Weekend Walk 35 – Lee-on-Solent to Warsash (Solent Way)

Continuing the Solent Way after a break for winter, this is the fourth stage. I started around 10am from Lee-on-Solent, past Hill Head, Titchfield Haven, Meon Shore, Brownwich Cliffs, Chilling Cliffs, Hook, and on to Warsash. From just north of the village, the Solent Way goes via ferry to Hamble, but I stopped today on the eastern shore. On the way I saw dogs (many), jetskis, birds, helicopters, the Isle of Wight, the nature reserve, erodind cliffs, fawley power station, oil refinery, and the village of Warsash.

Earworm: Tainted Love by Soft Cell

I’d like to hear the other side of the story

Sometimes I feel I’ve got to
Run away I’ve got to
Get away
From the pain that you drive into the heart of me
The love we share
Seems to go nowhere
And I’ve lost my light
For I toss and turn I can’t sleep at night

Once I ran to you (I ran)
Now I’ll run from you
This tainted love you’ve given
I give you all a boy could give you
Take my tears and that’s not nearly all
Oh…tainted love
Tainted love

Now I know I’ve got to
Run away I’ve got to
Get away
You don’t really want IT any more from me
To make things right
You need someone to hold you tight
And you’LL think love is to pray
But I’m sorry I don’t pray that way


Don’t touch me please
I cannot stand the way you tease
I love you though you hurt me so
Now I’m going to pack my things and go
Tainted love, tainted love (x2)
Touch me baby, tainted love (x2)
Tainted love (x3)

And the original, preferred version.

Russell Brand and Daniel Pinchbeck have a chat under a neon fish in front a pagan altar

In this video, Russell and Daniel talk about consciousness, media, conditioning, drugs, physics, capitalism. Some quotes:

RB: “People have been – beyond trained – coded to not anticipate change, to think that change is implausible, like we’ve had revolution bred out of us.”

RB: “How do we alter the consciousness, the fundamental unifying field? How do we influence change on that level to alter the world?”

DP: “A lot of people who were addicts are people with a strong, innate need to experience non-linear states of consciousness.”

RB: “Consciousness does affect matter. Meditation can affect crime rates.”

“Q: What comes after time?

RB: … We don’t need to know. … We need to align our consciousness with the fundamental frequency from which all life comes and to generate love and unity between us.

Q: But I want to understand.

RB: Then feed and clothe the poor”

DP: “Most people are trapped in only one form of consciousness.”

DP: Capitalism requires more and more things to being turned into money and profit but this has now reached an absurd limit, so the capital system is breaking down. Capitalism is an immature system.”

RB: “The entertainment industry keeps us spellbound, as passive consumers, to negate and castrate our civic duties, to keep us as citizens who don’t participate in our culture but are just independent cells of consumption glutting on life like larve, until we pop.”

RB: “Advertising could be used, instead of telling you if you drink Coke you will feel sexy, telling people that if you meditate you will feel connected to your ultimate destiny as a spiritual being that is only distinguished from the earth by subjectivity incessantly imposed.”

The video includes a very funny segment of Russell crossing Tower Bridge on acid: “There Be Dragons!” Good to see such a mainstream figure involved in these subjects and questions. I hope with the divorce and his further disillusion with ‘fame for the sake of it’ and focussing on comedy roles, he is able to explore and communicate further along these lines.

I couldn’t embed the video on WordPress but here is the link

A Visit from St. Nicholas

This 1823 poem is largely responsible for the conception of Santa Claus from the mid-nineteenth century to today, including his physical appearance, the night of his visit, his mode of transportation, the number and names of his reindeer, as well as the tradition that he brings toys to children


A Visit from St. Nicholas

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads,
And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap —
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen,
“On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donder and Blitzen;
“To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
“Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys — and St. Nicholas too:
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound:
He was dress’d all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he look’d like a peddler just opening his pack:
His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples: how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight —
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

—Clement Clark Moore

Another take is that Santa is a Siberian Shaman:

Solent Way Video, Stages 2 and 3

Continuing my hike along the Solent Way along the south coast of Hampshire, here are Stages 2 and 3, from Hilsea to Portsmouth Harbour, then yesterday from the Gosport side, along to Lee-on-the-Solent.

