Saturday, 27 December 2008
I haven't done a 'I Want One - A Not So Occasional Series' posts in a while, but you know how it is, one moment your working on your business plan, the next thing you know you've accidentally started surfing British Blades and your head has been turned . I like the rivet placement on the Cocobolo [left] but the Thermorun [right] is more practical.
Perhaps if I got the wooden handled one, and re handled it in G10 I could add a pair of hollow rivets.................Hmmm
The price? Don't ask.
PS The knifes are a Fallkniven TK5 and TK6
PPS My review of the Fallkniven F1 is here
Thursday, 25 December 2008
Got some great swag - Camo PJs and a Raidops Skull-Jr. With more to come!!
Hope you all got what you wanted or at least close enough that the only thing feeling burned is the Christmas pudding. Thanks for stopping by and reading my ramblings.
Sunday, 21 December 2008
I am passing this on to you because it definitely worked for me. In these interesting times, we all could probably use more calm or inner peace in our lives. A doctor on breakfast television this morning said that the way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started. So I looked around my house to see things I'd started and hadn't finished and, before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of Shhhardonay, a bodle of Baileys, a butle of vocka, a pockage of Prunglies, tha mainder of bot Prozic and Valum scriptins, the res of the Chesescke an a box a chocolets. Yu haf no idr who fkin gud I fel. Peas sen dis orn to dem yu fee AR in ned ov inr pece
Ho Ho Ho
Tuesday, 16 December 2008
Finally made it the post office while it was open. So Alistair and the injured Pablo now have jam on the way to them. Sorry about the wait chaps; life, separation and work all got in the way.
On a not-so-happy note I also had cause to post a package to Sweden. Todd's recent post about chipping one of his creations reminded me, I've chipped my Fallkniven F1 !! [and that's got to be worth two exclamation marks] They aren't supposed to break. Ever.
The F1 (Fell-elk-knee-ven (Raven without Ra) "FellKneeven") has been my 'big knife' for over eighteen months now and for many jobs I'm a fan.
Here in the UK the F1 design has long held it's place as 'the Bushcraft knife'. An enthusiasm I'm not really sure I understand as the design brief was for a survival knife. While it's fantastic for the rough jobs, battening and splitting, at 4.5 mm (0.18") the blade lacks a little in the finesse department. For example you can butcher with it but its not ideal.
The cause for concern maybe that I chipped the tip while splitting leylandii (which i think of as pretty crappy wood) for a fire in Mrs SBW's backyard. Now its time to test Fallkniven's metal - in the customer service arena.
Next year I'll be trying the H1, Fallkniven's take on the traditional Nordic hunting knife. Will that become 'one knife to rule them all'? Or will the nagging concern that I may be, in some small way, 'under knifed' once again consume me?
Monday, 15 December 2008
Thursday, 11 December 2008
On the left i was firing a moderated 6.5x55 and on the right an un-moderated .243, the 'Swedish' belonged to Ian Spicer the Yoda of rifle shooting and the .243 was a Tikka that belongs to the West London Shooting School.
In case you were wondering about the errant third hole on the target, i would like to refer you to rule 126.96.36.199 of the National Small-bore Rifle Association's competition rules.
When a card has on it fewer shot holes than the number specified in the competition, the shots deficient shall be deemed misses, unless the Range Officer and/or a witness certifies that the shot or shots have been placed in error on the card of another competitor. In which case the shooter who has fired on the wrong cards shall receive a hit or hits of the lowest value from the target with the extra shot or shots upon it,(subject to Rule 188.8.131.52) less two points penalty for each shot he placed on the wrong card. The shooter whose card has on it the extra shot or shots shall receive the full value of the remaining shots on his card.
At my party i told Johna (amongst others) about the afternoons fun and showed him the excellent hat the WLSS gave me. "Really! They had one that big in stock?"
Suburban 'sniper' Bushwacker
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
Tuesday, 9 December 2008
An other piece of swag from my birthday that I'm particularly taken with is this picture, drawn by Bushwacker Jnr.
We're pictured as we are; on our way to school with me asking why i have to carry his [school] bag and him replying "I don't want to"
he's also captured us as we'd like to be, Hunting Deer!
Monday, 8 December 2008
Still feeling pretty rough after the celebrations, so I was pleased to be able to recycle this post out of one I started a while back.
I only own one hand axe, and frankly can’t see myself needing another one, but if I did get another I’d be sorely temped by the output of Gransfors Bruks.
In a world where ‘not my job’ is the cry and ‘arse covering’ the modus operandi, it’s great to hear that a company gives its people the authority to work on a piece until they are happy to put their name to it. Literally. Each axe bears the initials of the person who made it, one person. A person who actually gave a monkeys, worked on it to their satisfaction, before putting their name on it and sending it out of the factory gate.
Look on any bushcraft site and there'll be pictures of them, look on any bushcraft forum and there'll be people (OK it's mainly guys) waxing lyrical about how much they love them and the things they've made using nothing but. Other brands have spent fortunes trying to get this level of authority in their marketplace. For once 'simple things done well' have won the day. How could we make more of life like that?
So I was totally effing delighted when R&E bought me a Wildlife Hatchet for my birthday!
Here at the time of Un-Boxing are a few observations.
1. They come WAY SHARP, actually a fair bit sharper than some knives
2. They do have magic powers - there's 'just' something about them
3. The shaft-to-head fit aint perfect, but looks adequate to last the first five or ten years.
4. There's a more in depth review here
5. Mine was made by MM
6. Pablo has the next sizes up and down in his 'family' of tools
7. The Backyard Bushman has a great review here
8. The sheath is more of a guard - but making one with a belt loop will be fun
And buy myself a special stone to sharpen it..
