The eyes of a Wolf always see straight into your soul ...

...You can't hide the truth from them


Please visit the main site - www.wolf-photography.com


Thursday, 31 December 2009

Preperations for the beginning of another year...

I sometimes feel the need to find a pair of mystical brakes that will slow down time for me...but then sometime I think 'sod it - tuck in your elbows and knees and go with the flow'.  That's how this year's ending and the next one's beginning for me.

I'm currently compiling a book of my poetry and wolf images.  I want it ready for early January.  All of the images will be in black and white and the book will be small - pocket size.  I want to keep the price as low as possibe.  It's looking like it's going to be a self-publishing effort via one of the online sites.  It feels right that it should be completed now and be ready and published before the exhibition kicks off.  I'll be doing more preparatory work on the exhibition in the new year when people are back at their desks.

I wanted to thank you for taking the time to read this blog and for putting the word out about my website and to ask you to start looking for venues in your area that would be interested in holding an exhibition that seeks to help veterans and their families in some way.  If you know gallery owners etc and can help, please get in touch?  My details are on both my profile here and on my website.

As the year draws to an end my yearning to find some powder snow to play in increases.  :o)

Somewhere deep inside I sense that the seeds sown from introspection in autumn are beginning to germinate and take on some form of reality and it both scares and excites me in the same breath.  I find myself wondering if other people that have shared their personal feelings through their creativity felt similarly.

This year's new year celebration will be a salsa dance in Nottingham.  I hope that you have fun with your celebrations, whatever form they take, if any, and that 2010 is a wonderful and joyous time for you.  Look to the full Moon tomorrow night and know that I'll have sent a thought after you...

Happy New Year

SnowMoon Wolf

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Christmas 2009...

Christmas tends to be a lonesome affair for me in the main.  This year's been very different though.

Having picked up Joshua and Laila on the 22nd December and brought them home and gotten them settled in we relaxed with good food, good company and lots of games of monopoly.  You'd think they'd prefer computer games wouldn't you?  I guess it was the human interaction:  the feigned outrage at having to pay the little pip-squeaks all your hard earned false wonga etc. We went for a traditional pakistani kebab meal just down the road and then headed back to the warm house and watched a movie together.

Edna did us a Christmas dinner that was excellent, as all her roasts tend to be.  We spent the afternoon with her too, laughing and joking.  The kids swapping experiences with her and Edna sharing tales from the bygone years.  She's not used to having company, something that I can understand, but she was having a great time with the kids.

I took Josh and Laila to Leicester on Boxing Day.  We took Laila's sari and got her measured up for a peticoat and blouse to go with it.  Me and Josh got her another present for her birthday while she was being measured up etc and hid it from her so that we could get it home and wrap it up.  We then went and had some traditional indian food (not the stuff you get in 'indian' restaurants) and it was delicious.

I took them driving around the area that I grew up from the age of 11 then;  Highfields.  In those days our street was right in the middle of an area that boasted drug deals and prostitution.  The overkill on road ramps suggest that things haven't been completely resolved for residents in that area.

We drove by the school that I went to:  Moat Boys High School on Melbourne Road and the news agent where I did my paper rounds for some extra pocket money.  I told them about my life as a child.  Working at school and going straight to the chip shop to do my evening job (peeling spuds, making curry sauce and cleaning the place).  I use to earn 50p an hour.  It was independance of a sort and allowed me to buy clothes that I wanted to wear. 

I took the kids to the park where we played football and were undefeated in the main.  A bunch of kids that would meet to form a team and take on anyone that fancied their chances, even if they were older.  We were all friends and played hard for eachother - as a team!  I was their goalie and didn't let many goals in at all.  It's a shame we couldn't do the same thing with the school football team.

I showed them the hill that I used to skateboard down and told them about the day  a lice of slate stopped my board dead in its tracks, sending me flying through the air like superman...I landed about 8 inches short of the tree trunk that was in my path.  I told them how I would skateboard all the way from Laurel Road (formerly Biddulph Street) to Gypsy Lane from my house to get a glimpse of Rani, the first girl that I fell in love with.  It wasn't a mutual thing though..just a teenager's crush I guess. :)

I told my kids how things were in those days, gang wars, drugs, prostitution and the National Front marches that would come right up through the middle of Highfields, via Melbourne Road; their torches burning.  Some of the marchers wearing Klu Klux Klan style sheets over heads and bodies, carrying banners that spoke of mindless hatred, chanting things that they wouldn't be allowed to chant in this day and age.

Looks like there has been progress.

I have to go..I'm being summoned to the Monopoly board :)


Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Picking up my kids....

I've just been checking the weather forecasts and road conditions in preperation for picking up my kids.  Everything's looking good.

It's out first proper Christmas together since the split up.  No worrying about time here or time there..just being able to relax together and chill out.

I already got some munchies in for them as they both eat as if they're feeding an army of worms, even though they're skinny :o)  Hmm..wonder if I should get some worming tablets for them?

The presents have been wrapped and I'm going to let them put up the simple tree.  We just need to get back here safe and then go and do some shopping.  Both of them have various stages of the flu, so I reckon it'll be a time of hot drinks and board games in the main - monopoly and scrabble no doubt. :o)

Be safe on those cold, icy roads.


