Entries tagged "north"
I took this photo in Chichester the other day, at midday.
Chichester has four main streets, North, East, South and West. (A fairly appropriate home city for me.)
You can probably eliminate a couple of those quite quickly, but which of the remaining ones is it?
It's not a great photo, taken on my iPhone whilst walking, but there are a couple of good clues.
I'll update with an answer in a few days.
Update, spoiler alert:
We are looking due south on North Street.
The clues are: the midday sun plus…
Prickly lettuce is known to some of its navigating friends as the 'compass plant' and to its Roman friends as 'lactuca serriola'.
In truth it is only one of many plants with the compass plant nickname (Silphium laciniatum in the US is another one), but it has earned it.
In open ground, the leaves of the main stem are aligned north-south, offering the least surface area to the midday sun, but the maximum area to the weaker light of the start and end of the day. (This is a similar logic to the N-S alignment…
Yesterday I arrived back home after sailing north from Scotland via the Faroe Islands into the Arctic, finishing at Reykjavik. I used the trip to study the relationship between the environment, the distance to land and other factors like depth.
I'd like to thank my Mate and only crewmember, John Pahl, for volunteering for such an unlikely voyage and for being such an invaluable help throughout the trip.
There's lots to report both here and in the articles I will be writing, but in the meantime I've just got time to share what felt like a great…
In these four pictures we are looking at the same beech tree. See if you can work out which way you are looking in each picture. If you hover your mouse over each picture it should give you the answer.
If it has been a bit quiet on the blog recently, it's because it has been a very busy time for the last…
Last night I caught a few minutes of a programme on BBC4, called 'Unnatural Histories.'As so often seems to be the case, a short stroll from the mainstream channels uncovered rough diamonds.In the programme, an aerial shot showed us clearly visible patterns in the earth, patterns that were partly concealed at ground level by dense undergrowth. The narrator explained that we were looking at 'geoglyphs' in the Amazon rainforest. Geoglyphs are shapes that have been deliberately formed in the land by the hand of man.Like many pilots, I have come to love the way it is possible in the air…
OK, it's confession time. Again.
I'm just back from a week's holiday with my wife on the Greek island of Kefalonia. It was our first holiday without the kids for about seven years, which felt bizarre from start to finish. This is the only, admittedly weak, excuse for the navigational lapse that ensued.
In Fiskardo, at the northern end of Kefalonia, we hired a small day-boat and spent many mornings motoring up and down the east coast of Kefalonia. We pursued the not very stressful business of hunting quiet bays and seeking secluded beaches for a swim.…
Thank you to Andrew Boe, who has dropped me line explaining something that I have not noticed before:
"Leaves at the bottom of a tree are often larger on the shadier North side to make the most of available light. This is often the case in Sycamore. They will also be darker due to the high concentrations of chlorophyll."
From now on, I'll be on the lookout for these shady characters. Sorry, couldn't resist.
Andrew has a bushcraft blog which is well worth checking out here.
Last night I divided my time between two very different arenas of the modern human experience. I watched dross on TV, including some Jonathan Dross himself, but then I found the antidote to such inanity. I nipped out regularly to put markers down in the snow, as I watched the moon's shadows march west across the white.
I took some photos of the results of my moon shadow stick, together with a perfect north-south line, which I will be using on my Beginner's Guide to Natural Navigation courses. Yes, that is a bit of a tease, but…
After the rather disgusting photograph a few days ago I thought it was time to right the balance with something more pleasing on the eye.
The snow has finally begun to thaw in this freezing microclimatic corner of West Sussex, but I did manage a fair amount of stomping around in the snow over the past week. This is a picture I took in my local beech woodland a couple of days ago.
Lichens are very sensitive to their environment - moisture levels and air quality in particular - but also the surface they grow on.…
Last night the conditions felt right for a walk in the woods. There were plenty of clouds, but large gaps suggested that the stars would not hide for long periods. The moon would not be getting up until later and the breeze was too light to be of help. I needed the stars.
I set off as the last light from the sun faded in the southwest. Cassiopeia and Cygnus neatly sketched out north for me, even when Polaris was well hidden. When moving south I used Jupiter and Aquila.
