Friday, 27 July 2007

Foxes Love Shoes?!!

R&E of stoke newington emailed to report being the victims of continued harassment by local foxes. They’ve also seen the family's shoes baring the brunt of the attacks. Several pairs of their lad’s shoes, left by the backdoor after garden play, have been torn up. In the most recent outrage a pair of E’s poshest shoes were snaffled. With their smelly footprints and our chewed shoes, urban foxes are annoying. But in fairness their screeching is probably the worst of it. At least they don’t have rabies! Oh and they eat rats.

Meanwhile On The Other Side Of The Pond...

Things ain’t so cushy in Salisbury, reports Earl Holland for The Daily Times of Salisbury, Md.
At Chef Fred's Chesapeake Steakhouse, Bar & Grill, the manager Sara Hall was called with claims of a wild fox in the parking lot. As she went to investigate customers were beating a retreat into the building pursued by the fox.
In what must have looked like a moment of high comedy, punters an staff were jumping up on the tables to escape the invader.
She was bitten on the hand, and even with one of the bouncers holding the fox in a neck-lock it still managed to bite a punter who was trying to prize open its jaws.
Ms Hall had to attend a local medical centre where she received seven shots in case the animal was rabid, and must re-attend twice a week for three to four weeks for supplementary shots.

Rumors that E would gladly endure the shots if she could keep the shoes are unconfirmed

For the full story

For the Jimmy Chews

Monday, 23 July 2007

The Shoplifting Seagull

Each morning the feathered felon stands outside a corner shop, in Aberdeen Scotland, waiting for the owner to open up.
When the door opens, he struts in, bold as brass, and helps himself to a bag of spicy Doritos. In the spirit of Robin Hood the gull is then seen sharing them with his pals. Gulls are seldom popular birds but this one seems to be becoming something of a local celebrity.

Full story from the 'current bun'

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Hitch Yer Skateboard To The EcoTech Bandwagon

A while back The Northern Monkey and myself were in Venice beach CA for a few days, and were very impressed with some of the locals, and their commitment to finding new answers to old problems.

TNM is big into EcoTech and he pointed this store out to me, unfortunately it was shut when we passed by, so this isn't so much a review, as a pointer

“Bamboo is an amazingly renewable, environmentally friendly material. It’s incredibly strong; yet light, flexible, and resistant to compression. The natural bamboo deck-ply improved return and resilience, while adding a clean, Zen flavor.”

Arbor Sports also do a clothing line. I’m not sure if I’d endorse their fashion sense (“you know nothing about fashion” Mrs SBW) but their 70% bamboo 30% cotton blend is a great idea.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

What The Fox Happening?

Three hundred and ten days ago, while I still lived on the other side of the hill.
I was sitting in my living room working on my laptop, when I heard a noise downstairs.
It wasn't very loud, just the sound of something falling over.
Then there was a tapping sound on the stairs, not loud enough to be an adult, but defiantly the sound of someone coming up the stairs. I looked down the stairs and found myself face to face with an urban fox, the cheeky little toe rag had come right into the house!

We looked at each other for a tenth of a second before he turned tail and scampered out of the back door.
Further investigation showed that the bushy-tailed-interloper had come in through the back door, gone into the bathroom, and then (what is euphemistically called) 'scented' our bathroom floor, Phew!!

To add insult to injury the little sod then did a victory lap of the bedroom, leaving 'scented' footprints all over the bed.
Not content with this chemical attack he then chose one of Mrs Bushwacker favourite boots and dragged it outside for a chewing session on the deck.

In the words of the late Bill Hicks

Ceramic File Set

At the same time as I got the SharpMaker (see Really, Really Sharp Knives) I ordered these ceramic files.

Ceramics may clog quickly, but they scour clean even more quickly. No file ever wears less. In this set the profiles are round, square, triangular, and teardrop (with a groove for sharpening points on fishing hooks and darts). They come in a comforting suede pouch.
I would have liked to see a conical file included in the set. But, for the money,they are what they are.

£41 in the UK
$31.95 (£16) from the usual suspects
Spyderco SP-400F ceramic file set

Non illegitimis carborundum

Friday, 20 July 2007

Speaking of France

Harvested (picked?) from a pile of slates in a wooded, but still inner-city (zone 2) garden, these snails were delicious. Kept in a bucket and fed on salad trimmings for five days they purged all the grit accumulated from their natural diet. Then they were fed for two days on white bread. The bread passing through the snails and staying white, tells you the purge is complete.