Stage 2: From Ports Creek in Hilsea down the east side of Portsea Island through Milton and Eastney to the seafront at Southsea. Then past South Parade pier (looking pretty shoddy these days) along to Clarence Pier and Old Portsmouth, with views of the Isle of Wight. Along the defences, past The Camber and Gunwharf to The Hard:

Stage 3, from the Gosport side of Portsmouth Harbour to Lee on Solent, via Haslar’s Naval Bases and Marina, former hospital and prison, forts Monckton and Gilkicker, Browndown, and the coastline of Stokes Bay at Alverstoke. Apologies for the wind noise – I’m working on a solution. Cotton wool over the mic helps somewhat. Apologies too for the dust into the sun – it’s not on the lens but inside…

Kripalu Yoga Videos

It’s been two years since I was in Massachusetts to undertake my yoga teacher training. I studied at the Kripalu Centre, who’s approach to yoga is one of awareness, and spontaneity, whether one wishes to teach or practise a gentle approach, moderate or vigorous. Recently Kripalu have put some video yoga classes online for free. It was great to be able to see my teachers, Devarshi, Megha, Coby and Jovina teaching online, and these are very good practices to work with at home.

Here’s Devarshi Steven Hartman’s class:

And a trailer for the course itself, truly one of the best and most profound experiences of my life.

And many other classes and short sessions here

I mean to post some more from the journal and course notes from that month. Here are a couple from early in the course:

Goals of teachers

And one of the more memorable days, the blindfolded meeting of hands

Weekend Walk 32 – Emsworth to Hilsea – Solent Way

Getting up too late to finish the South Downs Way, I switched to The Solent Way. Stage one of my back to front walk took me from Emsworth near the border with West Sussex to Hilsea in the north of Portsmouth. This was a level walk via Warblington, Langstone, Brockhampton, Farlington and the Hilsea Lines, with a long loop around Farlington Marshes in fading light.

Weekend Walk 31 – Woodingdean to Alfriston (South Downs Way)

A 12 mile hike along the South Downs, from a suburb of Brighton to the village of Alfriston (mispronounced in the video). This section of the trail goes above Kingston, Lewes, Ilford, Rodmell, into Southease with its interesting c12 church. The path then leads across the Ouse Valley past Newhaven back to the downs above Firle and Seaford.

It was a very windy day and my camera’s wind reduction couldn’t cope.

One more stage of the South Downs Way left to walk, to Eastbourne along the river and coast. I hope to do this in the next couple of weeks before the days get too short.

Nerdcore Rap by Dan Bull re #occupywallstreet

Featuring Radiohead sample.

‘Coincidentally’ JP Morgan have just made the largest (multi-million) donation in history direct to the NYPD. It’s not about Protesters vs Police but for sure the movement can’t pay off the police. This is now the third week of the little-reported anti-greed/corporate interest in politics protests/anti-corruption movement now spreading across the USA and beyond. Unions, teachers, veterans, and the general public are joining in. I am sure some of the police, who are also having their pensions stripped from them, would also prefer to join in than protect the wealthy.

Forbidden City and Beihai Park


Slept until gone 0900 – what a treat after the broken up nights. Breakfasted at 10 (great omelette chef at the hotel) and then out into Beijing. Took the subway Line 10 south for a few stations, then onto Line 1 west to Tiananmen Square.

As soon as I was at pavement level the offers came – come and see our art gallery, do you need a guide, have you seen the great wall? I did go and see some student artwork and of course they did try to sell me some prints. The art was good, if derivative. I left without buying and headed into the entrance of the Forbidden City.

Past the first gate there’s a long, wide walkway with many sellers and tourists headed deeper inside. To go further you need a ticket. It was about £6 for an adult. I tried to buy an audio commentary but my money was rejected as fake. That’s odd, I thought – it came from Thomas Cook in the UK I thought. Wasn’t sure I wanted audio anyway, so headed into the paid zone, through huge gated archways, walls painted a deep red.

Inside are a series of very large courtyards, divided by more archways, with gold coloured roofs. Everything is on a grand scale – from the walls, the cobbles, to the cauldrons for putting out fires, kept frost free in winter by fires. A river runs through the city, with decorative white stone bridges.

Further inside, the scale gets more human, with walled streets, halls, palaces, pavilions and gardens. The temperature was well over 30c today, and often I would stand next to the air conditioners inside the exhibitions to cool down. If I faced the ac, others thought I was looking at something very interesting through the mesh. You could look into the rooms, but only through rather murky perspex.

In the northern section were the palace gardens and family residences. The pavillions had names like Palace of Gathered Elegance, Palace of Earthly Honour, Hall of Mental Cultivation. The gardens had a variety of very old trees, some interesting rock formations and fish ponds. By this stage the crowds were dispersed throughout the many courts so it was possible to feel quite peaceful in places.

