Monday, 31 December 2007

I Want One - A Not So Occasional Series Pt2

I keep having a fantasy where there's erhm 'less of me to love' and as the weather warms up I'm thinking a bike ride to and from the office would be a step in the right direction. i could fix up my forgotten bike from the back of the shed, but it needs a lot of new parts, or i could use the inspiration of a gleaming new machine as impetus.
Or i could keep it legal by putting the money towards paying my tax bill...... Ho Hum

Whatever you decide to do with the new year, i hope it works out better than you intended. Or as the heyoka's heyoka once said
"May you live in interesting times - and get to be a part of them"
CHARGE a very cool bike co.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Easily Forage-able Resources. Online And In The Suburban Bush.

Every tribe or social grouping has its rituals and catchphrases, which let members identify each other, and let outsiders know they are outsiders. Sometimes these mantras set a frame of context, making sense of a situation and sometimes they serve to remind you how to do the business in challenging circumstances.

For as long as there’s been a fireside to return to at night, there’s been bush-lore passed on verbally by the light of the campfire, and now there’s the Bushcraft-Blog-Law. The law that dictates how a new tradition develops its tried and tested formulas, conventions and clichés. Leaving aside (for the moment), the obligatory pictures of knives, axes and hats that most of has used as symbols for our adventures. Every bushcraft blog must also pass on some timeless wisdom:
Usually attributed to that wise old man of the hills Mors Kochanski.
Or if you wanted to ‘freshen up’ your pitch (or create your own trademark) it could

As a culture develops there are also powerful totems which when invoked through stories and songs will provide insight and inspiration. Some people will find themselves wondering what Ray Mears would do. The wit and whiles of the coyote have served as a signpost to thinking beyond the expected in many North American cultures. In South Dakota I often wondered how BoB would have approached the task in hand and by emulating him was able to pass myself off as competent camper rather than reveal myself as a tubby desk jockey from the ‘burbs. But if I were to choose a guardian deity for suburban bushcraft it would have to be Wimbledon’s most famous residents…

I used to spend a lot of time with a really clever management consultant, who ran mind-bending workshops. A sort of Tobermory of consultancy, fixing up (and super charging) broken projects with stuff he found lying around. One of the really cool things that he taught us to do was, to see familiar behaviours (individual and organisational) as processes. Then to look at the process we’d uncovered in new and unexpected ways, until we could see other examples of when and where the behaviour or system attribute could perform another purpose. A bit like bushcraft and survival skills and of course just like the Wombles….

‘Making good use of the things that we find,
Things that the everyday folks leave behind.’

I really was starting to think that I’d seen all the bushcraft blogs of note, when I saw that a guy who posts on one of the bushcraft sites as Fenlander had started one, and its the best I’ve seen in ages. While most bloggers are enthusiastic amateurs afield (or incompetents-a-couch in the case of your pal the bushwacker) – This guy is skilled AND enthusiastic, what the Kiwis call ' a good keen man', check out the post where he and a pal test out the insulation provided by some woolen clothes. Brrrrr!!

As Fenlander demonstrates when the really skilled bushcrafters are out in the backcountry they find new uses for the thing that they find, stuff everyday folks would leave behind. Sadly my backcountry is more, well, suburban back-yard and it’s not so much things left behind, as crap folks throw over my back fence (everyday).

Look everyone SBW’s made a lantern!
(Without spilling any blood or severing a finger!!)

Meanwhile at the other end of the performance curve - Fenlander’s made a distress whistle that, ‘in a pinch’, could save your life.

Thanks for reading

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Ferreting Out Some Advice

I recently met with my new friend James Marchington editor of Sporting Shooter magazine.

If I had tried to imagine a quintessential English journalist afield, it would be James. Tweed jacket, spectacles and an encyclopedic knowledge of everything to do with guns and field sports. Sitting in his office surrounded by shotgun cartridges, rare books about deer stalking, ferreting and wildfowling he beguiled me with tales of life afield, cleared up numerous questions I had about firearms, their legislation, and the UK shooting fraternity. I had ‘popped in’ to see him for ‘half an hour’ and two and a half hours later I had to excuse myself so as to put in a token appearance at my own office. Wish I were still there.

James has kindly offered to induct me into the wiles and ways of the shooting gent, starting with an invitation to go ferreting for rabbits. With the proviso that I wouldn’t have to put any ferrets down my trousers, I enthusiastically accepted.

Ferrets? Rabbits? Trousers? What?
One very effective way of hunting rabbits is to flush them out of their holes by sending a ‘business’ of ferrets down there (great collective noun isn’t it).
You simply net off all the exits you can find and send a hob (male) and a jill (female) down the hole. When the rabbits come charging out into the net you kill them and eat them.

I’m from the south and you hear a lot of tall tales about the northerners and their strange rituals and antics. There has long been a folk legend about gentlemen of the northern persuasion using that that was intended for legs, as a storage place for these most able of helpers. Now it turns out that it’s true!! There really is a ‘sport’ called ‘ferret legging’ where you trouser ferrets and the last one to tear their own pants off in sheer terror is the winner. Probably more fun to watch than take part.

“Basically, the contest involves the tying of a competitor's trousers at the ankles and the subsequent insertion into those trousers of a couple of peculiarly vicious fur-coated, foot long carnivores called ferrets. The brave contestant's belt is then pulled tight, and he proceeds to stand there in front of the judges as long as he can, while animals with claws like hypodermic needles and teeth like number 16 carpet tacks try their damnedest to get out.”

The rules:"no jockstraps allowed. No underpants-nothin' whatever. And it's no good with tight trousers, mind ye. Little bah-stards have to be able to move around inside there from ankle to ankle."

For those of you without the inclination to read the full text here’s the punch line

The current record stands at an awesome 5 hours and 26 minutes!

Thanks for reading

PS One ferret, Freddie, is registered as an electrician's assistant with the New Zealand Electrical Workers Union.

Photo Credit

Tis Still The Season To Be Silly, Sigh........

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Baron Suburban Bushwacker the Bewildered of Middle Witchampton
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Still in the office, not a lot happening here today

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Christmas Card From Rex At The Deer Camp Blog

Where Rex blogs it's Christmas everyday!
The Deer Camp in question is at the Christmas Place Plantation Hunting Club, on the edge of the Mississippi Delta.
Happy Christmas Rex


PS in case your wondering I'm four up and one in from the bottom right corner, wearing the hat.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

How Many Ways Shall I Compare BoB To A Battered Trangia?

As the times and my tastes have changed, I’ve had a few different lives, each of them symbolised by a ‘trademark’ item. Some people I know well from office life have never seen me not wearing my trademark old school pinstripe suits, that bushcraft knife was witness to many a boyhood adventure in the wilds. The rogue floppy shows great promise as a trademark of adventures yet to come.

Luke Skywalker had his Light Sabre, Mors Kochanski has his Mora, and Ray Mears has his Woodlore. If there’s one thing I’ll always associate with BoB (or inspector gadget as he was known in the day) it’s the Trangia field cooker.