Boiled, rinsed and boiled again (approx. 10 changes of water) until the slime and froth were gone. Simmered for an hour. Baked in parsley, garlic and butter.
Served with rustic bread.


Keeping The Dream Alive - Get Reel (From Japan)

Sitting at my desk dreaming of the next time I’ll light a little fire for a brew and sit by the estuary, watching a cork float pull out into the current, carrying it’s cargo of Ragworms out to the fish. Or when time and tide permit; making the steep walk through the park, and down to Fairlight. Where I can offer a splashing, spitting YoZuri topwater lure to the Sea Bass as they patrol the weed-strewn rocks.

In the meantime I, like suburban fisherman the world over, have to settle for the sad truth.
I don’t so much go fishing, as collect fishing equipment.
And it’s justified. Really it is.

Repeat after me
‘Quality will be remembered long after price has been forgotten”

For small baits (5-20 grams) the Biomaster C3000

5.0 gear ratio
4.0kg drag
245g weight
Mono - 0.330mm-115m
Braid #2.0-180m
70.7 cm or 5/1 retrieve
19,000 yen
Double handle Option 3,150 yen
Spare spool 2,940 yen
All in £106.73 or $218.65

Repeat after me
“The Pain Of Equipment Failure Lasts Longer Than The Thrill Of A Bargain”

For bigger baits (20-50 grams) Biomaster 6000

4.6 gear ratio
4.5kg drag
365g weight
Mono - 0.330mm-240m
Braid - #3.0-280m
76.6cm/ retrieve 5/1
spare spool 3,675yen
All in £104.92 or $214.94

Repeat after me
‘Quality Will Be Remembered Long After Price Has Been Forgotten”

Japanese fishing kit from Plat:
Amazing Kit! Clunky website, Good prices, Rapid shipping

Keep your dreams alive and your lines tight

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Free Lure with Every Beer! Well Sort Of.

I'm off to south west France in a couple of weeks so I’ve been getting my fishing kit together.
I’m been hoping to spin for trout while I’m there. So I bought some new 5-10g (quarter ounce) lures and was about to buy some spinning blades too when I remembered bottle cap lures. I'd seen these things in action as a kid, and like so much stuff you can make at home for nix, they match the stuff you can buy bite for bite and you get the added satisfaction that only home made kit brings.
Best of all they are very easy to make. OK. Correction they really are very very easy to make.
First the hard bit - drinking the beers. Mission accomplished.
Then retrieve the caps from the recycling bin - you and I would call it interference (or sabotage) Mrs SBW calls it tidying up.
Use a nail to make two holes in the cap, near-ish to the edge, exactly where depends on the size of split rings you have to hand.
Fit split rings
There are two (or more) schools of thought as to what shape to make the lure
A. a tunnel or shell shape that creates turbulence and bubbles as you pull the lure through the water.
B. a Z shape, which will act as a propeller as it moves through the water.
Now for the technical bit: ring one gets a swivel, ring two gets a hook.
Jobs a good 'un.

Beer-Fishing-Recycling. It's All Good

I though I’d have quick look online, in case anyone had really innovated with a 17 bend design, and boy did I get a shock.
People actually buy them!! They pay $30 for Six -THAT'S $5 EACH!!
Only in real life - you couldn't make this stuff up!!!
A guy has set himself up in business selling them. Shrewdly exploiting the brand loyalty many of us feel towards our favourite brewski he sells them by beer brand.
I can't see the fish thinking 'oh no I’m a brand X fish, I’d never bite for brand Y'. But people just ain’t that smart.
He's also tried to play the recycling card, but missed the point by packaging each lure in it's own plastic and card display pack. Hmmm.

Give a man a fish he eats for a day.
Teach him to fish and he sits in a boat drinking beer all day.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Luring Customers AKA Nikwax's Cunning Plan

This post is a little outside the realm of my usual theme, but I was fascinated by how my own behaviour had been (benignly?) influenced.
I need to waterproof a coat and I remembered that my brother used to use Nikwax.
I saw a thread with Nikwax in the title on The thread told me I could get a free sample by entering a quiz, it also said that I would be able to confirm my answers before entering, to guarantee a win.
I was intrigued.....

‘Advertising: the art and science of rattling the stick in the bucket to call the swine.’

