One thousand walnut seeds and counting

Rest day! I feel much better, especially after a lie-in; the clocks went back an hour. Actually, they went back yesterday but our hosts decided to tell us today! At last we have had some time to wash our clothes (10 days into the expedition), and thanks to the sunny weather they were dry by evening. The family have been winnowing sunflower seeds and bagging them under the shade of the apple orchard. Read More

Lepyoshkas, smarties and an unfortunate powercut

We’ve been here one week today but time seems immeasurable: it feels like a lifetime ago that my companion, Peter Savill, and I left London Heathrow. We had another good day collecting walnuts; this time in a new area further East. Mid-morning, we’d stopped in a remote area for our usual snack of chai and lepyoshkas … Read More

Nature vs Nurture in forestry

I spent over a decade as a forest scientist working to improve the genetic quality of various hardwood tree species.  To put it another way, to maniupate NATURE.  It became increasingly obvious to me that we must never ignore NURTURE.  We must work with both nature and nurture when creating and managing sustainable forests. The… Read More

The road to the walnut-fruit forests

We spent until 1200 packing up and getting ready to leave Bishkek for our flight to Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s second city. After many complicated discussions we (my companion Peter, our student translator Askar, and me) finally got underway to Manas airport via a taxi. We arrived early with four hours to spare. The only interesting thing to happen was the sudden fall … Read More

Lost luggage and secret maps

In 1997 I undertook an expedition to Kyrgyzstan with friend and colleague Peter Savill, to collect walnut seeds from the naturally occurring walnut-fruit forests. Stranded in the capital city Bishkek for three days, following the loss of our luggage by the airline somewhere en route in Kazakstan, a frustrating time was spent waiting.  We also… Read More