The only 'pimping' I can see being necessary will be dyeing the shaft 'ah that's where it is orange'.
Thanks for reading
Thursday, 4 December 2008
My trip to the West London Shooting School was fantastic, a really great day out. But that story'll have to wait for another day.
In the meantime, through meeting a couple of his friends, I've been able to pierce the veil of James's characteristically english understatement; as the guys would have it James has a long reputation as a bunny slayer of some repute. So I was delighted when he gave me a copy of his latest DVD on hunting rabbits with air rifles for my birthday.
To many of you not living in old blighty, rabbits are hunted with .22 and shotguns. Here every country lad (and a few city ones too) starts out with an over-the-counter air rifle (legally limited to 12lb and good for a range of about 120 feet) and has to learn to get into range.
Here's a taster
If you'd like to learn how he gets so close, are wondering what the english equivalent of David E Petzal is like, or are just looking for a crimbo prezzie for the foodie who has everything, you can buy a copy here.
Must dash, birthdays don't celebrate themselves you know!
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
It's certainly taken some of the sting out of turning 40.
Not many people can claim a 100% success rate with a rifle, but I'm prepared to put my record on the line! Seriously I've only ever fired one round (.300 win mag), out of one rifle, and killed one deer. So it'll be, err, interesting!
Meanwhile at the other end of the experience curve, I've been reading some really great writing and some truly mouthwatering recipes posted by Brigid on her blog; mausers and muffins - home on the range.
There are loads of great posts but this one is a good place to start, it's a review of her Interarms Mauser in .300winmag and her recipe for a truly kick-ass Yukon Maple-Bacon quiche.
Saturday, 22 November 2008
Not a guide to lost hunters, or a tale of a hunter's guide who is lost, but a great FREE survival manual - you could read it cover to cover in twenty minutes and live to tell the tail.
The book has had ten imprints since it first appeared in 1972. Unless you're in radically different terrain like the jungle, desert or tundra this book has just what you need. Simple, memorable, and printed with an orange cover to wave frantically at passing aircraft or other hunters!
The books authors had two outcomes in mind when they assembled the guide with the help of their local community of hunters, guides and back country enthusiasts.
- Be prepared to survive
- Make it easier for a rescue party to find you[r sorry ass].
One of the things i like best about the book is the authors offer the advice we've read before in the 'advanced guides' but they also offer the 'minimum bid' advice which you'd be a fool not to take. Making the steps seem simple everyday and followable.
Dress right for the worst conditions the terrain has EVER seen:
clothes can be taken off and put on as conditions change, ONLY if you brought them with you.
you might not be thirsty now, but you will be, and by the time stump water starts to look thirst quenching other problems will be mounting up.
Your minimum bid for a survival kit
Spare knife[s] or very sharp axe: Chop, Cut and Just in case
Waterproof matches AND firesteel: Firesteels are brilliant and waterproof, but the immediacy of a lighter or matches gives confidence, light and warmth. Best take both.
Spare compass: If the reasons for this aren't obvious, you best stay home.
Whistle: Even my three year old daughter whose had her sweets taken of her by her brother cant squeal as loud or for as long as a PROPER survival whistle.
Medication and if you wear them Spare Eyeglasses: not many people carry them, but without them the prognosis isn't great is it?
Emergency type foods: what else could take up so little space and lift your spirits? Take that too.
As ever, your pal
Monday, 17 November 2008
Well who'da thunk it? DEFRA have been back in touch, and forwarded me some paper work saying they think it is possible for one blogger to send another a few chestnuts in the post. I'll let you know how this one unfolds...........
As ever, your pal
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
About a year ago I wrote about the 400 year old chestnut trees that grow in Greenwich park home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and wrote up my favourite recipe for them. For the nuts that is - not for 400 year old trees!
Rex wrote to me and asked for a few to plant at the famous Christmas place Hunting Club AKA The Deer Camp that his blog is named after. I said 'sure I'd love to' and there by hangs a tale:
By the time I got back to the park the best and oldest trees were totally picked out leaving only a few wrinkled specimens that didn't look like they'd germinate.
So i put 'mail Rex his nuts' in the diary and promptly forgot all about them. The Apple laptop that had been my constant companion finally died, even though it had survived a scooter smash that had me off the road for two weeks, and I forgot all about Rex's nuts. A few weeks ago I was collecting a few nuts in the park and the reminder popped into my head.
Along the way I'd learned of the terrible fate of the North American Chestnut, a tree that was a common sight all over the North American Continent as recently as the 1930s but now only exists in one isolated location. A fungal infection known as chestnut blight which had first been noticed on the east coast in 1904 and, spread westwards carried by burrowing insects and killed off most of the chestnut trees in North America within thirty years. As a result of this and a few other incidents the US postal service irradiate all post entering the USA to prevent the introduction of invasive species, so just sticking them in the post and hoping for the best wasn't going to do it.
I was tortured by thoughts of being responsible for the deforestation of the Mississippi and being hunted down by an angry mob made up of members of the American chestnut foundation, i could see them in my minds eye, distinguished looking but angry, burning torches held aloft shouting 'burn burn burn the infecter!'
I'm guessing that many of you feel the same way: i try to limit my exposure to government and government agencies to Hatchin's, Matchin's and Dispatchin's, but according to my scout around on the net i was now attempting to become a seed exporter, a trade I'd never imagined myself entering in a million years.There was nothing for it, the time had come to contact DEFRA
[cue ominous roll of thunder].
