The Ranch:

It rained properly on Thursday night and I swear that the plants all grew an extra couple of inches out of sheer joy. The birches and the hedges are swaying in the breeze and they look like they’re actually waving happily, tuned into the powerful energy of the solstice.

Get a grip boy. What are you? Some kind of old hippy?

Narnia, Tolkien, Winnie the Pooh and every single imaginative story ever written have in common an inextricable intertwining with nature.

There are worlds within worlds both literally and metaphorically. Just because 99.99% of the population can’t perceive the tree and water spirits it doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

The solstice day was cool and cloudy, but the bats still came out as the light faded, and the full moon 3 days later made the time all the more special. Don Juan calls twilight ‘the crack between the worlds’ and I can see why.


First tomato


I confess that I’m prone to melodrama.

I get far too worked up about nothing in particular and I have to constantly remind myself of the bigger picture. Shaky captured the Buddhist concept of impermanence perfectly in his Prospero speech.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

Once we’re reminded of the impermanence of everything, it’s harder to get worked up about crazed doings of buffoons and poltroons.


Hay gathering


I was worrying about all the excess plants that I’ve grown – loads of varieties of tomatoes, courgettes, cucumbers, and squashes. Trayfuls of summer savoury and celeriac and lots of native wild plants.

It’s not important. I’ll repot them and accommodate them or pass them on.

On the whole, I’ve made a huge amount of progress this season and I’m at the stage where I can pick enough veg for our evening meal every day. All the experiments are doing well – wheat, barley, yacon, Korean mint, quinoa. I’ve even got some ginger growing in a pot in the greenhouse.

Every year the pesky wasps build their nest somewhere right in the middle of the busiest areas where I’m constantly close by. They have the whole one and a half acres to choose from. Why? This year it’s at the base of a courgette plant in one of the field beds.

Welded bracket


Welding sets you free.

Makers, menders and general snufflers learn how to recycle just about anything and that’s certainly been the case this week. Recycling is at the heart of permaculture and far-from-the-madding-crowd living. The ability to weld is the icing on the cake when it comes to off-gridding. It gives you the ability to make and mend just about anything. I did lots of it – gas and arc – during my engineering apprenticeship.

At work, we do ‘tests of change’ to try and do things more efficiently. I’ve been doing one this week on the ranch and it’s worked splendidly well. I’ve simply been sticking to one task at a time and not succumbing to the endless heady distractions. I start the day with a big job such as concreting and finish off with the gardening and watering.

The top post for the field gate, despite being 10 inches thick has rotted at the bottom. I had various options to repair it. One was to dig out the whole lot including a lot of concrete. I weighed it up and my 3D imagination came up with a sturdy bracket made from thick steel plates and 30mm box section. It took me less than three hours to cut it out, weld, drill and paint it (Land Rover green of course – if I can’t have a Land Rover, at least I can have a tin of paint).

Fitted bracket


Shed joy:

The latest unfinished shed is demi-shed E. It’s a brick construction in the field, destined to be a little off-grid substation, with solar panels on the roof.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t charge rent for my other allotments – I just get labour in exchange. On Thursday, Alex and Gaz came up. Alex and I gathered up the hay before it rained and used the link box on the back of the tractor to take it to the compost bins on the side of the greenhouse. I’ve never felt more like a farmer in my life.

Gaz is a builder and he added a few more courses of bricks to d-sE – he did more in three hours than I’ve done in 3 months. It was a joy to watch.

The first shed I ever started was demi-shed A. We put a roof on it for Sagefest, but it blew off a few months ago, taking the top course of bricks with it. Andy, who has another of my allotments is a landscape architect. He’s achieved an astonishing transformation with an exquisitely built shed, barbecue and polytunnel.

He came on Friday and we re-roofed d-sA with a view to it being a little bar, should another Sagefest hypothetically take place. Again, it was a pleasure as we concocted the design together as we went along. We used materials that I already had in stock in the barn.

View from demi-shed A



I’ve previously slagged off the modern ‘mindfulness movement’ because of it being used out of the context of the original Buddhist teaching, in which mindfulness is central, along with faith, energy, concentration and wisdom, it’s one of the five faculties, which balance the five hindrances (sense-desire, ill will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry and doubt). I got really into Eastern philosophy in my twenties and read loads of books. I’ve changed my mind. Mindfulness is useful just on its own. One of my favourite sayings is: In the amplitude of god’s earth, why have you fallen asleep in a prison? It’s by Rumi, and couldn’t be more apt in today’s climate.

Mindfulness is already well-described in the English language in the phrase absent-minded = lack of mindfulness. Buddhism uses an object of focus when establishing mindfulness and the commonest is the breath, because it’s always present. The English phrase take a deep breath is an example of establishing mindfulness.

When I’m doing a job on the van, if I lose the keys half way through, then that’s lack of mindfulness. A thorough, tidy systematic approach is so much more productive and enjoyable and it’s all about developing mindfulness. That’s what Zen in the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is about.

I’ve re-fitted the twin carbs. I’m still tweaking the timing, but already they’re working better than before – no leaking petrol. I’m working my way through everything and doing a mega-service and assessment of all the bodywork that needs doing. More than ever, the van is a symbol of personal freedom and for the first time, I’m itching to get away camping.

I’m just back from the annual classic car show up Towneley – yet more inspiration.

Double carbs refitted


What I’m really thinking:

One of the rags used to do a column where every week, someone said anonymously what they were really thinking about a particular life-circumstance such as a situation at home or work.

Jonathon Pie has done his most coruscating video yet, in response to the Handoncock fiasco. ‘Posh entitled shaggers.’

I’ve said so many times that I wouldn’t trust a single molecule of the steam of my turds with a single one of those vile fornicating, thieving slimeball worms. Why oh why on earth are people standing and watching their mounting crimes against humanity and doing nothing? Wancock will have no come-uppance. There are plenty who would have his head on a spike along with all the rest of them, for all the unecessary death and suffering that they’ve caused. Yesterday’s London march was one of the biggest in history, but MSM coverage was minimal.

Those that broke the Shagger-Wancock story knew about it long beforehand. People are speculating why it might have been released when it was – maybe as a smokescreen for a much bigger story? Well there is. PHE released a 69 page report on the same day – SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern and variants under investigation in England Technical briefing 17 – check it out here. On page 13 is – Table 4. Attendance to emergency care and deaths by vaccination status among Delta confirmed cases (sequencing and genotyping) including all confirmed Delta cases in England, 1 February 2021 to 21 June 2021. The first section shows that in the over 50s, there were 9571 cases, of which 976 were unvaccinated and 3546 were double jabbed. The last row of the table is Deaths within 28 days of positive specimen date which shows that in the over 50s there were 109 deaths of which 50 were double-jabbed and 38 were un-jabbed. It doesn’t take a statistician to work out how significant that is in terms of blowing the govts pack of lies out of the water.

1958 Aston Martin DB2 at Towneley classic car show.


Rock & Roll:

The muse is back. We had one of our boozy music nights on Friday – just me and The Strange. When they played Bleed the hairs on my arms stood on end. I say again that they are the best band to come out of Burnley and Tod. Their 16 track album, due out later this year is a corker. Louise said ‘What are those big ugly things?’ referring to the machine heads on the new bass. She’s funny. I’m looking forward to banging out a few records. Music is a healer in the shit show. My last video went fungal, with an astonishing 5 views.

The Strange