Monday, 30 March 2009


Here is my little contribution. As you can hear, it was raining outside! It rained solid for 24 hours and the spring is now running well again. Thank you weather system!

Friday, 27 March 2009


Just wanted to break from my usual one post a week to say that tomorrow (March 28th) at 8.30pm, you are warmly invited to turn off your lights for one hour.

This is will be going on all over the planet:

I'll be turning off my (solar-powered, energy-efficient) light bulb and listening to the stove crackle, while imagining the planet as it was not so long ago. Beautiful stars shining down on all of us...

Tuesday, 24 March 2009


Sorry, been a bit crap with getting the video sorted out again, but will endeavour to get something sorted mucho rapido....

Several days later: Here you go...

"Let us first be as simple and well as Nature ourselves, dispel the clouds which hang over our brows, and take up a little life into our pores." Thoreau, Walden

Dawn is rising as I write this. The embers from last night’s fire are still glowing, so I’ve just put a couple of logs on and given it a blow until the flames kick in, and soon I will be warm. I’ve put the kettle on top of the stove too, so not only will I be warm, I will have tea!

Unlike an electric kettle, a kettle on a fire can take 20 minutes to boil. This is no inconvenience to me whatsoever. Why are we in such a rush? Where are we trying to get to? The grave will arrive soon enough...

Boiling a kettle here is an event in itself. You sit and keep an eye on the fire, and listen as the kettle gets warmer, in complete harmony with the flames dancing below it. I never do that in a flat. Watching the red light on a kettle go on and then watching it click off three minutes later just doesn’t hold my attention somehow.

As I wait for the kettle to boil, I’ve been thinking, and I thought I would share my thoughts with you.

There is an ancient lore among recording engineers, on which I have been reflecting:

“Shit in, shit out”.

Cryptic, I know. They are an esoteric lot, sound engineers. Like Zen masters, you rarely get a straight answer out of them.

What it means is, if what you record is of poor quality, it doesn’t matter how you mix it, and how many fancy effects you put on it, the resulting track will be poor.

I have been thinking about this with regard to life in general.

I live in such beautiful surroundings. I meditate and do yoga regularly. This makes it possible for me to live simply without feeling bored, or at the end of my tether. I spend a significant amount of time sitting with my thoughts, listening to the wood crackle in the stove. I walk though magnificent mountains. I drink, and even bathe in, fresh mountain spring water – straight from the spring – that would be too expensive to enjoy so lavishly, were I to buy it in plastic bottles from the shop. Nature is all around me, and at night when I go out for a pee, I always end up peeing with my head cocked up looking at the stars. I say ‘wow’ regularly.

I am putting in beauty and positivity through my senses, and the result is feeling content to the point where I sometimes feel on the verge of enlightenment, as my heart opens right up, and I have no feelings of craving for anything other than this. I don’t even crave enlightenment. My sense of self drops away, as I feel totally merged with the universe around me. I become aware that I am a little knot of energy in a much larger energetic field, and I know that this knot will unravel soon enough.

Beauty in, beauty out.

Recently, a friend reminded me of a story from the Buddhist tradition:

A monk spends many years on retreat and thinks he has become enlightened. He comes down from the mountains, back into the world. As he is walking through a market, someone stands on his foot. “Hey, watch where you’re going!” he says angrily. And he realises he is not in fact enlightened, and sods off back up the mountain, for an undisclosed period of time.

This story illustrates how much of the Buddhist path can only really be walked in the world. It’s easy to cultivate universal loving-kindness for the human race in abstract. But when the nasty little bleeders are stealing your parking space, or blowing up your street because they want to install a puppet government and pilfer your country’s natural resources, it’s another story isn’t it.

This anecdote is a great reminder for spiritual seekers that they should not use meditation to disappear up their own arseholes and think they are Buddhas. But for most of us, that’s not really the problem.

For most of us, I think we could do with a lot more sitting on mountains, cultivating universal loving-kindness for all beings. Even if it is in abstract. At least then you get to know what it feels like. And actually, it’s not like such practices are pointless because you can’t maintain them twenty-four seven in the heart of the city. They change you and they change the world.

In this world, right now, there are countless beings sitting on mountains, glowing with positive energy and spreading feelings of loving-kindness in all directions throughout time and space. Mantras are being chanted at this very moment, for the benefit of all beings, and have been, without a break, for hundreds of years. This world is aglow with mystics, putting in the hours for the sake of all sentient beings. We are better off for having them around.

Anyway, I’ve got my suspicions that these ‘city’ concoctions are a passing phase and soon everyone who’s anyone will be living in a yurt in the mountains. A-listers will be fetching their own water from holes that they dug themselves. The paps will be catching shots of them taking a pee with their heads cocked up at the sky, mouths agape. The caption below the photo in OK magasine will read ‘Wow’. Red carpets will be so last season. Mountain chic...

