The Hidden Life of Trees.

“A tree’s most important means of staying connected to other trees is a “wood wide web” of soil fungi that connects vegetation in an intimate network that allows the sharing of an enormous amount of information and goods.” 

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“There are more life forms in a handful of forest soil than there are people on the planet. A mere teaspoonful contains many miles of fungal filaments. All these work the soil, transform it, and make it so valuable for the trees.” 

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“When you know that trees experience pain and have memories and that tree parents live together with their children, then you can no longer just chop them down and disrupt their lives with larger machines.” 

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“If we want to use forests as a weapon in the fight against climate change, then we must allow them to grow old, which is exactly what large conservation groups are asking us to do.”

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My hope is that the wolves’ stewardship of natural processes in Yellowstone will help people appreciate the complex ways that trees interact with their environment, how our interactions with forests affect their success, and the role forests play in making our world the kind of place where we want to live. Apart from that, forests hide wonders that we are only just beginning to explore. I invite you to enter my world.

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All quotes taken from ‘The Hidden Life of Trees‘ by Peter Wohlleben. Just this week I plunged myself into a new career path. I’ve begun an apprenticeship in landscaping and green space management. l’Aménagement des Espaces Verts.. Paysagers.

It’s a whole new world to me. A path in my life which opened after reading this book. It details a fascinating insight into the lives and communication systems of the forest and trees. I came across it at a time not long after a very upsetting episode where my health took a hit. And the combination of moving to an area of the world with an abundance of ecological wealth and the ‘luck’ to find this book on a spontaneous visit to the Argyle Street Waterstones in Glasgow City Centre, has given me a certain belief that this may just have been meant for me. It’s no surprise to me that the quality of my life has vastly improved since redirecting my focus down this road. And it gives me great motivation to work harder to succeed in these challenges set out for me.

I took these pictures in two separate places. The 2nd, 4th and 5th at the Old Kilpatrick Hills, Scotland. And the 1st and 3rd at the Gorges du Versoud, France.

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Dipping The Feet.

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One night in Bucharest.

I’ve been back in France for two weeks now, gently relaxing (and working) after a busy last few months, most notably including my time jaunting and bussing across the southeastern region of the European continent. Like almost always my plans never came to fruition in the way that I expected but still delivered on a big time level. I tested myself, faced my challenge and took in some of the most unknown places this side of the world. I didn’t wander into completely untapped parts of the world. I met many like-minded people from all over (special shoot out to the wandering Americans and Australians. I got the feeling they all left together, they were so many) seeking out new adventures, new memories.. new perspectives.

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On the oustkirts of Sofia.

I originally planned to start in the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia. Things went awry when I missed my flight and decided to fly to neighbouring country Romania. So I found myself starting in Bucharest and then made my way down through Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro & Croatia.

For many reasons I didn’t make the route the way I originally planned to. I missed out on going to Albania & Bosnia, two countries very high on my list for visiting. I didn’t spend nearly as much time in Montenegro as I intended and I never camped out as much as I would have liked. I’m not too downhearted though. I realised whilst spending time in many of these countries that it’s a privilege to jump on a plane with a bag and take an extended holiday in some of the poorest areas of Europe. I was aware of that already but being there hit home more than anything else could have. It was never an intention to go and be a tourist but instead learn from others on their way of life and understand what it means to have what they possess. Therefore I would rather label this as a taster of what’s to come. I dipped my toes in a great puddle of fulfilling water and next time I will dive in head first, the lungs loaded with refreshing air, ready for the deeper experiences awaiting underneath.

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”ЖП линии.”

