Wednesday, December 27, 2006

New gear and experiments

Christmas yielded a impressive amount of new kit for me to play with and try out. Its also a good opportunity to get some testing/play done. I firstly wanted to get a proper fire going as it had been a long time since I did one with just traditional setups, no firelighters, no liquid fire starters, no matches or lighters either. Just Flint n' steel.

From the start I set myself some goals I wanted to try out the crusader cup and get a brew off it as well as play with a pot hanger type setup. This was in the back yard so no really big fires. I opted for a Stainless Steel tray as I didn't want to scorch the path or grass around the yard.
Rules were, Start fire using traditional methods, and boil enough water to make a brew. No cheating.

Pot hanger setup was simple, I had seen it a couple of times in pictures and on a RayMears DVD as well. So I had a good idea on what I wanted. A pot hanger consisting of just 3 sticks one with notches in it so I could adjust the height from the fire. (Heat control) , a Y shaped one and a long one to keep the pot hanger on. Underneath the fire would be created.... duh.

Luckily I had gathered to natural materials the previous week that I collect for the purpose of starting a nice fire. Had loads of small matchstick sized twigs, then pencil sized then bigger. Birch bark was used to catch sparks form the flint which took straight away. More bark had been already prepared so I quickly got it all burning and the twigs went on. The fire was going :-)

The cup with its handle was next, and after a little while I had it all cooking nicely. Something about a fire on a cold night that does more than warm you. I could watch a fire going all night, very hypnotic. The main fuel I had (which turned out to be only just enough) was going and the water was heating up nicely. After a period of time passed (I kinda lost track) my water was ready and I made myself the first brew ever using this method. And do you know what it was the best cuppa I'd had for a long time. Maybe it was the teabag, maybe it was setup and actually going from nothing to having hot water from natural fire? either way it was a pretty sweet cup. Beats the kettle anyday.

Lessons learnt? Need an axe for chopping wood for Prep :-) , also better to get more fuel than you really need, just in case. I only just had enough (no big fuel anyway).

Sucessful night I'd say, was very pleased I managed to get a fire going and try out the Crusader cup at the sametime.

Just another step closer.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas, new gear to get away from it all with?

OK officially its Christmas or past now, I was a lot more feastive than I thought I'd be originally. Even managed to bag the traditional climb Christmas day called (Surprisingly enough) Christmas crack. We even managed to get first climb in which means it was our duty to write a nice card to the rest of the days climbers. Its quite an event, loads of people descent on the crag and a jolly time is had, mince pies, Sherry even the odd fancy dress. Did the climb placed a card, some chocolate and a snowman toy on varoious parts of the climb for other CC climbers. Was a very busy day. After which it was on to the Family dinner and the usual hussle/bussle.

Got new gear too, things I requested, Crusader cup, billy pot n candle lantern too, like the idea of the candle lantern very much, more natural light. An old idea in a newish product, it even retracks in on itself to be more compact. Brilliant.

After all the dinners were had and the noise had died down I decided to have a quick surf of the net to see what everyone else is doing. And do you know what? I read other blogs and bushcraft postings and notice a lot of people looking forward to getting away from things for a while to get peace n quiet! Guess I'm not alone in these thoughts then. Well I got a nice solo trip planned new years eve-ish sometime, gonna find some nice woods some place and spend the night out. After all I have new gear to try out :-)

For anyone reading this: Have a goood new year! Happy Wandering.


Monday, December 18, 2006

Tarp fun!

OK managed to get a few bits on fun in this weekend, playing with a small poncho/Tarp and got some pictures as well. Also some thoughts about fire starting with flint steel n birch bark.

Been looking for a nice place to play for a while now, and eventually picked some woods near a park, its deep and dense enough so I can set things up without being disturbed or alarming anyone after about a 10 minute walk in.