It took a couple of hours to walk round most of the ancient fortress city, 1 km long. I left via the north exit so I didn’t have to walk all the way back south, over a wide moat surrounding the whole compound. I headed west towards Beihai Park, with its large lake and White Dagoba. On climbing the hill and walking past the monument I noticed a sign saying Caves. It wasn’t highly publicised. I paid 50p to climb down tunnels hundreds of years old. I found myself laughing at the contrast – suddenly I was alone underground. Along the tunnels were 100 statues of emperor looking fellows. Each one represented three birth years. Mine was number 48, an ugly bearded little fellow. On the exit were fine views over the lake. Then a Sunday afternoon walk in the shade along the east side of the lake, paddleboats paddling and picnicking people.

So, quite a Sunday Weekend Walk, several hours. After a walk east I hopped in a taxi and headed back to the Hilton. Here’s a video I shot of that ride:

Then out for a Chinese massage at a centre near the hotel. A tiny Chinese lady dug deep into my city- and book fair-stressed body, through pyjamas, I suspect using acupressure points. She was tough! Afterwards, again the 100 Yuan note was rejected. The manager came with me to the hotel to get a replacement. I remembered then we had taken one note when selling some Chinese books on the last day of the fair.

In the evening a final meal with Zhang Dan, Derek and Marleen at an Italian restaurant near The Village. They had hundreds of photos of the owner’s uncle with celebrities – Paul McCartney, Patrick Swazee, Sigourney Weaver, Arnie, etc. Very 80s, including the music. A fairly quick meal, all of us still quite tired from the time zones and the fair. Outside the hotel, a fond goodbye as we went our separate ways – Zhang Dan to her home nearby, and tomorrow, me to Heathrow, Derek & Marleen to Bali.

Weekend Walk 30

The final stage of the Itchen Way, from Bishopstoke bridge to Weston Point in Southampton, via Southampton Airport, Itchen Valley Country Park, Riverside Park, Woodmill, St Denny’s, Bitterne and Woolston. At Woodmill Lock the fast chalk river suddenly becomes tidal estuary. Such a contrast as the Itchen joins the Test to form Southampton Water, to the shallow clear streams of Cheriton. This was my least favourite part of the walk, at some points feeling like a descent into urban hell after the open countryside and clear river further north.

It wasn’t clear where the Itchen Way actually finishes – some say at the tidal lock, others at one of the eastern Southampton stations. I chose to finish at the natural conclusion of the river.

Richard Alpert before Ram Dass

  • What is man to do next?
  • If you have vested interest in the ongoing game you are frightened by anything that might change.
  • The incredible assumption that society is the way it is and has always been that way.
  • If we could truly collaborate with our fellow man there is enough to go around.
  • Man has built a whole ethic about not having enough.
  • All wars are civil wars because all men are brothers.
  • We’ve been trained for individual differences to stand out.
  • Move from competitive to collaborative enterprise.
  • The ways we are different are learned; garbs we wear.
  • Panic that we would cease to exist.
  • Trust your nervous system.

Weekend Walk 27 – Cheriton to Alresford – Itchen Way

After (most of) the South Downs Way and the Hangers Way, I’ve chosen the Itchen Way for my next long distance path. Yesterday we walked a short stage, from the source of the river south of Cheriton, to the southern edge of Alresford. At this stage the river is really just a shallow stream with rapid current, headed north. This is before it turns west then south in the Itchen Valley. The walk took us through Cheriton village and Tichborne Park.

Weekend Walk 26 – Petersfield to Queen Elizabeth County Park – Hangers Way

This morning I walked the remainder of the Hangers Way, a 21 mile path from Alton in Hampshire to the South Downs at the Q.E. Country Park. A sunny June morning, it was a hot walk and I was glad of the stiff breeze and the shaded sections. Petersfield was busier than normal. I found out this was because of the Petersfield Festival of Food & Drink (which at first I thought was just an extension of the usual market). The walk took me through the town and the mobile homes park. It’s got to be the neatest mobile homes park I’ve seen. Each garden was immaculately looked after. Then I headed south, getting a bit off track leaving the park, before picking up the Way along kind of a dyke, which lead down to Buriton. Buriton is such a sweet little village, with the pond as its main feature. I was surprised no one was there visiting. One lady in a garden, one walking her dog, that’s it. On the south edge of the village a team of Community Service workers were maintaining the cemetery. One local was stood in his doorway looking rather concerned at these tattood and stern faced men trimming hedges and strimming and repainting gates. Under the railway, then it was up onto the higher ground of the South Downs, but wooded hill here, mainly planted in the 1930s. It was busy there with hikers and cyclists, picnickers and families.

So, that’s the Hangers Way. Still two days left on the South Downs Way from last year to do, and I’ll soon tackle something like the Pilgrims Way or Staunton Way.