Sunday, 20 December 2009


There I was watching the sky change colour, recognising the snow clouds and thought I'd head out to the garden and load up the bird feeders as they'll be needing our help now.

I put nuts out for the squirrels and suet, a berry block and seed for the various birds that come in.  The robin was straight in there!  I then went in and had a cup of tea and a chat with my neighbour, Edna.  Edna's 87 now (oct).  We watched the snow come down and chatted about times when we'd seen real snowfall from her time of youth and mine.  We used to get 4 and 5 feet snowdrifts in the street in the Midlands.  We allowed eachother 1 snowball each for a brief but feisty fight and then went back and watched the neighbour's kids start a snowball fight outside.  That did it for me.  I was off!  I was in flip flops and socks engaging the two lads; catching their snowballs and chucking them back at them.  Their parents and another neighbour joined in and bedlam ensued!!  Great fun.

Then two children that have recently moved into the area turned up.  Jaydn and Olivia.  Jaydan wanted to build a snowman but wanted someone to build it with.  So we all got on with building a snowman together, after a brief snowball fight!

So there he stands, young Frosty, ready to make his magical, mystical flight over our houses while we sleep and 2 small plus 3 big kids got to have some fun with the snow.

Get out there and have some fun!  Let the inner child play!!!


Saturday, 19 December 2009

The unsung heroes of the year....

As Christmas approaches and the winds of the North hold us in an arctic grip, annually, my thoughts turn towards the people that provide a service to me that I may not be able to thank..simply because I don't see them.

I don't always see my posty, Phil.  Really nice bloke;  the guys that work on taking my rubbish away week after week;  the people that come and read my meters for the gas and electricity bills;  the local cops that keep our streets safe and the highway patrol officers respond to emergencies;  the people keeping our roads clean;  the people dropping stuff on the road on the icy days and nights to help us drive safely;   the various couriers that bring parcels to my house; the firefighters and ambulance crews that help us when we need them; the decent doctors and nurses that are professionally competent; the caring staff at various treatment centres that look after people on a range of care issues; and anyone else that I haven't mentioned that I haven't personally been able to wish a Merry Christmas.

There's one particular group though that I would love to thank the most:  the people that keep sending me emails, showing me just how much they care about my sexual health.  They REALLY care!  Something to me last longer, something to make my dick bigger and it's all guaranteed.  I mean - which guys doesn't need a bigger dick, right?  Women are always telling us that we think with it, so if it's bigger, we juuuust might be able to shove a bit more grey matter in the head.  Now I KNOW why the guys with really huge dicks faint when they get a hard on - it wasn't because the organ was stealing a lot of blood from the system - it was the sudden rush of extra thoughts, ideas, awareness!  Think of the thoughts you could think with a bigger dick?!  I feel a jingle coming on.

Does it then follow that a man who has a gender changing operation has undergone a labotomy in his effort to become a member of the fairer sex?  Relax ladies, it was just an idle thought and without the aid of an erection.

I wish you all, readers and non readers of this blog, a time of peace, contemplation, love and whatever you wish yourselves for a better, safer, friendlier life.  Spare a thought for the planet and our cousins in the wilderness too eh?

Have a good one.  :o)


Friday, 18 December 2009

Exhibition title ‘Living with PTSD’



• To demonstrate the value of Photography as a coping mechanism for PTSD
• To educate the public about the effects of PTSD and how it can make a veteran feel
• To help undiagnosed veterans recognise the symptoms of PTSD
• To help friends and families of veterans to recognise symptoms of PTSD
• To provide information about organisations that can help veterans with PTSD


To share how PTSD affects me

To share the therapeutic value of photography

Layout of Exhibition

A square or rectangular room with a central, vertical, rectangular column. The 13 poems will be mounted onto 3 sides of the column. The 4th side will contain details of the relevant agencies able to help veterans, as well as a sheet detailing the symptoms of PTSD.

The 13 images will be arranged on the remaining 3 or 4 walls, facing the words. All the images will be printed on canvas, the dimensions being 36” on the longest side of each piece. Music of Chris Wood, guitarist, will be used.

When viewers walk around the exhibition, they will step into my moccasins for a while. The PTSD in the centre, the photography giving me something to live for and me, walking in between.


36 months – 36 venues to be sought in different cities. Exhibition to last one month at each venue.

Admission fees or donations (if and when appropriate)

Admission fees or donations will be distributed equally between Combat Stress, Help 4 Heroes and the Royal British Legion. Money donated to Combat Stress will be used to treat veterans who are not in receipt of a War Disablement Pension.


I served with the RAF Police between 1981 and 1985. During that time I was posted to Northern Ireland for a 2 year posting (1983-1985) and contracted Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The condition wasn’t diagnosed on discharge from the RAF and I was left unsupported whilst struggling with a debilitating mental health problem that I was ignorant of until 1995, where the condition was diagnosed following a serious road traffic accident.

I would like to help educate veterans and their relatives about PTSD so that people don’t have to live in fear and ignorance of the condition in an unsupported way.

