Friday, 25 February 2011


I have just had two teeth out at the dentist- God how I loathe going to the dentist - which I suppose to be fair is probably why I have just said goodbye to two teeth - a little more regular attendance and a lot more 'flossing' would have made yesterdays operation unnecessary.  Still no point in crying over...etc. In any event the whole think was comparatively painless - the pain being virtually all in the anticipation and none in the actual operation - but then - as far as dentists go - I belong to a generation which (a) eat far too much sugar - all those puddings and cakes which mothers used to make  - not to mention delicious tinned peach segments in syrup and (b) remember visits to dentists which where anything but painless.   Not that they were anything like my father's account in a letter to his mother of having  teeth pulled  out on the Western Front in 1917:

" I rode over last Wednesday ,tied up my horse and went expecting to find gas. Instead I sat down and a burly Australian injected into my gums which hurt a lot, before it even had time to freeze he seized the tooth with his nippers and got it out in a bout six heaves, by the end of which I was halfway under the chair, it hurt like blazes until it came out and then, except for being sore,  not at all & I untied my horse and rode home.  Today a different fellow at the same place removed the others but did it in only two pulls, hurt very little except when it unfrooze, however it cost me nothing, Harris would probably have charged me 5 Guineas. "     

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Coming Out

I have Come Out - No not out of the 'Closet' but out of the Conservative Party. All my life I have been a Tory but I am afraid I can no longer stick being a member of a party led by 'Call me Dave' so I have switched to the UK Independence Party (UKIP).  Oh the relief.  At last I pay my dues to a party which actually believes in something and is prepared to fight for it. No more wishy washy phrases, no more half lies by a leadership to a membership who, when they get office, find excuses not to carry out their election pledges, no more -in short -appeasement - to the Guardian/BBC/Notting Hill Gate/Islington Intelligentsia, which thinks it has a monopoly of acceptable political thinking.  It is odd but I suspect that some 80% of the current membership of the Conservative feel as I do and would support the all UKIP manifesto but still - like I did until recently  - stick with the Tories in the hope that perhaps 'Dave' really has got a spine after all and that one day he will actually come out fighting for the interests of his country and for values which his party members hold dear. Forget it.  Dave is too frightened of being hated ever to be loved.  So I appeal to any Conservative Party member reading this to Come Out as well and join a party whose policies you truly believe in, you will find a ready welcome.  You will also have the comfort of knowing that the leadership and management of UKIP are not just, like the leadership of the 'New' Conservatives,  taking your money and using your services while laughing up their sleeves at your 'antideluvian opinions' and your naivety.  

Monday, 21 February 2011

the chainsaw and the smoker

Ten years ago I set off on a trip to America and stubbed my last cigarette out on a paving stone outside Exeter St. Davids Station - kissing my wife goodbye she vowed that she to would give up as well.  The problem was that she didn't believe I would give up so - when I returned a week later -a reformed smoker - I found that not only was she still puffing away but had made no effort to give up.  Ten years later she was-until yesterday - still a smoker consuming between 20 -30 ciggies a day at a vast cost to the family finances not to mention to her health. So why the change of heart. Well the log shed being virtually empty I decided to get the chain saw out and cut up some wood.  Now K is a health & safety nut - she sees disaster and injury in virtually every activity - and she has absolutely no faith in my ability to handle a chain saw - so when she heard the buzz of the saw she panicked and immediately assembled an emergency first aid package.  On my safe return she ranted and raved a bit on the 'how could you be so stupid ....' line and 'why can't you get someone else to do it ..' etc.  so I then pointed out that there was no spare money about to pay 'someone else to do it'  because it was all going up in smoke and as 'for being so stupid..' who was the stupider - she for continuing to smoke or me for having an occasional play with the chainsaw?  A deal was struck and sworn by the greatest oath in the family - on dogs death - that if she gave up the fags I would give up the chain saw - so far it is working.      

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Save our forests II

David Cameron has, it seems, caved in to the Save our Forest campaign so I have written a letter to Rachel Johnston (soon surely to be granted the coveted title of 'National Treasure') and it occurred to me that I may as well publish it on the blog as well -hope you enjoy it 

Rachel Johnston
The Lady
38 -40  Bedford Street
The Strand
London WC2E 9ER

17 February 2011

Dear Rachel


we who actually own woods and manage them wonder whether you are really concerend about  ‘Saving Our Forests’ or are just interested in running a high profile PR campaign which has been distinguished by its complete flagrant disregard for the facts and its twisting of the truth?
If you really are interested in Saving our Forests - which I have to say we in the forestry and woodland world would love ,  here is what you ought to be campaigning for:

1.      A complete ban on the importation of plant material into this country.  You may not be aware of it – why should you as you patently know absolutely nothing about the subject you are campaigning on - but there is at this very moment a virulent pathogen at loose in our forests and woods called Phytophthora Ramorum which arrived in this country via camellias imported by Dutch Nurseries from China.  The result is that tens of thousand of acres of larch trees – mainly in the South West and South Wales at present are being clear felled – it is in short a Woodland foot & Mouth .  There is also a particularly nasty pest called the Processionary moth which is currently alive and well round Kew and came in via cypress trees imported from Italy and- if it was allowed to spread into our woodlands would make access to them a moot point as no one would want to go into them.  Nor must I forget the  Daily Telegraph who distinguished themselves by importing a large consignment of Acer trees from China as a ‘reader offer’ some which carried the deadly Asian Long Horned Beetle The trade in horticultural plants is – in short – the primary risk to our forests. 

