Kestrel in tree

Kestrel in tree

I really hate taking photos when the sky is like this but you have to seize the moment. This is a Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) with unusual plumage. Unless it’s something else…

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New year, new wheels

New year, new wheels

It’s been a while since I last posted and a lot has happened.

Thanks to the new wood stove we could stay at the house over Christmas and New Year at a livable although not comfortable temperature. New Year’s Eve was minus 15 Celsius and that was hard going. The stove now allows us to be be able to live, should the need arise, without mains connection.

My brother and his girlfriend have left Slovakia after spending almost 8 months here. They gave it a good try, first at his hill fort and then later in a rented apartment, but it’s a harsh environment to get set up in financially and bureaucratically. I wish them the best back in the UK.

Finally, the snow has come after only a couple of fleeting earlier visits. We spent several months in dense fog, mud and rain with no sunlight and that was utterly miserable – and completely different to the true winters we’re used to. We’re currently expecting minus 20 and below.

As usual, my family celebrated Slovak Christmas on the 24th, English Christmas on the 25th and then Ruthenian Christmas on the 6th of January (their New Year’s Eve was this Wednesday).

Finally, I have a Land Rover – a Discovery Mk2 TD5. I’ve wanted a Land Rover since I was a toddler, albeit a LWB Defender, but Discovery was always my second choice. Because of what I actually need it for, the Discovery seemed a much better idea. It’s taking a bit of getting used to – when I’m driving I’m half shaking with nerves and half grinning from ear to ear – as I’ve been driving a low powered saloon for the last 6 years. I still can’t believe I’ve finally got one, and it’s mahoosive.

Just getting the car was an adventure in itself (buying a  car or house out here can be problematic to say the least) and saw me taking a long pre-dawn bus ride through small bush towns and through snow draped countryside, dealing with scary dodgy blokes in big cities, going from police station to police station… but I finally got it. Just need to change the clutch now.

Today, after returning on isolated bush roads from Bardejov, where the boys and I went to buy a new stereo for it, I got to see just what the Discovery is capable of. I hit a  bad patch of ice coming out of a sharp bend and the car slid this way and that with me fighting to rectify it and slow it down. I really thought it was going to flip and then go crashing down a hillside into trees but i managed to swing/slide it across the road into a steep, snow filled ditch on the other side. We came to a stop, in shock, nose facing downwards and with the right rear wheel up in the air. Having come off icy and snowy roads into ditches in several different cars over the years out here, i suddenly realized that the Discovery is way too big to be pulled out by the average passing car and would need a tractor from a nearby village some several kilometres walk away. And then I thought why not see what it can do? I told the boys to stay in the car to weigh their side down and then I put it into low and reversed. It did so, without any effort whatsoever.

I was stunned.

The Discovery reversed on 2, maximum 3, wheels, out of a deep, steep, snow filled drainage ditch. I put it back into high and, with heart still pounding, we drove carefully home on the icy and snow-covered remote roads through the hills. I’ve had way too many adventures with it over the last two days to fill me for a while. For now, I’m content to just watch it from the window.

I’m hoping that this year is a good one and will bring some positive, forward, momentum. And money 🙂

Art Exhibition in Svidnik, Slovakia

Art Exhibition in Svidnik, Slovakia

Yesterday was the opening party of my art exhibition in Svidnik. While I’ve had paintings exhibited more recently because of winning various competitions, this is the first solo exhibition I’ve held for 3 years.

I included a few of my older works (mostly nudes) but the main focus this year was my new abstract collection.

There was quite a good turn out and I was pleased that my brother and his girlfriend attended. Svidnik is a small town and doesn’t really have a large art community, so it’s nice when people make the effort to go out an turn up.

Slovak National News (Markiza) features me :)

Slovak National News (Markiza) features me :)

Tonight I was featured on the Slovak national channel Markiza’s evening news regarding the Queen’s 63rd year of reign and my writing. I was happy how my segment turned out – I’ve had some bad experiences with Slovak media due to their mistranslation of already bad British media coverage of the Nat Geo Preppers UK programme, particularly the Daily Mail. This time I was quite pleased 🙂

For those wanting to watch the 2 minute segment, click the link and then go down the page, in the middle under the multi-coloured arrow things, to where it says ‘Obsah Videa‘. There’s a list of segments, with arrow in circle bullet points beneath this, and mine is second from bottom, ‘Hrdy Anglican‘.

http://videoarchiv.markiza.sk/video/televizne-noviny/televizne-noviny/35525_televizne-noviny

The new Bushcraft Magazine article is featured (Leshy – Guardian of the Forest).

Bushcraft Magazine Summer Issue

Bushcraft Magazine Summer Issue

I’m a bit late in posting this as I’m still waiting for my own copy to be scanned (my scanner is broken).

Bushcraft Magazine did me a double treat this summer issue as not only did they publish my article on the Slavonic forest spirit Leshy – Guardian of the forest, but they also gave me the cover. The painting of the British-Celtic forest god Herne is from a diptych I did on an old wooden cupboard in my dining room. I feel honoured that Steve Kirk, the editor of the magazine, would give it cover space. Cheers, Steve!

Order a copy from their website!

I plan to do more on the Leshy theme as it provides an answer to the Bigfoot conundrum. Stay tuned.