Poetry sample

Behind my camera

Behind my camera I am safe,
An observer, no longer a participant,
Disassociated from the chains that bind me,
From the memories that can blind me,
From the trauma that haunts me,
From the society that imprisons me.

Province of Dreams

Memories of uniforms & rifles, bricks & bottles.
Mates suffering in silence, on the edge.
VCPs, patrols, stops & searches.
Invincibility of youth cloaking fears of death.
Staring in the darkness, waiting for the round,
While your oppo freezes and goes to the ground.
Memories of racism going unchallenged, until your mates spoke up.
Memories of piss ups & the darkest of humour,
Dealing with the fear as if it's a tumour,
Leaving you cold, functioning like a machine,
Until you wake up with a silent scream.

Sample Image attached:  White tailed sea eagle flying off with a fish.

Please would you start contacting galleries in your local area to see who is interested in holding this exhibition?



All of the words and images are the ©Copyright of V Sunkmanitu 2009

Black Minority Ethnic Groups or Minority Ethnic Groups?

This is one of those issues that's been sitting in my 'soul' for a while now and I'd like to get it out there and air it and let it go.

Before being retired on ill health, I worked as an IT engineer for the NHS in Cornwall.  I became one of their union reps.  I attended the trust's induction course for all staff.  When it came to the trust's stance on equal opportunities, the audience were told, 'Treat others the way that you want to be treated yourself'.  Nothing was mentioned about the trust's policies or procedures or any support being made available should a member of staff experience any form of discrimination be it on grounds of race, sex, disability or sexual preference etc.

I was walking around doing my job at various locations and I heard grumblings from people of different ethnic minorities (which includes black people) of instances of racism either from work colleagues, managers and/or patients.  I was also subjected to 3 incidents of racism which prompted me to contact HR and request the Trust's policies on racism and bullying and harrassment in the workplace.  This was around 2001/ 2002.  I discreetly canvassed colleagues from all levels of the work force and got a feel of the situation.

I had done quite a bit of anti-discrimination work in my last job so I aired the idea of a support group to deal with issues connected with racism.  The HR director at the time seemed enthused as I had arranged a meeting with her to discuss my experiences of racism at the hospital and wanted to know what the trust were doing about it.  At that time the trust had no clear policy for dealing with racism or bullying and harrassment.   The Trust had continually under-scored (badly) on the issue of Equal Opportunities on their inspections that were carried out by senior NHS proffessionals from London.

I had to challenge a colleague strongly about her racist attitude towards me and take her through a complaints procedure, the upshot of which was a manager saying to me, after the colleague had apologised some 3 months later, 'Are you satisfied with the way this has been dealt with?'  I replied, 'It should be you asking that of yourself as her manager.  You should also be considering what action is appropriate, eg race awareness training etc.  The ownership of the incident rests with you, not me.  Have you done everything that you can to address the situation?'  The view of the manager was that the incident had been dealt with.

I ended up being tasked to setup a group to support NHS professionals in the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust that were from Black and Minority Ethnic Groups.  I managed to secure some key funding money and recruited colleagues and arranged the groups first meeting.  I was elected to chair the group and the first order of business was the name of the group and it's task.

I put forward the name, Minority Ethnic Group (MEG).  I purposely left out the word 'Black' and gave the following reasons:  Racism isn't just aimed at black people but also Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, Japanese, Arabian, Bengali etc,  to name a few.  We had people from other races that were regarded as foreigners in the county who were white but subjected to the same sort of dsicrimination once they were heard to have different accents or names from other countries and cultures; white Europeans, white Africans etc.  I felt that having the word 'Black' in the title of the group made it appear exclusive rather than inclusive.  That is to say that the title would seem to suggest that to experience racism, you have to have dark skin or that to access support from the group, you had to have dark skin.  There were also instances where a white 'English' person could be the person being discriminated against by a person from a different ethnic background.  

The name and reason was accepted unanimously by the group.

The following year, the HR director decided that the MEG would be tasked to cover all NHS professionals in Cornwall.  I attended a meeting with a prominent figure in the NHS heirarchy that was chair of North East Cornwall PCT at the time.  She informed me that her trust would not join the MEG and when asked for her reasons she simply said, 'The word 'Black' is missing from the title.  I'm not comfortable with abandoning my roots.'   I explained the reasoning behind the naming of the group and that racism wasn't just a matter of the colour of a person's skin.  I also said that the word 'Asian' wasn't there in the title and asked her if that meant that I was abandoning my asian roots.  She was adamant that she and her colleagues wouldn't join the MEG and set up a splinter group. I wonder to this day if she realised that she'd given a victory to those people in the board of directors that wanted the MEG to fail.

When I look at what's happening in the streets today, I see the same jobs that we did as Asians and Blacks being done by Armenians, Serbians and many other nationalities.  They don't look black to me but they're the current races being exploited in the same ways that we were in the 1950s and 60s onwards.  I'll put money down that some of the business owners somewhere are Asian and Black people and that some of those staff will be subjected to unfair treatment, racism and other forms of mistreatment.  A lot of them will be working for less than the minimum wage too.

