Monday, 8 September 2014

Thanks Michelle for treating us to a fantastic Bush crafting experience.

Quite sometime ago my friend Michelle bought Lee (Michelle's husband), our friend John and I a lovely surprise gift. It was a days taster course on Bushcrafting. This is where you learn to use skills in order to set up a camp. Things like making, constructing and putting up shelters, how to light and make a fire and one of the most important things how to obtain safe drinking water from different sources.

Well yesterday was the pre-arranged day for our Bushcrafting adventure. John had decided he didn't fancy going, which was a shame as we had a fantastic day and learnt lots, even though we only had a short period of time with the instructors. So rather than just waste the place our friend Al jumped at the opportunity to come along and expand his knowledge of playing in the great outdoors.

Al and Lee at Kirkley Hall

Lee called for me around 8:30AM and we had a lovely leisurely drive up to Kirkley Hall, which is in Ponteland. There we met Al and had a few moments to have a chat and also meet some other adventurers as we waited. After a little time had passed we figured we must be in the wrong area as time was getting on and we hadn't really seen anyone else. So we asked this very friendly lady just where abouts the Bush-craft course people may be.The lady directed us down through the car park and towards the woods and there we found a larger group of people and some of the instructors, Ron and Margaret.

Ron and Margaret gathered a few details from all of the group and explained a little about how the course would be ran and then we were off walking down an incline and some steps and into the woods, all very scenic.


Once in the woods there were cups of tea and coffee available and we where introduced to a few more instructors who were going to be helping with the Bushcrafting activities. There was Steve and Ron's son Alex.  The group of people attending the day was quite large so we were split into 3 groups of 7. This was great as it gave us all a chance to meet new people and really enjoy our successes and of course all have a laugh at our failings, of which I have to say there were few. Ron decided we should give our individual groups, names based on Indian themes. This is because he particularly likes the history of the Native American Indians, their use of the land and the tools and weapons they chose to use all those years ago. Ron is very much into archery, knife throwing and the use of a tomahawk and he has passed this passion down to his son Alex. The names of the tribes each group came up with were The Mow-hawks, The big Wood Tribe and the tribe I was in was called the Running Stream.


Each tribe then set off with an instructor to learn about different aspects of Bush-crafting. Our Tribe Running Stream, got Steve firstly as our instructor. We were to learn about shelters. Steve did an excellent job of testing our knowledge and then going on to explain how and why each shelter was made in a different way. Steve showed us an array of different knots, taking time to go over each one and if anyone got stuck helping out and offering top tips. It was a really good exercise in both team building and gaining valuable knowledge of how to construct a basic shelter within minutes. Top marks to Steve he was awesome, and like all the instructors on the day very likeable and easy to get along with.

We all thanked Steve and then broke for lunch. I decided to opt for a nice cup of coffee to go with my pre-prepared Nutella and carved chicken baby bread, fruit loaf sandwiches. It was great just sitting around the camp fire sharing stories and experiences with everyone. Me well I seem to talk more than most, in fact it's something I'm becoming increasingly aware of and at times I feel I should reign myself in. I don't know if it's because I'm getting overly confident these days or the opposite I'm quite afraid so I just waffle on about anything or nothing in particular. For those who know me I can't win as if I'm quiet I'm in a huff or sulking and when I'm chatting all the time I must be annoying. It's weird what you think of when your just typing away lol.


Lee checking for a saggy bottom
Lee chuffed his bottom isn't sagging
  After lunch we set off with Alex,who was going to teach us all about fires,. The best materials and tools to use to create a fire. Firstly Alex showed us what small kindling we would need to collect in order to get our fire going. We were asked to head off into the woods and collect 2 bundles of kindling each. Fine pine tree branches work best as they ignite well and the sap within the branches helps the fire burn. On our return Alex asked us all to take a seat and he meticulously went through various tinder's, how to make or prepare them and different methods of igniting a fire. We got to practice with fire steels as well as a metal striker and traditional flint. Then there was the old fashioned playground method of igniting a piece of Charred cotton, using a magnifying glass and the rays of the sun, Alex even used an old 9 volt battery and some wire wool in his demonstration. After Alex's demonstration we all got the opportunity to practice making our own fire, using a firesteel and a small amount of cotton wool which we rubbed Vaseline into. This makes for a great method of starting a fire and is very easy. Before long we all had fires of varying size and were all pretty proud of ourselves. Alex did a great job of teaching us all, he took time to answer our questions all the while making the exercise fun, informative and safe. Again top marks.

 
Ho Ho I have created Fire!
Al got well into it so
Blow Al Blow
Lee and Alex




Having a chat around the camp fires

Our next exercise was in water filtration and this was led by Ron.  As many of you will know water is very heavy when your attempting to carry it. I know a great deal of my overall back pack or Bike Bag Dude Frame bag weight is in carrying 3 litres of water, so being able to source water if or when you are on a long trip is a valuable piece of knowledge. I found this part of the course very interesting indeed. Ron went through lots of different ways in which we could source water and then the dangers of drinking from certain places, how we could utilise both natural and man made items such as reeds, socks, denim jeans,bottles, polythene bags, charcoal, sand and the list goes on, all to help make filtration devices to make the water safe for drinking or in order to collect safe drinking water.. More very useful information and definitely something I think we can and will put into practice as we plan for our adventure next year. 

Finally we joined up with Margaret who had a real treat in store for us. We were going to make Bannock Bread. Margaret handed us the ingredients and the small mixing bowls. It was my job to mix up the stuff for Lee Al and myself. I commented that the bread would be nice with raisins and Margaret just happened to have some, as well as some cinnamon, so I popped these in. Once mixed I attached the dough to a stick and spread it out evenly and Lee baked the bread over the open fire. it only took around 10 to 15 minutes and when done the bread tasted amazing.

Making Bannock Bread Mmmmmm!
"What are you boys doing!"
Lee giving the sign of his approval
 Wow the day had gone so quick and we had all thoroughly enjoyed it. This was just what they call a taster session, obviously you couldn't learn everything in one day. I have to say though I learnt so much in that short space of time and the guys over at Taught in the Woods  were all simply fantastic, so a huge thank you to Ron,Alex, Margaret and Steve. If your into the great outdoors I can't recommend doing something like this enough.

In ending a Huge thank you to Michelle for arranging the day out, we all had an awesome day. I will be giving you a huge hug and a few kisses when I see you next xXx

3 comments:

  1. Great blog again Glenn, Thank you. While I can feel very sorry for John not being able to attend I admit to being extremely thankful that I had the opportunity to go in his stead. I also got 2 name badges and a knot to bring home to play with. Thank you Michelle. I will queue for a hug also. x

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  2. Gad you enjoyed it Glenn and one word of warning ...... don't stop talking !!!! xxxx

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  3. Hi guys glad you enjoyed my rendition of the days goings on. A great experience. I've been practising my knots and I am not quite sure if they are like the ones Steve showed us, however they do get things tied, only problem being it now takes around 5 minutes to construct a shelter and about an hour undoing my knots lol

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