For those of you who don't live in the UK or who rarely leave the city the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are the most maligned of government departments, they enjoy the same sort of reputation as Americas DMV, a place of Kafkaesque bureaucracy where nothing ever happens and whole forests are consumed to feed the departments insatiable lust for paperwork. In triplicate. Look on any farming forum and you'll see countless tales of their meddling while things are going well, and doing nothing when they could do some good. Nice people work there, but the organisation is too bloated to ever be effective as anything other than a hole to pour public money down.
They have a website! things have changed! there is hope!
The phone number on the website is not connected, hope hangs by a thread.
I call another number, they give me the right number
I speak to a very nice lady, who cant help laughing as she explains what I've let myself in for.
No I cant drop them off at their office or pop them in the post, I must make an appointment for an inspector to visit me at my place of business.
"this isn't a business I'm just sending them to a blogger"
The inspector with have to come to your primary residence then
"who do they think i am? Of course i only have one residence!"
A chap comes round, he's a very nice man. He's got a 'you have no idea' look on his face the whole time. He collects the chestnuts from me. they must now be sent to York to be examined, then sterilised. Then a certificate can be issued, the seeds can be sent back to me, i can pay £41.50 plus postage (ouch) for the privilege. Luckily he cant receive payment, that will have to be done with another department and no they don't take cards or paypal, they want a bankers draft.
A couple of weeks pass
Ring Ring " Hi it's Ruth"
Wow long time no see! how are you? How are the kids?
I'm Ruth from DEFRA
Well hello Ruth from DEFRA I'm guessing your calling about my nuts?
Yes were you really trying to send them to the US?
Err I err was?
Well you can't do that ( her tone suggest that this in fact common knowledge)
So our hands across the ocean dream of having a stand of Chestnut trees, spawned in Greenwich park, growing at the Christmas Place Hunting Club is, it seems, no more.
As ever your pal
Monday, 10 November 2008
As Mr Toad says in Toad Of Toad Hall
Rolling down the dusty highway
A-rolling down the Rolling Downs
Any way of yours is my way
As long as we go out of town
Every day the sun is rising
On a brand new episode
Here today and gone tomorrow
That’s the Life on the Open Road
a boy can dream................
Friday, 7 November 2008
Musings from a Stonehead: The trials and tribulations of a modern crofter
A transplant from down under living in the frozen north or Insch, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland as it's more commonly known. He lives on a croft (Scottish for very small farm) and tries to live the lifestyle my friend MCP (middle class peasant) is always espousing.
"We’re trying to lead a more traditional lifestyle while also minimising our impact on the environment around us. Our life is hard, but it’s ours and it’s a lot more fun than being a wage slave tied to the consumerist treadmill. So while the croft once supported four families and their livestock and is not likely to do that again, it’s a real pleasure to have one foot in the past and another in the future."
He has a great 'how to' section of neat tutorials. The one showing how he skins the rabbits he shoots, is linked here.
I enjoyed the tutorial and thought some interesting blogs might be found by perusing the comments left by other readers. What a world of delights awaited me! Some of the people who write in are like me interested in wild food, some smallholding, and some just small minded.
Funny chap, have a read of this discourse from his comments page
Chanel writes in to say "Eating rabbit is pointless. They are generally such a small animal that hardly enough mean to justify a killing is consumed. It really sickens me that you would post pictures like this. I have two rabbits as pets and I love them more than my annoying pomeranian. They are peaceful and quiet animals. Please, if anything, state your response in an intelligent manner unlike the mocking manner in which you replied to Jenna and Cayla."
Stonehead doesn't take any prisoners "You choose to exploit animals by keeping them as pets to satisfy your emotional needs. I choose to exploit rabbits by killing and eating them to satisfy my dietary needs. The rabbits I exploit roam free until the moment they’re killed, the ones you exploit are kept in some sort of confinement. Don’t pretend you’re somehow morally better simply because you choose a different form of exploitation.This is my blog and I choose to share some of what I do with like-minded or interested people. If what I post sickens you, then go somewhere else. (Did you not read the disclaimer?) I shall also choose to state my reply in whatever manner I choose, in this case pointing out that it is not possible to mock without possessing a reasonable degree of intelligence. On the other hand, it does not require a reasonable degree of intelligence to come out with an unintended oxymoron such as yours."
Do read his linked disclaimer it's hilarious!
If you stay home and read his site this weekend you'll be consuming less, learning a thing or two and the laughs'll make you feel better.
Well that's my plan anyway
As ever your pal
No not an interview with Renzo Rosso founder of the clothing brand of the same name but some astounding news.
Professor Gary Strobel has been studying rotten tree stumps in the patagonian rainforests and has found a fungi that turns rotting wood into diesel fuel.
"We were trying to discover totally novel fungi in this tree by exposing its tissues to the volatile antibiotics of the fungus Muscodor albus. Quite unexpectedly, G. roseum grew in the presence of these gases when almost all other fungi were killed. It was also making volatile antibiotics. Then when we examined the gas composition of G. roseum, we were totally surprised to learn that it was making a plethora of hydrocarbons and hydrocarbon derivatives. The results were totally unexpected and very exciting and almost every hair on my arms stood on end!"How cool is that?!! What a Fun-guy. Sorry
Thursday, 6 November 2008
One door closes:
I'm a bit gutted to be reporting this but Outdoors Magazine is no more. Over the last few years I've read a fair amount of it -but sadly not all of it - and its always been the best Bushcraft resource on the web. No cliques of sniping armchair experts and LOADS of great content.
This post on British Blades has most of the details.
Fortunately a quick search for Bushcraft had revealed that a great new Bushcraft forum has opened its doors:
I dispatched Dixon of Dockgreen to investigate
Superintendent bushwacker: Well well well what 'ave we got 'ere then?