Humans seem to like to pass the shite down onto others though don't they, rather than closing the circle on a bad practise and ensuring that it doesn't happen again to someone else?

The big question is this:  If lighter skinned foreign nationals (or white English people)  feel that they are being discriminated against because of their race, will they feel that they can access a service that still has the word 'black' in the title?  Even if the boss happens to be black or asian as well?  Why did the Commission for Racial Equality not have the word 'Black' in the title?  By the way,  It's the Equality and Human Rights Commission now.

I feel it's about time we put some equality into the act of dealing with racism and removed the word 'Black' from those generic group names.  Racism's been around forever and practised on every land by every ethnic group to some degree.  It's a part of human nature that goes back to the times when men grunted a lot and hit eachother with clubs... some still do! I'd like to see more Minority Ethnic Groups or some other phrasing that's more open and less exclusive.

I've had my say.


Wednesday, 16 December 2009

What is PTSD?

post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

A form of chronic psychological stress that follows exposure to a traumatic event such as an earthquake, a violent crime (rape, child abuse, murder), torture, an accident, or warfare.

The Exhibition plan is complete

What's it going to be called?  Veteran: words of a wolf.

I found it hard to do.  To try to get 13 poems from my collection of digital scribblings over the years that portray what PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) does to someone that's served in the Armed Forces.  I found it harder still to select 13 images to balance out the poems but it's done now and it feels complete!

What's the purpose?  I had to wait 12 years before I got the help I needed and it's still not ideal.  I don't want other veterans suffering in agonising silence.  I want to educate the public, veterans and their loved ones about PTSD and how to get the help they need.

The rest of the work will be relatively easy.  I have to contact various organisations for help towards financing the exhibition and those that support veterans to endorse the exhibition and have their logo and contact details available at the exhbition for referrals.

The other side of it is a feeling of vulnerability.  My core has been exposed to the public in this work in the hope that undiagnosed veterans may either recognise the symptoms and feelings within themselves or that their families will and will help them to get the help they need.  To that end, there will have to be an informative leaflet prepared about PTSD.

On to the next phase.  Time to make contact with the other organisations that I want involved in this venture.


Friday, 11 December 2009

My flute

Since journeying to different parts of North America I'd fallen in love with the wooden flute that the tribal people use.  The first one that I bought was from New Mexico.  One of the local tribal people had made it there and I learnt to make some noise.  I call it noise because it's not music in the traditional sense, rather an extension of yourself, your mood and your spirit or soul.  My daughter has this flute now.

The noise can be very pleasing, sometimes grating if you hit a wrong note.

I bought my second flute on a later trip to a different part of the states.  My memory doesn't recall where the shop was but I remember that the doors were wooden and the inside sold musical intruments and LOTS of Native American flutes.  I was drawn to this one straightaway and asked if I could try it out.  The store owner agreed and I took it to the back and closed my eyes, tuning in to the energy of the flute.  I never know how the tune's going to start or what's going to come out.  I tuned in to the wood and its energy and played a slow, soft tune.  It only lasted a few seconds but I knew this was the flute for me and so we were paired.

It's a very therapeutic instrument and the connection has grown stronger.  If I feel a bad episode coming on with regard to the PTSD or anything for that matter, I play it.  The flute takes the negative energy away as I breathe out and transforms it into notes that please and soothe me.  When I hear it I imagine how the wind touches and talks with all living things; ghosting through trees, over rocks and over the waters and for those moments, the wind takes me with it.

There's a small sound clip of my music with the flute that I've named 'WindWolf' on my profile if you'd like to hear it.


Thursday, 10 December 2009

Letting my mind wander

Where does the time go?  It seems to fly by when you get to your 40s.  I guess it keeps on accelerating, the older you get.  Do you remember when you were young and how it would drag?   Everything's a circle:  We come into this world with nothing and we leave the same way.  Is there a meaning to life?  Is it the same for everyone?

I feel that everyone has something to achieve, they just might not know it yet and I'm not talking about getting a job, having a new car or owning a home.

It's funny how education is used to educate some very important things out of us.  Children are working towards exams at ages when they should be playing and enjoying growing up rather than getting stressed as they're put on the treadmil for the future labour pool.  There's a time for work and a time for play for people of ALL ages but it's so easy to lose that if you're not careful, by getting caught up in having to earn enough to get by in our materliastic society.

Spirituality is something that should be taught but outside of religion as, to my mind,  they're clearly seperate subjects.  The value of sitting in silence in a quiet, peaceful area instead of in front of a TV set that maybe churning out more rubbish is something that parents should be passing down to their children.  Taking them out to nature in an educated way rather than taking their noise and chaos out there with them.  Helping them feel and recognise the energy of the Universe.

I found myself thinking these thoughts as I was having accupuncture yesterday.  It was a different nurse sticking the needles in and deeper than usual.  I have accupuncture for Chronic Pain Syndrome (I think chronic just means that it's lasting a long time).  It helps with the PTSD as well though.  I relax into some deep breathing and let the needles do their work and I'm soon watching colours inside my eyes:  greens, blues and blacks, as they swirl around.  They chase eachother and bump into eachother.  Taking on eachother's colours, as they morph right in front of my eyeballs.  I resisted the urge to chuckle as I wondered if this was what it was like to be on speed.

