A dusting of the white stuff.

I always look forward to winter but as always it never comes to the east corner of Suffolk anymore no more heavy snow.
I love to snow. I’ve done winter seasons in the alps in my younger years but never managed to get out in it doing the stuff I enjoy doing now like walking, bushcraft and camping.
After a failed attempt at getting out the other day which saw me getting the car stuck in mud and in the process bending and smashing my phone I thought I would try again the next day.
So early start of towards the Suffolk coast to the forest at Dunwich. I had planned to have a go at a new stove I’d been sent so found an area near to the marsh to setup. I was planning to try some tarp configurations that I could use when I plan to walk the Great Glen Way and hammock camp but wanted to try some configurations for ground dwelling if need be.
So as me and the faithful dog started walking through the trees it started to snow so I decided to setup and sit and watch the deer across the marshes and try this new little stove.

The stove is a Chinese copy of the bush box and I must say it done its job but it doesn’t beat a wood gas stove.

The stove comes in 5 bits of steel which is easily snapped together and my 750ml titanium mug sits very well on it. Now I had used my primitive fire starting kit to light the fire but this took longer as I didn’t have enough tinder with me had to use some gauze from med kit.

It worked quite well and is very small and light but the wood gas stove fits inside my pan and is more fuel efficient.
I had ago at some tarp configurations and found that the open ended shelter was the best one to use.
So all that is needed for this configuration is 9 pegs and 1 walking pole. 2 poles could be used to create a bit mor me height at the feet end. But all in all a good setup as I can use my exped mat on top of my poncho and wrap myself in hammock under blanket and quilt.

The Great Glen Way is about 80miles from Fort William to Inverness in Scotland. We are planning to hammock camp on route but need to plan in case I need to ground dwell on route and the above configuration is very good. It is open at one end but there are other configurations that can be used if weather is that bad.

Pack contents for this summers trip.

Jerky

dehydrator beef jerky

I absolutely love jerky it’s so versatile and perfect for snacking when out fishing, hiking or at work.
The word jerky comes from the Quechua word ch’arki which means “dried, salted meat”.  All that is needed to produce basic “jerky” is a low-temperature drying method, and salt to inhibit bacterial growth. I use a dehydrator to slowly dry mine.
The method I use is as follows but you can vary the marinade which I do by adding more spice which stops the children from eating it all!
Find a lean cut of beef I find that silverside is the best cut, out it in the freezer for a few hours just to make it easier to slice.
Slice into thin steaks no more than 10mm, trim all the fat and gristle of it it then cut into long strips against the grain of the meat (otherwise it will be really chewy) then set aside and prepare to make the marinade.
Marinade
1 large ziplock bag
Worcester sauce
Teriyaki sauce
3 x garlic cloves
Liquid smoke
Coriander seeds
In the ziplock bag empty the hole bottle of teriyaki sauce, a good shake of Worcester sauce, smash the garlic cloves and about a teaspoon of liquid smoke and the same of coriander seeds.
Put the meat strips into the bag and make sure that the marinade is touching all of the meat by massaging the bag once all of the meat is in the bag.
Leave in the fridge for 24hrs turning the bag a few times and massaging the meat.
When you’re ready to start drying get everything laid out.
Lay out some kitchen roll, take meat from the fridge and I find wearing latex gloves saves a lot of mess.
Lay the meat on the kitchen roll, when the kitchen roll is full of meat, lay another piece on top of the meat and pat it down.
Remove the top layer of kitchen roll and get ready with your rub. I use Nando’s peri peri rub but use whatever you like. Sprinkle over meat then pat down with kitchen roll again then gently remove strips and place on the dehydrator tray making sure there is space between each piece of meat.
Once all of the trays are full turn dehydrator on full for about 4hrs then I leave over night on low then in morning it all done.
Make sure that the jerky is cool before bagging.
I vacuum pack some bags so it last longer and leave a big bag for Work and for the kids they prefer jerky to all this dreadful snacks available to them.

Dutch Oven cooking

I’ve had a Dutch oven in my kit room for about 10 years now and dabbled in cooking with it quite a few times.

What a versatile piece of kit the only issue with it is the weight. It’s not the sort of thing you throw in your backpack and carry on a thruhike, it’s the sort of kit that you take with you in a car where you don’t have to worry about walking with it and can take out of the car to your camp.

There’s many Different types but the one most versatile for camp cooking is the three legged Dutch oven.

A camp oven sits on three stubby legs over hot coals or briquettes. It usually comes with a flanged lid (formed with a lip on the outer edge) to keep ash or coals out of the food when the lid is lifted.

Simple as it sounds, a camp oven is a wonderfully versatile piece of equipment. Use it as a pot or sauté pan. Flip the lid over and use it as a griddle.


Or place the food inside the oven and fit the lid tightly over the top controlling the temperature by regulating the amount of embers on the lid.

One of my favourite things to cook in a Dutch oven is a joint of lamb.

