Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The times they are a-changing. Springing into Springtime.

It seems an age since my last woodland blog. A lot has happened in the last two months; the Lesser Celandine and Wood Anemones have flowered and withered, a vast carpet of Bluebells then sprouted, flowered, and are now also on the wain. They have been replaced by Ramsons (Wild Garlic, delicious), the enchanting Yellow Archangel, Greater Stitchwort, and now after a day or two of light rain the Ferns have burst forth all over the place. The Springtime is a wonderful time to be at the wood.
I completed the construction of my compost toilet (more of which later), cleared some large fallen tree's, and installed a gate and some small sections of boundary fencing (for insurance purposes).
And best of all I have had a few friendly visitors popping along to see what all the fuss is about.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

News: Yak Attack - Pokhara IV Stage Race.

Yak Attack has announced a new four day stage race that will be taking place on the trails around the lakeside city of Pokhara in Nepal. The Pokhara IV.
Pokhara is a great destination. Situated on the banks of Fewa Lake, and with magnificent views of the surrounding Annapurna Massif, it is Kathmandu-lite. Less people, less traffic, less pollution, and with a really laid back atmosphere. It's the kind of town you head to for a couple of days and end staying a couple of weeks.
The trails around the outskirts of the city have a great reputation and this could prove to be a fantastic race. It's also a great introduction to mountainbiking in Nepal and should be less intimidating and thus more attractive to many riders than the legendary Yak Attack itself.
The Pokhara IV stage race will be based for its entirety in the city and will comprise of a six night stay and four stages. This means that it is possible to fly in to Kathmandu, take part in the race, and fly out again in less than ten days days; although I'd advise a longer trip to take in some of the superb short treks around the area.

This is what Yak Attack have to say about it:
Pokhara IV is a 4 day mountain bike stage race based entirely around the lakeside city of Pokhara.
Each stage will take riders on a different loop out into the Himalayan foothills on trails rarely ridden, all of which give outstanding views of the surrounding mountains and lakes.
After completing each stage riders return to the same hotel and can enjoy all the luxuries on offer in the tourist enclave of Lakeside Pokhara.

  •  6 days / 5 nights
  •  February 10th to 15th 2018
  •  4 stages of approx 50km per stage
  •  5 nights accommodation in Pokhara
  •  Full race support, including water stations and route marking
  •  Coach transfer Kathmandu - Pokhara- Kathmandu
Best of all the entry fee for the inaugural race is a measly $395. That makes it one of the cheapest stage races on the calendar.

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Consume less, live more. Plant more trees.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A (silly) walk around Bluebell Wood.

A few days ago I decided to film an impromptu walk around the wood using Facebook Live so that people could see how beautiful it is. I was very excited and got a bit carried away :D
For those who haven't seen it on our FB page here it is for your amusement.


You can also follow Chase The Rainbow here:

Thank you for looking, see you soon.
Please don't forget to Like, Share, and Comment, if you enjoyed it :)

Consume less, live more. Plant more trees.

Wherever the wind blows.

Life in the last year or so has been something of a whirlwind (slightly more than it normally is).
During last Summer I moved house. At the end of Summer I finished a contract that had lasted two and half years and took off on a trip, at very short notice, for almost three months in Nepal. The Nepal trip concluded unexpectedly with me being at the sharp end of helping to run the 2016 Yak Attack Mountainbike Race.
Two days after returning from Nepal I purchased a 6 acre wood with a friend, which then ended up being a solo purchase. Then my Uncle offered me a ten week contract rebuilding a fire damaged recycling plant in South-West London, which happened to start just five days after formally signing for the purchase of the wood, and ended up being a sixteen week contract.
During this time period I, unexpectedly again, ended up with a small shareholding in Yak Attack (due to the overwhelming generosity of others). Shortly before finishing my contract in London my friend Phil Evans (Yak Attack head honcho) asked me if I would like to help out with this years Rumble in the Jungle race in Sri Lanka which quickly escalated into a month long pre-race expedition to check the condition of the trails and to reconnoitre any potential new ones.
See what I mean? And breathe...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Chalk & Cheese. The trials of a woodland hobbit.

