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?

Road1

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.

road3aric

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.

AricPixelBee

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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2 little Thoughts.

Wrong & Right get into a fight, what if Wrong wins, does he become Right?
Don’t get me wrong, I like Right, but maybe this time he wasn’t. – A Voss

They said DOWN was banned and that from now on everything was UP. UP looked down, saw nothing below it and in that moment UP became DOWN. – A Voss

Time for Farm Animal Owner contact Info ?

Yesterday while driving around the borders I drove past a goat and then later some sheep that had got through their fences and onto the road. Now as a person who cares about animal welfare my first reaction is always to help. However getting animals back to safety, on a busy road is not always possible and in fact sometimes you can make matters a lot worse. It is the farmers duty to care for his animals, but who are the farmers or owners of all these animals in these fields? I don’t think it is asking to much that every field should have a contact number plate on it, so if animals escape on to the road or are in destress, people like myself that actually care about our four legged friends can contact the farmer to let them know.

Now I know that their are many farmers who think their animals welfare is nothing to do with us, however on the flip side their are farmers that are only to grateful for a little help or info. I’m not saying that it’ always the farmers/ owners fault that animals get onto roads or stuck in fences, or end up confused and in the wrong field. Some Sheep are very good wall jumpers and simply refuse to stay put, walkers don’t close gates or often it’s simply a case that over time fencing breaks down.

I guess many people would call the police or RSPCA, but in truth often they will be just as clueless to know who owns what. Sure some animals are tagged, but lets face it these animals are never going to let us get up close enough to see what they say because their first impulse is always run away from ‘the stranger danger’. So a simple small plate on every field with basic info of owner, animal type and contact number should be required by law. Obviously in cases of neglect the RSPCA or police should be called straight away.

So that’s it really I think all animals should enjoy a safe and stress free life even the one’s that will end up on meat eaters dinner table. I for one will always do my best to help animals in destress if I can,  some simple info on who owns what, would make that whole process of getting or giving  help a lot easier.

Love is in the Air

It’s Valentine’s tomorrow and don’t worry if you feel like Charlie Brown or even look like him, you will most probably meet someone eventually, trust me I know about these things. And ladies I’m sure somewhere out there is a man who looks just like the guy out of that TV program you fancy. When your not Mr or Mrs popular days Like Valentines can really suck, but don’t worry, all the beautiful people hate Halloween and that’s our  favourite day is it not? :). So no matter what happens tomorrow make sure you have a laugh because finding a mate takes time especially if you are a tortoise.

Here is my image for tomorrow which you can share if the mood takes you on your social Network of Choice.

valentienesaricvoss

Picking up litter in the Scottish Borders

‘Hell, sheep in the Scottish borders sure do consume a lot of beer and energy drinks’

For quite some time, I have noticed an increase in litter whilst walking my dog. But last week when a large plastic sheep feed bag appeared up a tree I declared enough was an enough. I have no doubt the bag arrived in the tree because of the elements or negligence, rather than malicious intent, but however it got there I knew I was going to be stuck looking at it until the council removed it or I died of old age. So, this Sunday I decided to do something about it.  Armed with my extending camera stand, I waded across the river and after a few attempts freed the bag from the tree. I did it not for praise but simply because I could not stand to look at the bloody thing it anymore. Below is a quick animation of the events taken by my wife, I think she was hoping I’d fall in :).

aricvosslitter

Once I had got the bag out of the tree, I thought I may as well put it to use and see how much rubbish I could collect on our walk. After a few miles, it was full up and both my wife and I were amazed by how much litter there really was. Now as I have said before I don’t live on a particularly busy road, but we do get a lot of cyclists in our area and 80% of the litter was energy drinks. Therefore, I’m going to make possibly an unfairly assumption and put the blame on them first and foremost: –

‘Dear cyclists in the Scottish borders, this is not the bloody Tour de France there is no support team coming to pick up your rubbish!!! So, take it home.’

After energy drinks, it was coffee cups and beer cans, both probably tossed from the car window because they can’t bare the sight of litter in their car but it’s perfectly fine on the side of the road. Again, this is not Trafalgar Square people there are no sweepers coming to clear up your junk.  In fact, in 6 months, I have not seen anyone come along from the council so it’s just me and anyone else who cares. Exactly why you can’t put a bin in your car and take it home is beyond me. As for those bloody beer and cider cans, well who ever said drinking and driving wasn’t still a thing. I guess if you care so little about your own life and the lives of other drivers, you’re not going to give a toss about littering the country side.

Below is the sheep feed bag at the end of the walk.  Now I must use my own wheelie bin for other people’s rubbish, but that’s fine the council will me giving me a discount on my council tax …. lol will they hell!

aricvossjunk

For me there are few things that piss me off on a local level as much as litter. The amount of litter I see in an area is simply a marker to how much people care about where they live and the people they live with. Now I must confess that compared to some places I’ve lived the Scottish borders has a relatively low litter problem. However, let’s be honest if what I collected above was just from a short walk it’s far from perfect. So why do people litter, I thought about this a lot over the years and I can only conclude it’s linked to low self-esteem, laziness, poor social discipline and I guess to some stupid buggers deemed it cool.

Fines don’t work as police are too far and few between and would probably rather avoid the paperwork.  I’m personally for public flogging, but once again you’ve got to catch the buggers. So, I guess it comes back to good parenting and schooling, but we can’t just blame it on the ‘younger generation’ because it’s not just them. Many people simply just don’t care about anything other than their own small world and most of them don’t even care about that. Maybe I’m a fool to get so angry about litter, maybe humanity is just too broken to understand why wading through other people’s crap isn’t normal or a good thing .

Update : We have seen a council  litter picker on our road a few times since this blog which is nice.

Update 2: It now June 2017 Litter is beginning to build up so I guess I may have to do another litter pick up