Dixon of Dockgreen: It looks like a new bushcraft forum 'as sprung up on the interweb sah!
Superintendent bushwacker: 'Ave we any idea who is responsible?
Dixon of Dockgreen: Foal play is suspected sah!
OK OK puns aside. A blogger called Foal has started the site for all those people who feel that hunting, survival/preparedness, and even a little politics are suitable topics of discussion for adults interested in bushcraft. So far the site has blazed a slightly different trail to the sites that have come before it, and while it's early days, I'm really enjoying the chance to hear a few different viewpoints.
Forums are a bit like pubs really, although we don't own them (or have to put up with any of the hassle of managing them) we make an emotional investment in them, and feel they should be as comfortable and familiar as our daily newspaper; a place where opinions are reassuringly similar to the ones we already hold. In reality forums are much more like family's - your thrown together with people you only enjoy a passing agreement with, people fall in and fall out, feuds and sulks are acted out, and in amongst that we grow from the process of learning to get along while being exposed to the strange beliefs of others.
I'll be there reading, posting, and hopefully being provoked. I look forward to meeting you down there.
Is your current forum high in pomposity and low in geniality?
Try new ..... Bushcraftusa.com
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
Norcal Casadora - She’s another late convert to hunting and wild food and I’ve always felt an affinity with the trails and tribulations of her journey from foodie to cazadora (huntress). I remember when she only had a couple of posts up and I’ve really enjoyed watching her blog and its reputation grow. Her writing and analysis are both first rate. This is how the professionals do it. Where most bloggers do something else for a living she is a professional word smith, teaches writing, and frankly it shows. My prediction for the next year is that she’ll be asked to take over the Field and Stream huntress blog.
Happy Blog Day To You NorCal!!
Saturday, 1 November 2008
Just a quick post this afternoon as I'm out of town for a few days.
It seems amazing but its actually three weeks since i posted the Great Jam Competition of 08
And in fairness I would have hoped that a few more of you would have gone head-to-head like rutting stags fighting for the honour of spreading MOB's (mother of bushwacker) finest on your toast.
But ya didn't. So first prize has to go to
Pablo - for the most practical answer
with a runner up prize to Alistair to give him the energy he'll need for all that DIY.
Email me your postal addresses chaps, and the sticky stuff'll be in the post.
Friday, 24 October 2008
That was a mistake, Charlton were the no hopers. Two- effing -Nil!
Though at last there is some good news for beleaguered Blighty, those cheeky chappies the native British Red Squirrels, if not bouncing back, are at least no longer circling the drain. Over the last few years Red Squirrel populations in England and Wales have been declining rapidly as grey squirrels spread squirrel pox virus, which does not appear to affect the greys.
Happily Steve Connor, science guy at the Independent reports Wild red squirrels have developed an apparent immunity to the squirrel pox virus, which was killing off the last their remaining communities in England and Wales, as well as threatening the much larger native squirrel population in Scotland.
Although it's not practical to count them all, a common guess would have it that there are about 140,007 red squirrels left in Britain. With about three quarters of them north of the border with Andy Richardson and our Caledonian cousins. Across the country there are about 2.5 million delicious grey squirrels, (a convenience food introduced from the Americas in the 1800s). So as you can imagine things are in a perilous state and the British Reds need all the help we can give them.
Meanwhile well-meaning numpties are doing their muddleheaded best to make the natural world more like it looks on TV. Lindsey Maguire, who runs a squirrel rescue centre with his wife, is reported to have said:
"We are involved with animal rescue and if someone brings you a [grey] squirrel what can you do? You can’t just throw it in the bin."
No Lindsey, you numpty not in the bin, in the pot!
I'm calling on Patriots, Nature Lovers, Gun Owners, and People who are just Peckish, to help bring about a 'culinary solution' to these pesky (yet delicious) interlopers and in doing so, save our British Reds.
Even on his days off James has been doing his bit, with delicious consequences.
As they are originally from the USA here's a few pointers on how to organise a squirrel camp from Rex and his Dad at the Christmas Place Hunting Club, and a report on how this years proceedings went.
Scoutin' life has also been hard at it, read squirrel-sniping here.
Fight back and Tuck In!
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
In the same shipment as my lunch boxes came just such a knife. The Mikro Canadian (II), by the Bark River Knife and Tool Co. BRTK seem to feature in a lot of peoples collections, and their wares have received glowing reviews from a few other bloggers so I told myself there was a convenient hole in my tool kit for an inconspicuous neck knife, convinced myself it was a bargain, and clicked the 'order now' button.
Since it's arrived I've made a few visits to The Old Operating Theatre, a real life Victorian operating theatre left untouched from the 1850s. The museum has an amazing collection of period instruments; handmade sharps and saws from the days when speed was the thing most likely to limit the risk of infection. One surgeon had the claim to fame of being able to take a leg off in twenty eight seconds. The blade shapes were interesting; saws with hinged spines designed to give rigidity during the first part on the cut, then as the blade was deep into the bone, the spine would lift up to allow the blade to pass through. I also saw a set of scalpels where the blade shape was almost exactly a Mikro Canadian.
These little slicers seem to have been a big seller for BRKT and I can see why. They’re small enough to be unobtrusive, whilst having just enough handle to feel solid in your hand. I've been reaching for it as my EDC for a few weeks now and, yeah, it's a handy little thing. The original model was made from A-2 Tool Steel, where as the MCII is 12C27, which seems an easy stainless steel to maintain a hair popping edge on.
If I'd really looked closely at the picture I ordered from, I would have noticed the mosaic pins (which are really nice) aren't even slightly aligned.
