The Field

TheFieldAricVossThe Field (My Dog and Me) by Aric Voss

The field is empty. All the creatures have gone to feed the faces of the unthinking.
Where lambs and calves once leapt for joy simply to be alive, now there is nothing.
Not a single tree or shrub inhabits this stone walled desert of green.
No hare or rabbit and thus no fox bothers to tread here, just Woden the dog and me.

We shuffle the perimeter, as we both believe it’s what the other wants and needs.
The hills and mountains on all sides partake in yet more rain. For now, we are dry.
A partridge flies out of long grass. It startles us both. So, we aren’t alone.
Woden simply head flips the bird, he knows his limitations, his chasing days like mine are over.

Across the field I spy a heron sitting on the wall. He calculates our distance.
Then, we’re too near, like some tormented dragon of old he reluctantly takes to the air.
Shame I would have wished to chat, but I’m human and I know we can’t be trusted.
‘Bloody go around ’ I shout to the dog, as he enters the only muddy puddle in sight.
He looks back and shrugs. He doesn’t care, his slave (me) will dry him once home.

The field is ugly to my eyes, but the river beyond the wall sounds beautiful once noticed.
I force my suburban ears to go beyond my thoughts and hear natures music.
Relaxing into country life takes a long time. Mind still rebels against the concept of peace.
‘Leave it!’ a weathered sheep dropping is about to become a mid walk snack.
Woden stares at me ‘bloody kill joy’ and urinates on the pile, that’s his for another day.

Eventually our wandering is done, we reach our gate that backs onto the field.
Dog pants as if he had run a marathon, I weigh up if a sticky bun can be justified.
Looking back at the field, how I miss those sheep and cows.
If mine, they’d still be here, as it’s really rude to eat ones friends.
Till tomorrow old field, weather, health and motivation permitting of course.

Copyright ©Aric Voss 2017
All Spelling and grammatical mistakes brought to you by the dyslexia department.

Borders Beware, The Superhero driver cometh.

In the Scottish Borders once off the ‘A’ roads, you’re in for a very mixed bag of driving conditions. It is, without a doubt, these roads that add to the charm of the area, but can be an eye-opener for the newbie, not to mention life threatening to the locals if you happen upon a Superhero out for a drive.

Below are the four types of road my wife and I travel on regularly:-

  1. Standard narrow two lane winding roads with potholes
  2. Single lane winding road with potholes
  3. Extra skinny single winding potholes with a bit of road thrown in just to show willing.
  4. Christ how did anyone sign off on this even being a road and where did all these sheep come from?
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Single Lane B road with passing places, blind curves, and steep banks what speed limit is safe?

I’m sure the original road builders in the Borders were paid by the mile, as straight roads here are few and far between. I’m Ok with all the above it’s just country living and is not a real problem. I drive slowly take every turn as if it’s my last and if the Gods are pleased with me I get home alive, without a need to scrub out my underpants. Things, however, take a real turn for the apocalyptic when you meet one of our many Superhero drivers. These like superheroes do appear out of nowhere and are gone before you can say ‘You Clucking Runt’ or something that sounds like that. After a year studying Superheroes, I can tell you with confidence that they come in all ages and drive all kinds of vehicles from bikes to 10-ton logging trucks.  I have called them super heroes because unlike most ’normal’ drivers they can travel at speeds that require the lightning reflexes of a fighter jet pilot,  Superman x-ray vision and infallible space shuttle grade brakes, and tyres. I mean no one would be so unbelievably stupid and selfish to travel at these speeds on these roads without all these things right?

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Even when on the bridge it’s basically impossible to know what is coming the other way.

I make mock of the serious problem because what else can you do, it scares the crap out of me and I’ve been driving since I was 17 on some of the busiest roads in the UK and USA.  The fact is every day on every corner or bridge across the Borders you’re just milliseconds away from being injured or killed should you come across one of these unthinking or uncaring people. I fully appreciate over our driving life we all make stupid mistakes, but driving down poorly maintained roads with limited to no oncoming visibility at high speed is beyond stupidity.