I thought about the week.  It was a very busy one medically: Psychiatrist on Monday, Counsellor on Tuesday and then being used as a voodoo doll on the Wednesday.  I always feel like drinking a large glass of water afterwards to see if I'm going to leak or not. 

Today I actually found myself breathing a sigh of relief as I settled into a more manageable routine.

I'm glad that all the editing's up to date and the back ups are done.  Business Link sent me a form for a press release to publicise my work and that's just finished too and been sent back and I may have found a company to do my canvas prints in Nottingham.  I'm having a meeting with the company tomorrow.

So the priority over the next week will be to finalise which images will be in the exhibition and which poems will accompany them.  After that it's time to put it together as a draft exhibition plan and start getting companies and galleries interested in getting involved and to get help with the funding application.

It's funny how you feel like you haven't done much at times, until you write about it and take stock of the week.  Still, I'm working on things in a careful, manageable way and seeing to my needs along the way.  No point in trying to run and land on your arse is there?

So another Christmas beckons.  I've already got 2 presents each for my son and daughter and I'm sure that they'll like them.  I never spoilt my kids in that way.  I'm looking forward to seeing them both and sharing some time.  It'll be good to sit and talk and reconnect.  We'll probably play cards, scrabble and monopoly together too as well as doing some activities that they both want to do. 

My daughter played the Last Post for me over the phone the other day.  My son gave me a rendition of his drumming skills to some grunge tune.  They're both walking their own paths and the wolf's just hanging back in the shadows should they need him.  They're developing into good people.

It's going to be a good Christmas this year.



Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Continuing with plans for the exhibition...

I've got a Monday morning head on a Tuesday!  The images are all done for now.  The last set that I added yesterday were from the woods around Tyrewhitt House.  The set's called 'Autumn in Leatherhead' if you want a peek?  I've just got to get them backed up now.

It seemed like good progress was being made re the exhibition last year but it's looking like I may have to find another firm to do my printing as the guy I was dealing with last year has left their company.

I've contacted a few printing companies this morning and will wait to see how they respond.  In the meantime, I'm going to start work on finalising the exhibition pieces and poems to be used.


Sunday, 6 December 2009

Tyrwhitt House

Background to 2006

I remember the first time I went there.  I'd been on the books with 'Combat Stress' (CS), an organisation that looks after the mental welfare of british forces veterans, for a few years but I'd actively resisted going to one of their homes.  2006 was a very difficult year.  I'd been in civvy street for about 19 years at this stage and had been working as an IT engineer and a union rep in the NHS since 2001.  We'd been going through a process called 'Agenda for Change' and I'd been working under a huge amount of stress caused by the bullying and harrassment I was getting at the hands of some managers at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust

My first visit

I remember the first time that I drove to Tyrwhitt House.  As the day of admission for treatment got closer I got more anxious.  The mental scars to do with Northern Ireland were opening up more and surpressed memories were coming to the fore.  When I got their gated drive way I stopped and talked to the person on reception over the intercom about what was going to happen as I was very anxious now and didn't want to go in.  It was like the gates of my memories connected with my military service had been unlocked and everything else melted into the background, bubbling away beneath it.  The person calmly talked me in and I went through the induction process.

The staff there are very gentle and caring but I didn't even register that on the first visit.  All of the thoughts and memories were circling around me like a tornado and I felt like they were trying to rip me apart.  I started surpressing the memories harder than before.  Closing myself down more.  I felt myself reverting to an animal state.  I was either in my room or outside most of the time for the first couple of days.  One of the staff, Tony, came and talked to me and I couldn't hack sitting in a room and talking so he let me find somewhere I could sit comfortably.  There used to be an old tree near the buildings and it had a gentle, nurturing energy about it.  I went and curled up in the natural contours of its trunk and sat there while I started to open up.

I met my keyworker, Jan, the next day. It took her a couple of days to get through to me.  It was as if I'd surpressed my memories and feelings even deeper than before.  She gently peeled away the layers and allowed me to bring the memories out at my pace.  Allowing me to see myself and examine the components of this condition and how it affects me.

Once you've served there seems to be an automatic camaraderie between yourself and any veteran, irrespective of  which arm of the forces your served with or which arena.  There's an unspoken bond that's understood.  It's so easy to to be with veterans and that's another thing that this visit gave me: acceptance.  We all knew eachother and why we were there.  The lads/lasses all look out for eachother.

I nearly walked out early and went home on my first visit but I'm glad I stayed the week.  The saddest thing to see is one of your comrades leave early. To those of you that have left early, never to return, we remember you and hope that you'll feel you can come back some time...when it's right for you.  You already took the hardest step by coming into the house in the first place.  Those first steps were the ones that I found the hardest.  I know that there's one place I can be now where I'm understood and not regarded as a 'weirdo'.  I can den up there for a week and lick my wounds before facing the world again.

