Wellness tea – a national disgrace

Like it or not we're all having to give some thought right now to the question of what makes us British. In case you think I exaggerate, the very existence of the United Kingdom is feasibly a casualty of the current political crisis we have made for ourselves. If that doesn't focus the mind on [...]

The now entirely virtual ranger

Back in 1989 I discovered that people would actually pay me to work in the countryside. I could hardly believe my luck - and still can't.  It's been a great ride, but now, 28 years later I'm going to try something else. Yes, the 'Virtual Ranger', my online tag since about 1995, will finally apply. [...]

Behold, the tree lobster. (Spoiler: not a lobster)

We like to bring you the occasional large invertebrate on this blog. And even a huge vertebrate now and then. But here's a big insect with a story to tell. And it's a story that hasn't - quite - ended yet. The Lord Howe Island Stick Insect, or Tree Lobster, Dryococelus australis, is one of the largest insect species in [...]

Review: WakaWaka Power+ and Light

I recently went on holiday for a week to the New Forest - not everso far, I'll admit, but for me, that counts as an overseas trip. We stayed at Sandy Balls holiday park (yes really) on the western edge of the National Park, right by the Avon river valley. Knowing I was going to [...]

Is the Solent the most expensive ferry crossing in the world?

Moaning about the price of Solent crossings is a national sport on the Isle of Wight. "The Solent is one of the most expensive stretches of water in the world." Jane Knight, The Independent  "It’s often mooted that mile for mile, the Solent is the most expensive stretch of water to cross in Europe and [...]

Are spiders afraid of conkers?

I doubt there's a spider enthusiast who is not familiar with enquiries about how to keep spiders out of the house. It hardly needs to be pointed out that spider-lovers are the last people who should be asked such a question - indeed, many would probably be interested in how to make spiders come into [...]

Review: Hi-Tec Trek Plus Activity Tracker

These days I'm out and about a bit, so I got myself a fitness tracker from Hi Tec to see how that worked. I had a rival tracker last year for a while (Misfit Shine), but eventually gave up with it, as it wouldn't communicate with my phone in any meaningful way. So with a [...]

The Ranger re-booted

I'm hoping to spend a lot more time out patrolling the countryside this year, and so I have been on the lookout for a new pair of boots. And given the wet winter we have had, I've been looking quite hard at the Hi-Tec waterproof range. So these last few weeks I've been testing out [...]

Back to rangering for me: joining Gift to Nature

I'm being outsourced. The Isle of Wight Council can't pay for a full countryside service any more, so some time early in 2016, I'm taking a load of the council's countryside sites, one of my colleagues, and a lot of optimism off to work for a small Island charity called Gift to Nature. Yes, it's finally happening, [...]

Angry acid-spitting creatures in Parkhurst Forest

The refurbished red squirrel hide at Parkhurst Forest was launched this weekend by Gift to Nature. I was there to take a guided walk and also a group of children from Hunnyhill Primary School round and show them the hide, plus a few other things! I promised that I'd show the visitors angry acid-spitting animals [...]