Monday, 31 December 2012

Beatific mushroom

The perfect symmetry that exists in nature never ceases to amaze me. The colours in this shot are pure Mother Nature with no embellishment from me whatsoever. (I post my photos without ever touching them and hardly ever crop them either.)

Is it me or is the word JOY clearly visible in the second mushroom from the top? If so, I think Mother Nature is trying to tell us something.

Photo copyright SvD.

'Om', said the Buddha

Photo and painting copyright SvD

Happy New Year

I've had a topsy turvy year which has been very good and plain awful - I think I am not alone in that respect. I have been faced with great tragedy in my family and the year has been one of learning. My journey to become a better human being never ends - I define myself by my ability to cope in the face of adversity and to still be capable of love.

I would like to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your support - whether you smiled at something I wrote or listened to me make a fool of myself on my radio show or followed me on twitter - THANK YOU. We are all one.

Remember, the purpose of life is to love. Nothing more. Nothing less.

London, December 31st 2012

Thursday, 27 December 2012


I was walking the hound at dusk this evening hoping to spot a few bats but instead, stopped dead in my tracks as the fiery, bright moon beckoned. The rain had mercilessly ceased for a few moments enabling me to take this shot of the full moon. The lilac haze in the distance and the sparkling moon make for a surreal and mystical moment. I half expected to start howling like a werewolf.

The best things in life are free. Open your eyes.

Photo copyright SvD.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Stairway to heaven

The extraordinary thing about nature is it is completely unpredictable and I marvel at that now and forever. In 24 hours these mushrooms have appeared and look absolutely delectable. They are marching in straight lines Heaven-wards; I think they're wood blewitts but don't take my word for it. And in another 24 hours they will have shrivelled and begin to rot.

This morning in the woods (me walking off my Christmas hangover. The hound was hangover-free however).

Photo copyright SvD.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Study in black and white

Photo and painting copyright SvD.

My sweet little darling

Needless to say, my hound is LOVED and SPOILED. Dribbling at the kitchen table.

Photo copyright SvD.

Slow roasted mutton

Here's another example of easy-peasey cooking: I bought this mutton shank which was really cheap at the farm. I slow roasted it and served it with pasta with cream, walnuts and fried sage leaves. Now how simple is that! To finish the meal I had a serving of sauerkraut and an apple for dessert. All seasonal ingredients, as usual.

Photo copyright SvD.

Peacelight from Bethlehem

Picked up my peacelight from Bethlehem at church this evening. Lighted candle has made its way from Bethlehem and I brought it home in a pickle jar!

The flame was transferred to a pillar candle and hopefully will burn through the festive season.

Photo copyright SvD.


This week's show:


Saturday, 22 December 2012

Watch me make a fool of myself!

Co-star is my faithful hound...
Keep clicking on the images.

My first starring role

Simple and delicious II

Again on the simple concept, this meal of chestnuts sauteed in butter and chard cooked with garlic and a splash of white wine, is a vegetarian's dream, and if you're not a veggie (I'm not), it is still a light yet nutritious meal. All the ingredients are seasonal- you may recall that I only eat what's available at the farm.

Photo copyright SvD.

Simple and delicious

In the run-up to Christmas, when there is a tendency (understatement) to indulge, I like to keep my meals simple a few weeks beforehand. I'm not a particularly big eater but I do love to cook and eat - one of the things that makes me happiest is my evening meal. I love to prepare dinner whilst having a glass of wine. Laying the table and eating by candlelight just seems natural. As I do not own a TV I cannot fathom how people would eat watching TV with a meal on their laps. I still have an old-fashioned dining room.

Gurnard is one of the cheapest fish around - it is full of bones so takes a bit of practice to navigate the flesh away from the fiddly bits. The flavour is incomparable and well worth it- sweet, firm flesh that benefits from the lightest sprinkling of salt and pepper and a good knob of butter before roasting at 200 degrees for 30 minutes (for a whole small fish). I ate the Gurnard with a puree of cauliflower.

All the ingredients are seasonal- you may recall that I only eat what's available at the farm (or fishmonger).

Photo copyright SvD.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

FILM ARTICLE: Why does nobody ever eat in the movies? Copyright SvD.

(This article first appeared on, a really excellent movie website.)

Click here to view the article on

Why does nobody ever eat in the movies?

All words copyright SvD.

FILM ARTICLE: Why are women portrayed so negatively in film? Copyright SvD.

This article first appeared on, a really excellent movie website. Click on the link below to view on

Why are women portrayed so negatively in film?

All words copyright SvD.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Stuck on you

I think this is how papier mache was invented.

Photo copyright SvD.

Dew drops

Dew drops form an orderly queue on a fallen branch this morning.

Photo copyright SvD.


