On the Gruffalo Trail

Some days since the last post. Not really keeping on top of it.

I’m telling myself that when I am set up with a work space I can paint in things will fall into place. In the mean time we have been continuing to learn the ropes of managing the property, taking long walks with Boris, eating rich food and reveling in being in this beautiful place.

We had a busy social day earlier in week, Tea and Tots to meet some more local parents, lunch with my aunt, a delightful walk with her through a local garden and later fish and chips out with our hosts. Since then we have walked locally every day exploring paths along the river. I am aching to takle one of the many mountains around us, N is not so keen.

Ardkinglas‘ gardens¬†Home to Britain’s tallest tree are full of brilliantly coloured rhododendrons, fields of bluebells and to the delight of our children a Gruffalo in Scots explorer trail. My only criticisms of this feature is the lack of representations of the animals and that the statue of the Gruffalo they have created in sheet metal looks so different from the books representation that the boys took some encouragement to recognize it.


I’ve having some difficulty extracting photos from my iPhone because I will not install iTunes anymore. Cloud services suck to much bandwidth to trust here and email is failing to send with picture attachments. Experimenting with ways to automatically download via windows by treating it as a camera device from autoplay, limited results so far. Relying therefore on my lovely wife’s Instagram and what little I share that way too.


Adventures with Boris.

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Crazy looking clouds over the Glen yesterday

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Eye of Newt

The rope swing ¬†with big red rubber buoy up the back got plenty of use today. We also visited the horse and tut (ram), these two bachelors occupy the field opposite the house and both are ever eager for attention much to the boys delight. ¬†A spot of fishing for tadpoles in the pond nearby. Caught the first newt I’ve ever handled, a feature of practically every British children’s book. Salamanders and the like are exotic to me. They look remarkably like miniature crocodiles hanging in the sunlit water just below the surface.

Primary care and odd jobs precluded creative work until it was to late to want to start.

Been doing plenty of readings from this hilarious translation in my admittedly dreadful accent:

See yon snake! Is he daft or no? There’s nae such thing as a gruffal … Oh!

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#millipede found cleaning and put outside. #macro #arthropod

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This list, well lets just say it isn’t getting any better. The opposition could do worse than just replacing their entire campaign materials with a link to it.

Interesting parallels in Kings Cross’s history with current developments. Hopefully no murders this time around though.


Warming Up


Another two days have slipped by. Welcome visits from cousins and neighbors and their respective little boys all of whom got along with ours swimmingly. They all had a blast throwing sticks in the river, admiring the farmers horse and playing with Lego. Today a trip to Oban to open a bank account and eat some very fine fish and chips. We have, job by job been learning our roles here at Arichastlich.

For the third day running I’ve had device issues all three of my possible camera devices were flat by the time we reached Kilchurn castle this afternoon. Fortunately I believe N captured a number of good images which I will share in good time. Trying to get back into the swing of daily posts, a few false starts and interruptions aside.

Kilchurn Castle

I think I have visited Kilchurn castle every time I’ve been to Scotland. I have only been inside once. The only time it was open when we visited many years ago. I remember being quite horified by the black pit dungeon and memorably that somebody perhaps displaying an inherited grudge against clan Campbell had used one of the castle toilets as evidenced by a large turd below the chute on the outside wall.


Making was limited to Lego play today. I did finish my Trevi fountain set last night, photos of that priorto its inevitable dissasembly for play materials to follow soon too.


A good and quite contentious read on misdirected focus within the skeptic movement. Via Fbook thanks Ben.


It’s been six long calendar days since the last post. This being the first day where humanity feels restored it is time to recap.

The night before we flew out of Sydney F fell ill with a head cold. The whole family became affected as travel wore on. Thanks to paracetamol, antihistamine, saline sprays and for the grown-ups pseudoephedrine the flights were trying but uneventful. The constant attention required by travelling with children is very exhausting. Sick children doubly so.

Our flights started with an overnight jaunt on Qantas Sydney to Tokyo. Which is a lovely airport as such things go, clean and civilised with small children’s play equipment.

From Tokyo we flew north with BA cutting quite close to the pole across Russia and south along the Norwegian coast to Heathrow. Unfortunately thick clover obscured the ground for most of this twelve hour leg.


Heathrow 5 is not such a friendly airport, cramped, expensive and uncomfortable, fortunately our stay was short lived. Sticking with BA we flew north arriving in Glasgow to the welcome greetings of our hosts who we have since to our horror infected as well.


Headcold, jetlag and adjusting children to life where it doesn’t get dark until after 10PM have eaten up the last few days. We have been soaking up the breathtaking scenery and learning the ropes of managing the property. Calling ourselves settled in from today. I’ve not accomplished anything creatively in weeks apart from the few instructional sketches¬†created¬†in the last day or two. I am keen to get painting again.


We have had plenty of clear skies too and we are surrounded by sublime mountains. I just haven’t downloaded those pictures yet.

An interesting thing happened yesterday. A great green box full of Lego arrived from some kind stranger in Luxembourg care of the Redditgifts Lego Exchange. I’m feeling a bit miserly about sending only two small kits to a stranger in Italy, though in fairness the postage cost more than the Lego.






Misty morning in Orange.

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Back streets of Orange. Channeling #jefferysmart

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A few rather busy days since the last post, a lot of distance covered. We are spending our second night in Sydney and the last in Australia for many months. Very excited about getting underway tomorrow night. We purged our packed luggage in Orange and have managed to whittle down our baggage to if an if not light relatively lean pack for 4 months with two children. Certainly doing better than our trip to Tasmania last year, though we had camping gear and child seats then too.