It’s a sigil for the man himself - you can get something that’s a little bit shinier, more fashionable, one that maybe boils a little faster, a little lighter, more ‘technical’ even. But when you want one that ‘is what it is’ and will never ever let you down the Trangia is yer man.

For 75 years the Swedish company has been making these simple pressed aluminum and brass field cookers. Cheap to keep, utterly dependable, and with a zero failure rate. BoB and the Trangia are a reflection of each other.

For about 20 of those years BoB has been carting them into some of the most inhospitable places this planet has to offer to heat some of the worst grub served by mortal man. As our mum said “ I have two sons, one eats to live, the other lives to eat”
With that in mind I’m starting a series of posts about trail food too go to feed to a dog.

Thanks for reading

Picture credit and stove review

Monday, 3 December 2007

Hmmm ‘Bushwacker'...........

I’ve been wearing some ‘city camo’ today in an attempt to pass myself off as one of the migrating herds of worker ants that make their way from the dormitory suburbs into the city each morning. I managed to escape the true horror of it all my riding in on my scooter instead of taking the train, but the city is a horrid experience. The whole self-perpetuating madness of it all really struck me, as I watched people try to alleviate the pain of the exercise by drinking £4 ($8!!) cups of frothy coffee which they will later pay to sweat off in the gym. Madness!!

I’ve worked with most of the guys I’ve joined before, so we spent a while chewing over the industry gossip and re-telling war stories for the benefit of the new guys. Well OK, we retold them for our own benefit and the new people got to listen.

On they way back home I reminded myself that I wasn’t immune to the insanity either, as I started to think of all the new stuff I would buy to convince myself that I really am an outdoorsman and hunter rather than another termite working to build the mound.

I owe I owe its off to work I go, I owe I owe it’s off to work I go……..


Sunday, 2 December 2007

Free Money - For What Its Worth

My blog is worth $11,855.34.
How much is your blog worth?

I saw this on the deptford dames blog and trying it out for myself was flattered to see that my blog has a value other than the entertainment it gives me and a few of you. Because the value is derived from the blogs technorati ranking I've just increased the deptford dames worth by mentioning her.

Thanks for reading

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook Joins My Blog Roll

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook has left this comment on a post

Bushwacker: I see it as my goal in life to get those who turn their noses up at game meats to shed their hang-ups and give it another go. If you ever need recipes for whatever it is you bring home this week, I have a fairly monstrous collection of wild game cookbooks and have a few tricks up my sleeve to make the wary drop their guard and pick up their forks...

His blog Honest Food: Finding the Forgotten Feast has made a great start, I'm looking forward to reading more, check him out!

Told you you wouldn't need to buy the papers this weekend!

Dawgs 'n' Hawgs

Mr Rasch continues his outdoor chronicles with a great tale about hunting a giant razorback in the company of some specially bread hounds.
Go on you can take the trash out later, sit for a spell.......

Picture credit: If you thought the skull looked mad read the article it came from!

Friday, 30 November 2007

Swedish Survival Skills

I’ve been meaning to recommend Michel Blomgren and his site for a while. Not only is he very knowledgeable about the skills that will keep you comfortably alive should you get lost while in the forest, but he’s also a talented TV presenter who is not afraid to suffer, if it means imparting some knowledge.

If you do nothing else make sure you watch Episode 1 - Five points survival.
It could save you life, it will make an overnight stay in the woods more comfortable, and if you are trying to get your kids into the outdoors the skills he demonstrates are so simple you could be teaching them to your kids by this weekend. Genius!


Thursday, 29 November 2007

Jonah – The Boy Done Good

My old mate Jonah has made it back in one piece from his yacht master training voyage.
How delicious does his catch look!
Good to see you back mate.

Hungry? You Will Be!

I'm adding a new cookery section to my blog roll.
I'd like to introduce you to Kevin Kossowan, hunter, butcher, forager, bon viveur and chef. He has done some great posts, and believes in honouring his prey by eating it 'nose-to-tail'.

It was wonderful to read that I'm not the only person obsessive enough to use a metal detector to take shot out of game birds.

Gotta go - I'm starving

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Full Bore Fool

While we’re on the subject of shotguns, how much of a numpty is this guy?

Picture the scene if you will. A grown man of 66 years of age is trying to undo the last nut that holds one of the wheels on to his vehicle. Frustrated by its stubborn refusal to come undone, he reaches not for a can of penetrating and easing oil, but for a shotgun.
Because stupid is as stupid does, he fires the shotgun loaded with 00 buckshot at the wheel while standing next to it. With inevitable results.

You couldn’t make it up.

Picture from

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Hunting Birds or should that be Birds Hunting?

I’ve started following a really neat blog where a grade ‘A’ foodie from northern California, who didn’t grow up around hunting, has taken up wildfowling and bird hunting. At the start of her adventure she suspects that being a woman taking up a male dominated activity will be the hard part….
Between the lunkheads and the professionally patronising, she finds the same challenges we all face when going into the great outdoors; finding clothes to protect us from the worst the weather can throw at us, weapons and tools that consistently do the business when asked, and someone to show us how to get a result.
Nor Cal Cazadora sites some recent research showing that while hunter numbers are down, the number of women afield is rising, and rising significantly.
Except at my house.
I’m forever trying to sell Mrs SBW the benefits of eating wild meat and hunting for it ourselves, she remains unconvinced. Meanwhile on the other side of the world BoB (brother of bushwacker) is married to a woman made of sterner (and more weatherproof) stuff. When Mrs SBW was pregnant she wanted to: reorganise storage and redecorate the house. When Mrs BoB was in the family way it was a different story. Just before they left for New Zealand, we all got together for a family dinner. At the table I saw her staring dreamily at a Sunday roast saying wistfully, “when I get home I really want to shoot a pig” Mrs SBW further endeared herself (although not to me) when she pointed at me and chipped in “you can shoot this one if you like”.

Thanks for reading

Translation ‘Birds’ is english for ‘Chix’
Photo Credit

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Way Better Than The Sunday Papers

In a further attempt to put the Sunday papers out of business by giving you something more worthwhile to read, I’m pleased to present the literary wit of Albert A Rasch.
Mr Rasch blogs an excellent chronicle of his adventures afield. He has a lively turn of phrase, you’ll like him.

These are two of my favorites.

Charged! Hog Hunting Adventures.

Charged they were, misadventures they nearly were!

“We drove up to the guides ramshackle house, the driveway entrance marked by a couple of mismatched fire hydrants (ill gotten to be sure). A couple of hounds of questionable pedigree lifted their mange ridden heads to see what the wind was dragging in, and wearily dropped them back into the dust wallow they were in. A little cur with half an ear came up happily to meet us, his tail just a waggin, and a look on his face, that in hindsight could have easily been taken as "Please, take me away from here!" But I was more taken by the charnel smell in the air; a mix between a slaughterhouse and a municipal waste dump. It wouldn't be long before I was to find out what caused that peculiar and most disagreeable odor.”