Now I’m reminiscing, evaluating, learning & preparing for the future. I look fondly back on some thrilling adventures; crossing borders with the help of extremely generous people.. walking through the cities of forgotten countries in the midst of bringing themselves in line with a standard of the capitalist structure of development, in order to compete with the titan nations of our world.. amongst many other beautiful things I hope to share over the coming weeks. Most importantly  for myself I held an unrelenting feeling of melancholy when I returned home. I wasn’t utterly delighted or basking in the glory of my adventures to share as I had previously expected. Instead I just had more questions. A hunger to continue. To garner up as much of this riveting energy as I possibly can. An energy so engrossing, so magically powerful the brain needs rest periods every once in a while just to compute what the hell is going on and why in God’s name did you feel it was necessary to take such a plunge into the unknown. That is where most people find themselves wanting to take on more and go further out into the foreign lives and societies of others. I’m of the opinion that its easy to fall into a trap of believing we know everything already grâce au monde connecté que nous vivons* and yet myself along with many others, desperate to discover what this life has to give us, are striking evidence that our new abilities to interact may not be as connecting as what is generally percieved. But instead it gives us a flavour of the life we strive for and perhaps desire in order to live what we believe to be a fulfilling life.

I look forward to sharing my experiences with you and I hope that you’re all excited to share them too.

Мерси и Поздрави!**

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”Newborn.”

Languages are amazing. You’ll have to guess the name of the picture, let me know if you find out by posting a comment 🙂

* – ”thanks to the connected world that we live in” (French)
** – ”Thank you and regards!” (Bulgarian)

Winter Season Thought Track.

Throughout the winter season in Les Saisies, I wrote down some notes in various forms. They are mostly trivial, constructs of boredom, and whether they pass as ‘bloggable material’… i’ll leave that to you.

An empty store,
There’s nothing to do,
Except for stare at the walls.

Outside there are few,
And no attention is paid,
For those minds are fixed elsewhere.

Without customers,
And without work to be done..
What can I, the lonely Ski Man, actually do?

The winter snow storm has beaten us all;
The pistes lay empty,
The roads conquered by snow,
While bitter tourists rue the dashed dreams
and retreat to their chalets.

And I, the lonely Ski Man,
Sit here biding time sanguinely
And writes this poem to express..
Just how f***ing bored I am.

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——————-

He had a dream.
He had many dreams actually.

To see, to hear, to smell. To feel.

He observed videos and pictures online.
He read many books.
He spoke to many people.

It was the beginning of an everlasting adventure.

He was a flower ready to bloom.

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——————

Clouds fill the sky,
The colour of grief.

Those otherwise boastful mountains,
Have become bashful,
Whilst they hide between deep stretches of fog.

She rains down like a determined soul,
Persistent in disrupting the life underneath.

For her skin is white and glorious,
But should she be disrespected,
Her heart will be black and vengeful.

La neige.

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—————–

I often fight with myself about the idea of home.
I’ve come to realise that it’s never going to be where I lived all my life.
Ok you can argue that it’s story and mine are forever intertwined,
But should the place you call home endure you a mountain of pain?
Is home really a place at all?

Wonder entrenches my thoughts now I have strayed away.
My brother called it ‘soul searching’.
Perhaps an expected & unsurprising buzz phrase.
Tell me this, does one find home whilst soul searching?
Or is the soul contaminated, poisoned, by the constructs of our day?

For me this is crucial.
I don’t believe in soul searching.
My soul is always here.
It’s the cleansing and the repairing that I believe is pivotal..
In finding my home.

(Note. I am ginger. And I do have a soul.)

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Here’s to My Treasure Island..

It’s a new day tomorrow. Wednesday, 30th of March to be exact. And it marks the beginning of another new expedition to add to the previous escapades on record. An early morning drive to Milan in Italy followed by a fairly short flight to the Bulgarian capital of Sofia and I will be ready to take on the lower half of the Balkans. I have my tent, my hammock, my Jack Kerouac books and lavender spray for the mosquitoes and I am ready to go. I hope to take six or seven weeks and make my way through some of Europe’s poorest and unknown countries by throwing the thumb out and taking a lift with some happy locals willing to share their hidden piece of this world with an enthusiastic, ginger, 20 something from a country they might never have heard of (before anyone contests this I’ve had several conversations with people who don’t know what Scotland is. Or if they do, they think it’s a part of England..).