I will concede that maybe they know the roads like the back of their hands, but unless they can see through walls, hedges, and trees or are omnipotent, they simply have no clue what is around the next corner, another car, a walker, or just a stray sheep or deer. Sure many of the roads I have mentioned above get very little traffic on them, but that is absolutely no reason to believe that nothing is ever going to be around the next corner, indeed the more times you drive down roads and don’t see anyone the odds rise that sooner or later you will.

The sad truth is these death-wish drivers do meet things coming the other way all the time, multiple dead animals, smashed walls and bridges, motorbikes and cars totalled in fields and peoples gardens are a testament to that fact, so these speed junkies really aren’t that super after all. As I have said these are not just the usual testosterone boy racers showing off to mates, these are often people long in the tooth like me, that should know better. I’d love to know where all these people are going in such a rush in ? beats me, but sure hope it’s worth killing and dying for.

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The main B road between Newcastleton and Hawick it’s been like this for weeks

The Scottish Borders is a beautiful place to live and visit, but the roads in many areas are far from ideal. Under investment, lack of speed signs and control, plus a world wide cultural glorification of speed makes for a deadly mix. The truth is absolutely no one is invincible, even the most confidant driver can have a split second of bad judgement that can haunt them or their victims for a life time.

Update and Blog Changes

As you will notice, I have written very little over the past year. Upon moving into our rented cottage in the Scottish Borders, I finally got ‘a life’.  By that I mean, I walked away from digital screens and started to really look at the world around me. I must confess I found every excuse to avoid creating blogs, art or editing photos. I decided to do some hard graft even if this was not my property, (it belongs to the Duke of Buccleuch as does most of the land around here) I was going to tidy it up and bring it back from it’s overgrown and uncared for state.  I surprised my wife and myself a little that my 50 year old body, that was once like a fighter jet and now more resembled a Boeing 747, could still manage a full day of manual labour. For me the work was refreshing and far more rewarding than sitting typing or clicking my way through the day.

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Getting back to Nature – Taken with Google Pixel

Once I had cleared away the weeds, long grass, broken down sheds and buried piles of dead animal bones I kept discovering, (this had been the gamekeeper’s house for years.) I set about planting the willows I had brought with me. Also I started encouraging the wild birds back to the land with seed feeders and food tables. I proclaimed to all the local creatures, ‘You have nothing to fear for I am a vegetarian, I will help you if I can!’  I then had to backtrack a little and apologise to the sheep that surround the cottage on all sides, sadly as much as I wanted to I could not afford to be their Saviour as well.

The fact I had not eaten any meat for over 13+ years and was now living in what is basically a beautiful open air meat factory is ironic not to mention troubling. However I’m an outsider a ‘southern softy’, be it one with CeltIc blood in my veins, It is not my place to comment on local traditions and livelihoods even if they conflict with my beliefs. I’m comforted by the fact the farmers around me seem to care about their livestock and I have never seen them treated badly. Be sure I will never simply stand by if I witness blatant animal cruelty no matter who I upset or alienate. For the most part i’m a pragmatist, I would much rather the animals live here, than dwell in some unnatural hell hole factory farm or abroad where care standards are often far lower. Yes the vile traumatising trip to the slaughterhouse awaits all my beautiful friends, but they no nothing of that now. Despite all our best Walt Disney notions death for any of us when it comes down to it is seldom pain free or dignified.

But sorry I digress, within a month or so, many wild birds and animals started to show up and take advantage of our hospitality. T and I derive much joy from them doing so. We know little about birds beyond the injured Jackdaw and Dove we hand raised from little ones. Personally, I like to keep it like that.  Looking in books and knowing the human names for all the birds seems to take all the wonder and fun out of it. Watching the TV seems dull viewing compared to the bird table and the going on in the surrounding fields, this is real life drama, live, unedited and unscripted.