A Nice Walk In The Park

Where fitness is tested, and lessons in preparedness are learned.

“As I was licking the last bit of bacon grease, tomato, and mayo off my finger tips, I thought of how fortuitous I was to live on some land, far from the foolishness of subdivisions and McMansions. I made a comment to my wife about it. She nodded in agreement, and offhandedly remarked that, not only had I not shot any of my firearms in quite some time, but that I hadn’t even done any of my usual scouting either. Handing me the keys to the gun safe, she said I should really go and spend some quality time by myself and do a little shooting and maybe some scouting. “Who knows,” she said, “there could be a hog on the prowl somewhere.” Well I certainly didn’t need anymore encouragement.”

Have a good weekend

Todd’s Desert Scandi

I’ve recently added Todd’s knife making blog, Primitive Point to my blog roll.
Here’s for why;

Over the last year Todd has made a journey as a blade smith and knife maker and his blog details what he’s learned along the way. Part tutorial, part philosophical thesis, he’s obviously gained a lot more than a draw full of cool cutlery from his efforts.

Todd’s based in Arizona and all the materials he uses are gathered from the local environment, for the desert scandi that means a handle of mesquite root: long weathered in the Arizona sun and L-6 steel cut from an old lumber mill saw for the blade.

He’s made numerous other blades from wombled* materials, files, tire irons, rail road spikes and truck springs. His Damascus from cabling is a thing of beauty even before has wrought it into a blade.
For me the attraction of his work is in its usability, these blades aren’t draw queens, kept behind glass by a collector; they are the EDC of the enthusiast. Take ‘em into the backcountry, butcher game, chop vegetables and split wood. Whack ‘em and they just look more ‘lived in’, these are tools that grow more ‘you’ in the using.

‘I just started collecting junk I found while on my walks. I remember finding a steel table base. That eventually became the bottom of my forge. I remember finding a large nail. The head of it become the rivet in my tongs. I started looking and seeing things in new ways. Each year my experience has opened my eyes wider. I now see in ways I never did before. I see what things can become. Recently I wanted some nice wood for some knife handles. I went to an exotic wood store and drooled over their selection. I couldn’t afford any of it, of course. My brother took a trip to Brazil. I asked him to bring me back some wood. He couldn’t because the country is not allowing any wood to be taken out. Finally, something clicked in my brain and I saw the wood that surrounded me, free for the taking. I took out my saw and in no time had a couple dozen really nice mesquite blanks. I found roots and branches and pieces that had lain in the bottom of washes. I found all sorts of patterns and colors in the mesquite within easy walking distance of my house.’

If, like me, you’re now seized by a compulsion to commission a knife. Please let him know you heard about his work here.

*From the wombles theme song
“Making good use of the things that we find, things that the everyday folks leave behind”
PS He also makes bread!

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Bushwacker Des Res

How cool is this!

It took 1500 man hours to build and it only cost £3500 or $7000!!
The pictures of the inside are even more amazing.

I'd like to build one for myself but i'm worried it might be 'Hobbit forming'. Sorry.


Deer Scrap!!

'Always hunt with someone else', is usually good advice.
However there's an exeption that proves every rule.

With a 'friend' like the cameraman, you're probably safer hunting on your own!

Thanks to MB for the link.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

There’s No Tool Like An Old Tool Or BoB Sends Bushwacker Back In Time!

Things that were covetable become mundane, and then, stained with memory become keys to the past.

As regular readers will know, BoB dropped of a few bits of kit that he’d found while clearing out our folks’ attic. While it was great to see the Opinels again, and a Trangia can only be useful, the real prize was to see my old sheath knife again. The keepers of the family legend are divided as to just how long I’ve had this knife for, if it isn’t 30 years its not far off. As you can see the carbon blade has acquired quite a patina. The tip had a little more acute point when it first came out of the workshop.

The Pommel was a fair bit smoother. But boys will be boys. As dads who were lads ‘ll tell you, boys are tough on their stuff.

As lads we used to play a knife game called ‘splits’. You (well not you, you have more sense, but your teenage self), stand toe-to-toe with your opponent. . Each of you takes it in turn to throw their knife into the ground. Wherever it sticks (not lands, it must be sticks. lands is instant forfeit of the game) the other player must put their foot. Both feet remain flat on the ground – no heeling allowed. All forms of psychological jiggery-pokery are legal. Think of the game as being like Twister with attitude.
Even in the 70’s before 'PC' and ‘Health and Safety’ someone would come and put a stop to it when we were playing in bare feet.

The leather slices that make up the handle have been worn slick by use and by time.
I took a chip out of the first inch of the blade, (guess how that got there!) and I started to run a ceramic file over the gnarls in the pommel, but I stopped. Every ding and scrape is the track left by a tale.

The SharpMaker worked its magic, and the blade is once again shaving sharp. The design makes for a great bushcraft knife, the back of the blade is nicely rounded where you’d want to put your thumb and the false edge up front is acute enough to makes some big sparks from the Swedish firesteel.

Thanks BoB.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

In Remembrance

Today is Remembrance Sunday when we take a pause to think of the young men who gave their lives to the wishes of their masters on the bloody fields of France in the 14-18 war, and in all the conflicts since.

I was reminded of something Chief Gene said
"I asked uncle Crow Dog how he felt about our young men dying in foreign lands and he said ‘while I don’t usually see eye to eye with the federal government these are our warriors and we must salute them and honor their sacrifice’”

J. with regard to your coming trip to Iraq – you write like Saki please make sure that’s the only similarity.

Safe Home.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Prometheus In My Pocket

“ ‘I'm a firestarter, a twisted firestarter’, (sigh) well that’s nothing to be proud of is it” DJ Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan) reviews The Prodigy.

Due to our damp northern climate I tend to favor the firesteel as a means of ignition. As well as being waterproof: they are cheap and making handles for them is easy, satisfying, and gives you the kind of ‘bushcrafty’ vibe that makes you seem like you have a life outside of work.
The sparks they produce are way hot, and so bright you could signal with if you didn’t have a torch or signal fire lit yet. In the damp weather, and as good practice, I’ve been carrying kindling to give myself a head start when lighting a brew fire. So I thought I’d do a post about some of the gatherable options. But you know how it is; your pal the bushwacker has always had an inquiring mind (also known as a short attention span). So while I was thinking a about a fire, I started to think about something to cook on it (blogging often gives me an appetite) and something to keep fiddling fingers occupied while sitting by it.The Sammi people of Finland have carried the dried hollow stalks of Angelica, and I’ve used Hemlock stems gathered from the roadside. Being hollow the stems draw air as they burn giving a very hot flame, handy when you need to dry out the rest of your firewood. There are plenty of alternatives you can easily gather and then carry with you. Here’s one I made earlier.

Birch bark is the classic all year round kindling, it’s cigarette paper thin and lights even more easily. It’s totally sustainable, and convenient as the tree is shedding it all year round!

Cattail fluff makes an ideal ‘spark catcher’ it burns very quickly, a little too quickly for use on it’s own but as a natural catalyst its fantastic.