The majority of the countries I will be going through are not the typical destinations at the top of a European getaway wish list. But after doing some research and targeting some adventurous places I decided to go with my final findings. I wouldn’t be human if I wasn’t nervous. It’s a region of Europe which still has various issues mostly linked to the break up of the Yugoslavian Republic and the brutal wars that preceded. This is not my reason for choosing these places and I wouldn’t like to think of myself as some sort of ‘war tourist’ (I don’t know the phrase word for word but I read about some Danish guy being accused of this after visiting Syria.. And after seeing widespread criticism of folk posing emphatically for photos at several commemoration memorials I intend to pay my utmost respect). Most of these countries are trying to move on from the past and bring the benefits of change to help their poor nations. And with the attempts to step away from the limelight for the wrong reasons I hope to embrace the future with the locals in a shared hope of personal wealth and a long-lasting happiness.

I can’t choose a favoured part of the plan I have drawn up for the coming months; I hope to spend time in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, venture through the wilderness of Montenegro, find out more about the Continent’s newest country Kosovo (or South-Western Serbia for when I arrive at the border) and experience the valiant & enigmatic cultures of Albania and Macedonia. Even as I head North to more common-known places like Croatia, Slovenia & Italy, I can’t begin to dream about what is in store for me.

I look forward to the moments that await me and the joy they will bring. In the previous days the thought running through my head has been one of great excitement. Embarking on a trip like this to me is potentially life-defining. Or as we fondly say back home.. ‘One to tell the grandweans‘. Maybe i’m getting carried away and it won’t be anything extraordinary. Or maybe they’ll talk about me in parts of the region as a ‘much loved Scottish explorer’. I don’t expect my name to be up there with Robinson Crusoe after a summer stint in the Balkans, but these are the scope of thoughts that enter play in the preceding moments before an adventure as such. And is it dangerous to aim high? To dream of great happenings and endearing moments? The romantic in me says no. The realist in me says ‘get a f**kin hawd of yersel!‘.

Perhaps striking the balance might be what shapes this chapter as a decorated highlight in the ongoing novel that is my life..


The last few weeks I’ve been exploring various places in La France with my partner. We’ve mainly divided our time between the wonderful city of Lyon and the South of France. Over the coming weeks while i’m away i’ll be sharing various tales from our shenanigans, so keep updated by following the blog at the links provided. Cheers X

Appeasing the Masses.

When I began writing my blog I had a vision of what I wanted it to be. I knew all the things I wanted to discuss and to portray. Now, although I would like to apologise for the lack of content released recently, I must refuse.

You see, I don’t want to write for the sake of satisfying my desire to furiously fire out pages of work. It’s robotic, generic and really not authentic. And with the topics I want to investigate I firmly believe they simply deserve more.

The vision of a Wide-Eyed Scotsman is to focus on two separate wider topics without aggressively dividing the posts as such. For one, I love exploring. I get bored easily. I don’t enjoy staying in one place for too long and I can’t begin to comprehend those who choose not to delve further into anything outside of the world they know.

Of course, I understand it.

Maybe it’s true.. if something is not broken, why change it? If someone is happy, why would they feel it necessary to challenge that? Me being me, I don’t believe that has ever been familiar.

As a family we used to visit the South of Spain one week or two weeks at a time. I have some very fond memories of these trips. Some sadly not so fond but mostly (as the French would say) ils étaient très agréables. These were very typical, working-class, Costa Brava affairs; Causing mayhem at the pool while our easygoing European brethren looked on dismayed. Days at the beach often being ruined the moment someone realises the sand is too warm to set foot on. Excursions to Port Aventura with screaming weans who don’t want to wait two hours in the blistering heat to take on a roller-coaster they told their da’ they didn’t want to go on. Or wandering around the typical towns just far away enough from the bedlam ensuing in the tourist spots to feel like ‘the Real España!’   All in all it makes for a very Scottish holiday abroad.

