“They’re Back!”

aricsnowdrop

‘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.

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!

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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

Leonberger photo/card

leobyaricvoss

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

Boxing Day

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Went for a nice drive this afternoon around Langholm and beyond, the Snow topped mountains and hills looked great. Definitely the best scenery I’ve experienced on a Boxing Day in years.
Photo taken on the google pixel and edited in snapseed. 

Dogs don’t do leaves

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My Leonberger refuses to do any chores, well to be honest he just can’t see the point. Of all the pointless things I do raking the leafs is top of his list. Standing out in the cold swiping at things that have fallen from the sky, bagging them up and then most stupid of all emptying them back out, on to a huge smelly pile of grass cuttings. It’s just ridiculous and it takes up  valuable time, time that could be spent lying on his bed with his feet the air or staring at the biscuit tin. If I even have the audacity to ask him to do something he just looks at me as if to say, what the hell do you think I am a bloody sheepdog ? :)

Ewe talkin’ to me?

aricsheep96
My home here in Scotland is surrounded by sheep and over the past months I have come to see through the Ewes stereotype. I have observed these are far from the stupid and dull animals which most people conveniently wish they were.

Sure sheep are easily scared, yes they do flee as a pack, often for the most irrational of reasons. However from this we should not conclude sheep are dumb animals, this run first, think about it later approach is not stupidity, but probably the best way to stay alive if your fundamentally always defenceless. It’s rather unfair our woolly friends do not possess claws or fangs like other animals and can not (as yet) use semiautomatic weapons.

Sheep do spend a lot of time just staying put eating what they have, but some Ewes also like a challenge and will often scale stone walls just to get into a field with that greener grass. I’m not sure if they have a hierarchy as such, but from time to time they will take part in head-butting competitions which are amazing to watch. While sheep do flock together in the evening for safety, during the day they seem to enjoy being in much smaller units, so they aren’t simply all just a bunch of brainless followers.

Personally I have a lot more time for animals than I do people, I’m often to be seen standing and talking with a sheep if they care to listen, unlike humans they are good listeners and seldom talk over you.  I’m pleased to say many of my sheep neighbours no longer run as soon as they see me now. They seem happy enough to just stare at me, as If they are thinking I have no clue what you are, but you seem friendly enough. Our dog Mr W also likes to spend time watching these woolly beasts, but as yet the sheep do not seem to be warming to him quite so much.

Living so close to sheep is both intresting and amusing, but also at times heartbreaking. Never forget nearly all the sheep in the UK are just a few years (if lucky) from being a meat eaters dinner or animal feed. Personally I gave up eating meat over 13 years ago because I was repulsed at the rise of unnatural factory farms, plus I simply think its rude to eat your friends.

While I do not expect people to give up meat as I have, I do wish more would understand where their food comes from. People should support local farmers and boycott supermarkets and restaurants that deal in cheap meat with no care for animal welfare .

I see first hand how hard our local farmers in the borders work, out in all weather giving their animals as natural and as stress free a life as possible. I believe this is to be commended and supported, even if I personally think humans in 2016 should have evolve past this hunger for the flesh.

(Photo above is taken with a Sony camera)

Mistakes at Sycamore Gap – Hadrian’s Wall

avtreewall
Saturday  we went to view the Iconic Sycamore Tree as seen in many movies and TV documentaries. The tree is best known for appearing in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner. I had wanted to see it for years, but it had always been to far away, since our move to the borders it’s now just an hour down the road.

I must confess in making 2 stupid mistakes on this trip, first I just glanced at the map without grasping the type of landscape I would be walking on. Secondly I put all my faith in the Google Phone to be able to take the picture I had long wanted to take then I got to the tree. I had read the Sycamore was just a 15 minute walk from the ‘Once Brewed’ car park which sounded easy, until I got there and realised the path went up and down steep hills. The path which has been created brilliantly using large stones (no doubt to counter erosion from all the visitors) were wet and smooth, so T* and I needed to stay very focused on the walk, otherwise I new one of us was going to end up on our arse.

When I finally got to the tree, for the first time in my life I must confessed to feeling my age, while I may still think I’m 25, my body knows differently. Sadly my wife who has Sarcoidosis was not able to get to see the tree, but did make it half the way and enjoyed the views and peace from there.

Not taking one of my ‘proper’ cameras to the tree was foolish, as the google phone simply failed to get me the image I wanted. I’m sure not having a tripod didn’t help but the panoramas taken by the phone were very poor, as were the normal images. They were still great by phone standards, I expected to much in poor weather and was duly let down. Hence why the image for this post is black and white as it helps to mask some of the inconsistencies.

Lesson learned
My conclusion from the trip is we have not reached the time yet where the phone can truly replace a camera in all situations, this may seem a obvious statement to most photographers, but over the years I made many leaps of faith with technology and met with success. I dumped all my film cameras and brought into digital when all my colleagues were still adamant digital would never catch on. I guess it was wishful thinking to believe the time was here yet where I could always leave my bulky digital SLR cameras at home, I won’t make that mistake again.