When you consider how easy a job it is to stick a piece of tape with a line drawn down it on to the handle (so you can line them up before the glue sets) it’s a bit of a disappointment. The maple burl (what could be more Canadian?) is easily the nicest wood of any of the knives I've got.
The fit of the scales isn’t neatest of work either, there's a visible gap between one of the scales and the blades tang, making the ideal place for gunk to fester, which kind of rules out using the knife for boning out, which is a shame as it feels as if it would be ideal. I'd intended to buy one handled in orange Micarta or G10, which would probably been a better shout for use as a field scalpel but the wood is good looking.
My knife’s is etched with the words First Production Run which is kind of surprising as I would have thought the collector market would be somewhat more discerning than someone like me who just wants to sharpen pencils, slice salami and open the mail.
No knife review would be complete without the 'I made feather sticks, cut notches for a 'number4' and shaved a tomato' bit. I'm not sure if I really want to eat city fox as their diet of abandoned takeaways isn't ideal, so I missed out the number 4 trap, made some melt-on-the-tongue tomato wafers, and feathered some lailandi branches. While the blade gave ultra fine shavings a couple of deeper cuts left a tiny dink in the edge so maybe 12C27 isn't such a strong steel after all or the temper isn’t quite right.
Despite its flawed build quality I've really come to like the Mikro Canadian’s design.
So I’m giving BRK&T the right to reply to this review, let’s see what they do with it.
Thanks for stopping by, Leave a comment, I'd love to know who's reading.
Sunday, 19 October 2008
This is a salutary lesson in how far a man's obbsessions will take him.
It's a brave man who'll admit his mistakes.
It's a daft man who'd take his girlfriend on an experimental snow camping trip!
Or as Nelson Muntz would say Ha Ha!
I feel so uncharitble, but I can't stop laughing.
PS thanks to Andy at upnorthica who found this one.
Saturday, 18 October 2008
There is a resource
It's on the web of course
About the gathering of blades
And the ways that they are made
Guys who'll sell you a blade on its own
Folk who have devised a new hone
Handles in Wood, G10 and Micarta
It's extensive, they'll have what your after
Steel matrix seen under a 'scope
Neck knives, handled with some rope
Sheaths in vegetable dyed leather
Finishes to withstand the weather
Rigid camp choppers, fish knives with some flex
Tutorials, make Damascus, sheath in Kydex
The merits of each kind of temper and quench
Exclusive output from a master makers bench
Thorough, long standing user review
Granddads folder to draw queens brand new
Edges; convex, scandi, and full flat
It's all there, from superb! To what is that?
A great resource, maybe I'm showing my ignorance here, but I've never had a question about blade making that I've not seen already answered somewhere on British Blades.
If you're in the market for a new knife this thread is an amazing list of makers from all over the world.
If you're looking for something usable but affordable, I've seen some shocking bargains on the site too.
Wednesday, 15 October 2008
As you might imagine I've read one or two books about surviving in the wilderness and to be fair most of them are much of a muchness. Just because you can survive doesn't mean you can write.
There is one notable exception - Ron Fontaine who writes Survival Topics; the BEST survival site on the web and far far better than most of the books.
The most common ways to die outdoors may not be what usually comes to mind. Many people worry about bears and other mean creatures. Fact is, the most common outdoor deaths are attributable to one and only one living thing: YOU. By far, hands down, what bumps you off in the wilderness are the decisions you make. Getting just a little to close to the edge. Taking on the next higher class of whitewater. Climbing a mountain when you are out of shape. Refusing to turn back when the weather turns bad.Many people think food will be the priority when lost in the woods - survival topics puts that myth to bed.children's party! When you've survived being over-run by wild eyed tykes, high on sugar and adrenalin you can tell yourself you'd survive anything.
The Dakota Fire (pictured above)
This wasn't the first time I'd seen this, but it's easily the best explanation of its benefits.
I've been to South Dakota and if there is one environment where the wind will increase fuel consumption it's the plains. So it's not surprising that a technique for using less fuel would develop there. Works well in Yorkshire too!
[For readers from other parts of the world, Yorkshire is the Texas of England (the biggest and most opinionated ;-) ) and home to my pal The Northern Monkey]
Survival Topics is also a web shop where Ron sells that outdoor essential the Swedish firesteel.
I still have a stash of firesteels so I haven't ordered any of his myself, but he's got the widest choice of sizes, and his pricing is way cheaper than a lot of sites. Including the one I bought mine from. grrr.
As with the best teachers Ron has peppered his writing with moments of comedy
Although the odds are certainly against it, personally I think predation is the manliest way to go. There is something to be said for going down fighting as opposed to in an old folks home.
Thanks for reading - be sure to check out more of Ron's site.
Saturday, 11 October 2008
Maybe I was a little pessimistic about my suburban smallholding skills?
Maybe I 'looked' without 'seeing'?
Maybe cucumbers just grow very very quickly?
There are two more fat qukes!!!!
Cucumber sandwiches for tea.
PS In between writing this post and taking the picture, two more have appeared. One of them is already half the size of these. It proves something - I'm just not sure what?
Thursday, 9 October 2008
"As a woodworker-graphic designer, I use a tape measure or ruler almost every day. Now I have one always within arm's reach. I use it for my work, but also my play. I measured some trout for length with it on a fishing trip to Mount Hood this weekend."
I look forward to hearing from you
Tuesday, 7 October 2008
I was at the end of the garden wondering whether it was time to give up my 'fruitless' gardening and start using the space for fires again when I was shocked, surprised and delighted to see that I had actually grown more than slug food this summer. Yes! A real life actual cucumber! Well who'd-a-thought-it!