Mixed with some of the Birch bark and wrapped in some bigger bits of birch bark it’s portable,

and ignitable!

While your gathering the dried out Cattails for kindling you can get a lot of other uses from the rest of the plant. The stems could be an ideal thatching material for a longer-term shelter. But lets head to the kitchen!
At their base Cattails have rhizomes (the root-like stem that grows horizontally sending roots down and leaves and stems up) that are ripe for eating at the moment. All you have to do is peel ‘em and cook them like spuds. In some culinary traditions the rhizomes are pounded into flour. I’ll let you know. The first time I ate them was in the spring, we plucked out the soft white core of the young stems, (known as Cossack’s asparagus) and they were pretty good raw as a salad vegetable eaten in situ and for our tea cooked in a stir-fry.

Thanks for reading

The Farce Is Strong In This One

Hit the target?
I can do it with my eyes shut mate!
Though, sadly it would seem, not with them open.
[sound of chortling elk in the distance]
Ho Hum.
Thanks for reading

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Sundays Are For Archery

It’s Sunday so its round two of archery lessons or The Bushwacker versus The Paper Targets.

In England Sunday archery practice is a tradition that nearly 800 years old. In the 12th century the longbow was the black rifle of its day, a military technology that’s use was strictly prescribed by law.

As standing armies are notoriously expensive to maintain, in 1252 the 'Assize of Arms' became the first Medieval Archery Law requiring all able-bodied men, from 15 to 60, equip themselves with a bow and sufficient arrows. The law also "forbade, on pain of death, all sport that took up time better spent on war training especially archery practise".
With King Henry the first, later proclaiming that an archer would be not be tried for murder, if he killed a man during his weekly archery practice. The Plantagenet (literally the planting of cover to create hunting grounds) King Edward III took this further and decreed the Archery Law in 1363 which commanded the obligatory practice of archery on Sundays and holidays!

The longbow really was the super gun of its day, launching arrows faster than any previous bow. It’s said that a skilled bowman could shoot between 10 - 12 arrows a minute. The bodkin (a sort of longer sharper fieldpoint) tipped arrows could pierce a knight’s armour at ranges of more than 250 yards. Such was the value placed on this cutting-edge military technology that in 1365 archers were forbidden to leave the shores of England without a royal licence.

There are still quite a few place names in England that include the word Butts (Newington Butts in South London) meaning that they were traditional archery grounds with targets to aim at and embankments to keep the death toll to a respectable minimum.

Sadly practice in our local parks is no longer permitted, and on the other side of the pond, things aren’t any better. News has reached me that in the city of Eau Claire, in Wisconsin a public practice ground called Archery Park has just banned archery practice after a local resident complained of finding an arrow in his back yard.

Things, as they say, are tough all over.
Wish me luck

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Wivart Yer Opinel You Aven't Got An 'Ope In 'Ell'!

Showed a vegan friend my blog: Loved the bad puns (even donated one of his own - above). winced at the guns, remained tolerant at the meat eating, hunting 'n' fishing, then brightened considerably on sight of the Opinel.
Takes all sorts
PS Check out Marc Armand's illustrations

Friday, 26 October 2007

Bird Hunting From The Sofa

"You will discover that to be a good shot is not the half of what it takes to make a tolerable bird slayer."
Maurice Thompson, The Witchery of Archery, 1879

Playing this game's lot like the guilty pleasure of buying delicious junk food, the 'twofers' can really make your day!
PS on the site where I found the game a fella gave one of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard in a while.
'Don't take life so seriously mate, no one gets out alive anyway'

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Coast, Post, Bed.

Well I made it to the coast to see my mate Jonah off. Few tribulations but i got there in the end!

Little S, (well now not so ‘little S’ anymore , in fact she’s now all grown up ‘Miss S About Town’) came to my rescue and looked after the little guys for the night.
Jonah’s party was a lot of fun and I got to catch up with Cousin L and Mrs L who also live there. Hastings is a kind of land that time forgot, a decaying seaside town with the worst rail and road links in the south east of England. As the crow flies you’re only sixty miles from London but it can take two hours or more to drive there and the trains are appalling, the ‘fast one’ is an hour and a half and for the slow one you have to book a week off work and notify your next of kin.

After a night on the tiles myself and Sir Hiss fortified ourselves with a breakfast of Whelks and bacon sarnies (sandwiches) and drove back to town in Sir Hiss’ Prius.
Nice motor if you’ve not had a ride in one, worth checking it out, lacks the romance of a truck, but for the city they are the future.

The first archery lesson went well.
OK none on the A5 piece of paper, but none off the straw either!

If you’re interested in lightweight camping, tarp life or building your own shelter Mungo has been trolling trough the Equipped to Survive site and picked out the most promising designs. I get the feeling a little bushcraft origami is on the agenda for tomorrow.

I’ve added Life Uncomplicated to my blog roll, if you like the sort of stuff I write about you’ll probably like him too.

Thanks for reading
I’m off to bed like a bushwacker with a sore head


Friday, 19 October 2007

Something For The Weekend Sir?

If I can sort out my child care problems I’m going away on Saturday to wave bon voyage to a friend who is starting his yacht master qualification. First stop Hawaii. Arragghh!

On Sunday Archery class is FINALLY in session! There is an historic precedent to archery class’s being held on a Sunday. Apparently a medieval law is still on the statue books which insists that every able bodied man should be practicing his archery skills in his local park every Sunday afternoon. The looks you’d get wouldn’t be the half of it!

In the meantime I thought I’d do a round up of some of the blogs I’ve been reading.

Othmar Vohringer of Outdoors with Othmar Vohringer
There’s a well worn saying ‘The more you know the less you carry’ and the bushcraft and hunting communities are full of people (yours truly emphatically included) who talk a good fight about simplicity, but somehow lose those good intentions when the latest gadget is dangled in front of their eyes. Here Othmar takes a wry look at the fads of today and the traditions of yesterday.

Rex BKA (Bloggingly Known As) The Editor of the Deer Camp Blog
Rex was one of the first people to write to me offing encouragement for my blog and he has dine a great deal to encourage other bloggers.
Well known in american deer hunting circles, his blog started as the newsletter for a hunting club (with its own land!!) and has grown to cover his interest in Hunting deer and squirrel, adventure pursuits, archaeology, habitat management, ghost stories, interviews with mythical beasts and collecting tall tales for use around the campfire. Legend.

Jeremiah Quinn
I’ve recently given Jeremiah Quinn a mention for his writing about urban fly fishing but since then I’ve been reading a little more of his site. He has a house near lake Como in Italy and has written this piece as an introduction to the area for visitors.
‘Porcocania’ starts as a letter about how to work the heating and where the shops are, written to a friend or family member he’s lent his house to. It becomes a brilliant travel guide to the region with lots of hilarious anecdotes about the people, food and culture he encountered during a year living in Italy. If you’ve ever lived in a small community you’ll recognize the characters and customs that give an area its ‘local colour’. Here he explains the Italian concept of Furbo.