This Blog Going forward.

I must confess I was on the point of letting this blog out to pasture, I couldn’t think of anything else to write, but now the direction is clear, I’m going to focus on what I love, the Natural world. I will give no more of my time to gutless lying politicians, political correctness gone mad and tradition killing mass immigration. The Britain I was born into may be going to hell in a handbasket and men like myself going the way of the Dodo, but selfishly it’s not my problem. Nothing I can say about these subjects that trouble me matter anymore, as far as the kids of today are concerned I’m just a negative old fool. I do take much joy in the knowing that society in no time will see these young ‘radicals’ in the same light. Fortunately I have no children to worry about so I can sit back and laugh as it all goes to shit. By the time they are beheading ‘infidels’ in Edinburgh I’ll be long dead, thank the Gods.

I may at best only have a few decades left, but I intend to dedicate my time to trees and creatures that possess four legs or wings. If do interact with humans it can only be with those that share my love of Scotland, nature, woodwork and sculpture. I doubt any such people will share my political views so I will bite my tongue and agree to disagree…as we are all a long time dead.

I will no doubt create the odd (some would say very odd) piece of digital art from time to time during the long Scottish winter nights, but I believe that side of my life has almost come to an end. It seems everyone and there dog thinks they are a 3d or photoshop artist now, what was cutting edge for me 93 is now commonplace. I gave up keeping on top of new digital techniques about 6 years ago, I just stopped enjoying it.

So the style of my blog is changing … I’ve deleted a lot of my political posts and irrelevant junk and going forward I want to avoid writing these large posts. I’m sceptical how many people ever actually read them. It takes my bipolar/dyslexic mind hours, sometimes days to produce these posts. We now live in a time where a tweet or picture gets far more attention than a paragraph of well considered thought ….So going forward there will be more pictures less text and hopefully for me much more joy and peace.

Thanks for reading and sticking by this ever-changing blog.

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Sunny Weekend in the Borders

AricVossWater

It’s been a while since I posted on this part of my site sorry about that, I’ve been busy doing other things. Anyway this weekend has been stunning in our part of the Scottish Borders, I’ve been enjoying working in the garden. The Photo above was taken yesterday under one of my local bridges, thank the gods for wellingtons as the water is still icy cold. Obviously I have applied some effects in photoshop to the original shot taken on the Google Pixel, but I like the result and that is all that matters.

Google Pixel panorama fish-eye mode

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I’ve had the google pixel phone for some time now and I especially enjoy using the panorama modes. As I have said before the way the phone stitches the images together can be a bit random, but most of the times it works fine. The image of the Bridge near my home (above) was shot with the fish eye mode and was put together perfectly . I’ve massively resized the image from the original 41.5MP   6444 × 6444.  10.2 MB size but you get the general idea of what this mode does.

“They’re Back!”

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‘Civilisations’ rise and fall, but no matter what the foolish humans do nature still just keeps rolling along. So the Snow Drops are back, they push onward and upward no matter the weather. As frail as they are strong they come and go often unnoticed. These are the skyscrapers of  the world beneath our feet, seek them out, but be quick or your have to wait another year.

Leonberger photo/card

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This shot is a image of my boy taken with my canon camera in our lower field. He has become quite a stunning old chap, just in case your wondering he is a leonberger. Despite his age he still acts like a puppy in the snow and is a joy to watch.

This image is now on my Zazzle store, he is very pleased to know he is finally famous. As he likes to think of himself as a bit of a Barry Gibb of the dog world ;)

The Leonberger Greeting Card

The Leonberger Greeting Card

by AricVoss

At Home in the Scottish Borders

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The lower garden as yet untouched shot on iPhone

I must apologise for being away for three months, getting off the computer and doing lots of real world tasks has been very nice indeed. As we now live in the beautiful  countryside coming inside to sit and type is going to get harder and harder. As today it’s pouring with rain, that will happen here a lot. I thought it would be nice to catch you up on what has been going on lately.