On the other side of the hill the trees are heaving with unripe Chestnuts, so maybe I'm more a forager than a farmer.
PS No Rex, I haven't forgotten, they're just aren't any worthy examples to send you yet.
Friday, 26 September 2008
I know a few of you read James' blog, but for those of you how haven't been reading it lately or are living under a stone it's well worth a visit. Due to his coverage of what are known here as 'country pursuits' he comes into contact with all kinds of colourful characters who most of the year shun political correctness and the modern world, choosing instead to base themselves beyond the reach of 'health and safety'. Only breaking cover to attend rural pow-wows such as horse fairs, game fairs and county shows. The kind of places where Ferrets are 'legged', food has taste and texture, and you can buy everything from home made jam to 8 bore wildfowling guns. They're great!
The reason I mention all this is to set the scene for a blogger James has just introduced.
Simon Mulholland writes Saddle chariot, a blog about horses, buggys that you tow from horses, his run-ins with the establishment and cooking meat.
His advice is forthright and he has a great turn of phrase.
"When I used to cook Venison and Wild Boar round the County Show circuit, I was always being asked how to cook Game. "Count the legs!" I used to say. "Then think of something you can already cook with approximately the same number of legs, and do the same thing.""
Horses, the Saddle Chariot and the elite horse breeding establishment
Some of the more perceptive may have picked up a hint of frustation with the British Horse Establishment. My opinion hasn't changed. If they were horses, I would say they must have been cruelly mistreated as youngsters, because no horse is naturally devious, vicious or deceitful. And no horse is naturally snobbish, racist or in favour of incest, all characteristics that appear throughout the British Horse establishment.
Could he be the new Albert Rasch?
Thanks for dropping in-let me know your thoughts-leave a comment or two
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
It is not difficult to learn how to cast; but it is difficult to learn not to snap the flies off at every throw.
Doh! Still a way to go then.
But, remember the back cast is the foundation, and that unless it is solid the superstructure will be rickety. Remember also that the motion of the rod through the air should be almost, or quite noiseless. Nothing offends the angler's ear more than the "swish" of a fly-rod. It is like a false note to an educated musical ear. It indicates a degree of force about as appropriate to the end in view, as a burglar's jimmy to opening a watch. This should never be, except possibly when casting directly against the wind or for distance only.
Hmm maybe I should get some lessons?
Calling Fly Fishing a hobby is like calling Brain Surgery a job.
Perhaps if I just dropped a little more cash on a new rod?
Thanks for reading
PS Dog Lady was at the pond again this morning, she put a lot of effort into not looking at me!
Thursday, 11 September 2008
The Swedish company Light My Fire sells some really cool stuff, but sometimes people get a bit carried way and 'it's a really cool idea' gets confused with 'it's going to be a really cool product'. You know what sales and marketing people are like.
A chap whose forum name on bushcraftuk is Cobweb has gone to the trouble of posting a straightforward tutorial showing exactly how to make one in 12 photos. Nice one mate.
Then follow 3 pages of sad, angry men telling each other how each of them believes they know best. After a while the guy who started the site asks them to play nice, they don't listen!
It's hilarious! Boys and their toys! What can you say?
thanks for reading
PS the toasting forks absolutely rock - and are very very easy to make
PPS have a look at the silly poll I posted about an English TV show and the responses it got!
Saturday, 6 September 2008
One year ago I decided to check whether or not BoB (Brother of Bushwacker) had visited my blog. So I installed Cluster Maps and sat back to see if a little red dot would appear over New Zealand's south island.
As of this morning 16,320 visits have been logged, which either means some of you are coming back for more of the same or there is another site with a similar name that a lot of you miss spell as you type its name into your browsers!
During the next year lots of new avenues will be explored and if all goes according to plan some more actual hunting will take place.
Thanks for your support, I started the blog for my own entertainment and I'm delighted that I've managed to entertain you too.
Friday, 5 September 2008
TLB (my daughter The Littlest Bushwacker) has already been asking for a pink Spork so knowing how important 'style' is to any trip outside, I had to order it for her.
They look bigger in the pictures, but I've anecdotal evidence that having bigger plates makes people (OK me) have bigger dinners, so maybe that's no bad thing.
The design is way cool - after you've scarfed your lunch all the bits disappear back into the big box so you've less clutter to take home
The main box is a reasonable size and depth for eating wet foods, and its lid has quite a lip to it so it will make a practical outdoor plate.
The little pot is a little pot.
The chopping board-colander hybrid is a really good innovation, with just kettle water i can now prepare noodles at work! Afield it means i can rinse blackberries and other gatherings. Best of all i now have somewhere safe to slice things, slicing has been the death of many a plastic plate and the lid of the occasional Tupperware box.
The plastic cup with lid - is, well, a plastic cup with a lid. Handy.
The Spork - despite Pablos Spork anxiety inducing comments the Spork is still a convenient way to cuttle whilst out and about
The true test of any lunchbox - does an oil and vinegar dressing leak out of it?
Is it really 'dishwasher proof' as Light My Fire claim?
This has been an UnBoxing review, only time will tell..........
Thanks for reading
Wednesday, 27 August 2008
I've got a foot in at least two camps here; I'd really like to follow in Gary from Bearclaws Bushcraft's tracks and take to the woods with only a blade, a pot and a blanket. As that's so much more in the spirit of Ishi and Pope who are a big part of my inspiration for this blog. It would do me good and take me further towards being able to travel lightly across the wilderness, dulled senses awakened, to my moment with Mr Elk.
