Chainsaw horse build

Chainsaw horse build

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.

Forest sunset

Forest sunset

One thing I really love about living where I do is the wide open spaces which enable one to see amazing sunsets. I can’t imagine living in a concrete jungle where the horizon is only a few metres away. It doesn’t matter how many times I see the sunset I’m still amazed at the beauty of nature.

Me and my son, Brano

Me and my son, Brano

On Sunday, my son Brano and my brother and his girlfriend travelled to the High Tatra Mountains to go on a hike. The weather was insanely hot – about 36 degrees Celsius, and the track was basically loose rocks all the way. Extremely hard going. It was a long day with lots of driving but was well worth it. The area is beautiful – the Tatra Mountains are the highest point of the entire Carpathian range and the geography is Alpine.

Despite bringing lots of fluids we sweated profusely. Luckily, a lot of the hike was through dense forest which shaded us a bit. The steep trail follows a fast white water creek. We encountered some brown bear scat on the track at one point, which really reminded us where we were and what might be lurking behind the trees…

We rounded the adventure off with a meal at Humno Restaurant in Tatranska Lomnica. It’s an expensive place but pretty cool – they’ve got a huge snow cat sticking out of one wall and a Cadillac Espanade hanging upside down from the ceiling. The waitresses are pretty and speak English and the atmosphere is very friendly.

It was good to spend some quality time with my son.

Golden Oriole

Golden Oriole

The Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus) produces my favourite bird song – it gives a tropical or Australian-like sound to the garden. They only migrate for a couple of months each year and will shortly be leaving, much earlier than other migratory species. I’ve been trying for years to get a photo of one but they never seem to sit still long enough, plus they prefer the higher branches of trees.

Boar and brother

Boar and brother

Yesterday, my brother came to my village house. He’d arrived at his mini-castle a couple of days earlier after a long drive from England. After dinner, we decided to go for a walk with his girlfriend and our dogs. It was late dusk and there were herds of red deer everywhere. Bizarrely, there was also a large sounder of boar grazing in a high grass field jut next to the abandoned road. There were perhaps 15 of them, including several piglets, although due to the tall vegetation and ridges in the hill side meadow, we only initially noticed a couple and they seemed quite some distance away. When we saw just how close the rest were to us, as they were just outside the treeline and barely visible at first, our mood changed.

Taking photos was difficult as there was little light and there was a strong wind blowing. I used my eldest son’s shoulder as a rest and had the Canon’s telephoto full extended, which meant all the pictures turned out blurry. What really freaked me was when I watched one particularly large boar charge at us. Luckily, it stopped maybe 20 metres from its group and then stood its ground. Unusually, the boars didn’t run off, instead the adults formed a barricade between us and the piglets, and then they carried on grazing. It was quite scary to see just how unafraid of us they were and that they were prepared to defend both their piglets and their grazing ground.

I don’t think my brother and his girlfriend realize just how lucky they were to see a group of boar at such close range, especially on her first trip out into the bush. I’ve had many people visit over the years and most have gone away without seeing these primal creatures. Last night really was like an advert for just how wild and wildlife-filled my area is. It was amazing – and adrenaline inducing.

Adventurous visitors

Adventurous visitors

I’ve just had three friends visit, one old and two new, John, Pete and Tilly, for a long weekend. They drove here from North Wales, which is an exhausting two-day drive each way. Because they were only here for a few days, we tried to pack as much in as possible. We visited the UNESCO town of Bardejov, and the Andy Warhol museum in the remote town of Medzilaborce. We visited the Valley of Death and the the Soviet Memorial in Svidnik. We also headed over the border into to Poland to Magursky National Park, which is home to a bear population. Best of all, we did a long hike carrying unfeasibly heavy packs up a logging trail into the hills, where we camped in the dense Carpathian forest. Luckily, the evening was dry so we could sit around a campfire, but we woke to heavy rain and drenched equipment, which we then had to pack and lug down a now very muddy logging trail back to the house. Thankfully, there were no visits from bears.

We rounded the trip off with a campfire in the garden where we cooked wild boar goulash. A few hours earlier, we’d seen a couple of boars running across the hill at the back of the house.

I really enjoyed myself and I hope they did too.