When my father died, I wrote a eulogy which I read out at his funeral and in it I said that whenever I would see a robin I would think of him. Strangely enough, when I have been down and despondent I have often found solace in the natural world. To banish the blues, I would go and weed the garden or whittle wood for hours on end standing under the apple tree or go for yet another walk with my hound. Very often I would be conscious of a sudden movement and when I would look up or take notice I would see a robin perched very close on a branch looking at me intently. I became convinced and still am that these visitations were in fact my beloved papa. This morning in the woods, which were tranquil and silent, I caught sight of the robin as he flew towards me. He landed on a holly tree just next to me. I stopped and the robin remained where he was. I took out my camera and the robin did not move. He kept looking at me. I took a photo of him and then I said: " Hello, Arnie*, I'm so glad you're here." The robin stared at me intently without moving. We both just remained motionless looking at each other. A minute must have passed before the robin flew away.
(*I used to call my father "Arnie" instead of "Dad".)
Photo copyright SvD.

Sunday, 16 December 2012


Click here to buy my books

Click here to buy my books

How to be Happy

Listen: Your Happy Memories

Sunday 16th December 2012

Today's programme was unexpectedly short- error on my programming part! Do tell me what you think! And I'm waiting for your happy memories:

"The good is often interred with their bones.."

Life is finite and infinite in equal measure. When I found this last remnant of the stag after much searching by both the hound and I this morning, I was reminded of Shakespeare: "The evil that men do..." and the part about the good being buried with their bones. The good we do is not always how we are thought of. As an aside, I was intrigued that the head of the stag was left intact until the very, very end: it was the last piece to be consumed.

Photo copyright SvD.

The stag: can you see him?

This morning, six days after the event... can you spot him?

Photo copyright SvD.

Morning has broken

The sun seemed very happy to see the hound and I this morning.

Photo copyright SvD.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

It's her again!

At the farm today. One of the pigs seemed shocked to see me.... pigs are really cute, inquisitive and friendly but they smell something terrible (unlike cows who do not smell at all).

Photo copyright SvD.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Joys of dog walking

On a rainy day in the woods. Our green and pleasant land is a magnet for rain.......
That's me in the photo.

Photo copyright SvD.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Dust to dust

This is day three of the death of the stag. The carcass has been moved twice around the woods and this morning was resting some twenty feet from where he died. This is all that is left of him. Apologies to the faint-hearted. The stag is almost not there anymore; he is returning whence he came.

Photo copyright SvD.
Photo and painting copyright SvD.

Quick weekday supper

Some days I just don't feel like eating meat and since I am pressed for time, need a quick and easy meal. Continuing on my seasonal theme, this dish makes use of the kale that is still thriving outdoors at the farm. Kale and chard are pretty much frost and snow resistant and provide a good yield throughout the winter. Walnuts which are traditionally part of Christmas fayre, are widely available now. And I think everyone has spaghetti in their larder! I sauteed loads of garlic, added the washed and chopped kale, a splash of white wine, salt and pepper then tossed the lot with spaghetti, grated Parmesan and topped with walnuts. Rather marvelous! I could have toasted the walnuts first but couldn't be bothered- that would have added an extra flavour dimension.

Photo copyright SvD.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Professor

Painting and photo copyright SvD.

Trust your instinct

Sometimes you can just tell when something is not a good idea- like eating this mushroom which is deadly poisonous.

Photo copyright SvD.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Perfection exists

When I stop to take a photo on my walks I trust my instinct to lead me to the right shot. This is a prime example of that- the light, the composition, were all there. All I had to do was click! This was in the early Autumn one afternoon as I ambled along with my trusty hound. This picture reminds me that perfection exists all around us and within ourselves- we just have to look for it!

Photo copyright SvD.

Find your way

Some paths lead to light but not all.

Photo copyright SvD.

Monday, 10 December 2012


Listen to the latest episode here and tell me what you think! I'm quite sure I'm making a fool of myself but that's OK! I'm trying to do something good!


Tell me your happy memories and I'll read them out on my radio show every Sunday. Email me:
Please remember that the purpose of the show is to make listeners feel good- many are alone and sad at this time of year. Don't forget to include your name and location in your message.

Do not weep for me

I came upon this deer on my walk this morning. In fact, my hound led me to the deer which was partially hidden in the undergrowth, deep in the woods. I presume the deer had been killed by foxes which had then feasted upon the lower half of the animal. The foxes had eaten through the deer's rectum and exposed the intestines. The hind legs were intact. I chose not to publish any photos of blood and gore merely because I do not think many people would have the stomach for it. From the photo that I have published, it would seem that the deer finally died after struggling into the undergrowth, its predators in hot pursuit. If one looks carefully, there are twigs covering the deer's legs; this says to me that the deer was still alive as it fell. From what I could observe, the deer had been dispatched by a bite on the neck.  Having seen many dead animals in the natural world over the years, this deer had most likely been killed early this morning- perhaps just before dawn. The deer is quite large and I am still trying to figure out in my mind how a pack of foxes brought it down.

