Shimoda Action X70 HD Review

I have been on a look out for new backpack for use with a 4x5 camera for a while, and particularly since a strap on my trusted Ortlieb snapped while last year on St Kilda — while I repaired it once back home, it made it clear to me that particular bag was simply not meant for that such heavy loads. Plus, it’s too small for use in the winter, or for multi-day backpacking trips. »

For the Love of Trees

I have been very fond of trees since being a wee laddie, and over the years have amassed lot of photographs of them. So I decided to do something with them: For the Love of Trees, a collection of B&W photographs of trees; it's free to download, distributed under a Creative Commons license. »

How to make Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is an essential part of Czech cuisine, and one that's nigh impossible to substitute for. It's a pro-biotic, but perhaps more important historically, very rich in vitamin C, and it keeps for very long time without refrigeration. I had a first go a making sauerkraut some 25 years ago in my early days in Scotland, without understanding the process (and before one could readily find information on the internet), and it didn't work. I have had another go last September, and we have eaten over 40kg of the stuff since. Turns out, it's really simple to make if you know how. »


The Emperor's New Clothes

My father was a bibliophile. His passion for books started in his childhood, and I recall some of the early books he kept on his bookshelf: nearly complete works of Julius Verne, books by Jack London. Each of them neatly wrapped in either cream or blue packing paper, a handwritten label on the front, positioned with a millimetre precision, and inside an ex libris stamp in the shape of a pocket watch. »


On the Death of an Apparatchik

Let’s be clear on one thing: in the good old USSR decent people didn’t rise through the Communist Party ranks to the Politburo, they were sent to the Siberian gulags. The Politburo was the cesspit of the Soviet system — this is the basic lens through which the Gorbachev legacy must be viewed. To remove it, as the various UK commentators are invariably doing just now, is to engage in gross revisionism of history. »


New Year Reflection

The year has began splendidly: the sun is shinning, the sky is blue, the hills around caped in snow, the reservoir part frozen, and under my wheels the satisfying crunch of hard ice. I turn onto the minor single track road that takes me over the hills. Here in the shade of the frost decorated evergreens it’s noticeably colder. I leave behind a stuck 4x4, pedalling out of the trees into the sun, grinning. At this moment there is nowhere else I’d rather be, nothing else I’d rather be doing. »