Rufdog.

Don’t back down

Archive for the ‘Natural World’ Category

Arctic Man… & Dog

with 2 comments


A few days ago I was watching the BBC’s Arctic Man documentary on the legendary Alaskan race and this cool looking dog made an appearance.

Written by rufdog

February 16, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Posted in Natural World, Snowboarding

Tagged with ,

Tree

with 2 comments


January and February can be gloomy, miserable months. It’s like the saturation & contrast has been knocked down on everything. Gladly, the low sun occasionally makes an appearance and you are reminded of what the Spring and Summer will bring.

Written by rufdog

February 15, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Bonnie Scotland & Conquering Ben Nevis

leave a comment »

scotland_bennevis004View from the top of Ben Nevis

Having never visited Scotland before, I was raring to get up there when a few friends suggested we head north for a week in the Highlands.

The journey wasn’t bad, unlike the miserable weather. None of Scotland’s rugged beauty was visible from the car as we snaked our way to base camp near Fort William.

Once there, the seven of us settled into our comfortable, newly built lodges, had a few beers and hit the sack.
Next morning, the weather cleared enough for us to admire the imposing north face of the Glen Nevis range.

Dodging the drizzle, we managed to grab the best of the weather visiting some truly beautiful areas. Bathed in glorious sunshine, we dispatched the all-important Loch Ness, including a boat trip on the famous deep dark waters. Over the week we walked some lovely routes, a 13 mile walk here, a pub meal there, Neptune’s staircase, forest walks, Lochs Sunart and Lomond and a trip on the Jacobite ‘Harry Potter’ steam train were a few of the highlights. It’s a shame my four legged friend Blue wasn’t with me, he’d have loved the walks.

On Wednesday evening, a beer induced confidence led me to suggest that the 4409 feet of Ben Nevis looked like a piece of cake, and a plan to climb it on a forecasted sunny Friday was hatched.

On Friday morning I drowsily ignored my early alarm and woke up in a panic around 10.30. Completely unprepared, my mate Guy (who was the only mug to agree to the ‘expedition’) and myself arrived at the Glen Nevis visitor centre an hour later. A quick trip to the shop, to grab a map and an essential sun blocking baseball cap, we were set to go. It was glorious weather, the strength of the sun in Scotland seems amplified compared to middle England.

At 11.45ish we set off armed with a dismal food supply with the sun beating down. We had one round of sandwiches and a handful of cakes and biscuits between us. I hadn’t even had any breakfast. I say one round of sandwiches… it was meant to be one round each, but when it came to stop for lunch many hours later, Guy furiously discovered that he had left his lunch in the boot of the car. It wasn’t funny for him, but I couldn’t help laughing amid his swearing.

Prior to lunch, just ¾ of an hour in, I realised my grave error in thinking it would be easy. I knew I couldn’t make it, the sun was relentless, my legs like lead. I wolfed down a few Jaffa cakes, which helped immensely and slowly soldiered on, trying to keep up with my walking partner. It was tough for me, I find it incredibly tough hiking, even walking uphill, but incredibly easy downhill. I thought this was the norm, the status quo. It seems I was mistaken, a lot of people I have spoken to find it is vice versa for them.

We kept going, occasionally thinking we were close to the top, only to be thwarted by the numerous false summits. Soon we could see the snowfields, and knew we were close. Guy wanted to throw the towel in, but with a little persuasion we cracked on.

One more push and we made it, we summated Ben Nevis around 5.15pm on 29th May 2009. We were greeted by a remarkable view. The weather was perfect, bluebird skies and hundreds of peaks as far as the eye could see. It was truly stunning, breathtaking, staggering and unforgettable.

I found the whole experience quite emotional. I know Ben Nevis isn’t a big deal to serious walkers, but combined with the view, the feeling of achievement, genuinely elation and self-fulfilment I did feel very emotional. I also felt completely refreshed and re-energised. I sat next to the triangulation point and smoked a well-deserved Café Crème cigar. It was a bloody marvellous feeling.

A few hours later we were back at the base and heading back to the lodge, sunburned, knackered and starving. With our new found confidence, talk turned to completing the triple with Snowdon and Scafell Pike on the ‘next’ list.