First and foremost we (wife, me, dog and jackdaw) are now fully relocated in a ‘remote’ cottage in the Scottish borders. My nearest shop is about 6 miles away, my nearest supermarket 13 and the City of Carlisle is about 30 miles from here back down in England. The English border wraps around us and is only ever a few miles away but I’m most definitely in Scotland and very happy to be here. Just in case you were wondering  my nearest Scottish city is Edinburgh and that is 68 miles up the road and Glasgow is about 100 + miles depending on what route you take.

Some have described the valley we are living in as ‘bleak’ but the  sheep of which there are many here and me don’t see it that way. I’m Sure I’d be a happy man if I could  live here for the rest of my life. While I see very few people which suits me just fine, I am on the main single track road to the local town. So I do get traffic passing by ,but I’d call it a busy day if I was seeing more than 15 to 20 vehicles an hour, after 6 pm you can downgrade that to about  0 to 10.

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Damn look at all this traffic  – iPhone image

We are renting our home from one of the large land owners in the area they seem very nice and have no problem with us having a dog (see past blog) . I can honestly say I doubt I could have found a nicer place to live from the garden sizes to how the rooms are laid out. I still have to pinch myself that we’re living here and every now and then I really belive I’m on holiday. That said I don’t recall ever working this physically hard on a holiday. I’ve been weed whacking and cutting grass for what seems like months lol. I’ve build fences, gates sheds and yes planted my beloved willows all around the property. I think we are sitting on just over an acre of land which has turned out to be more than enough for a 50 year old man who was out of shape. Getting a piece of land and working on it has to be the most enjoyable fitness program I’ve ever subjected myself to. I have long given up weighing myself, but lets say my clothes all have a lot of space in them. The downside is my back is killing me and muscles I never Knew I had, scream out at night to me ‘WTF do you think you’re doing’.

Obviously having space, quiet and lovely views does come with some trade offs. I can not receive a mobile signal anywhere in a five mile radius of here. Our ‘broadband’ seems as slow as I First used in 93. Some years ago this lack of speed would have driven me crazy, but in all honesty I’ve very frustrated with the way the internet is shaping up it is no longer the free thinking, open minded space it once was. If anyone needs to contact me and thank god they seldom do we have a landline not that I’d answer it as i hate phone conversations. The only Tech entertainment that really works here is the Sky Box (satellite tv) and while for years I had a love hate relationship with sky its nice to have, as streaming anything more than 420p is almost out of the question  which is kind of shocking in 2016. I see no reason why everyone in the UK shouldn’t have access to low-cost superfast broadband as ‘They’ have deemed we must all work, play and shop online. Shame on BT and the government for dragging their feet on this, but that’s for another blog.

As the nights drawn in I really need to find something to occupy me other than just staring at the TV. I know I have my guitar and my Digital art, but in truth I have grown bored with creating on a computer I feel I need something real world to do with my hands. I’ve been thinking about revisiting something I did with my hands as a teenager and was rather good at …..no not that Lol, Sculpture you rude person. I will probably get back into it in a small way at first using some of these new fangled lol Polymer clays and see how it goes. I have some creatures I created in the 80’s as Acrylic art that would look brilliant in 3d, I’ll keep you up to date with my progress on that.

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Sunset on the borders – iPhone image

Anyway I won’t waffle on anymore and the dog seems to want to go for a walk in the rain, so till next time whenever that may be take care friends.

A Home in The Scottish Borders

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A valley view near our new Home

Next week I finally get the keys to our new (to us) home in the Scottish Borders. It is everything we have been looking for, a farm cottage on about a acre of land, miles from anything that even resembles a town. The property stands near a single track ‘B’ road  and is surrounded by fields, about a quarter of a mile from the property is a small river about three quarters of a mile on from this lies the ruins of a Castle. The nearest neighbours are about half a mile in each direction.

