The Cow and Pheasant
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The Cow and Pheasant

Today I went for my daily walk and I came across a couple of pheasants. One was female and the other was male. I was actually standing right next to the female and didn’t realise until she flew away from me. I was startled but no more. I was more focused on the male pheasant.

A pheasant near cows
A pheasant near cows

I walked closer, to try to get a clearer photo but didn’t succeed. Instead it went into a field with some cows and when one of the cows noticed it went up to investigate. I thought it was chasing the pheasant and eventually it was. It was an amusing sight to see. A cow running after a pheasant.

it got better. When the pheasant went into the next field the rest of the herd came across to look at the pheasant.

A herd of cows looking at a pheasant
A herd of cows looking at a pheasant
Cyclist Sightings

Cyclist Sightings

Yesterday I went for a walk, during which I listened to two podcasts via AudioBookShelf, but that’s not the point of this post. The point of this post is that the seasons have changed. The snow has melted and there was a brief interlude in rain so plenty of people went out for bike rides. So many in fact that I seemed to be one of only two or three people on foot.

This makes me happy. I like crossing people on bikes because they usually don’t have big dogs, and they pass by within seconds rather than longer. They also tend not to take up the entire width of the road.

For some reason when couples walk they take the entire width of the road, as do families, and other groups. They’re not morbidly obese. they’re average. They could take as little space as cyclists and I do.

I should be cycling too but my bike lives half an hour from where I live at the moment, by car. It lives there because that’s where I went for bike rides several times and I felt that by transporting my bike, back and forth, in the car, I was damaging it, so I left it there. I never repatriated it because winter was coming so it made little sense. Now that summer is back it could make sense to repatriate it.

In reality I should prepare it for Spain. I should dismantle it, and take it to Spain, for a Spring service, before coming back to Switzerland, and use it, freshly serviced.

The difference in service price between Spain and Switzerland is 70 euros compared to 300 CHF. I could also take advantage of the slightly better weather in Spain to go for bike rides.

I have a few days to decide.

Walking in Rain – Not Singing

Walking in Rain – Not Singing

When some people see that it’s grey or rainy they don’t want to go for a walk. They don’t want to get rained on and they don’t want to experience the discomfort of being in a wet environment. I don’t mind the rain. I don’t mind wearing a rain coat and rain trousers, and waterproof shoes, and ensuring that I don’t need to fiddle with the phone when my hands are wet with rain.

I think tbat one reason for which I’m fine with walking in full rain gear on a rainy day is that I used to drive in a dry suit, and that at the end of the day walking in the rain is not much different from dry suit diving. In both situations you’re wearing cloths to keep warm, with a layer of protective gear over the dry clothes.

One of the problems with walking on a sunny day, after a day of rain is that shoes get extremely muddy, as do trousers, but that mud is just viscous enough to stick to my shoes. It’s the day after heavy rain that it’s awful, because shoes get muddy and when shoes get muddy I sit on the stones and scrape away the mud from my shoes. This takes several minutes. ¨

My shoes get muddy because whether I am on agricultural roads, on main roads car drivers will drive so fast and so close that I am forced to walk in the mud. During a drought this doesn’t matter, and it doesn’t matter when it’s raining. That’s because when it rains water soaks shoes. Mud doesn’t stick. My shoes look good as new, and that’s a great advantage of walking in heavy rain.

Rain also changes the landscape. What is a road, in dry weather, becomes a stream. What is usually an orchard with grass growing between the trees becomes a pond with trees, a mangrove. I might be pushing our imagination a little with this image.

There is one massive disadvantage to rainy days. My coat drains onto the tile floor and I need to keep mopping it up, to avoid stains from forming. I often have to mop the floor where the coat was hanging on the back of a chair. It’s hanging from a chair because if I let it drain on the coat rack it will soak the ISP device.

As I write this blog post I am struck by something. It’s the 30th of december and I’m speaking about rain, with barely a thought for snow. Facebook reminded me that 12 years ago we had snow on this day. According to the Apple Weather app the normal temperature range for where I am is from -6°c to 4°c. It’s 9°c today. At lease precipitation is 7.3cm above average, so that’s one plus. If it was cold we would have a nice snowy landscape.

And Finally

When it’s almost always sunny people like me get fatigued with the sun, and rain becomes a rare treat. In the same way that we used to think that it’s a shame to stay indoors when it’s sunny, I now find it a shame not to go out when it’s raining. At least when it’s raining the landscape changes, the walking paths are quiet, and my shoes are spotless when I get home. Usually the morning frost makes the ground muddy and I need to clean my shoes before entering the building.

Maybe I’m ready for the Camino Primitivo. If it rained for the entire time I might still be comfortable, especially if I sleep in a building every night.

