September 28, 2011 § 2 Comments
It’s a warm and sunny Indian summer afternoon in Soho and I am sitting in an air conditioned office. This is not ideal. Instead I will fantasise about practising these absolutely amazing bike moves courtesy of film director Ninian Doff. I am particularly enjoying the Royal Wave, the MGM Lion and the Cup of Tea. Lovely.
September 27, 2011 § Leave a comment
It was spellbinding to wake up on a sunny Sunday at my aunt’s house and open the curtains on this beautiful russet-coloured fox having an nap amongst the ivy. What made it more surprising was that my aunt doesn’t live in a tranquil corner of the Cotswolds but bustling, lively Brixton in South East London. My fantastic Mr Fox wasn’t unique, either – walking home at night over the last month I’ve seen more than 20 of the animals out on the streets and in gardens, on the hunt for their urban foodstuffs of choice – rats and rubbish.
It’s uncertain quite how many foxes there are in the capital – the Guardian cites an estimated 33,000 in the 1980s and the BBC reckons there are currently 10,000 red foxes in London. They were largely tolerated by city dwellers until a flurry of media attention last year, when a fox purportedly attacked baby twins, asleep in their house in Hackney. A plethora of articles on the ‘terror’ posed by the animals followed, despite this attack being a pretty isolated incident – Martin Hemmington, of the National Fox Welfare Society, was quoted at the same saying that a fox mauling a child is extremely unlikely (and far less likely, it should be remembered, than an attack by a dog). Other complaints made about the animals are their screeching at night and the presence of faeces in gardens. But do foxes really deserve this reputation of being vermin?
It should be remembered that foxes in cities eat rats, a carrier of disease, as well as pests like slugs and snails, and are only present in urban areas due to the huge amount of unwanted food waste which people leave where they can get at it. The best way to deter foxes is simply to keep rubbish in secure bins and avoid the temptation to feed them. I personally see no reason why animals that pose no real threat to humans, are so beautiful to observe and are a part of the surprisingly wide variety of urban wildlife present in London should not be allowed to coexist as peacefully with us as the fox asleep outside my window (who after opening his eyes and watching me watching him for a few minutes, yawned and went back to sleep).
September 21, 2011 § 1 Comment
Simon Dale is my new hero – using just £5000 worth of materials and some man power he has magicked up a cosy little house in Wales for his family to live in. Eco friendly, low impact, and built using straw, grass, wood and other natural bits and bobs, this is a coup in outdoors/indoors living. Grand Designs, eat your heart out.
More photos and info at Ciracar.com
September 4, 2011 § 1 Comment
I think a small part of me wasn’t quite sure reindeer were real until we visited Napapiirin Porofarmi Reindeer Farm. The farm’s reindeer are friendly and come up for a cuddle, which I enjoyed immensely, as their horns feel amazing – like the softest velvet. Lappish people are completely used to seeing reindeer wandering around in the forests, but for me it was like getting to pat a unicorn. Amazing.
Reindeer husbandry is a long and important tradition in northern Finland, where the Sami people keep the animals for food, pelts and reindeer racing. Reindeer horns are displayed proudly above the fireplace in most homes, and even tell children’s stories and legends about the animals, crucial to their survival for so many generations.
September 1, 2011 Comments Off on LOCATION GUIDE: Walking Lapland’s Pieni Karhunkierros trail
It doesn’t get much more authentically Finnish than waking up in Lapland in a cosy log cabin overlooking a misty lake in the middle of nowhere, having a breakfast of rye porridge, salmon and cheese and heading off for a walk along the attractively named Small Bear’s trail, the 12km Pieni Karhunkierros.
The path in the Oulanka National Park snakes over winding wooden boardwalks, three rickety rope bridges stretched across rushing waterfalls and down seemingly endless stairs built into steep hillsides. On the four-hour walk we stood on the edge of enormous canyons, dipped our feet in lakes and caught glimpses of the cold black Kitkajoki river through the trees.
As we trekked, we watched for the green and orange markers, painted at intervals along the way. Our lovely guides Janne, Andri and Johannes had informed us that it is very easy to wander off the beaten path along a tiny trail and find yourself alone in the wilderness, at the mercy of bears and moose and with only cloudberries for nourishment. So we kept an eye on the markers and nervously scanned the forest for moose-like shapes, which was not easy as a certain South African and a certain Frenchman in our group decided to hide behind trees making disturbing reindeer-like “aruuuuga!” noises at intervals. Thanks guys.
The air was heavy and humid but the going was mainly flat, so we weren’t too exhausted when we eventually arrived in a secluded little clearing, where open-air shelters and a Sami teepee were arranged around a big fireplace. Our guides lit a fire and served us a traditional Lappish lunch: salmon soup with cream, followed by coffee made in black pots on the fire, eaten with spicy sugar bread. Food and a rest after four hours of trekking is one of the best things in the world, so it didn’t seem like things could be improved upon – until we looked up and saw a reindeer in a bright red collar and her baby watching us curiously from the top of the hill, like a scene from a Lappish folk painting.