Mrs SBW is more on the 'Glamping' side of things, where she takes hair straighteners with her and chooses her wellie boots not on the grounds of design or build quality but because "those are what Kate Moss wears to Glastonbury". If she knew you could buy a portable microwave she'd have one already!
Tom from Trout Underground is sure that any form of comfort afield is weakening the gene pool to an intolerable degree
'Glamping is the fast-growing segment of the travel industry where people pretend to interface with nature while a staff of servile lackeys hover in the background, keeping the food coming, the heated tents clean, the private bathrooms in tip-top condition, and (presumably) the animals at a nice, safe distance.'
Go on Tom, don't sit on the fence tell us how you really feel!!
“forget checking for numbered birthmarks. Look to glamping for a sign the Cloven Hooved Deceiver is on the way.”
But (and it's a perfectly formed butt) Mrs SBW looks a lot like Ms Moss, and if a little luxury is the price a purist like myself must indure to snuggle up next to her in tent, then (sigh) so be it.
So what is a suburban dad to do? Sometimes it's going to be 'dump camping' by the side of the car, one day it'll be just me and you Mr Elk.
Sigh! Such is suburban life
Thanks for reading
Thursday, 21 August 2008
Friday, 15 August 2008
Unboxing is either:
A review at the time of delivery
'CheapyD Gets His PS3 - Unboxing'
The fishing trip with Jeremiah was all the encouragement I needed, I thought I'd like fly fishing, now I know I like fly fishing, so I've been cobbling together some kit of my own. On a strict budget.
Fathers day was keenly anticipated at the lair of the bushwackers this year, despite her much repeated (and dare I say ludicrous) claim that "You have more than enough fishing equipment to last a lifetime" Mrs SBW, SBW jnr, and The Littlest Bushwacker chipped in to buy me a fly reel.
I'd got a fly line, travel rod (essential for the urban fisherman who travels by bus, train or scooter) made a rod tube for it and all I needed was the reel.
There seem to be two rival camps when it comes to fly reels; first there are those who believe the reel is a place to store the line and then there are the advocates of 'low start inertia drags' who feel that no reel could be worth mentioning (let alone taking to the water) if its drag takes more than the weight of a single cigarette paper to spin into action and cannot withstand testing against the off the line acceleration of a 1000 cc sports bike.
So having been baptised in the waters of confusion by the magazines and websites, I made a few calls. As usual with fishing (or any new pastime) advice veered wildly between 'any old crap will do', and 'you've got to spend at least £500-£1000 to get anything worthy of the name'. Fortunately Jeremiah seems a level-headed sort of chap and recommended 'drop £30 on ebay, buy a brand you've heard of and see how often you actually use it before you spend any more!'
Fly reels are another of those guy things, like watches and firearms, where we go all misty eyed at the way metal has been worked, believing that the god of the forge and goddess of the hunt will somehow allow us special favour if only we drop a bit more cash, shave off another two grams and use some space age technology. Yeah right!
I own a couple of Magnesium bodied spinning reels, sound great don't they? They're certainly very light but Magnesium is slightly porous, so they have to be coated in special paint, which can be scratched off. The same reels also have hype features which make them sound more 'technical', they have 'infinite anti reverse' sounds good but all it means is the spool only turns one way and the thing that stops it turning back has no play in it. Still 'infinite anti reverse' sounds more 'cutting edge' than 'it does what it's supposed to'.
In comparison to spinning reels fly reels are incredibly simple things, but can be huge money. I've seen one on sale for £5,000 YES that's $10,000!! No not gold, just titanium. As theses are toys for boys, no amount of money is considered too much to spend. I spent an enjoyable few hours clicking around on the net looking at reels that cost as much as a holiday. After I'd spent a while ooh!-ing and ah!-ing over the reels on offer I started looking at the cost of a combined desktop mill and lathe and some aluminium bar stock; for the price of a nice looking reel with a pair of spare spools you could set yourself up with a real cool home machine shop.....
Enough already! Get to the Point! What's it like?
Greys are a well known brand in the UK (part of the House of Hardy empire) and their missionary rods are for many people the default travel rod. That fitted in with Jeremiah's advice, and the price was bang on £30 too. So I put in my fathers day request for the 4 weight reel.
As coincidence would have it during the writing of this post I was re reading an old copy of Field and Stream (Dec06-Jan07) when I saw the self same reel recommended. In the US LL Bean sell them as the Quest range - Loads cheaper $29-$39. The F&S guys gave it best for the money status.
The reel is polycarbonate (gasp sacrilege) and here's for why. Aluminium is very easy to scratch even when its been hardened and as most of the places where I'm after those urban trout are in concrete canyons I thought a hard wearing plastic would be a better bet than a cheap aluminium. It's immune to corrosion and after all the heartache that I've expended over cleaning and rinsing those spinning reels I felt like getting something 'wash 'n' go'. I was tempted by a supposedly more up market version of the same idea in clear plastic, but it would have meant doubling the budget and I later saw this post on UrbanFlyFisher revealing the design to be 'mince'.
I've caught big mean fish with reels considerably less refined than this one. In comparison Jeremiah's Orvis' were a lot quieter clicking - will that make a difference? Only time will tell.
With cast plastics there's not a whole lot to go wrong, it isn't going to make you drool, but then my rods no great shakes either.
The one area where the maker has really let themselves down is the cage and spool fit.
Where the spool meets the spindle the fit is fine but there is a 2mm gap where the cage meets the frame of the spool. Most of the time its fine, but if you have the drag set quite loose, the line often appears on the outside of the cage. Which is not what you want. At all.
I've been thinking of way to correct this and at some point I'll do a post called Pimpin - the GLA 80/Quest.
Hmm where's that machine shop catalogue again....?