Tuesday, 17 March 2009


This week I’ve been writing an article on music and commercialism, which has just been published on this website. So this week’s blog is going to be a short one.

As you can see from the video, I’ve spent a little time involved with the anti-autopista campaign. It’s excellent to see how quickly they are organising. Two people had been doing research into the health and environmental effects, and they did presentations. Someone else handed out the company’s proposal document for attendees to take away, and a whole host of awareness-raising actions have been planned.

In general, these are not political activists, just ordinary people who love this place – many of them have lived in the area all their lives, as did their parents, and they don’t want the autopista here.

It’s not as if the electricity is even for this area. As far as I can work out, they are trying to create a Europe-wide network of these things, and there are people protesting about it all over Europe. Interestingly, the nuclear power station is going to be located in Africa. Leave them with the problems, again, and take the goodies so that us Europeans can keep living like this.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. I spent an evening talking with a friend about transition towns. Don’t know much about it yet, but it seems like a really positive approach to bringing about transformation at community level, in order to hopefully avert the imminent environmental catastrophe. It doesn’t strike me as The Answer, but definitely as one of the answers.

And I’ve spent a bunch of time on the mountain of course. I’ve been doing quite a bit of yoga now that the weather has improved and I can do it outside. I’ve been practising yoga for years, but for the few months before coming here I was taught a new style – more meditative than what I had done before – and it has transformed my practice. Loving it!

By the way, if you want to comment on anything raised in the music article but don’t fancy registering on the site on which it’s published, feel free to leave comments here.

Right. I’m off to do some more yoga!

Tuesday, 10 March 2009


“The first sparrow of spring! The year beginning with younger hope than ever! The faint silvery warblings heard over the partially bare and moist fields from the blue-bird, the song-sparrow, and the red-wing, as if the last flakes of winter tinkled as they fell! What at such a time are histories, chronologies, traditions, and all written revelations?” Thoreau, Walden

Spring has arrived (though a few days ago we had more snow) and I am enjoying watching the seasons change. The sounds of the mountain are different now – bees buzzing, migratory birds singing and squabbling, lizards darting out of sight as I pass, farmers doing the things farmers do in springtime (which invariably involve tractors – it’s like the tractors have come out of hibernation).

I am starting to spread out. Winter was spent largely working, moving at a pace, or sitting within a few feet of the stove. Now I am bathing, preparing food, lazing around, doing yoga, meditating, reading, all outside. It’s great!

One of the big draws of this lifestyle for me is that, while I find it beautiful, it is fundamentally a celebration of substance, rather than of style.

Conversely, the rest of the Western world is fast becoming a cathedral to style. If something, or someone, seems a certain way, then that is apparently all that matters. It is of much less importance what that thing, or who that person, actually is.

The reason I’ve been thinking about this is that it will soon be time for me to leave this wondrous mountain. In a few weeks time I will be heading off to the big city in order to set about recording some music, which will hopefully become my second album.

I am looking forward to this. I have all these pent-up songs that only exist on voice and acoustic guitar, but in my head I can hear the full production and am beginning to salivate when I visualise a recording studio.

But, for all the reasons mentioned so far in this blog, I am also a wee bit trepidatious about heading back down into Babylon.

The city too hot
I-man got a cool life
Upon the hill top.
(Lee "Scratch" Perry)

This feeling reminds me of the end of festival season. I used to work at festivals and when you’ve spent a couple of months traveling around, basically living in a big moving festival, where everyone around you is muddy and celebrating and being the most loving and happy and inspired that they ever get, the idea of walking back out into everyday life is a bit daunting, even depressing.

I remember airing this reticence to a friend in a festival once, many years ago. He was a few years older than me and had been around the block a few more times. His reply has stayed with me. He said, ‘On-site is on-site, and off-site is off-site’. Then he shrugged.

These days though, I am increasingly interested in what makes on-site on-site, and what makes off-site off-site. Really, all that is different is people’s attitudes. Their state of mind. An optimism and a letting go.

Maybe, if we all put in a bit of effort, we can turn off-site into one big on-site!

Coming back to my style versus substance rant, one of the ways I think that people get opened up and happy at a festival is that by day three, everyone looks like shit. On the first day everyone arrives in designer hippy gear – specially bought decorative wellies, newly dyed (semi-permanent) pink hair and so on. You can feel the paranoia in the air, as everyone tries to look either like they were born in a festival, man, or conversely that they are absolutely not festival people, unlike you sad twats, and are just here for a laugh.