Imagine you have invented something you need, and you’re convinced all the other outdoor people will need it too.
You’ve jacked in your job, set up production, put up a website, and now you need to sell a few to avoid going bust, and a few more to pay for that dream trip to________. Now you're out in the consumer wilderness, competing withthe other prediters, trying to harvest customers for the great migratory herds of outdoor lovin' types.
But how do you get ‘em to bite? Then tell their friends to bite, and then bite again?

Nikwax have a cunning plan..........................

The outdoor community: Hunters. Fishers, Hikers, Bushcrafters, ect.
These groups pendulum between the extremes of: ‘money-no-object’ gear freaks, and ‘I-made-it-myself’ anti consumerists. The gear freaks are hard to convince, but will spend big money before looking for the next innovation.
The anti-consumerists, also hard to convince, are probably the ultimate loyal customers.
Whichever pole they are nearest to, the outdoor community contains some of the best-informed mavens and most committed evangelists of any retail marketplace.

Attract their attention
Ground bait the area
Teach them what they like
Get them to come back to the same spot to feed again

I emailed BoB (Brother of Bushwacker) he emailed back to say that he was entering from his UK and NZ address’s.

I posted his mention and looked up the nearest stockist

"It is as cunning as a fox who's just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University"
Edmund Blackadder

See for your self - Get some free stuff

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Found Myself; Thinking About Ishi

"He looked upon us as sophisticated children -- smart but not wise.
We knew many things, and much that is false.
He knew nature, which is always true."
Saxton T. Pope (see 'Getting Inspired' on this blog)

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Mud Larks of Deptford

Mud Lark - ‘A fellow who goes about by the waterside picking up coals, nails, or other articles in the mud.’
Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue - 1811

On its southern bank, were it meets the Ravensbourne, the river Thames has a natural dry-dock, known as Deptford Creek.
On Sunday afternoon in response to claims of a ‘spawning ground for Flounder’ and ‘squillions of Mitten Crabs’ your pal the Bushwacker and accomplice Deej joined the Creekside Centre’s snappily named ‘Spring/Summer Low-Tide Walk Programme.’
And big fun it was too.
We were issued with thigh waders and broomsticks to use for wading poles and for nearly two hours we were led up-river toward Lewisham.
There were many signs of life, not all of it the stuff vandals leave behind. Between the shopping trolleys and torn down road signs Nature has reasserted herself, the guys who led the walk must have pointed out 25-30 different plants that had self-seeded in the creek and on its walls. Nothing was introduced by the regeneration project; everything there has arrived under its own steam.

The Creekside was the site of many a slaughter house in the century before last, (Tanners Hill is just round the corner) and the sawn bones of cows, sheep and horses poke out of the mud here and there. The Creek was also the launch dock for many a colonial endeavour / piratical raiding party and handmade shipwrights nails litter the site. We had a great time poking around in the mud. Just in case any of the group forgot we were in ‘sarf larn-den’ the guides told us how one school trip to the creek was enlivened by one of the kids finding a handgun sticking out of the mud.

After a few moments to get your eye in, looking through Polaroid sunglasses there are loads of juvenile Flounder in the crystal-clear water and the cast-off shells of Mitten crabs are everywhere. The water must be in good health as Mirror carp, Tench, Trout and Eels have all been caught in the creek.
The chaps showed us how to ‘kick sample’ the bottom, collecting up slit in a white observation tray, we could see hundreds of aquatic creatures swimming about. Londoners are habitually sceptical about the quality of the water in the Thames and its tributaries, but after seeing just how much is living in it I started to believe the guys claim that the Thames is the cleanest metropolitan river in europe.
Would you Adam an Eve it, me old china?

£5 very well spent – if you’re in the area, you gottta go!