Thanks for dropping by, leave some comments - I'd love to know what kit you're using and whether you reckon it makes any difference to the fish.
Sunday, 10 August 2008
Now let the justification begin!
- What a handy set up - bowl and plate, cup with a lid , another bowl-cup-tub thingy, a chopping board/strainer and a spork to eat it all with.
- I could use them to take a packed lunch instead of going to the curry hut - nutrition,weight loss, cost saving. All good things.
- Mrs SBW could use them for her lunch too.
- They would be handy for family days out -picnics and educational trips
- They were a bargain
- They last a long time.
- They pack up neatly, much less fuss than what we use at the moment.
- Joachim Nordwall has done such a good job - they really are a great piece of design
- Have you seen the price of Sporks?
- Did I mention that they float?
Thanks for reading
Saturday, 9 August 2008
I've been reading the blog written by the American Bushman for ages and marvelling at his knife collection - he doesn't just think 'that looks cool I wonder what it's like to use' he buys one and finds out just exactly how cool each design is. As you probably know after a while it's easy to end up with more stuff than one bushman can practically carry so he's decided to lighten his load by having a bit of a clear out.
Good news for us!
Inspired by the Backyard Bushman's posts about his EDC I've snaffled the Mikro Canadian II by the Bark River Knife and Tool Co. and a few other bits which I'll review as usage allows.
There are still loads of handsome blades for sale - take a look.
Thursday, 7 August 2008
Our friend who is yet to get his TLA (three letter acronym) lets call him jon, has just sent me this picture from his place in Italy. Apparently he was standing by his trout stream (you think that's jammy - he has Boar and Deer too!) wondering weather or not to take up fishing (I know! Some people!) when he saw this one had invited itself to lunch by marooning itself in a shallow pool.
So he picked it up and took it home, as yer would!
Thanks for reading
Monday, 28 July 2008
Thursday, 24 July 2008
Once again not a lot happening here in the suburbs, so I've taken to dreaming of a trip to Namibia. Where amongst other attractions you can cardboard box surf down the biggest sand dune on earth. Aparently the walk up is 'only' 50 minutes, and after an invigourating glass of Champagne the trip down lasts a full 5 minutes.
Did I mention you can catch Bronze Whaler sharks from the shore?
Now that HAGC has pointed out that surplace of chum I'd be a fool not to (well at least think about it)!
(wistful sigh) Such is suburban life....
Thanks for reading
Monday, 21 July 2008
Friday, 18 July 2008
James A. Henshall, MD, 1881
In the spirit of 'what gets measured, gets done' I thought James Henshall's criteria could be tracked. I mulliganed the first two casts, but as you can see from the landing sites of one through ten, I'm still falling some way short of the hat. When you deduct the length of the rod (eight feet) it's even worse! I keep telling myself the Chalksteams are only ten to fifteen feet wide and that the fresh Trout aren't the only reason I'm doing this......
"Unless one can enjoy himself fishing with the fly, even when his efforts are unrewarded, he loses much real pleasure. More than half the intense enjoyment of fly-fishing is derived from the beautiful surroundings, the satisfaction felt from being in the open air, the new lease of life secured thereby, and the many, many pleasant recollections of all one has seen, heard and done."
Charles F. Orvis, 1886
But then he would say that wouldn't he? He's got an agenda to push, and fishing gear to sell!!
I'm lovin' spending time outside, but the Trout are perfectly safe.
Any pointers gratefully received!
Tuesday, 15 July 2008
Am I psychic? Or are the public just extremely predicable?
One day a week I spend at home with The littlest Bushwacker; generally we drop Bushwacker Jnr. off at school and make our way home via the bakery, or weather permitting we take a walk in the park. As my fly cast is still in its embryonic stage I'm trying to get as much practise in as possible so I take my fly rod with me and practise on one of the ponds. Half an hour once a week isn't much but its better than no practise at all.
I use a short leader tied to to a feather from that pheasant. I don't need a hook, I don't use a hook. I knew this was going to happen, and this morning it did.
While I was happily thrashing at the surface of the water a black Labrador bounded up scaring TLB into hiding behind my legs. Ever one for instilling confidence (tempered by realism) into the kids I said 'you're all right honey, that's a friendly dog'. Then looking around the pond to its approaching owner I added 'It's the owner I'm frightened of'.
I was going to describe the woman as having a face like a Bulldog sucking on a Wasp, a face only a mother could love. When my own mother used to see faces like that she'd tell me and BoB 'stop pulling that face, the wind'll change and you'll be stuck like that'. The wind is obviously changeable on Blackheath.
I could feel her rage before she pulled up alongside me, her eyes ablaze with indignation as she shouted "this is not a fishing pond" to which I replied "I'm not fishing" I let a pause hang in the air while she gulped like a feeding Carp before adding, "this is casting practice". Spying her chance to feel justified she waded in a little deeper "you're leaving hooks in there, there's Ducks in there, and you're leaving hooks in there!" she went to turn away in a huff, no doubt intending to report me to the park maintenance guys, further round the pond, who were busy using a small John Deer thingy to drive the six or seven feet between individual pieces of rubbish.
Restraint, Respect, Control - whoever has the slowest heartbeat wins....
"Madam, maybe you'd like to take a look at this" by this time I'd hauled in the line and was presenting her with the end of the leader, "And if there's a hook on it you can report me, and if there isn't a hook you can apologise".
She muttered "I apologise"
Her withdrawal was made all the less dignified by my laughter.
I know, I know, no points for fishing in a barrel, but you've got to make your own entertainment. Such is suburban life.
Thanks for reading
photo credit (some very good pix)