But by day three everyone’s forgotten what they look like. They haven’t seen a mirror in days, they’ve had no sleep, they’re covered in mud, and they’ve been high, they've been low, come up, come down, drunk and hung over, a whole bunch of times in such quick succession that this psychic washing machine has transported them to some kind of parallel universe where, no matter what’s going on, everything is ok. And in this parallel universe, what kind of wellies you’re wearing (if you haven’t lost them by now) has somehow lost its significance.

The trendies, the hippies, the punks, the goths, the ravers, the sporty types, the sloaney types, the hoodies, the business types, the geeks... man we are so consumed with this need for an identity. Like shapeless ghosts, we drift around, lost and frantic, until we find some shape to wear so that the world, we hope, can finally see us. Actually, we don’t even want them to see us, because we feel too ashamed of who we believe we really are. So we hope that people will see the form we have taken, and mistake it for us.

On this mountain, who cares? There is no dress code. The birds and the trees don’t recognise human subcultures. The earth is happy for me to walk on it, no matter where I bought my shoes. I sometimes spend days in pajamas. I haven’t noticed a single vulture scowl.

Don’t get me wrong – I love style (as opposed to ‘fashion’). Walking down the street can be art. Why not dye your hair pink? I love pink hair. Humans have decorated themselves since before they got up off all fours and declared themselves homo sapiens, to a universe that cares nothing for Latin.

It’s not style that I am against, so much as lack of substance. Even the arts are riddled with this inability to spot the difference. Where has all the soul gone??? I listen to the radio on occasion and find myself swearing until I turn it off. I flip between anger and despondency as I scan through the stations. Inevitably, silence soon resumes its residency in my ears.

Music can be so healing, so inspiring. It can remind you of who you really are. Why is so much of what’s out there just sonic chewing gum? It might keep your ears busy for a while, but it has absolutely no nutritional value.

[For those of you who listen to radio on the internet, I would like to give a quick plug at this point to: and, both of which are run by people who actually like music].

I have a few more mountain tales to come before heading off and am trying to be as ‘in the now’ as possible, while at the same time working out how to pack down this life once again and leave it stable, so that when I return there is (hopefully) a yurt still standing, a spring still running and clean, and a stack of wood for my first night’s fire.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009


“...and now for many a year there will be no more rambling through the aisles of the wood, with occasional vistas through which you see the water. My muse may be excused if she is silent henceforth. How can you expect the birds to sing when their groves are cut down?” Thoreau, Walden

As you will see from the video, the main news this week is that a big utility company want to make an ‘electricity superhighway’ (aka ‘autopista electrica’). They want it to run all the way to France, over the Pyrenees, heading just behind my land, coming from God knows where. Satan’s arsehole, probably.

It seems there is nowhere to hide. The quiet, simple life is under threat once again from the incessant march of so-called ‘progress’ and ‘technology’.

The thing is, this technology is outdated. This is a retrogressive step. It is the company, not me, that is behind the times.

Microgeneration is the future people! (Actually, it is the present. I’m not yet sure if we have a future).

I’m sure Big Nasty and Greedy Inc know this. And I’m sure they are shitting themselves. Think of all the profit to be lost if the people can generate their own electricity! Quick, lets build massive infrastructure, before it becomes completely redundant, and see if we can’t squeeze out a few more million in profits, before the excrement hits the solar-powered fan.

It’s ok, BN&G. I have an answer for us both. It’s a win-win situation. You will continue to make supernormal profits by screwing the little guy, and I will continue to be able to sit on my land without getting my gonads fried by your electric cables. Here’s how:

Instead of investing all that money in electricity pylons and bribes (sorry, I mean ‘compensation’) to local Government, you invest it in solar panels. You pay for the solar panels, their installation and, if necessary, their maintenance (NB solar panels rarely need any maintenance, but don’t tell the punters that – then you can stiff them for a few more Euros every month). You supply all the houses you would have supplied electricity for with solar set ups so that they can generate their own electricity! No cables! No children with cancer! No nuclear explosions or waste to throw into the sea! No monstrosities marring this beautiful landscape!

I know I know, it sounds terrible. But bear with me. You still get to make piles of cash.

Instead of households paying you a monthly direct debit for energy usage, they pay you a monthly direct debit to pay back the cost of purchase, installation and maintenance. Plus interest of course. Kind of like an electricity mortgage.

There you go. Clean, safe energy, but we still maintain people’s dependence on big business and therefore the status quo. Everybody happyish?

Great. Well then leave this beautiful countryside alone and go and buy up a pile of solar panel companies double quick, before the competition reads this blog and beats you to it.

By the way, I am giving this idea away for free. There is no patent pending. Just go out and exploit it.

Have a great day, big corporations of the world. May your directors’ bonuses increase exponentially.