A Walk During Cow Rush Hour

A Walk During Cow Rush Hour

Yesterday I decided that I would start my walk by going along a dangerous bit of road, at the start of the road. The idea behind this is to avoid being endangered by selfish car drivers when I’m fatigued. It’s better to put up with their dangerous behaviour ahead of a walk, rather than after it.

I Don’t Want To Give Up Walking Locally

I spent time thinking about walking, and avoiding cars, and I came to the conclusion that I no longer want to walk across a bridge. Every time I walk across that bridge I see cars driving too fast and to close to other people, as well as myself. One day someone will be injured on that bridge. The bridge is barely wide enough for one car to drive by, and cars often play chicken with each other, and play Russian roulette to see if they can get away with running the gauntlet without hitting each other.

there is a good bridge just a few meters away that pedestrians could use safely, but it’s made to look as if it’s on private property so I stopped using it. That farmer has a vineyard. He recently planted bushes to mark his land but in doing so he has forced people to walk on a busy road, rather than in the grass. We could cross the road but because the pandemic hasn’t ended, I prefer to be across the road from others.

The Safe Walk

I can leave the village I live in, on foot, along a wide road with good visibility. By walking along this road I can see cars coming from far away and they have plenty of space to deflect to the other side of the road, to show some respect. I can also flee into the grass without too much trouble, should I feel the need. I have a lot of room to get away from cars that are driven by people who never walk.

The rest of the route is nice. I walk up through a village, go slightly beyond it, and then I turn right, and then I walk along a weather worn road towards some fields where cows spend their days. Yesterday I counted up to 11 herons in the field with cows and another field nearby. The beauty of this route is that few people walk it. People like to walk along two paths, and I use a third. I walk right after lunch, on a regular basis, because that’s when the walks are quietest.

Blocked by Bovine Rush Hour

Yesterday I was blocked from continuing onwards by the cows. They were being transferred from one field to another and to do this the road was blocked. I could have pushed my way through but I didn’t mind having to wait a few minutes, whilst the cars were migrated from one field to another, ahead of milking.

Long Distance Walks

One of the challenges I face is that I don’t want a short 3-4km walk. I want an 8-10 km walk and in order to have such walks you need to walk between villages, and along busier roads. Nothing is built for people who want to walk from village to village so it’s for us to find routes that are not too exposed to car traffic, and especially dangerous road segments. This road segment is very dangerous. Cars go along too fast, and there is nowhere for pedestrians to shelter. There is a smaller bridge here but it seems to be on private land and there is a metal chain to block access if you come from the village. If this bridge was open to pedestrians and cyclists then walks would be much more pleasant, and a lot less dangerous.

Danger comes from cars not slowing down, and not letting others pass safely. The other danger comes from people not deflecting to the other side of the road to avoid pedestrians when there is no reason not to.

Mobilité Douce With Blinkers

There is a pedestrian mobility site but as with every other mobility body it looks at cities rather than the countryside. It looks at making walking popular for people who already have pavements, side streets and more, rather than to connect villages. The more dangerous it is to walk from village to village, the more likely people are to use cars. Switzerland has invested millions in cycle paths, and yet those cycle paths go through car parks, and in summer the cycle paths along the lake become pedestrian paths for the car drivers who parked on the pedestrian paths.

You don’t encourage people not to use cars, if you make it dangerous to walk or cycle between villages. Policies and decisions are taken by people who live in cities and towns, rather than villages.

For more than a decade, but especially since the pandemic lock downs I have seen the need for walking paths that connect villages, without cars or other vehicles. Walking and cycling routes should be safe and pleasant for walkers. Walking between villages should be a pleasure, not a gamble.

And Finally

If I walked once or twice a week I wouldn’t feel the way I do. it is because I walk along these paths every day, and I am exposed to the danger on a daily basis. It’s since they put in some bushes that I feel in danger. Until those bushes were put in I was in danger crossing the bridge but I was safe before, and after. Now I’m in danger walking to the bridge, and from the bridge, by a farmer’s choice. What was a safe and pleasant route, became deadly.

Walking is the simplest, cheapest, and lowest impact sport we can do from home, without using a car. As a result infrastructure should be put in place to make it possible to walk for 10 kilometres without having to expose ourselves to walking by dangerous road sides. The safer we make walking, the less we will have to deal with the nuisance of cars.

Colza, Sheep, Metamorphosis and Mindfulness

Colza, Sheep, Metamorphosis and Mindfulness

Yesterday I took a picture of brilliantly yellow Colza with the Jura looking dark due to storm clouds overhead. If you walk at this time of year you will see a lot of cola. At the moment it is brilliantly yellow and at it’s prime. Later on, the colza will be passed its prime, and at this moment it will lose all of its petals, and become green, before drying up and becoming brown. Colza is not beautiful for that much of its growth cycle. 