2.      You have also –in your campaign – made use of the emotive photograph of a red squirrel. In your total ignorance you are obviously not aware that the only people who are doing anything to protect the red squirrel and to try to expand its range and even re introduce it into new areas are private woodland owners – the Forestry Commission gave up controlling it in most of their woods years ago 

3.      Ergo perhaps you and your unholy Notting Hill Gate meets Islington alliance might like to get behind a campaign to eradicate the grey squirrel thus (a) allowing the reintroduction of the Red and (b) improving vastly the health of Britain’s deciduous forests as the grey squirrel – by stripping the bark off young trees – is the single biggest enemy of woods and forests in the UK – but how should you know that?  

4.      You might also like to muster your troops behind a campaign to eradicate the Muntjac (do you know I wonder what that is) which likes nothing more than eating blue bell bulbs and the like and is a major threat to our woodland – currently its population is on course to double over the next eight years (it breeds all through the year).  No doubt though you and your friends are too cowardly and squeamish to propose such a necessary policy in order to Save our Forests.

5.      You  should  realise that contrary to your emotive rubbish that woodland in the UK has always been worked as an economic resource and actually needs to be worked in order to provide much of the benefit which you ridiculous Urban people take for granted- there is an old adage – the wood that pays is the wood that stays – in short woods ‘do not look after themselves – foresters look after them. To make woods more profitable we need you luvvies and second rate celebs to buy and promote products from them 

6.      You might also discover –if you had asked – that the Forestry Commission currently loses some £40 m annually by mismanaging its woods and that strangely I and others in the private sector make money out of ours and manage them far better as well – tarring private woodland owners as some form of asset stripping idiots  as you have is a travesty of the truth .     

That’s enough for now  - give my regards to Ivo and tell the stupid bastard to give me a call when he is down here as would love to see him and – when  next he is down taking journalists round that monstrous white elephant of a house – Castle Drogo – to call in – It is only ten minutes away

Yours in Despair



Friday, 11 February 2011

grey squirrels

Now is the the time of the year when everyone who loves their woods and trees; 'stiffens the sinews, summons up the blood and lends the eye a terrible aspect'  (Henry V before Harfleur) and goes out to kill grey squirrels.  The grey squirrel is the principal enemy of  foresters having an appalling habit of stripping the bark from young trees in the early summer when the sap is rising which leads to, what would in time (hundred years or so ) have become truly great and noble forest trees instead developing  into stunted, disfigured, ugly stumps.  There is truly nothing more dispiriting to anyone who loves trees than to see a wood they planted fifteen or twenty years earlier, and is finally taking on the characteristics of a wood rather than a plantation, suddenly, in a matter of days, wrecked by an attack of grey squirrels.   What puzzles me though is that when I was in America in New England I walked through their woods and saw no squirrels and no sign of damage to any of their hardwoods.  Plant American Black Walnut or Red Oak or Sugar Maple over here though, as I have, and you will very soon rue your decision as the grey squirrel will attack them with enthusiasm.  So if you love trees and woods kill grey squirrels, by trap, by poisoned bait, or with gun it matters not a jot as long as they are killed.    

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

dogs death

Today I dug the grave for my old Labrador Reggie - he was just sixteen which is a great age for a dog and had been in fine form till the last few weeks. In burying him I expect I have fallen foul of some ghastly environmental regulation but it has always seemed to me that giving your faithful hound a decent burial is the least you owe him. Besides I always find the effort in digging a grave for ones dog a cathartic experience.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Save our Forests

When ever I read something in a newspaper which I really know about the truly frightening thing is that the article is littered with inaccuracies and the conclusions, when drawn, are normally grossly unfair.  The row over the govt. 'consultation' on the 800,000 odd acres of land managed by the Forestry Commission (FC) in England is a case in point.  The 'luvvies' and second rate 'celebs' have rushed to sign up for something called 'Save our Forests' when there is actually - in the government's proposal nothing to save them from.  Public access to forests will continue ,even if they are sold, as it is enshrined in law, the  FC has not, strangely, either been the superb woodland manager of legend and so, if these woods are sold they may well end up better managed than before and, consider, over the last thirty odd years many industries have been privatised and all now give a better service to their customers and provide a better return to their owners than when they were in public hands -so why should the sale of public forestry estate have a different outcome?

No if the 'luvvies' and 'celelbs', plus -oddly- the Archbishop of Canterbury, really want to Save our Forests then they should be campaigning for the total ban on importation of plant material into this country.  Such plants -imported by so called 'nurseries' in the UK too idle to grow their own -are a enormous threat to the health of the UK's woodlands.  Already tens of thousand of acres of larch trees are being felled throughout Wales and SW England because of a disease called Phytophra Ramorum   brought into this country via Camellia plants imported from China via nurseries in Holland while a ill thought out reader offer by the Daily Telegraph  of Acers imported from China resulted in several of the plants being found to be carrying the deadly Asian Long Horned Beetle which, if it became established, would devastate the UK's hardwoods.  So come on the 'luvvies' and the 'celebs', plus all those MP's who have suddenly decided to become experts in trees, do something which will really help to Save our Forests - campaign for a ban on the importation of all plant material.     

Wednesday, 2 February 2011


Febuary is the most dismal month of the year. The weather is bloody, winter seems unending and all our friends
head off for some winter sun to recover from the shooting season which has just ended.  How I wish we too could join them - though having said that I know I would very soon get bored lying in the sun and having nothing to do but read a book.  The answer is to grit the teeth and 'fight through Febuary' in the hope that March will herald a marvelous Spring.