Keeper of the Wilderness

Here’s the trailer for another excellent film about wildlife in the Slovak part of the Carpathian Mountains. This time it’s bears in the Tatra Mountains, the highest point of the Carpathians, and about 80 miles west of me. The film is by Erik Baláž and Robert Rajchl.

It amazes me that I live in such a part of Europe where there is still real wilderness.

First lizards

First lizards

Slovak folklore has the tradition that the date of April 24th, Saint Juraj’s Day, is when snakes emerge from their holes in the ground after hibernating for winter. This male and female lizard pair were sunbathing on the 26th. That’s 2 days out, damnit! Either the folklore is wrong or we just get lazy reptiles in our garden.

The other possibility is that they already were out and I just hadn’t seen them…. but that would put me in the wrong and I’m not gonna take that from any cold blooded rock-lounger.

Dead Bat

Dead Bat

I see a lot of bats flying around in the day time. Until fairly recently, in the towns they roosted in the gaps in the side walls of the ubiquitous socialist apartment blocks. However, there has been a flurry of energy-saving reconstruction, mostly polystyrene blocks placed over the walls and then plastered over. This has covered up the roosts and it’s common to see bats trying to return to their former sleeping areas and not being able to, then they circle until eventually collapsing.

House Martens also use the flat blocks for summer nesting and both they and the bats keep down the mosquito population. As the region modernizes I see some Eco-system upheavals on the cards….

On the road again….

Finally, after a month of stress and sleepless nights, I’m on the road again. Feisty passed her MOT, second time round after many repairs. Riding home from Bardejov in torrential rain and heavy wind, gravel, oil and mud slides covering the pitted and twisting back roads, I had Canned Heat playing again and again in my head.

It feels good to be officially back in the saddle. I don’t care what the weather’s like.

Violets and strawberries

Violets and strawberries

Finally, we’re starting to see Spring flowers. This is a bizarre grouping of violets and strawberries. For some reason, strawberries seem to have spread everywhere this year, including far from people’s gardens.

I’ve never understood the old song “Violets are blue, dilly dally…” as they aren’t. They’re violet. Which is basically purple.

I can understand why, in the olden days, violets made up the primary perfume. Dandelions just don’t do the same job.

Born to be wild or bike bondage?

Born to be wild or bike bondage?

Presently, the irony of the mythical image of motorcycle ownership as enabling one to be wild and free is making me groan. Sleepless nights, vastly depleted bank account, dealing with corrupt and vindictive officials, begging friends for favours, trying to find mechanics or a tyre service who will actually deal with motorbikes in my region, the list goes on….

I had wanted to learn about basic motorcycle mechanics when i bought Feisty, and my gods I’m learning the painful way. Something as simple as changing tyres requires driving to end-of-the-world villages (picturesque but remote) in a convoy of bike and car in one direction, hoisting Feisty up, removing the wheels and then driving to another end-of-the-world village in the opposite direction where I must then find a service which will exchange rubber. Then, hopefully if i manage to do so, go back again.

Every little thing on my bike requires ordering via the internet from far flung countries. Every time I fix something, another thing goes wrong (just replaced the rear brake switch and now the temperature gauge has stopped working). Sometimes i feel like giving in, cursing myself for not buying an old, locally produced (Czechoslovak) Jawa 350 where parts are aplenty and virtually every villager over the age of 40 can fix them in their sleep – they’re even basic enough for me to fix them alone.

But then, when I start Feisty up and hear her roar, and I sit in the saddle with arms outstretched and tear arse down the pitted country lanes, I discover I have a huge grin across my face and I remember why I put myself through all this. And, for a brief moment, I can hear the opening bars of Steppenwolf’s classic ringing in my helmet….

Four wheels move the body, two wheels (although not in her current state) move the soul….

Cloud forest

Cloud forest

The weather here at the moment is extreme. We go from bright sunshine to blizzard and then back again every few hours. Because of this, the snow covering on the trees doesn’t last long and its evapouration causes a cloud layer.

Many visitors to the forest here are shocked to discover how similar it is to a rain forest due to its damp conditions.

It’s Easter and I really thought Spring was here at last. I was wrong…

Tao of Prepping – Free PDF Ebook giveaway!

Tao of Prepping – Free PDF Ebook giveaway!

I’ve decided to give away for free, in PDF download format, my book “The Tao of Prepping”.

You can download it for free from here – http://edwardotoole.com/tao_of_prepping_free_pdf.html

Please spread the word. The more people who read it, the happier I would be. Hopefully, it will give its readers some pause for thought about the world and their lives.

I look forward to feedback.