After a large bowl of pasta, I went out on the deck with a beer and peacefully watched the pinky orange sunset slowly bathe the north face of my first ever ‘bagged’ Monroe, with a new found admiration and respect for it. I’m sure I’ll be back someday, with Blue by my side.

scotland001Rugged scenery became visible when the drizzle lifted

scotland_bennevis001A Tarn nestling on Ben Nevis

scotland_bennevis002Westerly view over Loch Linnhe towards the Isle of Mull

scotland_bennevis003Another westerly shot over the boulder fields

scotland_bennevis005A little higher, amongst the snowfields

scotland_bennevis006The old observatory on the summit

scotland_bennevis007I finally made it!

scotland_bennevis009We made it

scotland_bennevis008Me & Guy in the snowfields at the start of the descent

scotland_bennevis010Watching the sun set on the north face of Ben Nevis with a beer

Written by rufdog

June 11, 2009 at 9:39 am

Driftwood Horses by Heather Jansch

with one comment

driftwoodhorse
Heather Jansch’s driftwood horse sculptures are stunning. As someone who loves naturally aged and weathered wood, this type of scupture appeals to me greatly. Driftwood has a beautiful feel to it. Anyone who has done a spot of beachcombing will know that it is very appealing to the eye and touch. Sun bleached and pounded smooth by the ocean, driftwood on it’s own is a work of (natures) art.

Jansch breathes more life into this extraordinary wood with her lifesized equestrian sculptures. Any artist will tell you that horses are notoriously difficult to capture in any medium, so my respect for the creativity and work that goes into these pieces has depth beyond a well painted canvas.

The artists background has some appeal too. Heather Jansch wasn’t a product of the usual high and mighty art colleges. She was asked to leave Goldsmith’s College due to her indifference to soulless modern art that was en vogue at her time of study. She went her own way and took on board teachings from the well respected artist and teacher Arthur Giadelli, whom she greatly admired. After some time making a living from painting equestrian commissions, Jansch found herself admiring some driftwood and a spark of creation crackled. She had found what she was looking for.

driftwoodfoulDriftwood Foul

driftwoodbear‘Natural’ Bear

As shown above, Jansch’s talent has successfully taken a sideways step into other natural materials and animals. I presume the bear is constructed from woodland material, which works a treat. What adds that extra touch of wonderment is that the materials used are relevant to the piece. I’m half tempted to have a go myself of creating a ‘shaggy’ version of my dog, as his resemblence to a shaggy bear cub is uncanny.

For more information, visit Heather Jansch’s Website

Written by rufdog

May 16, 2009 at 10:47 am

Bird of Paradise

leave a comment »

birdofparadise

Bird of Paradise – Strelitzia reginae
Shot taken outside our hotel on a recent business trip to San Diego.

The bird-of-paradise flower (Strelitzia reginae), or crane flower as it is sometimes known, is native to the southern and eastern parts of the Cape Province and northern Natal in South Africa, where it grows wild on river banks and in scrub clearings in coastal areas. It was first introduced into Britain in 1773 by Sir Joseph Banks, then the unofficial director of the Royal Gardens at Kew (as they were known at that time). He named the exotic-looking plant Strelitzia in honour of Queen Charlotte, wife of George III and Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who lived at Kew for many years.

Taken from the Kew Gardens website

Written by rufdog

May 15, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Bluebells

leave a comment »

bluebells1

I took Blue for yet another 6 mile-er today, in a vain attempt to burn off some of his energy. Walking past a copse I spotted a carpet of bluebells. Blue wasn’t too bothered though, he was more interested in eating soil and chewing his stick.

blue014

Written by rufdog

April 25, 2009 at 7:18 pm

Solana Beach, California

leave a comment »

solana_beach1
Evening sun at Solana Beach, California.

I’m lucky enough to be out in San Diego on a business trip. An after work trip to see a friends house on Solana Beach presented this beautiful view looking out at the Pacific Ocean. A break in the cloud allowed the early evening sun to dance across the horizon.
Please excuse the quality, all I had was my mobile phone camera.

It’s a truly stunning spot, and I’m extremely jealous of my friends who live in a beautiful place right on the cliff top.

solana_beach2
Soft Sandstone Cliffs

solana_beach3
View from the clifftop

Written by rufdog

March 11, 2009 at 10:46 pm