My second visit in 2009 felt easier and I had a good laugh with some of the lads too (there weren't any lasses at the place this time).  It was a good balance as I was working hard on myself and needed that easy space to be in where we continually, but gently, took the piss out of eachother.


Saturday, 5 December 2009

Ever heard a wolf howl?

Have you ever heard a wolf howl in the night? The silence gives way to it's voice and the sky carries the echo forward. It becomes a song when joined by other members of the pack; the different pitches becoming a kaleidosope of sound that is both colourful and full of meaning on different levels.

'This is my land and these are the members of the pack', says the alpha.  'I will feed them, care for them and lead them well.  I will raise good cubs with she who is my mate and our line will go on through the ages, always remembering our ancestors and passing on our learning.

If you come near us, come in a good way, with peace in your heart.  Do not come with darkness in your heart or we will fight you.  Come with an open heart and a good light within you and we will let you run with us.  We will teach you things that you may not yet know.'

The other members of the pack send their subtle messages around the alpha.  Echoing his call with their variations, demonstrating their individuality within but reinforcing the message of the pack.

Wolves and people were the same:  they care for their young, they feed the extended family, they socialise with their family, they mate for life, they keep order within the pack, they pass on the values of the pack to the young, they defend the family.  Humans used to be the same before the material age took a hold.  We seem to have lost our way as humans, wolves still hold true to their values.

Protect wolves and learn from them as some of the tribes did.  Find good organisations that actually, physically help wolves rather than joining organisations that just recycle words.  Do some research with the organisations involved before donating money and make sure it'll help wolves rather than line the pockets of humans.  Nature has a way of culling things that go out of balance.  Who culls the humans that continually invade more and more wilderness every year, pushing wildlife away from feeding and mating grounds?  Humans are supposed to be the custodians of the planet by virtue of our abilities not the ones that continually rape the Earth's resources and destroy other species.

check out:  http://www.wolvesandhumans.org/how_to_help_pages/wolf_research_russia.htm and find a way to help people like Vladimir Bologov do their invaluable work?

SnowMoon Wolf

Friday, 4 December 2009

UK Veterans, the NHS and Local Authority provisions re support

Did you know that if you've got a War Disablement Pension that you're a priority patient for the NHS if you're seeking treatment for a condition that you're getting said pension for?

I've been treated by 3 different health authorities now over the years but none of them knew of this arrangment.  I had to print off the approriate form from the Veterans agency to prove it.

If you're a veteran and you're waiting for treatment, show the following link to your GP.  When they refer you, providing you fulfil the conditions, you're a priority patient http://www.veterans-uk.info/vets_issues/healtcare.htm

A Local Authority (LA) can choose to disregard your War Disablement Pension (WDP) for the purposes of a housing benefit or council tax benefit claim.  This means it's not taken in account for the calculation of your housing/council tax benefit claim.  It's at the discretion of the LA concerned.  If your LA doesn't disregard your WDP.  Get in touch with your local Citizens' Advice Bureau (CAB) and ask them to raise the issue with the LA as a 'Social Policy' issue.

Some CABx now have welfare rights officers attached to deal specifically with verterans' issues.  Truro in Cornwall is one of them.  They state the following:

'We offer debt and benefits advice to serving and ex-serving military personnel and their dependants. This Benefits and Money Advice service is funded by the Royal British Legion and RAF Benevolent Fund. Contact number, for this unit only, 01872 266736. If you contact this number and are not eligible you will be signposted to 0844 49 94 188.'

Don't waste 12 years of your life.  Get the help you need now.  You deserve it.

Good luck


Thursday, 3 December 2009

Basic travel tips for India & Nepal


Don't book more than one night's accomodation for the start of your trip.  Just in case you don't like it there.  You may find somewhere cheaper and cleaner elsewhere.

Change your currency at the aiport.  You won't lose out by much at all and it's safer. 

Make sure you have a pen for entrance/landing forms.

Don't keep more than 500 rupees handy.  Hide the rest about your person in a body wallet or some other way that isn't visible.  Get small notes: 5s, 10's 20s and 50s. 

A rickshaw's cheaper than a taxi.  Always haggle.  If you look like a tourist, they'll rip you off.  Take the price they give you and haggle from just under 50% less.  Don't go over that amount much at all if you can help it. 

You will need to haggle for EVERYTHING!  Apart from things that have the price on the container in certain shops or restaurants with menus.  Watch yourself at restaurants though as some of them will add things like bogus taxes or items on your bill that you haven't had.  Be prepared to walk away and come back much later if the haggling isn't going well.  The proportion of sellers to buyers is in favour of the savvy buyer.

Make sure you never leave crucial documents like your passport anywhere.  Keep it in your body wallet.

Take a face mask with a built in filter if you are asthmatic.  The pollution in Delhi (and Kathmandu) is terrible and will definitely affect you in a bad way.

Use water purification tablets on the bottled water and don't use anything but bottled water; especially when brushing your teeth.  Never have ice in any drink, the chances are it's tap water and it'll have something in it that can harm you if you're not careful.

Check fruit carefully before buying it.  Don't buy anything which has broken skin and fruit exposed.  Wash the fruit with bottled water.  If you end up with food poisoning etc, rely on fruit and bottled water until you body can hack your normal diet again.

