault rifle, needs a multitool and not a spike to turn his lengthy rifle into a pike. The AK47 bayonet is from another era; one, scarily, still in living memory.
This bayonet is the latest in my collection and, in my humble opinion, is the best of the bunch when it comes to the various AK range. Produced at the Izhevsk (Izmas, Izhmaesch) arsenal and constructed from Bakelite and steel, the AKM Mk2 bayonet is the epitome of Cold War industrial and practical design. Unlike the Mk1s with their bulbous, all-Bakelite handles, the Mk2 features a metal butt so that it can also be used as a hammer. The scabbard features a wire cutting device with the entire body being made of electrically-resistant Bakelite to enable the cutting of live wire, unlike the Mk1 which had a metal scabbard and a large rubber sheath. I’ve no idea why the USSR was so obsessed with cutting live electrical cables but it is a universal feature on all their bayonets post-AK47.
The blade, as with all AK bayonets, is blunt and requires some hard graft to get it anywhere near sharp, a task complicated by it only having a single edge rather than the modern double edge. The back of the blade has a ‘saw blade’, or at least that it’s what’s most commonly confused as being. Other explanations I’ve seen suggest it as a rope or bone cutter. It is in fact for knife fighting, to jam an opponent’s blade.
The bayonet is stamped with the Izhevsk mark on both the handle and the scabbard, and features triple digit matching serial number, plus the traditional Izhevsk ‘slash/oblique’ number.
I’ve added a firesteel to the scabbard and held it in place, temporarily, with a strip of velcro. Some thick ranger bands (inner tube cut up) should see a more permanent solution. I backed the firesteel with some foam to prevent it scratching the Bakelite.
I’ve had many knives over the years but I’ve always wanted one as a universal tool. Add to this the bayonet’s cool factor and i think I’ve found my right arm. Compared to the multitude of clones from Warsaw Pact or Asian countries, the original just has that extra je ne sais quoi to it….
Today is the 25th anniversary of the end of communism in Slovakia (formerly part of Czechoslovakia).
My wife was a student of psychology at university in Bratislava when the students were told to take to the streets to protest. She was there when their old world ended and capitalism took over. I can’t even begin to imagine how confusing it must have been for them to adapt. I wonder just what percentage of former socialists are happier in their Brave New World and how many reminisce for the much stricter but simpler times of socialism, when money was irrelevent and you were guaranteed a job and a home for life (So long as you obeyed the State). It saddens me that the former socialist countries didn’t try to find their own way afterwards as they had a clean slate to work with. They could have created an entirely new system. I guess the bankers won…
In Slovakia, the Christmas season wouldn’t be the same without this advert. The product is Kofola, an old Slovak fizzy soft drink somewhere between Coca Cola and Dandelion and Burdock which has made a big come-back (it’s also what i prefer to drink). This advert is shown every winter, and has been for many years. Why improve on a classic?
This mean old Wild Cat (Felis silvestris silvestris) was stalking through the field behind my house. It’s obviously been through some battles as its lack of right eye shows. I’ve encountered them on a few occasions, once when one was brave enough to get in the garden when my bull mastiff was there. They’re not like normal domestic pussy cats and they’re definitely not friendly. I’m still hoping to photograph a lynx at some point as they also live in the forest surrounding the village.
At Bardejovske Kupele they have a Skanzen, a historic village, where traditional buildings from villages in the area where brought and function as an open air juseum. This region is famous for its Unesco protected wooden churches
I spent the afternoon wandering around the beautiful spa resort of Bardejovske Kupele while my wife visited the beauticians there. It was nice to have some time to myself, to drink coffee and listen to the birds and watch the red squirrels. The spa resort has some amazing old imperial buildings. The one in the photo is a small hotel
This evening I drove around Lake Domasa on the way home. Due to the early onset of night now, the light wasn’t the best but I still felt mesmerised by the colours of the Fall trees and their reflection on the water of the lake. This little church is one of a couple which sit on the banks of the lake and it looks both ghostly and serene, alone as it is. I love that I can still be hypnotised by a scene, enough to make me stop my car and just look for a while. It’s important to absorb fleeting beauty as it reminds us we are alive and that the world can still please and amaze.