The tarp itself is a standard Bristish Army poncho (nylon) I got with a load of gear a while back, never really had changce to play with it until this weekend. I also picked up some paracord (via of eBay) to be used as well as 2 trekking poles I have. Bearing in mind I coul duse eth tree's I still wanted to incorporate a pole for practise incase I am ever wthout tree around me. Basic pitch ways were as follows:

  • Basic A-frame
  • Lean to + Modified Lean to
  • Flying Diamond
  • Any other variations I can think of.

Lean-to, easist one to set up, takes no time what so ever and requires the least amount of kit (could get away with 1 cord and 2 pegs)

Modified Lean-to (Shown) brings hood out so head room is increased. Not too keen on this one as its exposed from sides and front, little heat would stay in this. Good prtection from wind n rain if pitched facing away from it.

A-frame, one of my favourites nice protection if the weather turns really bad, though a tarp of this size isn't that good for extended periods, you can fit one person in with no gear, so better make something to extend this or stow your gear in (big dry bag?). Entry/Exit would need to be setup with the pole further out.

Flying Diamond. This one is also pretty good, will need to test it out some though. The roof could of been tied high with an addition either tree or pole so make it more roomy. Good protection on most sides. I like this one.


While out it was quite a damp day, so I wanted to know if I could start the beginning of a fire what I had (Flint n knife) while using the materials around me. Damp is a major thing here in the UK so being good at starting a fire in this environment is ....well a handy thing!

I found some dead birch near by so I got a nice small section of bark to try and get something going with. I found it t be too damp so in my trouser pocket it went to hopefully dry out. While I was waiting I carried on messing with the tarp setups.

After about 20 minutes I got the birch out looking dryer, and proceeded to get some nice shavings up so i can try with the flint n steel. This proved to be sucessful, as I made a point on preperation, had lots of small strips ready to use as kindling. I found Preperation will give you the best chance of getting a fire started. Before this when I tried the fire started, but I did not have enough fuel on hand to get it going properly. Costly if your cold and tired. Need to practise this good habbit more.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Too busy of late

Right been a little thin on posting this past week or so, have a little business going and some work came my way, so Saturday night through to morning building 4 systems patching then installations, so weekend was kinda gone by the time I had chance to breath again as it were.

Had a friend up visiting as well, so we were supposed to go climbing but the installation got in the way, ended up having a pub visit then to a big meal at a local Noodle Bar. Was good HUGE portions! I of course by then was cabbaged so wasn't the best of conversationists after a big meal sitting in my stomach..zZZZZZ

Not ready for Christmas really, don't feel festive in the slightest, am looking forward to Christmas being over, kinda having a hard time in my life ATM. Oh its not all bad I have a few good things planned over that period, a nice Christmas day climb with my twin and friends, a route called "Christmas Crack (VS I think)" at Stannage (Peak District). Its pretty good, last year it was fancy dress and Mince pies went round as well as sherry. Big event in these parts. Plus dinner with my Mother and sister to look forward to as well.

That reminds me there is a talk on with Ray Mears in Tumbridge Wells in London, Gonna get my arse down to that. Maybe get the odd thing signed too? After all he is the main man on bushcraft in the UK atleast perhaps further a field? Have you heard of him?, if so where do you live in the world?

Trying to get some time to split some wood I got awhile back so I can start on another spoon for carving. Will see how this weekend pans out. later.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Not much done...

this weekend, I did manage to get a walk done with a good friend. I was looking for some woodland to practice the little skills I have in, but everything seems not so dense and very open, I don't think there are any real forest left in the UK now :-( maybe Scotland? I did managed to gather a little firewood though so at least I can practice some firelighting at home.

Winter is upon us now here, plants are dying out and the amount of edible plants has been considerably reduced. The tree's are bare and winter winds try to rob you of any heat you have with each gust. Most of the wild life here is pretty much ready to hibernate having been frantically gathering and storing food caches for the on coming winter months. I can appreciate that more now as I try to find edible wild food. Autumn really is a time for gathering and storing food.