"Mud-pies gratify one of our first and best instincts.
So long as we are dirty, we are pure".
Charles Dudley Warner 1800's

creekside centre

Get stuck in

Mitten Crabs

Seen in the River Thames since the 1930s, the Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis) first arrived in Blightly as tiny larvae in ballast water in ships from China and Korea. Now there are loads of the bastards!
By burrowing into the rivers banks, (which causes rapid erosion) and eating enough stuff to put pressure on native plants and animals, they haven’t always received the welcome the deserve.
The good news is they’re not only delicious, but also very easy to catch!!
These hairy-clawed-snax-on-legs are rated 'proper delicious' in china.
The shell of a large one can be eight centimetres across. Making them perfect for the BarBQ.
You'll be please to hear the scientific community is united in its praise for this culinary delight; one serving suggestion, that sounds both thrilling and practical, comes from Richard Tullis, biology professor at California State University,
"Fixed Asian style, stir-fried with garlic, soy and ginger... it will also turn on non-Asians."
Who could ask for more than that?
Philip Rainbow (keeper of zoology at the Natural History Museum in London, England) concludes:
"The culinary route may represent our best culling strategy if we are to limit its potentially damaging environmental effects." Yummy!!

PS FOR READERS FROM THE USA (especially on the east coast)
If you catch or find a mitten crab: please keep it, frozen is best, on ice second choice, or preserved in rubbing alcohol.
Take a close-up photo of the beastie, and email your picture with
the precise location and date of the find to If you can’t take a photo, contact the
Mitten Crab Hotline on (443-482-2222).

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Stay Calm Boys, It's Not That Kind of 'Bush' Craft

Italian stoners 'grassed up' by deer

A student and a his pal both in their twenties were caught growing the wacky baccy on a mountain top in northern Italy last month. Local forest rangers were puzzled when normally shy deer were seen frolicking during the day, when they went to investigate they found a mostly eaten pot plantation. With most of evidence already devoured the boys may not have to face charges.

For the full report see

Pic from ../baddeer.340.jpg

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Really, Really Sharp Knives Spyderco Sharpmaker Review

Being a bit of a lummox with a whetstone I wanted to try one of the sharpening systems that have proliferated in recent years

The Lansky system received a glowing recommendation from my cousin T, but honing oil and a clamp to attach the system to a table top have little place afield, so ruled it out for me. I settled on the Spyderco SharpMaker, as it looked more portable, less complex and is a ‘dry’ sharpener.

While I don’t currently own any Spyderco knives I’m a fan, for the most part their blades seem well made and with a few exceptions the designs are well thought out.
And being a lover of the simple direct self-explanatory sales pitch, I’m very taken with their slogan:

“First we made things sharp, then we made sharp things”.

Loads of glowing user reviews on the net tell how the new owner sharpened everything in the house, then the shed, and nearly all of them report how much sharper their nail clippers are!
I’d like to be more committed to sustainability, but it had never occurred to me to give a new lease of life to my nail clippers, until I saw the instructional DVD and book that came with the SharpMaker. Presented in an irony free infomercial style it gives you clear instruction and uses nail clippers as an example of how you can use the SharpMaker on anything with an edge.

If you use braid fishing line, you'll know just how much some people are charging for 'braid clippers', the SharpMaker means you can make your own from even the cheapest nail clippers.

The design is a very simple and ingenious mix of freehand and guided sharpening. Two ceramic hones fit into a stable plastic base, two brass rods stop you cutting the back of your hand open.
The base has 30, 40, 12.5 and zero degree settings. The 40 setting gives you a 20 degree edge – acute enough for sharpness yet obtuse enough to withstand extended use. The 30 degree (2x15 degrees) setting lets you ‘thin’ the profile of your blade. The presenter of the DVD suggests that you wont have to use this feature that often, but if like me you've got a whole variety of different edged tools in varying states of sharpness, you might be pleasantly surprised at how good this feature is. It had the most fantastic effect on one of my kitchen knives. The 12.5 degree setting is for scissors and the zero degree setting lets you use the stones as a conventional flat grinding area. The hones are formed by mixing synthetic sapphires (alumina particles) with a ceramic bonding agent, then kiln-firing at temperatures around 1,600 degrees C (3000 degrees F). Ceramic upside: very hard will file almost anything. Ceramic downside: clogs easily. Spyderco also offer two other sets of hones that fit the SharpMaker, a pair of steel hones with very course alumina particles stuck on the outside for rough shaping work ( I’ve not found a price for them) and an ultra fine pair for an even finer edge.
List price $75
Rip-off Britain a laughable £75 (yes $150!!!!)
Best Knives have them for $42.95 (£21.50p) Or about the same price as a 'high end' braid clipper!
The ultra fine hones are $57.95

The bit where Spyderco have missed a trick is the additional hones don't fit into the case.

For the last word in sharpening have a look at this guy.
the guys who know say he's the guy who knows
Old Jimbo
Old Jimbo too