There’s many different ways to cook it some people wrap the meat in foil to save the arduous cleaning of the oven but I prefer resting the meat on sliced potatoes and if the oven is really charred inside put it on a high heat to burn any residue of welded to the oven.

Also if the outside of your meat is burning the embers are to hot.

Let’s talk about the lid. The lid is what turns this pot into a oven but also flip the lid over and stick it in your coals and you have a perfect skillet for frying Bannock, cooking breakfast or frying fish.


I recommend adding a Dutch oven to your kit and search some recipes. There’s many books available on Amazon about Dutch oven cooking.

Try a roast chicken then use the Dutch oven to boils down a broth with the carcass and make a great chicken stew with dumplings this is my children’s favourite known as camping stew!

Primitive fire lighting

After learning the knack of a few methods of fire lighting I’ve decided to remove the ‘good ole faithful’ ferro rod from my fire lighting kit and replace it with a more traditional method.
I took my son a few years ago on a bushcraft course with woodland ways and they showed us many different fire lighting methods, it was great for my son and also helped me out by improving my technique.

I had ago at igniting a spark using flint and a steel striker but have never got around to adding one to my kit.

So I discovered beaver bushcraft through the magic of you tube when I was researching methods and techniques and what a fantastic selection of goods they produce and sell.
2 days later a great little steel striker, flint, charcloth and amadou arrived at Home.

I am very impressed with the items they sell. I have been looking for a brass Hudson Bay tinder box for ages and much to my delight they also sell these.

The Hudson Bay Tobacco Box had been used as a tobacco box and a tinder box too. When exposed to sunlight, it was possible to ignite a fire through the sixfold magnifying glass lens.

The lens was hidden underneath the small lid. During twilight and darkness the tinder material (not included) stored underneath was used. A day off arrived and it was out into the woods with the dog to have ago with the flint and steel. Using a piece of charcloth (charred cotton) on top of the flint the steel is struck downwards to create a spark to create an ember on the charcloth to put in my nest of dried bracken and birch bark.
Once the best of tinder is alight it’s then easy to start your fire. Great products would definitely recommend a visit to their website.

www.beaverbushcraft.co.uk

Some photos from beaver bushcraft website.

Forest therapy for the soul.


I mentioned in previous post the need to balance out life for the sake of everything (your family, work and yourself). It is very important to give yourself the time to reflect on things going on and take some time to wind down and relax to keep that balance in equilibrium.
I work full time as an EMT for the ambulance service where I work varied shift pattern of nights and days sometimes in a fast moving environment and sometimes quite traumatic mentally.
I also work as an on-call firefighter where we are only called to duty through a paging system this means that for 90 hrs in a week I need to be available for fire calls.
Along with everything else: running a house etc I still find the time to unwind and process some of the jobs that I have attended.
For me, getting outside with my Day pack full of my items that I can use to make camp, build a fire, brew a coffee and whittle a spoon is the way I unwind.

Throwing up the hammock amongst the trees and laying back and processing some of the incidents I have recently attended allows me to better myself next, look at my mistakes and stops me from dwelling on traumatic jobs.
There is definitely something about being outdoors assisting with depression (not that I suffer with depression) but is this due to me balancing out life and giving myself ample time outdoor?
Just the other day I was refuelling the car before heading out for the morning and the sudden whiff of the diesel took me back to a life changing event in my life where myself and my wife where nearly killed in the Asian Tsunami in Sri Lanka in 2004 so most of that morning was used contemplating that traumatic event, how we were so lucky and how that event has lead to me doing what I do and being who I am.
Ever had that experience when sounds and smells take you back to a place or event in your life? Well, this ‘trigger’ is a in built animal instinct which can trigger that fight or flight instinct. The smell trigger warns a animal of a danger perhaps scent of a predator or scent of rancid or poisonous food where sound warns the animal of a possible danger. The sound of screaming takes me back to that event standing on the beach in Sri Lanka.
How do we deal with these triggers? Well through my own experience they will always be with you it’s about processing those warning signs and realising that they are now a inbuilt warning system. Due to work, I go through traumatic events on a weekly basis and it’s learning how to process them and use them to your advantage.
Black humour is a way of emergency service staff processing the events we deal with if you where to walk into any crew room and hear the black humour you would think what a messed up load of people we are but this is a coping mechanism.

I generally spend my ‘me time’ during the week when the wife is at work and the kids are at school. This allows me to balance time with family and giving some time to myself which I feel is needed for everyone.
I’ll go out with the dog, walk along the river stalking some pike, spend some time contemplating whatever has been happening or what I’m planning. Creating little adventures / goals is a great way of giving you some downtime from day to day chores that will assist in you reaching your goals.
Plan what you want to do. Micro adventuring doesn’t needs to be expensive but set aside a un-used bank account and setup a standing order and put what ever you can afford into it weekly and soon funds will be to help you reach your goals.

Enjoy the planning, follow this site for further posts on micro adventure ideas.