If you want to use the internet, only use the hotel you're staying at.  If you're a foreigner they will want a copy of your passport at any internet cafe.  It's the policy in Delhi.  I don't like handing my passport over anywhere unless absolutely necesssary (immigration and my hotel).  If someone does want your passport - get it back straight away.

Check the room and ALL facilities BEFORE agreeing to stay in it.  Especially check the bedding for human fluids and other stains.  Every hotel that I visited except one needed to change all their bedding for me.

Take basic medicines with you (cold and flu stuff, pain relief etc).

Take rehydration sachets and immodium.  If you sweat a lot everyday, you'll need the rehydration sachets anyway, so take a few packs.  Drinking bottled water alone won't help the situation.  Monitor your body well.  If you start getting cramps etc in your limbs or other areas it could be because your body's been sweating out too many minerals and electrolytes.  Look into this before you travel and take appropriate stuff with you.  Take a basic first aid kit too.

Batteries are cheaper there if you use AA or AAA etc.  If you use any sort of rechargeable battery - take spares if possible (eg canon camera batteries).

Don't eat food from street vendors.  Only eat from restaurants - preferably the one in your hotel if you're away in the boonies.  If you're in a city or town and fancy a restaurant - see if it's empty first?  Go eat where the local's eat.

Places change in the hours of darkness.  A less friendly element emerges in most cities around the world.  Don't wander out alone and be careful where you go.

If you're travelling alone or with young children, hire a driver.  Better to be safe than sorry.  Mine cost 2000 Rupees per day but he was excellent and looked after me well.  He put himself out for me and was available to me at any hour.  Fuel and road taxes were extra.  I've lost my guy's details.  I'll post them up here if I find them.


The only hotel that gave me a very clean room, clean bedding, air conditioning as advertised, warm water and good, clean food was the 'Hotel Amer view', http://www.hotelamerview.co.in/   Don't forget to haggle.  Don't pay more than 1000 Rupees per night. 




All the above plus the following (though Nepal is cleaner and quieter):

You can get your Visa when you land at the airport.  You will need US dollars to pay for your Visa.  Check http://www.nepembassy.org.uk/visa_information.html  - it's cheaper to get it when you land if you're a british citizen.  Make sure you have 2 spare passport sized photos for your visa application.  It takes a while to get through the process.  You'll be filling in a couple of forms too in addition to the landing card.  So that's 3 forms!

If you're going trekking anywhere search around the various operators and haggle.  If you're used to altitude etc and can manage your own pack, you'll be fine, otherwise just hire a porter.  The routes tend to be fairly well marked.

If you're not used to going to high altitude locations you must hire a guide/porter.  He will be responsible for your safety.   Learn about the symptoms of  High Altitude Sickness (HAS).  If you're going with someone, make sure everyone in the group can recognise the symptoms and watch out for eachother.  The earlier the condition is spotted, the better.  Details of HAS are further down this blog entry.  Check the certification of your guide.

Take hand warmers.  You know the little bags in plastic that warm up when you rip the plastic open?  If you're using batteries for anything , they'll drain power very quickly in cold weather.  Keep the batteries close to your body in the pockets of inner clothing and put a hand warmer pouch in each pocket.  It'll hhelp your batteries last longer.  Don't put them into your camera or other equipment until you need to.

If you're used to sorting yourself out on trekking trips get a cheap flight from Kathmandu to Lukla for treks to the Everest region.  Don't hire a guide until you get there or you'll have to pay his airfare too.  Pay for digs as you go.  The Himalayan Lodge in Namche Bazaar charges 200 rupees per night.  That's less than £2.  The food is reasonable too. 

The higher you go the more expensive everything gets.  In Kathmandu, a bottle of water can be 15-20 rupees.  In the Everest region it goes up to 200 rupees.

Namche Bazaar is the last decent re-supply area to get your cold weather equipment from.  They have a pharmacy too.  They sorted out my HAS symptoms to a degree.  There was no way I was coming back without shots of Mount Everest though.  You can hire mountaineering equipment here too.  Make sure you have appropriate clothing, layers etc.  You can buy stuff here if you're stuck but it'll cost you more than if you bought/hired it in Kathmandu.

If you're asian and can speak hindi, you'll get away with paying tourist rates on lots of stuff.


The best food was in the Ambassador Garden Home, Thamel, Next to Pub Maya.  http://www.aghhotel.com/  - they also had the lovliest rooms but were too close to noisy pubs etc.  Prices were relatively high too but the photos are accurate, the place is as beautiful as it is on their web page.  It has a lovely, tranquil atmosphere when the pub next door isn't going mad with loud music.

Hotel Encounter Nepal had the quietest rooms and wasn't far from the action in terms of nightlife. http://www.encounternepal.com/  - Make sure you get receipts as you go as the hotel reception mamanger tried to make me pay twice for the room.  He's a bit of a dishonest twat.  Same things with the room - check the linen etc.  The hot water doesn't start running until the season begins in earnest - Late October - November!  Negotiate the rates as to your budget.  People in the same sorts of rooms were paying anything from 500 - 1500 rupees a night - HAGGLE!  By the way, the cheap rooms look nothing like the photos on their website but they're not too bad.  The bogs etc are clean and you can tell them to bring clean linen.



