Hark ye to the Donkey's Ears

| Mar 7, 2010

Hark ye to the Donkey's Ears

There is a book in my library written by a Russian sailor named A. Novikoff Priboy who was captured by the Japanese during the Battle of Tsushima in 1905. His book was translated and published in English in 1933. It’s a fine story, with ...

Winter warmth, home and away

| Feb 7, 2010

Winter warmth, home and away

A friend just sent me a satellite photograph taken last month of the whole of Britain blanketed in white, and wrote about the homeless folk dying in extremely cold weather in Poland. Perhaps some people will doubt that global warming is happening at all ...

Nature's oaken towers of power

| Jan 3, 2010

Nature's oaken towers of power

Have you ever looked closely at the peak of a Western general’s uniform cap — or that of an admiral or chief of police — or at their epaulettes? If so, you’ll have seen that they are commonly decorated with embroidered gold thread depicting ...

Clubhouse rooms with a view

| Dec 6, 2009

Clubhouse rooms with a view

Over the last 22 years we have had many guests visiting our woods up here in the Kurohime hills of Nagano Prefecture. However, their numbers have shot up since we converted our holdings into being The C.W. Nicol Afan Woodland Trust in 2002. Up ...

Wildlife returns to our well-kept woods

| Nov 1, 2009

Wildlife returns to our well-kept woods

Our Afan Woodland Trust here in the Kurohime hills of Nagano Prefecture has entered into a joint project with the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Management at Azabu University to study woodland biodiversity and the results of our methods of woodland management. The research ...

A pig of a weed — I kudzu you not

| Oct 4, 2009

A pig of a weed — I kudzu you not

Looking out through the large picture window at the back of my house, I had a view through a little wood of Japanese oaks, mountain cherries and chestnuts of our small vegetable plot, a lovely wide hay meadow and more woods clothing the foothills ...

My key connection

| Sep 6, 2009

My key connection

It was 1954 and the summer holidays were over. The family had moved a few miles south from Tewkesbury to Cheltenham in the beautiful county of Gloucestershire in the west of England, and I had been transferred from the one town’s boys grammar school ...

My 'honey trap' sauna

| Aug 2, 2009

My 'honey trap' sauna

In the little woods just behind my house I have a big wooden outdoor bath and a sauna, with lockers beside the sauna door for people to put their towels and clothes in. That may sound great — but since the spring of 2008 ...

Mud, mud, marvelous mud

| Jul 5, 2009

Mud, mud, marvelous mud

About 20 years ago I had a large pond dug in our Afan woods up here in the Nagano Prefecture hills. It was in a place that was always waterlogged when the snow melted, and in spring there were lots of puddles that became ...