Colza field with the Jura in the background, looking dark due to thick clouds
Colza field with the Jura in the background, looking dark due to thick clouds

I have been passing by some sheep for several days now and each time they have progressed down the field. I walked by the field yesterday and it was quite amusing to see the path of grazed grass they left behind them. It went from being a prairie field with long grass, to a short grass field. The sheep are doing their job well. 

Sheep grazing in a field.
Sheep grazing in a field. You can see where they have been, and where they have yet to be.

At this time of year you see spiders and beetles running across the tarmac in front of you. It’s when hiking that I first noticed the hundreds, or even thousands of spiders running around beneath my feet

I try not to step on the beetles and spiders as I walk, and that’s why I noticed a beetle lying on its back. Upon seeing this my reaction was “This is a real life instance of “Metamorphosis”, the book about the person who wakes up, stuck on his back, unable to get up. It is rare for such a sight and I thought that I had filmed it, but I didn’t. 

Although I walk around in circles or loops, I do notice new and different things on every single walk, which is why I walk these routes so regularly. I do vary between five to ten routes, but where I turn left instead of going straight, or right instead of left, etc. 

And Finally

I started to “read” Mindfulness for Dummies while walking. I tried listening to other content but this one kept my attention. The idea that struck me, so far, is the idea of kindness. It speaks about learning to be kind to yourself, of not being negative about yourself. It is something worth hearing. I will be reading this as I walk from now until I finish it. 

The Curious Step Miscount Due to Walking Sticks

The Curious Step Miscount Due to Walking Sticks

Yesterday I walked with hiking sticks and whereas one watch told me that I had 13,000 steps, or so, the other said I had 9000. It is the second time that I notice such a difference in step count. 

Walking stick step count. The count is lower than without walking sticks
Walking stick step count. The count is lower than without walking sticks

The first time I noticed this issue was a few days ago, after a similar walk. I knew that the walk was over 10,000 steps so when I saw the low count I thought something was wrong, but didn’t worry about it. It happened again yesterday. I went for an 11 kilometre walk that should be at least 12,000 or more steps but it was undercounted by at least three thousand steps. The Apple watch had over 13,000 and the Garmin Instinct Solar had 9000. 

The normal walking step count
The normal walking step count

I have a theory about what is causing this issue. When you’re walking normally your arms swing for every single step. When I walk with hiking steps I usually take two to three steps in between stick strikes on the ground. This results in one step being counted for every three or so steps. It seems to happen when I am in the walking, rather than hiking mode. By resting my hand on the sticks for a few steps at a time the watch counts that as a single step. 

It doesn’t stop there. I also noticed that the step per minute count was a fifth of what it usually is. Usually my step count is around 100-120 steps per minute. In this case, just twenty steps per minute. 

The simplest solution is to shorten the walking sticks to match your walking pace. With long sticks you will take four or five steps between lifts of the sticks. With shorter it might be half as frequent.

I can run two more experiments. With the first I can measure whether walking stick length has an effect, and then I can test whether walking in hiking, rather than walking mode changes the result. 

If you’re not a habitual walker like me, and if your step count is important, then walking with sticks may give the illusion that you are lazier than you are. This isn’t an issue, since distance is measured. If you’re trying to beat a walking record then the Apple watch might be a better option, as it seems to count steps more accurately, even with hiking sticks. 

Connected Watches and Psychological Profiles

Connected Watches and Psychological Profiles

Connected watches know everything about us. In theory they listen to us 24 hours a day for years in a row. My Apple watch has been on my wrist for over four years, every single day. It has been for swims, runs, rock climbing, via ferrata, office work and more. 

The watch knows how much I walk, when I get up, when I go to sleep, how well I wash my hands, how exposed I am to noise and much more. It also knows whether I am moving energetically or lazily. It knows if I am walking faster or slower. It also knows how rested or stressed I am, by looking at heart rate variability. 

Some people will look at the two paragraphs above and think “I don’t want this”. 

The Suunto, Garmin, Casio and other brands I have used measure walking, sleeping, and more but not in the way that Apple does. Apple theoretically knows a lot more for two key reasons. The first is that the Apple universe includes your laptop, your phone, your watch, your tablet and your keys and other possessions. Apple has access to almost every aspect of our lives. 

I bring this up, not because of a sense of paranoia, but simply because there is an article about this on the RTS website after some uni students wanted to know more. They asked people hundreds of questions to get a profile. They then tried to correlate that data with watch data to see if the watch could help establish mental health via a watch. They don’t say anything about brand. 

What makes this report especially interesting is that these are conclusions from fitness trackers, rather than high end smart watches. 

Some things are obvious. People who go out on a friday night are considered extroverted, people who sleep little and move more regularly are considered nervous and more. This is nothing that we wouldn’t expect to hear. 