Four hours later I returned, having spent…
The heat seems to have abated a little, but the sun has left its great big footprints all over the countryside. The baked earth is cracked and fissures run along paths and the edges of the fields, more on the northern side than the southern.The grass of our garden lawn is doing its best to betray both the sun's arc and the motion of the trees' shadows during the course of the day. The lawn is a patchwork of varying shades of green and brown, but it is not…
Only one of these compasses can be correct, since I took the photo in my garden in the south of England in April, not at the South Pole.The stick's shadow should tell you which compass is still accurate and also very roughly what time of day the picture was taken. Which compass is still working, why and when was the picture taken?The answers will appear here after a few tantalising days!
There is a good photo of the Great Lettuce, Lactuca Virosa, with its leaves aligned north-south on the Adur Wild Flower website. If you do use this to find your way then make sure you don't eat too much of it as it is reputed to have psychotropic qualities. You are likely to head off in the right direction, walk in a circle and then find yourself back in the same spot, shouting something like, 'Great Lettuce, Batman!' I digress.
Another cracking dawn. There were four Roe deer in our neighbouring field, but sadly they scarpered before I got to my camera. I don't actually have a brilliant lens for wildlife, so you have been spared a photo of four brown smudges in a brown field.Only a few days of this solar season left, the autumnal equinox is on 22 September. This means that in the UK there are only four more days when the sun will have any north in it at all for another six months. At times like this, close to the equinox, the point on the…
Happy Summer Solstice everyone. Sunrise and sunset will be closer to north than east or west at this time of year for most of Scotland.This photo is taken looking southeast. The setting sunlight can be seen bouncing off the northwestern edges of the clouds.
A walk along the edge of Nutbourne marshes on the weekend was an early taste of real summer. A sunny May day often feels hotter than a midsummer one to me, perhaps because I have not yet acclimatised. There were thousands of midges and flies, swirling up from the drying seaweed to complete the sensation.These two pictures show the same field and only two minutes of walking passed between each shot. It is late afternoon and one of these is taken looking north, the shadows falling to the east and right of each furrow ridge.
One of the keys to navigating with nature is appreciating scale. It is vital that we do not spend too much time focusing too narrowly or widely. In this photograph, taken in the South Downs on Monday, our eyes are naturally led to the fallen tree. It would be very easy to miss both a bigger clue to direction and a smaller one.The heart of the tree is marginally closer to our side of the tree, which hints that we are south of it, looking north.If we peer through the undergrowth and bare tree branches we can see that the…
For the next six months the sun will always have some south in it when viewed from Britain. It will rise south of east and set south of west until the 20th March 2009. Its shadows must therefore always have some north in them. This picture was taken at 9.35 this morning, by which time the sun is fast approaching south-east and my shadow is well on its way to north-west.
Random fact for the day: sun compasses were still being issued to the military for the first Gulf war in 1991.
The Natural Navigator's day often starts with a quick check that the sun is rising roughly where it should be - blog readers will be the first to know if it doesn't! As this picture shows it is not always a chore and the time that our youngest is getting up each morning certainly helps make sure I'm ready.
This will be the last week this year when the sun rises north of east and its change as it heads south each morning (and evening) is at its fastest at this time of year.
Navigation may fill my working hours, but even I couldn't pretend that it is a high profile topic. Last week however a story about cows pointing north and south started appearing everywhere, there is a good summary on the BBC website.
On Saturday the Times newspaper ran a main news story and editorial piece describing how GPS navigators are not getting the full experience and are being denied the benefit of the rich detail of traditional maps. They put it well, 'Turn left on to the A303 for Andover, ignoring the ancient stones: those without a…
Having spent the morning organising images for upcoming courses, I was reminded of a regular problem with learning anything practical from nature. There is a real tendency to bias. By which I mean when we are learning something new there is a great temptation to either make our observations fit our predictions, or to overlook things until we find something that looks the way we want it to.
Moss on trees and buildings is a great example of this. The popular notion is that moss will grow on the north side. This is sometimes true, but often not…