A few days without real creative output or a good work out have left me pretty eager to get painting again. I have drawing tablet with me in our checked luggage but I’m planning on a bit of illustrator work in the mean time.

Feeling a bit like a country bumpkin dazzled by the city lights here in Sydney. Sydney always triggers constant bursts of nostalgia from my child hood. Lots of love for the vibrant street art covering every scrap and skerrik of free space.

Sydney town. #zap

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I’ve decided I need to address the degeneration in my typing fluency, high error rate and overall poor wpm score. Putting in some practice using this or similar.

Leaving Cobar

Packing pushed late into the evening last night. Today I go to work at the local Catholic after which we drive to Orange. ETA of about 10PM if the journey is smooth.

I’ll aim to maintain daily posts on the road. Internet in Scotland may require twice weekly trips to a library or something. Will just have to wait and see.

Adios Cobar.

A pair of Garden update Photospheres here: 1 & 2

Brief Tuesday

Another epic Tuesday. Early morning call in and double tutoring clients this afternoon. Makes for a long hard day for N as well. Packing progresses and as my internet has been shaped down to 256k and I’ve still got tons to organise I’m calling it a night.

Plenty of creativity no energy to apply it with.

A Link

The indomitable Le Guin on the value of libraries.

Hail, Caesar

Such a silly film.

Self indulgent and self referential humour from the communist writers guilds ‘Shut the fuck up donny‘ moments to the momentus and gravitas and build up for the final soliliqy only to of course flippantly blow it off.

Honestly although it was a great visual spectacle it felt more cartoonish that cinematic. Like the Coens are ticking things off a bucket list, ‘Oh a golden age dance number’, ‘A Charlton Heston biblical’ oooh and¬†some ‘Noire’.

I am pleased that the young actor widely tipped to be playing the young Han Solo in a forthcoming one off has some acting chopps. I don’t think he alone will ruin that particular film, but I hold no great expectations.¬†Extraordinary talent on display by all of the cast. Only great actors can so comfortably and convincingly play bad actors. There are some splendid and¬†enigmatic characters but no cohesion. It is as I say all a bit silly.


Daily & Creative

Next to nothing creative done today. Taught a 5/6 class, I’ve said before how much I like being relief. I get to show up for a day and be in many ways totally and completely different from the vast majority of other teacher they have ever dealt with. It is great fun, but deeply exhausting.


Racing Extinction

Watched ‘Racing Extinction‘ this evening.

It is a confronting and heart wrenching film. It is good for all that. Watch it.

Stylistically I had some issues with it, but I honestly don’t think I am the target audience. I’ve studied ecology and I know just how far up the proverbial creek we are if the Phytoplankton food chain collapses. That this threat is a real profound and present danger is something I and millions upon millions of others around the world have been doing our best to ignore for decades. I can’t ignore it anymore.

The pressure is on I am feeling a serious need to alter parts of my lifestyle and even more seriously parts of my pedagogy. I know about meat and methane and I am only now trying to cut our household consumption significantly. I know about flights and transport and as I have mentioned previously I plan to physically offset our adventures by planting and caring for the appropriate quantity of trees.¬†I don’t think I can continue to sugar coat, brush off or play down the seriousness of climate change to school children. I am not saying here that I have in any way ever really sugar coated it. I’ve shown whole grades of year six students significant portions of ¬†‘There is no tomorrow‘ for goodness sake. Just that I have always been acutely aware that I don’t want to be sending little zealous climate nazis home to hassle their parents saying ‘Mr Lang says climate change is going to end the world’. What I am going to say instead I am putting some thought into because it can’t just be an impassioned rant.¬†I want to communicate some of the urgency just how dangerous the game we have been playing is. But I do not want to give children nightmares or foster powerlessness, apathy and indifference.


The election is called and the prime minister didn’t even mention climate in his announcement speech.

Vote Compass is up.

I maintain that Vote compass should be as much a part of the Australian democratic tradition as the sausage sizzle. The latter of which I will miss by voting postal this year. This also marks only 7 days left to register to vote.

 Vote Compass 2016No surprises in my results.

Children’s Games


A frustrating, largely unproductive day. Trying children pushed patience limits from in the early morning right up until now when they are still battling bedtime despite the youngest flatly refusing to take a midday nap and being absolutely beside himself for hours. I was up at 4:50 this morning hoping to catch some shooting stars, had it been impressive I would have gotten L up too. Unfortunately the light pollution in town is pretty overwhelming so after standing about in the cold for a while I gave up and went back to bed for an hour or so before the boys woke up.

The chook tractor was 10mm too wide to get on the trailer upright. After much wrangling, some very hard lifting, the crushing of one side awning and the removal of the roof we have wrestled it on sideways. This right on dark so a photo of the damage tomorrow. The chickens are spending the evening in the laundry. The original plan of the chook tractor was made with the trailer width in mind and had plenty of room. Frustratingly the new one fell just over the limit.

Watching a film this evening creative endeavors after if at all.


Went on the hunt for some fresh children’s apps for the planes and discovered the Toca Boca library. We’ve grabbed the free Toca Kitchen 2¬†which is delightful as well as the $1 Toca Lab,¬†also great. Tossing up purchasing one of the $5 apps too. Likely the Nature, Hair salon, or painting figures. All and more available for ios of course.

I’ve been using Dragonbox apps as reward activities in tutoring all are of high quality.


Always on the hunt for other entertaining and educational apps.


Oh and the Chillis are back in form


Local state government is acting like they’ve been going in for a bit of the ol’ miloko with knives in.

Ecological bankruptcy buying politics. I wish I could be in Newcastle tomorrow.

Loving on r/propagandaposters lately