If we look at the bigger picture, at big data, then this could be interesting. By tracking enough people over time it could be determined whether people are becoming happier, sadder, more nervous, less nervous, about to commit suicide and more. There are reports of how connected devices showed signs that someone was beginning to fall sick, with COVID, or other diseases. 

Steps, sleep and heart rate are just the tip of the iceberg. Most watches collect more than this so they know more. 

Garmin Expedition Challenges

Garmin Expedition Challenges

Garmin have had challenges for years. Most of them have been about distance, or vertical climbing. Now they have new Expedition challenges. Each expedition is named after an expedition or adventure by the same name.

List of Garmin expedition challenges
List of Garmin expedition challenges

The Camino De Santiago challenge is a challenge to walk 784 kilometres. The Denali challenge is to climb 6190m. There are two Mont Blanc Challenges. The Mont Blanc challenge is to climb 4808 metres whilst the Mont Blanc Circular (Tour Du Mont Blanc is to walk 160 kilometres.

Due to my character I have chosen to take on the Appalachian Trail challenge. It’s 3500 kilometres of walking, approximately 4.9 million steps. So far I have completed just 17.5 kilometres of that challenge. I have walked four million four hundred and twenty three thousand steps in the last year with an average of twelve thousand six hundred per day.

In theory the challenge will take me more than a year to complete, if it wants me to walk and run the distance. If I can cycle part of it then I will complete this goal within the year.

Climbing and Stepping

At the time of writing this blog post it is possible to take on one climbing challenge at the same time as taking on one stepping challenge. Both progress bars are shown together. With climbing the progress is shown in metres, and for distance it is shown in kilometres.

Pacer Challenges

If you want to try these challenges without paying for a Garmin device Pacer has offered such challenges for years now. You pay 29 CHF per year, and you can try the Camino De Santiago and other challenges. These are based on walking distance rather than height gain.

With Garmin you get a progress bar but with pacer you get your progress shown on a map, alongside everyone else trying the same challenge at the same time. You see how you overtake or keep up with them.

A Month to Completion

I would complete most of the walking challenges within a month, except for the AT and the Camino. The climbing challenges would take me a few weeks at the moment, but if I hike in the mountains in summer then I can reach those goals within three or four hikes, depending on goals.


These challenges count floors climbed and steps taken, rather than distance. This means that you need to walk or run for your efforts to count. Cycling will not count. In a few weeks or months we could find that they add cycling and other challenges, as people work their way through what is already around.

Another frustration is that you can’t save the progress in one challenge, to complete another challenge, before resuming the last. The Camino and AT will take two months to over a year to complete. This means that other challenges will not be possible for that extended amount of time.


Due to these challenges being step based, or floor climbing based, you can preserve your privacy. There is no need to track with a GPS because steps are enough. Whether you have a 96 CHF Forerunner 45S (because it’s white and less popular) or a 1200 CHF Fenix or other you’re equal.

Twenty One Thousand Five Hundred Steps and A Wind That Plays The Harmonica

Twenty One Thousand Five Hundred Steps and A Wind That Plays The Harmonica

Today I could have taken the scooter to some shops but I went for a walk. The result of that walk is that I reached twenty one thousand five hundred steps. I often take a lot of steps per day. I wish I was walking somewhere more interesting than in circles.

According to Sports tracker my daily workouts saved 4.74 kilograms of CO2 this month.

I was amused during this walk. The wind is so strong at the moment that as I tried to play the Harmonica as I walked into the wind I found that the wind itself was playing my harmonica. If I blew then I won, but if I drew then I was competing against the wind. Boring people get wind chimes. I think that people should get harmonicas instead of wind chimes. Wind chimes are audio kitsch. Harmonicas are not, because they’re rarer.

This recording is from yesterday’s walk in the wind rather than today’s. The audio was recorded from the airpods, I think. I wasn’t sure you would hear the harmonica over the sound of the wind but it worked.

The wind has to be going at, at least, 25km/h if I remember correctly for the reeds to resonate enough to make noise.

In other news I have read more than once that trawlers are now trawling for krill within superods of whales. I read a few days ago about how fishermen are hoovering the sea of krill to feed farmed salmon. Humans are destroying the sea to such a degree that they are now hoovering up krill, leading to whales and other mammals to starve. We should not be wasting money and fuel to farm something in a juvenile state. It’s bad enough that humans destroy other parts of the marine food chain but this is a step too far.

As a diver people always asked “But what is there to see when you dive” and the truth is “nothing, because of overfishing, in Swiss lakes and the mediterranean. The paradox is that with a marine reserve aquatic life comes back and thrives quite easily. People fly to Fiji and other locations to see plenty of fish but if Europeans, and others, worked to preserve their marine diversity, through marine parks then we would have more fish to see underwater. The marine eco-system needs us to leave it alone, to recover, so that fish reach maturity, so that we see large whales, fish and more.