High-Altitude Sickness

What is high-altitude or mountain sickness?

Sometimes people get sick at high altitudes, such as in the mountains. This is called mountain sickness or high-altitude sickness.


What causes this problem?

Lack of oxygen causes high-altitude sickness. As altitude increases, the air becomes "thinner," which means less oxygen is in the atmosphere. You get less oxygen in your lungs with each breath, so the amount of oxygen in your blood declines. (This is called hypoxia) (hi-POKS'e-ah). All people can experience mountain sickness, but it may be more severe in people who have heart or lung problems.


What are the symptoms?

Symptoms usually begin within 48 hours of arriving at high altitude. The higher the altitude, the greater the effects. People can notice effects when they go to an altitude of 7,000 to 8,000 feet. If you have heart disease (such as heart failure) or lung disease (such as emphysema), you may have symptoms at lower altitudes. Symptoms include

  • headaches, breathlessness, fatigue 
  • nausea or vomiting
  • inability to sleep
  • swelling of the face, hands and feet


Both heart rate and breathing rate increase as the body tries to send more oxygen to its tissues. At very high altitudes, body fluid can leak into the brain (called brain or cerebral edema) or into the lungs (pulmonary edema). Both these conditions can be serious or even life-threatening.

AHA Recommendation

The best way to avoid or lessen the effects of mountain sickness is to increase altitude slowly. Climbers and hikers can take two days to reach 8,000 feet, and then another day for each 1,000 to 2,000 higher feet. This may not be an option for people who travel to a destination at high altitude. Most people can adjust or "acclimatize" to the high altitude within a few days. Here are some tips:

  • Avoid strenuous activity for the first day or two.
  • Drink extra fluid. Be careful of drinking alcohol.
  • Its effect is magnified at high altitude.
  • Your doctor may prescribe medication to help prevent or treat altitude sickness.

If you have a heart or lung condition, consult your physician before going to high altitude. He or she can tell you whether your condition will let your body adjust to the lower oxygen in the atmosphere.







Exploring Parts of India

India left me with mixed feelings. I wanted to visit the country where my parents were born and to visit the Taj Mahal and explore Rajeshtan. Emotionally, it was a roller coaster journey, mainly because of the plight of the young. Many work the streets as beggars or traders. Education seems to get in the way of survival as all members of the poorer families try to bring something to the collective table. Children as young as 5 are out there selling things like wool for use as wicks for oil burners, trinkets or food. Some work for the family business and go on to inherit the cart or shop from their fathers or mothers.

The one constant thing that stays in my mind about India is the colour. Whether poor or rich, the women and girls, and sometimes the men, of the country dress in wonderful, vibrant colours that transform the country. The people make India a photogenic place.

Viewing the images from India

The first set is a set of 3 Limited Edition Prints. The Album is called 'Reflections of Taj Mahal'.

Chittorgarh Fort is considered the largest fort in India and the best in the state of Rajasthan. The fort, plainly known as Chittor, was the capital of Mewar. It was ruled initially by Guhilot and later by Sisodias, the Suryavanshi clans of Chattari Rajputs, from 7th century A.D., till it was finally abandoned in 1568 AD after the siege by Emperor Akbar in 1567 AD. It sprawls majestically over a hill 180 m (590.6 ft) in height spread over an area of 280 ha (691.9 acres) above the plains of the valley drained by the Berach River. The fort precinct with an evocative history is studded with a series of historical and spectacular palaces, gates, temples and two impressive commemoration towers. These monumental ruins have inspired the imagination of tourists and writers for centuries.

The next set of shots were taken on the road from Delhi to Agra.

Jaipur, also popularly known as the Pink City, is the capital of Rajasthan state, India. Jaipur is the former capital of the princely state of Jaipur. Founded on 18 November 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of Amber, the city today has a population of more than 2 million residents. It is also known as Paris of India.

Nireli Temple in Ajmer, Rajeshtan is still under construction. I wasn't able to find out when the temple will be opening to the public. It looks like it will be used as a retreat as well with accomodation on site.

The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum located in Agra, India, built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal as a symbol of his undying love for her.

Udaipur, also known as the City of Lakes, is a city, a Municipal Council and the administrative headquarters of, the Udaipur district in the state of Rajasthan in western India. It is the historic capital of the former kingdom of Mewar in Rajputana Agency. Lake Pichola, Fateh Sagar Lake, Udai Sagar and Swaroop Sagar in this city are considered some of the most beautiful lakes in the state.

I hope you enjoy viewing the images. They are available for sale directly off the website. The purchasing options are above the images: A4 size unmounted = £12.99, A3 size unmounted = £22.99 and 36inch x 24 inch framed canvas = £89.99. Delivery to UK addresses is free. If you would like a print delivered to a country outside of the UK, please email me first at the_wolf1964@hotmail.com so that I can find the cheapest way of getting the print to you.

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all the best

Villayat Wolf Sunkmanitu

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