dimanche 19 octobre 2014


Another trip to Yarner Woods, this time to try out the new camera. Nice to be able to get up close with stills and video.

Marsh tit


Blue tit

My bird  

samedi 18 octobre 2014


Autumn has arrived and the UK that means stormy wet weather, always a difficult time for me as in the Pyrenees autumn is hot and dry (29 degrees there at the moment). I have a lot of work here presently which is keeping me in the UK a bit longer than usual. Autumn here also means fungus and here are some... 

 Pygmy Brittlestems (psathyrella pygmaea)

...and something to eat - Wood Cauliflower (sparassidaceae)

samedi 11 octobre 2014

New Camera

After the very disappointing pictures of the marten I started looking for a camera with better zoom capabilities and discovered that Olympus had recently introduced the Stylus 1. 

Behind the lens it's very similar to the XZ-2 (the successor to my current camera the XZ-1) but with a built in electronic viewfinder. The lens is a 28-300mm zoom (about 10.5 x magnification) but with a constant f2.8! Not quite as bright as the f1.8 of the XZ-1 but to have f2.8 at 300mm is great. There's also an enhanced 2 x digital zoom on top of the optical zoom and 2 extra programmable buttons and a dial to customise the camera and put functions you use most often at your fingertips. The full HD video is also much improved from my old camera. Sizewise it's a little bigger but still much smaller than an SLR and the lens folds flat. All in all just what I was looking for. 

I sold my old electronic viewfinder and XZ-1 on ebay for a profit and found a secondhand (but unused and stilled boxed) stylus 1 for only a little more than the proceeds! Just started to use it and the results are very promising. (Alas the video has been pixelated by you tube).

Barclay 100

A very tough 100 mile (160km) race through terrain similar to my part of the ariege. Desolée le film n'est que en anglais.

jeudi 2 octobre 2014

Lost knives

A beautiful day today with the temperature in the sun in the low 30's. I was up late and regretted not packing last night for a day on the hill.

Still, this morning I cleared and pointed the drainage channel around the bathroom extension (that's been on my to do list for years).

After a light lunch I realised that I'd lost my opinel knife. I've had it since I was 13. Another smaller opinel I found in the woods here 7-8 years ago, was confiscated on the flight from Bristol because I'd left it in a trouser pocket and it got picked up by airport x ray...so that's 2 opinels in under a week!  I retraced my steps from the last mushroom hunt but couldn't find it - looking for a wooden handled knife in 100,000 square miles of forest, deep in leaf litter, was always gonna be tricky. Next time I'll get one with a red handle.

I continued my walk down to the Moulin d'Aleu, then back up to the village, up to La Rouere, then continued along the chemin after La Rouere until it began to descend to Castet d'Aleu. Here I struck up the ridge until eventually, after much scrambling I reached the other end of the ridge from Joubac. The next 500m were hell - no path and waist deep bracken, bramble and broom in equal measure. I got ripped to shreds in my shorts and three times I startled groups of sleeping wild boar who crashed through the undergrowth all around me in a half-awake frenzy, trying to escape the intruder. Once I made the path the going was easy and I returned home via Joubac and La Bordasse. 600 or 700m of ascent, not bad for an afternoon stroll.

 The forest is carpeted with autumn crocus at the moment

Looking down from the ridge before Joubac to the Arac gorge and the road to Massat


mercredi 1 octobre 2014


With the summer almost over, this morning I cleaned the chimneys. I was most surprised when with all the fine soot came a little 'lump'. Closer inspection and a bit of cleaning and it was a bat. Long since dead and dessicated if not smoked!

Most of the rest of the day was spent moving firewood for the winter. A couple of stere of wood into the woodshed from the field below it - a mixture of walnut and ash from maybe 4 or 5 years ago.

A pleasant 27 degrees today, but still cloudy over the mountains - hope it clears tomorrow, my last full day. A short walk at the end of the afternoon to collect some mushrooms for dinner, then a dash to the garage with the tractor tyres, which were under inflated.

The barn conversion I designed and have been project managing for Gilbert and Nicole Coron in La Trappe is nearing completion - probably another 4 weeks to go.