The House is almost in a complete Technology free zone, by that I mean not a single phone network works on our property, our internet speed will be as slow as you can get before you get nothing at all. I guess for someone that has streamed music and TV everyday for years this would seem like a big negative, but in fact I’m kinda glad. I’m sick of the information overload , the 24/7 media driven doom machine we call ‘News’. Basically I’ve pretty much had enough of the modern world, I need time to detox myself of years of online detritus and to bring my mind and body back inline with the natural flow.

I’m looking forward to just sitting and staring out into the middle-distance. My aim is to Create a cottage garden on the property, currently it is just grass, weeds and broken down sheds. It’s been a while since I have had some big jobs to do and I will enjoy every second of it. Another thing I’m really looking forward to is seeing how our dog will react to a less anthropocentric environment,  I’ve always promised him a large place to run and play and finally I’m delivering on that promise and that is important to me even if it matters not to him.

It is my hope the cleaner Scottish air will help my wife to breathe easier and as a result stop her focussing on her disease and give her more time to just be. I think it is important that we both just stop and chill out,  For me Peace and quiet is far more important than anything else I can think of, without it I think eventually a form of madness takes hold. The icing on the cake is we will finally get to really see the night sky as we are living just a a few miles from some of the darkest skies (less light pollution) in the UK.

Below is a wonderful video of Kielder Observatory in Northumberland, England, Which is not more than a 35 minutes drive from our home.

THE KIELDER OBSERVATORY from InHouseFilms on Vimeo.

So that all I have to say for today .
Hopefully next week I can start to put some pictures up of the new place, but for now above is a valley view near our new Home. Have a great day Friends.

 

Freedom, Selling up and Renting

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In the next few days our home of 13 years goes up on the market, It’s with a little in trepidation, but much more relief we will be entering the rent market for the first time. Throughout my whole life the powers that be have stuck to the mantra that owning one’s home was the only way to live, after almost 20 years of doing so I’m not so convinced.

It’s only when one has family deaths, life long diseases diagnosed laced with multiple financial problems, that home ownership can seem more like a massive inflexible weight around one’s neck, than a golden prize to aspire to. In fact that is almost exactly what my grandad had told my dad when he was buying his first house in the 60’s. If only he had listened. He ended up taking on a house just on the edge of his financial reach and by doing so he limited his life and sadly in the recession of the 90’s he lost everything. Despite that I still went down the mortgage root something that also limited my own life and cut off my freedom of movement when I needed it most.

I must confess to being a little scared of that word ‘renting’, in ‘Great’ Britain renting is a bloody logistical nightmare especially if like us you have a dog. Oh if only we were both still living in America where renting is the norm and on the whole a very easy and straightforward process. While I know many in the UK look down on renting and renters, it offers us a whole host of benefits, not least the flexibility to move wherever we like and often to homes we simply could never afford to buy. Gone will be the sleep depriving worry of those expensive and unforeseen house repairs, or necessary house upgrades to keep the property value up. Homeownership is a grand idea if you have the bank balance that can cope with it, but for the financially stretched it can often seem like debt slavery or a prison sentence with no hope of parole.

A mortgage in truth until it is payed off is still just a glorified rental agreement, start missing too many payments and then see what you really ‘own’. With houses getting ever more expensive and mortgages longer by the time the bloody thing is paid off your be just the right age to check into a care home. At this point it will become evident that owning your own home should you need care is far less of an advantage than you would think.

I fully understand that renting has it’s downsides, yes it can often be more expensive per month than buying, but when you think about the money most people plough into a house over it’s lifetime it often evens itself out. I must come back to the one thing that is important to us Freedom! The ability to move and move again if need or whim comes up. The ability to finally be free of debt after so many soul crushing years, outweighs all the downsides we may have to face over the coming month .

I shall post more as events unfold.