‘Furbo implies styling something out that could be disastrous if you didn’t present it the right way. This has something to do with the Italian notion of keeping up appearances. My ultimate example of this is Columbus, the man the Italians like to call Cristoforo Colombo. Many people assume that Columbus’ mission was to prove the world was spherical. Obviously, there is no money in that, and it was already in any case generally accepted by navigators and traders to be so. Also, America was known to be there as the Vikings had documented its discovery 500 years earlier. No, Columbus was looking for a shortcut to India, so that he could get pepper more quickly back to Spain, so that they could set up a new and undisputed trade route and get rich. OK, so the key words are India and pepper. Columbus goes off on his long voyage, doesn’t find India and can’t find pepper. Goes back to Spain, terrible voyage, bad weather, scurvy, lands in Spain. What does he say? Couldn’t find India, didn’t get any pepper? No, this:
‘Found the West Indies, here’s a chilli pepper’. Now that, my friends, is the definition of furbo.’ By Jeremiah Quinn

Bound to be a much better use of your valuable reading time than the Sunday papers or my ramblings.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Our Tomato Plants Have Withered!!

Not really enough to make a chutney, so apart from fried green tomatos, any ideas?

Can You Tell What It is Yet?

Of Course it’s a root burl. Or to be more precise a burl that has separated from its parent tree and then rooted. Before it could put up any shoots along came your pal the bushwacker and snaffled it.

Burls are a great example of the adage ‘it’s the exception that proves the rule’ if you took any woodwork classes at school you may remember being told that wood ‘always’ grows in strait fibers that form the woods grain, then along came a burl to disprove that generalisation. Burls do have grain but it’s not straight, in fact its usually in interconnecting spirals. If you get the first stages of curing right they form an incredibly hard and stable piece of timber. They are dense, hard to carve, but very beautiful. Because of the random super tight grain they are far less likely to split, even if they get wet. I’ve been an avid Burl collector for a few years but most of my collection are pretty small. They become handles for fire steels and brushes. Occasionally I find some larger specimens and this one came along just as I was thinking about Mungo’s request for a Kuksa.

Most european bushcrafters have a fascination for the Sammi or Laplanders of Finland.They live in some of the most beautiful and challenging terrain europe has to offer, and are masters of cold weather living. They have developed some equipment that has been ‘field tested’ over generations. The Puukko knife and the Kuksa (or wooden cup) are icons of european bushcraft. Both use burls from the birch tree in their construction.The clever thing about a wooden cup is that however cold the weather it wont stick to your lips, and is a fair insulator, keeping hot drinks and soups warmer for longer.

For a really good kuksa tutorial see Jon’s Bushcraft.

American Finn’s blog
has some very good pictures of Puukkos and kuksas
Kellam Knives have kuksas and Puukkos
Bearclaws are the only people I’ve seen selling proper hand carved Burl Kuksas, not cheap but look totally authentic.
Thanks for reading

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Blog Roll – Oct 07

The start of my archery classes has been postponed for a week so I thought that as my blog roll has been expanding recently I’d do a round up of who has been added, and why they deserve a read.

Living Primitively
If you’ve every thought about putting your bushcraft and hunting skills to the test Torjus’s site is a must. He’s living in the back country hunting and fishing for food and doing some cool projects.

Jeremiah Quinn - The Fly Guy On The Fly

As recommended by the UrbanFlyFisher a nice site with some cool pix. he describes himself 'Writer, director, washed up boxer and incompetent, but passionate fly fisherman'.
I’m a big fan of urban fishing and fly fishing will be next on the bushwackers learning agenda after archery.

Decado's Bushcraft

A relatively new blog with a bushcraft-meets-ultra light hiking theme (so far).
Best of all he said nice things about me, making him one of the good guys!

Jon’s bushcraft site
Jon’s site has the best tutorials of any of the bushcraft sites I’ve seen.
A very good artisan, and by the looks of things a very good explainer too.

Wayland the professional Viking of Raven Lore
His cooking stove has cult following on some bushcraft sites, you can see why.
Great photography and some serious craft skills.
Wayland makes a living being a Viking! Well played Wayland!


Saturday, 13 October 2007

Rooting Around I Found This

When Going Nuts, First Take A Leek.

Been a while hasn’t it? I’ve been ‘up north’ with The Northern Monkey and on my return the lair of the Bushwackers has suffered from water ingress, so I’ve had to dedicate the last few days to plumbing.

The chestnuts are now on form at more northerly latitudes, and I promised I’d post a recipe for my pal The Northern Monkey.

If you’re fortunate enough to be picking your chestnuts off the ground (as opposed to buying them) early picking really seems to help processing, as the dew makes the skins are a little more flexible.And of course your beating the competition to the last nights crop.

When I started using the SharpMaker on everything in the house with a blade, I noticed that I habitually started the sharpening stroke a little way down the blade and this has given my F1 a very slight (1mm) curve with a steeper blade angle on the 5mm nearest the handle. And I’ve started to see this as a lucky accident. The slight curve made the ideal ‘nicker’ for opening the skins and then peeling them off.

Once you get inside the nut you get to the pith which when fresh and damp is much easier to scrape off. If your roasting your chestnuts the pith isn’t really a problem as it crisps up inside the shell and falls off. When you buy pickled or dried chestnuts from the deli they are perfectly pithless, just beautiful ‘brain like’ orbs of, well, yummy-ness.
I’ve always wanted my gathered chestnuts to look like that too. This year I’ve gotten a bit closer.

As I was peeling, I put them into salted cold water, then blanched them in boiling salted water, before plunging them into cold water. Quite a few more ended up skinless this year. It was all pretty time consuming; a carrier bag three quarters full took four hours to go from park to freezer.

Despite this success I had no joy at all remembering that, while my thumb nail is the ideal peeling tool, its my nail-bed that pays the price for the next few days. Ouch!

For the next batch:
I have a boning knife (somewhere?) that has an exaggerated curve at the start of the blade, I’m interested to know how it works out. Also I’ve just learned that the tannin rich skins were extensively used in traditional hide tanning, either dried or fresh. Which will be handy as TNM has a source of unprocessed deer hides. Sadly the skins off the first lot are already in the compost heap.
If any of you have any pointers on how to get a skinless finish they’d be much appreciated.

Marrons du Gallois or to you and me ‘Welsh Chestnuts’

Your going to need:
Leeks (easy to grow or buy)
Cream (Organic unpasteurised is best)
Splash of white wine (maybe a Chardonnay)
Hand picked-hand processed-artisan chestnuts (or failing that ones from the shop).
Shallots (onions wont really do it)
Pancetta (or ‘dry cure’ bacon pieces not the factory farmed watery stuff )

Fry the bacon in its own fat until its got some colour leaving the bacon fat in the pan set the bacon aside.
Slice the shallots and garlic as thinly as you can and add them to the pan, reducing the heat to a flicker. Put a lid on the pan and sweat them to a syrupy mush.
While that’s happening you can thinly slice the leeks LENGTHWAYS so the slices look almost like spaghetti.
When the shallots and garlic are really slimy in go the chestnuts, bacon, and the wine.
Turn up the heat to evaporate the alcohol, and reduce by about ten percent.
Pour in the cream and as it starts to reduce add the leeks.
Its important to time the last bit so the cream reduces enough while the leeks are still a vibrant colour. Better under cooked than over cooked for the leeks.