Seems with the Bushcraft I'm learning I find myself appreciating nature more and indeed understanding it better. Am hoping to do some more work on my knives this week, need to order some wood and rivets for the handles and finish the edges. Then the next task will be getting sheath's made for them. Looking forward to it.


Thursday, November 30, 2006

New gear!

Bivvy Bags finally arrived! Got 2 brand spanking bags too, in DPM, which was a surprise, was expecting Olive green but can't complain. They are new Gore-tex bags as well. 7ft long too approx so I can shove kit to the bottom. Just need to try it out now. Rang the place up to be kind and say thanks for sending them but complained about the torn gear, "grade 1" my arse!!

Right no plans what so ever for the weekend just looking forward to some reading. Hey maybe some climbing too. Will see.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Gear and books have arrived!

Was kinda taken back, my books arrived I ordered AND the gear I was waiting for also arrived, minus the bivvy bags but it has been promised for next week. Am quite impressed with the water proofs, all Gore-tex and they fit OK too. Sleeping system is also impressive, looks comfy as chuff, can't wait to test it, its supposed to sleep down to -20 degree's C so will see, first frost I'll be outside testing.. heh

Books are "Collins gem: Food for Free " and "Call of the wild" by Guy Grieve.

Had a flick through both, and am looking forward to reading both of them. One reference the other handbook.

Had to stay late at work though to patch a server, so was late home. But am happy, have gear and some books to read. :-)


Monday, November 27, 2006

Weekend of fun

Right had some things to do over the weekend, one of which was head down to London to see a friend and go climbing either indoor or outdoor depending on weather of course.

It wanged it down Sunday so indoors at the castle it was. Not a bad place to go 3 floors of climbing walls and bouldering sections too. Good routes, and cheap food too. What more can you ask for?

Saturday I got some time to make some nettle cordage from local nettle sources (ie rough land), Made about a meter out of 3 or 4 nettles. Its quite an easy procedure just use the stem only, so strips leaves then crush the stem, after which open the now crushed flat stem and bend it pith up so it snaps, peel pith out and you are left with flat fibres. These you roll and twine into longer cords, easy really. (Will add a picture later.) Not an exact description really of how to do it, more an overview.

Enjoyed doing both, took my mind off things, been thinking alot about my issue of late, been hard for me of late.

Gear wise: Ended up calling the supplier for the gear I ordered as I noticed the money was taken from my account, turns out that they hadn't even shipped it, waiting for Bivvy bags to come on later this week. Useless. Told them to ship what they had. Gah!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Crap Pheasant.. bleerrch!

Bagged 2 Pheasants on a farmers market near where I live, got em both for 1.90 each. Which wasn't bad I thought. Wanted to learn to pluck draw and cook a wild game bird, so thought I'd dive into the deep end, which you will no doubt learn over time is what I do best heh.

The Pheasant themselves were hung for 1 week so plenty of flavour (apparently) I plucked one and gutted it too, you wouldn't beleive how bad it smelt. Am guessing those people that eat it on a regular basis don't actually prepare it from scratch, if the did I'm sure as hell they would eat it less.

OK got a wine casorole recipe to try out on it, I cut it up then browned it in a pan then into a dish with veg and wine as the sauce. An hour and half later out of the oven it came and straight onto a plate with baby potato's. It tasted like crap. The wine flavour was over powering and the Pheasant was tasty, but I swear I could still smell the stink from the drawing stage.

Next one is getting roasted in the oven, wrapped in bacon to keep the moisture in.

Am still waiting for the gear I ordered as well as 2 books too from Amazon. Breifly I ordered 2 Gore-tex Bivvy bags, water proof jacket n trousers (Gore-tex also), some Light weight trousers, a ponch/basha type thing and a sleep system too. Which I was informed can be used down to -20 degrees C. Will arrive either this week (Tomorrow) or next sometime. So waiting again.