At home all I knew were my surroundings and these opportunities to explore became special. And with the ho-hum trials and tribulations of everyday life being somewhat difficult to digest, finding that sense of gratification I mentioned earlier was to be more bothersome, wearing and complicated than the young me could have ever known. Which brings us onto the second topic..

I’ve always thought of myself as a heavy thinker. That being I think too much. My mother would often describe me as deep. I liked this to begin with. I had a fruitful imagination and occasionally wondered if I could achieve great feats like others such as J.R.R Tolkien. I wanted to create new worlds. But I never persisted and instead engaged in a lifestyle similar to a youngster in Clydebank. Football, the streets, console games and various other trivial things. Family life was also tough which affected the ability to pursue creative ambitions before plaguing my thoughts with impossible-to-answer questions, needless dilemmas and false scenarios. I was never an outgoing person at a young age, resulting in a habit of generally drifting to the side of any attention. I wasn’t confident and rarely felt good enough. My mates would be plodding along well with girlfriends and sporting achievements while I held on with relative insignificance at the rear.

Eventually confidence came with alcohol. A false bravado soothed by an empty promise of society’s way to a better world. As a result I like many others fell into the distraction trap and began measuring myself against the measures of drink I was consuming.

I wasn’t an alcoholic but I had issues. Anything that hurt me during the week would often unfold to a live audience at the weekend filled with those who had no business. Irrational, senseless and downright foolishness my actions would come to be, I sometimes take time to try understand why I acted this way. In my eyes it felt like life had disregarded me and left me at the bottom of a very big pile. I would react with deep frustration and aggression. The negativity in life made me a negative person. These are still issues I tackle today.  I don’t drink nearly as much anymore because I resent what it can do to me or what I can do to others through it. I don’t take drugs other than the prescribed pills i’m given in order to keep me relatively level-headed although there was a time when other influences fueled this illusion of well-being while plotting against me in the midst of my own skin.

This is what I want to address through my writing. I don’t want to bother my audience with weekly updates of information that would otherwise be simple to find in a holiday  brochure. Personally this is important and possibly life-changing. Travelling to me is much more than a status update or a like. It’s a personal project to help myself and to help others. I hold ambitions for the future to change where I come from for the better while gaining the fulfillment I have admired from afar since a time long gone by. I want to discuss things that others can’t or won’t. Recently there seems to be a recurring trend of ‘raising awareness’ and ‘promoting discussion’ without a genuine attempt being truly undertaken to tackle the dangers of our everyday lives. Why? I honestly do not know. There could be a thousand reasons but in the end life goes on and damage prevails while the preachers preach a ghostly prayer.

It’s not acceptable.

It’s helpful to no-one and dangerous for everyone.

The time to act is now.

The Art of Leaving.

Those first steps wreak havoc on a mans curious mind.

To leave was to fare on my own.

Without the loving mother whom I cherish so dear.

To this father of mine I normally keep near.

Of friends turned family and family turned friends, I gave up everything to seek better ends.

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For this life has given me enough to move on, amidst great hope that with wisdom I will return.

To complete my life aims I must venture on,

Beyond these grey walls and from these strong bonds.

The continent is vast with opportunities abound.

New experiences lie ahead; sweet lessons to be found.

———-

And so my dear home I give you my word,

Leaving you was imperative to grow.

Your concrete surroundings and your merciless approach,

Sends many into a haste-ridden frenzy.

You tarnish communities through systems of wrong.

Fuelled by a wickedness of a wallet grown strong.

Leaving those in control with filthy hands not yet rubbed.

Callously witnessing a delirium undisturbed.

———-

They say it takes courage to leave all behind.

But I can’t say for certain if I believe this is true.

I see many who stay despite all their woes;

They bravely hold fort, they boldly fight foes.

And thus we can answer our pigheaded question..

Does courage ascend from the people who go?

Perhaps there is depth to our meaningful journey,

But in the end it is from everyone that we see true strength grow.”

 

Thursday, 10th May. 2018.

‘The Art of Leaving’ by Aidan Meehan.

Rue de Dauphine, Lyon.