The foxes will return to consume the carcass and in about 10 days all that will remain will be a skeleton picked perfectly clean.

I would say the deer was not a young animal - its hooves appear quite worn.

This is nature and we should not feel sympathy or sorrow for the deer. The cycle of life and the symbiotic relationship in the animal world means that in this instance, everything is as it should be.

Sunday, 9 December 2012


Back to the sky

Photo copyright SvD.

How to be Happy

Just a leaf

If I were really pretentious, I would call this: l'etre et le neant, but for now, let's just see it for what it is.

Photo copyright SvD.

Over the top

I refuse to throw food away. I had a pot of double cream left over from a dinner party and it was about to expire. So I made these creme caramels today.

Photo copyright SvD.

Who's the stranger here?

This will take a while to blend in to its surroundings.

The label has long since faded but the insidious object will remain forever and a day. Ironic that my musings are about cycles and nature- this can has no cycle or none that it respects.

Photo copyright SvD.

Be different... yourself.

Photo copyright SvD.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Starved of light and love

We are all so starved of light in the UK that we find it almost blinding when the sun shines. We reach for the sunglasses and squint. I caught this shot this morning with my trusty hound at my feet. It's a dawn of a new day but it's also a comforting hand reassuring me that no matter what, there is hope...

Photo copyright SvD.


...are the nascent buds of the hazlenut tree. The promise of things to come, the catkins are unopened but immature flowers, laying dormant until the first warmth of the spring awakens them. Now, in the winter, the catkins shall remain attached to the tree but comatose until...

We all have a side to us that is desperate to be awakened and to have the chance to

Photo copyright SvD.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Black pearls

The other strange mushroom formation in the woods this am and in these freezing temps were these black 'pearls'. I had never seen these before. They certainly don't look appetising!

Photo copyright SvD.

The Chinese love them

The rather unflattering moniker for this mushroom is Jew's Ear.  It is not very popular in the West but I know it to be edible- it is mild in flavour. The Chinese are very fond of them and I think you will find that they know how to cook better than us!

These mushrooms exploded on this dead branch within 48 hours- as you may know by now, I walk through these woods daily. The spores travelled upwards right to the top of the branch. Upward trajectory is unusual in my experience as the mushrooms tend to grow alongside each other and quite low down on the ground on fallen and rotting wood. Perhaps the wind that day was heading north only. - see the last photo.

I have regaled you with a photo of the underside of the mushrooms too. I must say they look healthy and tasty, don't they! I am equally stunned at how they are flourishing when the temperature is barely above 0 degrees C in the day and minus 5/6degrees C at night.

Photos at dawn today. Copyright SvD.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Click here to buy my books

How to be Happy

Merry Christmas

Christmas Day is a few weeks away and everywhere I go my senses are being assuaged by meaningless carols, gaudy decorations and a surfeit of festive food. I couldn't care less about any of these things. When I go to church every Sunday I mostly pray for my soul and for those closest to me in the hope that I will become a better person, learn to forgive those who have pissed me off and generally find a calm centre to my being. All the money in the world, the most fabulous or expensive Christmas present, or the magical granting of every longed-for wish or desire will never add meaning to my life in the same way.

I meet people from different walks of life every day and I am struck that when I observe these individuals they seem to be aware that something is missing from their lives but they don't know what it is. Given the chance, they would welcome the opportunity to connect with a 'truth' that would set them free or find the missing piece of the jigsaw inside their heads.

Everyone of us is searching in this life. Whereas I had lost faith in humans and despaired for the future of the world I now know that I was wrong. It's not that people got more stupid and careless with their thoughts and understanding of what they should be doing or thinking. Instead they merely gave up. But that is changing.

The recession, the lack of plenty, the enforced job losses and the paucity in everyone's savings account, has led the non-believers back to find a core, a nucleus that remains constant in spite of all the turmoil around them. Ironically, that 'centre that holds' is the inner and true spirit within themselves that they had hidden away because they were too busy chasing something else. In recent weeks I have come across a number of  people who have solved the riddle by simply and quietly asking themselves 'what do I want out of life because I know it's not this'.

So, Merry Christmas, everyone. May your hearts be filled with gladness and joy at who you truly are.

Words and photo copyright SvD, December 2012.



One can be lonely in a crowd, wishing the cocktail hour would end and everyone would go home.

Painting and photo copyright SvD.

Never give up

There is darkness before dawn; sometimes we must experience the worst before the best finds us.
Photo copyright SvD.