Weekend things, is try a cattail root, and use the head as a natural tinder. Am actually thinking of writing a paper on fire lighting, for my reference but you never know may publish it so to speak.

Right bed for me am tired now.


Mushroom anyone?

Well on one of the lunch time walks with my friend Rob, it was raining but its not often I enjoy a walk of that type, think sometimes a little discomfort helps put things into perspective, its a nice circular walk which is surprising considering its a bit of an industrial estate where I work, but with a brisk 10 minute walk you can be in nice fresh peaceful woodland. I try and do it a few times a week, sometimes I manage, other times... well I try and do it. Clears my head.

Right on the way back I spotted some mushrooms growing in the grass, normally I hate mushrooms, can't stand them in the slightest. Never have, but I keep promising myself that I would actually one day force myself to eat one and then get used to the flavour. Well anyway I picked one and took it back for identification, problem being I have no idea what it was. Guides say if you don't know leave it alone. So some rather intense googling later .. I still have no idea what it is!! Autumn is the time of year for mushrooms, a real harvest for thoughs that know what they are after and really do enjoy them. Well here, what do you think it is?

OK, smells alright considering, found on grass land next to a bush, possibly Hawthorne? They were singular in a row. Width is about 9 cm.
Answers on a postcard please!


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Up to date

Right Ok so far, bushcraft wise:

Have a booked a course bushcraft/survival course witha school along with a load of other friends for next year June. Looking forward to that very much. Hopefully, by then though I'll have taught myself plenty of the skills I need to survive with just my knife and maybe a firesteel. Tooks some time to get it all booked with everyone changing minds and checking dates.

Also ordered a load of Surplus Army gear, same bunch that are going on teh course, goodness knows we will turn up looking like a bunch of Army rejects, but the gear is supposed blend in and not be a bright coloured eye sore in the green landscape. If you were walking through some woods, Which would you prefer, seeing nice gentle blending colours or bright bold colours anouncing their presence? I know which I'd prefer.

Anyway took me ages to get an order together including one bloke who saw a rather nice sword, the dealer wouldn't sell it to me anyway. (no surprise there) Well ordered a bivvy bag, sleep system, some waterproofs and some nice pair of lightweights as well. I won't mind messing this gear up as much as my more er.. "better" (expensive ;-) ) gear.

Right been playing with cordage with nettles, which turns out to be pretty easy and a nice relaxing job. Its not that strong but will do in tying things up. Also practising starting fires with birch bark n firesteel, well getting a flame anyway, have yet to get a proper fire going. Be easy though. heh

Things to do:
o Carve my spoon project.
o Learn to use a firebow to full flame.
o Clean, dress a rabbit then make rabbit stew.
o Get me a Billy can type cooking pot.
o Be happy.

Beginnings and Endings

OK first Blog ever so wondering how long this will keep going. If anyone reads it.

Right, beginnings and endings in my life ATM, a very sad time, my life is currently pushing me towards bushcraft and learning to live off the land as it were. I do crave the simple life away from everything, all the strains and stresses of modern life, and me saying that as I work in IT and pretty much mess with computers day in day out. But I would pack it all in and go somewhere with a much simpler way of life. Always dream of just droppnig off the face of the Earth and living off the land in a forest somewhere. *sigh

Let me tell you about myself a little, am 30 years of age, but sometimes feel 403! I enjoy the outdoors very much, I backpack (when time permits) or solo backpack when I can, I am an archer (field), a climber, a walker/scrambler, pretty much anything to do with the outdoors I'll do.
Am at a junction in my life where what I do and how I do them matters alot, mid life crisis? No idea. But I know I've made choices that will affect things majorly in my life.

Thats all I'll say about myself for now.

Right Bushcraft! OK this blog will prob just be mostly bushcraft things what I learn and how I learn em. not sure if this blog supports pictures, I imagine it does, just haven't found it yet.

OK on with the fun!

Thanks for reading.