Serve with
Pie crust: (to guarantee a perfectly cooked crust with no nasty stodgy bits, I cook the crust separately – just roll it out put it on a baking tray and stick it in the oven)
Pasta: I vote for papadeli!
Mashed potatoes: or better still mashed potatoes with forest mushrooms stirred into them!

If you’ve got any left add milk and water, wiz the whole lot up in a food processor to make a great soup.
Hope you're all well, thanks for reading

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Mother! Behave Yourself!!

Just in case you didn’t believe me when I told you about the foraging septuagenarian matriarchs!
As I was taking this picture I got into conversation with one of the park guys who told me he blamed the current crop of wildfood TV show’s.
“They only show cooking, people don’t know when they’re ripe and they just try and pull ‘em down. It’s a problem for us”.
Keep ‘em peeled

Shh Keep 'em Under Your Hat

They've arrived! Ripe and ready to gather!
I picked (picked up?) this crop yesterday.
Had a few for tea, after last nights running club.
More details and Recipes in my next post
(I didn’t have a camera with me and there’s something in the park I want to show you)

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Is That A Survival Kit In Your Pocket?

Viridari was kind enough to post a comment on my last post so i visited his site
where i saw this - great isn't it!

Reading a few of his other posts i found out about the Every Day Carry Forum.
A site where guys boast about who has the smallest......
Not something you hear everyday!

Friday, 28 September 2007

A Round Toit

I’ve just added a bushcraft blog by lad called Leon to my blog roll.
If you’ve ever fancied learning some bushcraft skills but not gotten round to it YET his enthusiasm and experiences may give you some impetus.
Careful with those sharps now!

Round toit

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Those New Chestnuts

Like the our pal the American Bushman I’m noticing the shift in the seasons; London was decidedly nippy today, and the prelude to last nights fitness training was a drum roll of chattering teeth as we gathered at the park gate.
I’m not sure where it went (I’ve even been having salad for breakfast!) but I’d certainly let things slide in the last week. The regime of running, sit ups, burpees, star jumps and press ups seemed almost as tortuous as the first time I attended. I sweated like a carthorse and my legs felt like I had tree trunks tied to them. Having struggled and slithered across the wet grass praying for the strength to continue or at least a merciful end to the torment.

Having survived I started to think of myself as a rather heroic figure. Back at home; as I lay panting and moaning on the front room floor, I was quickly disabused of even this crumb of comfort. Mrs SBW delivered a ‘motivational’ lecture about the ads she seen on TV where tubby fellas of a certain age are putting their health at risk by eating and drinking to their harts content. She succinctly pointed out that it was my harts (fat) content that means it’s not a choice. I will be going back, rain or shine, like it or not.
As Carl the PTI keeps pointing out “there’s plenty of time to think about it later, just do it”.

The park is the site of an ancient hunting ground and although we’re denied the chance to shoot (or even trap) the squirrels or stalk the deer there are still some foraging opportunities to be had. I’ve only ever had chestnuts and puffball mushrooms, but my foraging days have only just begun there must be more edible species for a re-wilded bushwacker to find. The chestnuts are getting a little riper but the first sightings of the granny migration that signals their ripeness are still a little way off.
It would seem I’m not the only person visiting the park hoping to invoke the aid of the gods, I saw this offing left at the foot of one of the bigger chestnuts trees.

The history of the site as a place of worship is at least as old as the roman invasion/settlement of Brittan. Discovered in 1902 the park has the remains of the mosaic floor of a roman shrine, supposedly dedicated to Diana the Huntress an imported deity the Romans took to their harts.

The area is steeped in history; first as a hunting ground and later as a pleasure park for the royals. Just as the invasion/settlement of Virginia was getting under way Le Notre (the gardener to Louis XIV) was commissioned by king Charles II to design the layout of the park we see today. The avenues of Sweet Chestnuts were planted from Spanish seed and some of them are now 400 years old.

I was more than a little off in my tree-size-estimate this fella is 24.5 feet around the trunk!
More trunk reduction for the bushwacker to follow – thanks for reading everbody

Monday, 24 September 2007

Life After 50

Pablo has asked what I’ll happen when I reach my goal.

Been thinking about this myself; when it started I thought the project would last a couple of years. But as anyone who’s met Mrs SBW will tell you there is no end to her DIY ambitions and they are a major drain on my resources.
This year’s program is largely about fitness and archery practice, with some field craft and collecting and cooking wildfoods along the way.
Before I go after Mr Elk here are a few things I NEED so they’ll be ‘just a little bit’ of kit collecting! To insure I make it back in one piece I’m going to be attending and reviewing some survival, tracking and bushcraft schools.
Once Mr Elk is safely in our freezer, (with his antlers out of harms way on my wall) there are some other hunting and fishing challenges. Cutthroat Trout in Colorado, Upland Pheasants in South Dakota, Sanglier (wild boar) in France. Red Stag with a rifle in Scotland, and with a bow in New Zealand, Bronze Whaler Sharks from the shore in Namibia, and most exotic of all Shotguns for Pigeons in the wilds of Essex and Kent.

I may even find time to make Mungo that Kuksa

Friday, 21 September 2007

Bushwacker at 50!

Wow fifty posts already!!
Some of you I know personally, some of you I’ve gotten to know as you’ve posted comments – please keep writing ‘em! If there’s anything you think I should include, learn or investigate, on my journey from Fat Boy to Elk Hunter let me know.

Thanks for reading everybody – I really appreciate it

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Running, Eggs, And Posts I Re-Read

Last night I had a glimpse of the future, a bit like Scrooge seeing the Ghost of Running Club yet To Be….. And re-read some of my favorite blog posts

This morning I’ve just had the perfect poached egg for my breakfast, it smiled at me from the plate, sitting next to some toast and a pile of smoked salmon – a boy needs his Omega 3’s!

The holy grail of poached eggs: add just two drops of vinegar to a shallow pan of gently boiling water, put some spin on the water creating a vortex. As soon as you crack the egg and slowly add it to the centre of the spinning water, you can see the egg white coalesce into the perfect form.

Towards the end of our run I moved briefly from pound, pound, pant, pant wheeze to that fluid movement where the amount of effort drops considerably, but the amount of forward motion rises. Steps that had crashed against the ground now have a lighter touch, the jarring of my spine gave way to a glimpse of the serenity of motion I’d forgotten I could have.

Two of my favorite ‘good eggs’ of the bloggersphere

Pablo has a very handy list of REASONS, (proper valid reasons honey), for buying ESSENTIAL kit from Ebay.

