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.

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

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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

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. 

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)