Sadly, this year I couldn’t attend the Wilderness Gathering because of my son’s surgery so I decided to do a bit of bushcraft at the house instead. I’ve got several cubic metres of hardwood which needs sawing and chopping for winter and I needed a safer chainsaw horse than what we’ve been using up until now. I went to the forest and cut down a few hazel saplings then square lashed them together using sisal string. After the sawhorse was basically in the right position and erected, I nailed the joints together. Thus far it seems to be holding up and makes chainsawing a lot faster and safer – just need to find a quicker way to split and stack the logs afterwards.
Whilst taking our evening constitutional we almost stepped on this little beauty lying across the track – a European Adder or Viper (Vipera berus), the only poisonous snake. As it was almost dark the photo didn’t turn out well. The snake looked like a stick. We just stood and waited a couple of feet from it until it acknowledged our presence and then slowly made its way off the track into the bush. Fully grown Adders are generally passive and will only bite if threatened or stepped on – unlike their young which are far more aggressive.
Earlier in the day I’d been walking across fields through thick grass and it really reminded me of just what is lurking out of sight.
This Sabre wasp (Rhyssa persuasoria) was buzzing around our plot of land up in the mountains near the Polish border. It has one scarily long tail used for stinging larvae embedded in logs and trees, then laying an egg in them.
Each year we visit the remotest village, Lesnica, in Slovakia as it’s where my wife’s father’s family is from. Whilst there we usually visit graves, visit her father’s log cabin home and compound where her uncle now resides, and then check on our little plot of land on a hillside just outside the village. This year we decided to go on Feisty and take the bare minimum camping equipment with us.
The weather switched between extremes – 35 degrees centigrade plus meant leather jackets, helmets, kevlar jeans and boots were a nightmare to wear, and then torrential rain and storm made the road all slick. Try as we might, we just couldn’t find one part of our land level enough to erect a tent – it’s a steep hillside which will need excavating if we ever get around to building a cabin on it, so we ended up camping near the Red Monastery, Cerveny Klastor, at the best campsite in Slovakia, Goralsky Dvor. I’m not a fan of paid, public campsites as I prefer my privacy in the bush but it was nice to have a bit of luxury and level ground for once. The amount of thought and effort that have gone into that place is astounding – they even have an onsite chainsaw carver who continually adds to the decor of the place.
Feisty is definitely not the best choice for long distances and the seat makes my arse hurt. I really need to get a new king and queen seat made for her.
Finally, my eldest boy, Brano, is back from hospital. He was there 4 days for surgery and it was an extremely stressful time for us. The biggest fear is always the general anaesthetic. My two youngest have been staying at their Babka’s (grandmother’s) for the last couple of nights so I’ll be glad to have all my kids back home together again.
It’s amazing how priorities change so quickly when a family member’s health is at stake. All the usual things that you quibble about mean nothing and all focus is just on hoping they get better. Money, property, holidays and cars lose their value instantly and you realize just what is important in life.
It will take him a while to heal and that will be hard on him as he’s extremely active plus it’s the summer holidays and hot outside. I thank the gods that he’s okay. I’m also glad that we rented the ensuite VIP room on the surgery ward so that he didn’t have to share a ward with the old and dying in packed beds – I’ve done that before and it’s extremely depressing and difficult to sleep. We’ve had many issues in the past with the Slovak medical system; this time the biggest issue was complete lack of communication. but he’s home now and that’s all that matters.
Today was a strangely mixed day. My friend Martin invited me to go monster catfishing with him in his boat on Lake Domasa. I’ve been looking forward to this for quite some time. I was amazed by the amount of technology Martin had on the boat, including sonar and electric GPS anchor motor. We used large live bait (tench) and massive hooks and strong lines, and Martin employed the traditional wooden clonking method on the water. The trip lasted about 5 hours and was unsuccessful, unfortunately, but we had a great time together sitting in the middle of the lake, amid beautiful scenery, discussing the state of the world. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
However, a black cloud hovered around me all day as my eldest boy, Brano, went into hospital today for a hernia operation (the actual op is tomorrow), and he should be out on Wednesday. I have very little faith in the medical system out here as I’ve had way too many bad experiences with it so I am concerned. Hopefully, everything will work out well and he’ll be home soon.