Today I have been at Fenland Country Fair held at Stow-Cum-Quy near Cambridge. You can read about the event at the link provided.
The reason I am writing about this event is because Country Covers the civilian partner of Arktis were there and as I already use some of there equipment and now have a couple of new items to try out on my next trip to Lapland, I thought I would give them a mention and recommend them to you.
I have their A190 Stowaway Shirt (about 3/4′s of the way down the page) which is designed to be wind and water resistant and helps to trap heat. It weighs 150g packs down incredibly small and fits in your pocket. I carry one with me every day.
I have one of their A110 Field Shirts in olive to try out. It is designed to permit superior ventilation and the outer fabric is robust, resilient and hard wearing, featuring; 2 large front zipped pockets, 2 front button pockets, tabbed buttons for extra strength, vented back with mesh lining and fully adjustable cuffs.
I also have a D190 Antarctic Shirt (about 3/4′s of the way down the page). It’s made of 70% Merino wool and treated to prevent irritation to your skin. It features, a long tail for maximum heat retention, thumb cuff hand warmers and zipped rollover collar.
In several of my posts I have referred to and you will have seen two pieces of material that I carry with me. One piece is a 220 x 160cm sheet of Pertex and the other a piece of rip-stop nylon sewn into a tube which is open at both ends and 230cm long. They are both treated with Nikwax, pack down very small and only weigh 400 grams.
and together with a small bag of cord, meet many of my needs.
The tube I can use as a “mattress” for a pole bed, by sliding two long poles into it (I can stuff the tube with grass for insulation)
I can tie one end and fill it with leaves or grass as a mattress on the ground or put my equipment in it and tie it around me as a pack
I can attach cords at each end to make a simple hammock
or fold it, tie a knot each end and add long pieces of cord to tie to a tree branch and make a seat.
I can also get into it and pull it up to my shoulders for warmth and protection from the rain (I wrap the Pertex sheet around my head and shoulders for protection)
I used them both for this purpose on several occasions during my last Lapland trip.
The Pertex sheet I tend to use mainly as a tarp for shelter
I have no lashing points but instead use a stone or similar with a piece of cord
I place the stone under a corner of the material, wrap the material around it and then secure the cord around the stone
You can see how I use them here
If anyone knows where I can buy this type of material in larger sizes than 230 x 160cm please let me know.
Last Friday I headed off to the British Birdwatching Fair which is a three day event held annually at Rutland Water Nature Reserve.
I was there to make contact with nature tourism companies who are, or who are considering running tours in Northern Sweden.
After a day at the bird fair I travelled down to Danemead Scout Campsite to spend a couple of days with my friend Stuart, relaxing in the woods. The dappled sunlight through the trees provided us with some beautiful views in the early morning.
I spent some time teaching Stuart methods of firelighting without matches and some tinders to use and he helped me refresh my navigation skills, but most of our time was spent around the fire
chatting, drinking and eating. Here I am making sausage stew
The handles of the crusader cup can get hot when the cup is being used in a large fire so I worked on developing a simple tool for removing the cup when the handle is hot. I cut a piece of Hazel with a branch stub at one end. I thinned down the Hazel at this point
to fit between the gap in the handles and the branch stub hooks below the handle as you can see below
You can place the cup in position and then unhook and remove the handle until you want to remove it from the fire
I found a large number of Crab Apples on the ground and decided to try and make use of them.
I placed them in boiling water for five minutes and then pushed them through a fine sieve to remove the peel and pips. Then I did the same with some Blackberries but boiled them for a little longer. I mixed the two together with a little honey and spread the mix about 1cm thick on grease-proof paper in a shallow baking tray.
I placed the baking tray on an oven shelf on top of my woodburning stove and placed a roasting tin on top to trap the heat while allowing air to circulate.
I only put a small amount of wood in the woodburner and left it to burn for 10 hours.
The fruit had reduced in size and thickness and was dry to touch but not brittle (it could be rolled up).
I cut it into strips to carry with me and it should last for several months in a cool dry place.
Nettles were added until a thick layer covered the embers
Then the meat was placed on to the nettles
Another thick layer of nettles was placed on the meat and then a fire built on top
After four and a half hours the fire had burnt down to embers and ash
and so I decided to scrape away the top layer of ash and remaining nettles to remove the meat
Now I like my meat pink and a little bloody but for some it was not cooked enough and to be honest I think I should have cooked it for another hour
but for those who liked their meat cooked more we put a leg in the oven to finish it.
It’s such a simple cooking method with no need to find suitable rocks to heat and I will certainly be doing it again. And everyone was happy with the end result!
Following the success of the pit cooking of Roe Deer and Wild Boar during the primitive skills course at the beginning of May, a friend asked me to cook a Roe deer in a pit for his party.
I jointed the meat
while friends gathered stinging nettles to protect the meat
Chris had dug a hole in his garden in which to cook the deer and my next task was to make a fire
I continued to add wood for a couple of hours
until I had achieved a good bed of embers
Having achieved a good bed of embers I covered them with a thick layer of nettles
I had some pieces of buffalo horn left over after making my knife handle, so decided to make a ring for my finger.
I experimented with both flint and my knife blade to work the horn into a ring. The piece on the right of the picture is how the horn looked when I started.
To decorate the ring I etched my first name in Morse Code, filled the etchings with fine talcum powder and applied a coat of oil.
The other evening I noticed that the glass in my woodburner stove was very dirty and having been told that the white ash is good for cleaning the glass, I thought I would give it a try. I wetted a piece of cloth, applied some ash and began cleaning the glass. While holding the door as I cleaned I felt something brush against my hand. As I pulled my hand away from the door…..this fell onto the hearth!!!
It’s a Pipistrelle bat.
I can only assume that it decided to roost in the flue
and had then dropped down and eventually crawled in to the stove. I had not used the stove for about three weeks, but the bat could not have been there more than a couple of days because it would have very quickly died of thirst.
It was not very lively, but I put some water on my finger and it lapped it with its tongue and for about 15 minutes it remained motionless.
Then it started to look around and crawled around on my hand and finally launched itself off and flew into some trees.
Last week I was in a large area of forest with a group of people, assisting with a research project monitoring the breeding population of Nightjars Caprimulgus europaeus.
This is typical habitat for Nightjar
The best time for Nightjar is at dusk when the males give their “churring” song. You can hear males singing here. Also at dusk the males will fly around displaying. During the day they sit motionless on their favourite perch and there are some nice examples of birds perched in day here.
The birds nest amongst rows of young conifer trees and we had to walk up and down between the rows while looking ahead for signs of movement or birds flying away as we approached.
I will not give further details of the process of locating a nest once a bird has flown, but we were successful and here is a Nightjar nest……if you can call it a nest!
Another nice find was this Grayling butterfly.
I have been experimenting and adapting the design of the cup stand over the last couple of days but as Boomer said in his comment “the simplest ones are often the best” and I have decided to stop and just keep it simple, but thought I would show you where I progressed to.
This design fits snugly between the gap in the cup handles and is notched in the front to allow the height of the cup to be adjusted over the fire for boiling and simmering
The front of the handle just sites in the groove as you can see here
The problem with this design is that because the stand fits snugly, when you grip the handles to remove the cup from the stand, they compress on the stand and prevent you lifting the cup away! So I shall stick with my basic design.