The Hobo Stripper separates the person from their behaviour, and spends her post remembering angels with dirty faces.

Sorry I didn’t explain that very well at all
How to spin water:
Carefully stir the boiling water with a spoon, until it is ‘spinning’

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Deer Hunter Ed

The Buck Hunter Blog have just posted a link to Fresh Tracts an outdoors school with a deer hunting course. There are a few people doing a deer stalking certificate in the UK. The way UK law works there are only certain weapons considered suitable for deer hunting and the bow isn’t one of them. I’m not sure if I’ll take the course here or fly out to take their course. Either way one of them’s going to get my money sooner or later!

That Old Chestnut.

I’m eating one of the last apples from our tree, as I recover from the mornings exertions. Outside its still sunny but the season is starting to change, apples over, blackberries still good, chestnuts about to begin.

On the sofa my legs are aching, and I wanna go back to bed, but the goal is in sight.
Finally I feel I’m on the road to fitness, I’ve attended Military Fitness three times this week!!!! Twice to the running club, and once at the military fitness class.

Trying to keep my head up as I ran I saw that the chestnuts are in abundance, and will be starting to fall in a week or two. I really love collecting them with Bushwacker Jnr, and eating them with pork. I’m not so keen on peeling them, but its a small price to pay for the satisfaction that wildfood brings.

In the park some of the chestnut trees are literally hundreds of years old, as I ran (OK speed-waddled), I made a note to dig out the big tape measure and try to find out just how old they actually are. Some of them look at least ten feet (3m) around the trunk.

The best sign that the worthwhile nuts are falling is to watch out for the migrating herds of - Chinese Grannies! Seriously, the nuts that fall first aren’t really worth the effort, but as soon as the big fellas start to drop there’ll be septuagenarians matriarchs using broom handles and plastic bags as yokes, harvesting the parks bounty.

While we were collecting last year we’d often meet a few dog walking toffs who know the nuts are edible but are surprised that anyone would bother, they are encouraging in that patronising yet indulgent way toffs often have.

The nuts are never as big as the Spanish imports but some how they taste a little sweeter.
I’ll let you know how I get on.


Saturday, 15 September 2007

Safe Drinking Water - From The Toilet!

You wouldn’t want to, but if you HAD to, you could now drink from a water source that had fecal matter floating in it!
The water purification revolution moves on a pace with a new invention by Michael Pritchard of Ipswich (UK). Inspired by seeing disaster relief teams unable to provide safe drinking water after the 2004 tsunami and again in the aftermath of Katrina, Pritchard set to work. At £190 ($380) it’s not cheap, yet, but prices are expected to fall as demand grows.
Up until now even the best filter has only removed bacteria 200 nanometres long from water. Viruses are typically only 25 nanometres long and would pass through the filter. Pritchard’s invention, which filters right down to 15 nanometres means instant access to safe water whatever the circumstances. Amazingly one filter is said to be good for 4,000 liters.
For the full story


Thursday, 13 September 2007

Edging Closer

You must be wondering: when’s he going to get on with it?
Where are the pictures of smashed targets and gleaming broadheads?
Today saw a couple of significant steps in the right direction...

Today was one of those days, not those days, those days.
After yesterdays run I felt, well, well, not just well, well good!
I could actually walk without wincing. I was almost invigorated. Unbelievable I know.
Then I got the email I’d almost given up hope of receiving; I finally have a place on the program, only a month to go until my archery lessons begin! Really you’d think in a city of 6,000,000 there’d be the odd archery coach going spare. It’s been a long search.
I bet it wasn’t like this the year we won at Agincourt!

I felt so inspired by the morning’s events I went back to the park for a bit more of the living hell that is British Military Fitness. Where BMF beats the gym is in it’s sheer relentlessness, you can’t kid yourself. There’s nowhere to hide.
Let’s hope it’s the same for Mr Elk.

PS Pablo - thank you for your kind offer - see the comments on the last post.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Sharpening and Reprofiling

Oh the pain! Whinge-moan. Whinge. Moan. Running club! Battered. Whinge moan.
Delicious fried food danced before my eyes.
Imaginary Elk snorted contemptuously and sauntered away over the great mountain range that separates my homeland from the lands of my dreams.
Have you ever heard an Elk laugh?
Well they did, safe in the knowledge that I’d never get my wheezing butt within rifle range. Bow range? Ha!! They’re still laughing now.

The stunning picture is of the appropriately named cardiac range

Monday, 10 September 2007

The re-wilding of Mrs SBW

The weekend saw a return to the regular weekend schedule; kids to drama class and vegetable shopping in the market afterwards. On Sunday I really wanted to see The AJS & Matchless Owners Club’s show at the Woolwich Arsenal, theses bikes are very good looking and were real giant slayers in their day. The display circuit was very short but it was still good to see and hear these museum quality bikes on the move.
I admit, I also thought I’d pick up a few brownie points by spontaneously taking the kids out. To my surprise Mrs. SBW offered to come and pick us up afterwards, she too had an agenda “let’s pick some blackberries for a crumble”.

Oxleas Wood is that rarest of things, an ancient deciduous woodland within the confines of a city. Most of the 8,000 year old woodland is on the southeastern slope of Shooters Hill, which overlooks London. On the 72 hectares grow Oaks, Silver Birch, Hornbeam and numerous coppices of Hazel. Being inner city woodland, litter has ‘sprouted’ everywhere you look. The kids loved it and even put 1-2% of the blackberries they picked into the tub. They were covered in juice by the time we headed for home.

Lets get crumblin’

Put your medium sized ovenproof dish into the oven and turn the oven up high
Peel, core and chop your apples. Rinse your berries in cold water.

There are many different ideas as to how to make a crumble, in this recipe I’ll show you the quickest and I think easiest method. The ruination of many a crumble is letting the stewed fruit juices soak into the uncooked crumble mixture. Don’t panic! I have a way round this! Miss out the stewing.

Once the apples (3+ per person) are chopped, chuck half of them into the pan.
Sprinkle the berries over the apples and add the remaining apples on top.
The apples and berries will get hot and some of the juice they make as they cook will evaporate the rest will sink to the bottom, away from the topping.
Yes it’s that simple!

While all that’s happening lets make the crumble.
In a big bowl put
Two parts flour – the 00 stuff from Italy is best – but whatever you have will be fine.
One part sugar – I use half and half, white and brown sugar
One part butter

For a medium sized pan each ‘part’ would be two ounces (50g). Squidge the flour, fat and sugar together until they make an ‘almost pastry’. A crumbly mix of, crumble.
Now sprinkle the crumble over the top of the hot fruit.
Slam the oven door shut with a confident swagger.
Cook until you’ve finished the main course or it looks done, which ever comes sooner

If you like a very think crumble topping treble the amounts.
Ground hazelnuts included with the flour are really good.
The better the ingredients the better the results.

Serve with crème anglais or my favourite, regular custard out of a packet.

Last word to Mrs SBW
“I keep finding purple spoons in the dishwasher, I hope you don’t think your eating anymore of my crumble”

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Yes Deer.

