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.