Bushcraft day arrived a little quicker than I had envisaged, it must be me but the days really are just whizzing by (someone told me that’s just me getting older – how very dare they!), it was a very early, chilly start but well worth rising from my pit for even if it was just to take in the breath taking vista of stars that welcomed me as I stumbled out of the front door!
Having successfully navigated my way to the darkest corner of Somerset I awaited the arrival of the posse, Alan (Blandford), Simon (Poole), Lenn (Salisbury), John (of cabinet making fame), Mike (Harnham Press) and of course not forgetting Mark and Sam of Countrylore, the guys that were to share their knowledge of all things Bushcraft like.
On their arrival we were ushered to the main camp (well actually the posse walked – I cheated and caught a lift on the back of Marks quadbike ……ooh how daring!) where we found Sam diligently chopping up some timber next to the camp that he and Mark had erected the night before, fire blazing, kettle on, it all looked rather cosy and so with a coffee in hand thinking – how hard can this be – we all sat down for Mark to give us a brief insight into the world of Bushcraft.
So having covered the basics it was off to start making our shelter, no mean feat when it is for 6 guys all of whom are of a rather large persuasion…… but we fired off in all directions gathering the necessary building materials to construct what can only be described as a giant beaver lodge…. just without the water.
We were all slightly alarmed as to how this experience was going to unfold though when Mark, before departing to gather some equipment, told us the procedure for treating any accidental knife wounds, not this not so bad in itself, but then continued with what to do if you have any chest or high thigh wounds – I still wonder what on earth he thought we were going to get up too, has he had an event that has turned into The Lord of The Flies!!
So the shelter was created, although Mark did point out there were a few holes in the construction, but looking back on it it any self respecting shelter should have windows…..
And so to the fire starting, this had taken the attention of a few of us well into the course of the build of the shelter and there was a dogged determination to firing it up, but it seemed that all of our attempts were in vain, the majority of us gave up the cause early on and carried on with the build, but John and Mike continued with the thankless task and at one point amongst much whooping and holleri….. oh it had gone out again!!
Now Mark had mentioned in the breifing something called Alfreds Cake (not that cake…) a small fungi that grows on the trunks of decaying trees and that is excellent for fire lighting and so I popped of to see if I could find any, half an hour later I was thinking, am I looking in the right place, is it seasonal and so I was forced to ask – where would I find such an elusive thing?
It turns out that the Ash tree’s that I should have been looking for do not grow in that particular wood ….. Doh!! But I think Mark took pity on us and donated some of his stash and within moments we had a roaring fire going – time for some lunch!!
Cooking is so easy at home pop to the shops, grab some essentials, pop it on the cooker when you get home, it is all so incidental, a bit of a nuisance, but preparing this was so much more satisfying, Trout and Partridge were on the menu and although we did not have to catch our lunch (I do hope that is part of the next outing…) we did have to prepare it for cooking and with a quick demo from Mark it was time to get our hands dirty.
After our superb lunch of ponassed Trout and Partridge curry (Lenn is a culinary genius on the quiet!) Mark gave us a quick tour of our surroundings and a brief insight into the world around us, although I go for walks all of the time and feel that I “see” everything around me in reality I miss everything, sure I can name a few common trees and recognise a few plants (and this is a hugely limited knowledge compared to some..) but it is also about the mechanics of the woodland and countryside around us that we pretty much ignore and it is a shame that we are all trapped in a modern world of convenience and do not get the time to really appreciate what is out there.
To end the day there was a spot of spoon making, now this may sound to you like a frivolous task but it is it is a proud moment when you stand there with this hand carved item in front of you, freshly whittled from a lump of Birch, there were varying degrees of success with the spoons but this just capped off the enormous sense of achievement from all of the tasks that we had partaken in throughout the day.
This was the first moment that I really understood quite how passionate Mark is about Bushcraft, his passion is born of same drive and determination that has created A world of furniture, but this has a little something else entirely and once you have been through a day like this it is easy to see why you would get passionate about it, although we have merely scratched the surface of the immense subject of Bushcraft, once you have experienced a small amount, it is a hard thing to shake off and I for one certainly would like to learn more and by god there is a huge amount to learn!
I hope it is not too long before we can have our next expedition, although there is another couple of outings planned for some of the other store staff, (I hope to get something on here from those particular trips) but I know that there are a couple of people from this trip that are keenly keeping an eye out for the next excursion……