It’s that time of year again, the bloggersphere is full of men and women (sadly it’s still mostly men) either preparing for, or starting the deer season. I’ve not been able to get a stalking ground lined up for this season (YET!), so disappointingly I’m still buying meat.

While the other bloggers are telling you about fletching new shafts and honing new broadheads I’m heading for the kitchen ...

Reeves Muntjac are one of the smaller species of deer and by all accounts one of the tastier species too. At about twenty to forty pounds (10-18Kg) with antlers 2-4 inches (5-10cm) long they might not have same trophy status as the Whitetail, but for ‘pot hunters’ they are highly prized.

I have a haunch of Muntjac in the freezer, I want to casserole it in a red wine and plum sauce. Served with root vegetables, glazed carrots, shallots and mushrooms it’ll be just the kind of hearty autumnal (fall) fare I love.

[Pause to take kids out and do some food shopping]

Mrs Bushwacker says I’m not allowed to cook big dinners or have people round until I’ve finished re-glazing the dining room windows. Bah!

Better go I can hear her calling me

“Yes Dear”

Friday, 7 September 2007

Why Weight?

The morphic resonances of the bloggersphere never cease to amaze me. Just as the American Bushman was posting ‘unloading superfluous gear’ BoB and I were having a conversation along similar lines. As well as using his visit as an opportunity to give me the Opinels he told me the location of a long-time-no-see Trangia stove that he didn’t have a need for. As things do, the conversation rambled round to talking about the lightening the load, travelling with as little kit as possible, while still having everything you need to look after yourself. I showed BoB the amazing Anti Gravity Gear site and the caldera stove system, which is basically a Trangia that’s been seriously slimmed down.
BoB said he’d seen an article from the 1950’s where guys going on a climbing expedition carrying framed rucksacks had wielded up the holes in the frames, enabling them to use their frames as fuel bottles.

As even the most cursory look at the scouting and hunting technologies of the first nations shows, the need-for-speed in backcountry travel is as old as backcountry travel itself. Saxton Pope took instruction from Ishi’s in the art and science of travelling light.

‘In our early training with Ishi, the Indian, he taught us to look before he taught us to shoot. "Little bit walk, too much look," was his motto. The roving eye and the light step are the signs of the forest voyageur.
The ideal way for an archer to travel is to carry on his shoulders a knapsack containing a light sleeping bag and enough food to last him a week.....This will weigh less than ten pounds. With other minor appurtenances in the ditty bag, including an arrow-repairing kit, one's burden is less than twenty pounds, an easy load...... If you have a dog, make him carry his own dry meal in little saddle-bags on his back...

Nessmuk was also an early devotee, taking it as a focus in the classic Woodcraft and Camping.

While I was looking for a downloadable copy Nessmuks book for you I found Nessmuking, a site about super lightweight canoeing with this interesting ‘gear list’ challenge.
How light can you get a 35-day pack?

Last word goes to Mors Kochanski
"The more you know, the less you carry."

The Fish Pie Guy

Inspired by The Wild WoodsWoman’s recent post I thought I’d tell you my recipe for a really great fish pie.

While The Northern Monkey may mock our southern eating habits even he was forced to admit, " now that's some pie"

It’s an old cockney pie recipe, but with a bit of Italian twist, it can be something from the ‘bachelor scissors’ range (nothing gets ‘em out of their clothes faster).

First the spuds – as many spuds as you serve to the number of people you making the pie for – if I’m making it for Mrs SBW’s dad (major spud fan) lots of spuds.
If I’m making it for Mrs SBW’s friends (all on the Atkins-ish) less spuds.

However many spuds you’re using, the important thing is; you cant slice them thinly enough. I use a Madeline but you can use a food processor or very sharp knife.
Then soak them in cold water for five minuets, to get rid of the excess starch.

The Fish
I like to use smoked fish but really anything you’ve got is fine, you can even use other seafood’s as well or instead. I use about a Kilo (two pounds) per pie but you can use less or more.

Hard boil some eggs and then slice them – minimum of one per person

Some cheese is nice – I use a mix of Parmesan for bite and Cheddar for texture.

The White Sauce or in cockney cookery ‘The Liquor’
Melt a tablespoon or big blob of butter in a pan with a splash of oil and stir in some flour.
If you use .00 flour from the deli you’ll get a much smoother sauce than if you use regular baking flour from the corner shop.
When the flour is well mixed into the melted butter let it cook for a bit –but not so long that it changes colour.
Pour in half a cup of milk and stir it like a crazy person until it’s well mixed with few or no lumps.

Keep adding milk until it looks like you’ve got enough sauce for the size of pan you’re using. At this point the sauce should be a bit thinner than you want it to be when you serve it as there will bit a bit of evaporation while it’s in the oven.

Pass the sauce through a sieve – making a lumpy sauce isn’t a crime – serving a lumpy sauce is!

For the simple version:
Add Peas and or Parsley

For the ‘bachelor scissors’ version:
Rinse and squeeze Capers then add them
Finely chop and add at least five anchovies - if you thought you didn’t like anchovies you’ll be surprised – the pie doesn’t taste of anchovy but will have a ‘deeper’ flavour.

Now put the whole thing together

Pour a little sauce into the bottom of your ovenproof dish.
Lay the pieces of fish over the bottom of the dish
Put the cheese (or mix of cheeses) on top
Lay the slices of hardboiled egg on top
Pour on more of the sauce.
Working from the outside of the dish lay the slices of spud in a neat spiral of overlapping slices, working in towards the centre of the dish. Sprinkle a very small amount of oil over the top.

Bake in a hot oven 200ºC (or 392F) until the spuds on to are brown and crispy and the pie is hot all the way through.

For the second time you serve this pie to the same people, you can put a further twist on it by adding some Smoked Bacon or Pancetta. If you’re doing a dinner party (or making them to reheat for lunches at work) you can make the pies in small individual dishes.

Serve with white wine.

On the subject of whine
Bushwacker Jnr tried to turn his nose up at the pie
SBW "food is love"
SBW Jnr "no dad toys are love"
He did eat it and begrudgingly admitted it was 'quite nice'.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Who's a Clever Birdy?

There’s a veterinarian who’s a regular reader of this blog, a few years back he bought a juvenile Koi for a couple of bucks and watched it grow into a handsome specimen. He kept it in a pond at his mum and dads house in suburban Glasgow.

One day as he was making breakfast when he saw a large Heron swoop down and make off with his fish. All he could do was sling a tin of baked beans into the sky and shout, “come back with my effing fish”.

Today’s has a great story about a very smart heron who uses bread to ground bait a restaurants Koi pond.


I Want One - A Not So Occasional Series

Nosler Custom™ Model 48 Sporter
A 6.5-pound custom rifle. Chambered for the Winchester Short Magnum cartridges.
Fully protected against the worst conditions a hunt can offer, and served up with a twist.
The twist is, it's off the shelf for $2595 + Scope.

Hmmm Noslerrrrrrrr.