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 ...

Anybody for chips?

| Jun 7, 2009

Anybody for chips?

In national parks, gardens, woodlands and any other places where people frequently walk in natural settings, the pathways and places where they gather pose many problems to owners, managers and anybody who is concerned with the comfort and safety of the visitors and also ...

Swapping snow for a rain forest

| Apr 5, 2009

Swapping snow for a rain forest

Although there was very little snow this winter here where I live in the Nagano Prefecture hills, it was still good to have an excuse to get away from the cold, and the excuse this time was to present a prize for the writer ...

| Feb 1, 2009

Mucking about with horses

In Britain when I was a lad in the 1940s and ’50s, horses were still a common sight in the streets. Although horse-drawn carriages had pretty well vanished except for those used for ceremonial purposes, delivery wagons ladened with milk, coal and beer were ...

You can't beat country life

| Jan 4, 2009

You can't beat country life

I was down in Kyushu with some Japanese friends last year, just sipping a few drinks and chatting. The conversation turned to kabu and became very serious and somewhat gloomy. Quite honestly, I wasn’t really following it all, but I felt I had to ...

Oh, no: It's not a Christmas pud

| Dec 3, 2008

Oh, no: It's not a Christmas pud

The Christmas season may be grinding ever closer, and the creation in the photograph below is almost the right color and shape, but it’s most certainly not a Christmas pudding. Just now, the woods are carpeted with fallen leaves, and as there is a ...