Braap braap.

The last few weekends have proven to be quite diverse, and occasionally challenging.
One weekend was so vile that I opted to stay at home and get stuck into the construction of the compost toilet just so that I could escape the horizontal sleet and snow occasionally. I spent both days alternating between bouts of potential hypothermia and hiding out in the kitchen brewing coffee and simultaneously de-frosting my lifeless fingers.
I did eventually pop down to the wood for an hour or so when a glorious break in the weather materialised late in the day. I wandered around daydreaming and had a little session of bramble pulling (it's very therapeutic).
Amid all this darkness the Bluebells have begun to arrive.
I spotted one sprouting through the leaf mould whilst clearing an area of brambles (I currently do a lot of bramble clearance) and once I had my eye in, as it were, I began spotting them everywhere. I'm pleased to report that the springtime display should be wildly profuse, they are in every nook & cranny it seems. It's dead exciting (for me at least).
The Bluebells are beginning to make their presence felt on the ground.

Friday, February 3, 2017

A bridge over (un)troubled waters.

I've been building a few bridges lately (actual as opposed to metaphorical).
When I announced that I had bought the wood quite a few friends offered to come down and help out. Unfortunately the January weather seems to have put them off, I'm sure come the spring they'll be beating a path. I won't hold it against them, I have questioned my own sanity on more than one occasion recently. My parents have been regular visitors and have helped me out a lot. My old mucker and mountainbiking wingman Mitch Bryan called in to assist me in between his rigorous Strathpuffer training sessions and has promised further labour in the near future when his off-shifts coincide with mine. And my good friend Phil Evans (he of Yak Attack fame - the race organiser/director no less) lent me his considerable construction knowledge for the bridges. We spent the best part of a cold Sunday digging, sawing, and hammering to our hearts content. Phil has also pledged further assistance and I will happily take him up on it; particularly when it comes to laying a base for the shed and then constructing said shelter. I, in return, provided fresh coffee and Chocolate Hobnobs, a fair exchange if ever there was one.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Weekend (woodland) Warrior.

Bluebell Wood. 

After the agonising four week wait for the completion of the legal process for purchasing the wood I have now been able to get down there and get stuck in.
I managed a few days immediately after the completion date before I had to pack my bags and head to the big smoke for work (London. Noisy place).
I have been down and done a lot of work during the last two weekends. It's hard graft at the minute but it's a very rewarding process.
I'm slowly getting a feel for the place and finding my bearings.
The wood is triangular in shape with a 350m road frontage (not too noisy except for commuters using it as a rat run during rush hour) and about 150m at its widest point. It slopes gently upwards, in an east to west direction, from the pointy end to the wide part; and has a lovely little brook meandering throughout its length. The westerly end on the road side of the brook has a steeper gradient. The perfect spot, it seems, for rope swings (Unfortunately I've had to remove them for insurance purposes).

A crappy screenshot from Google maps but you get the general idea. 
Rather fortuitously the quiet corner furthest from the road is relatively flat and is the perfect spot for my HQ. This is where I'm currently focusing my time. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

If you go down to the woods today... might find me there.
I got confirmation from the solicitors today that everything has gone through smoothly and I'm now officially the owner of almost 6.5 acres of mature woodland.
It hasn't been an entirely smooth passage however.
Unfortunately my mate Dave couldn't raise the necessary capital to fund his half of the purchase and so I had to make a decision; let it go or go for it. I went for it.
For the first time in many years I've had to borrow some money, but sometimes in life you have to take a risk.
I'm finding the whole thing both exciting and slightly scary in equal measure. One thing is certain though, no matter what happens now, I am going to gain a great deal of pleasure from the whole adventure.