A couple more pictures from the Bodgers Ball

Here is one of the most beautiful Birch bark containers that I have ever seen. Birch bark has even been used to stitch it together.

Unfortunately I never did find out who had made it or where the Birch bark had been sourced from.

Here Dave Watson from Woodland Survival Crafts is demonstrating making fire using a pole-lathe as an adaptation of the friction firelighting method.

The Bodgers Ball

Last weekend I was at “The Bodgers’ Ball” at Horton-cum-Studley. This is an annual gathering of The Association of Pole-lathe Turners and Green Wood Workers, and there were about 250 people at the event.

It was a great opportunity to put some faces to names (Robin Wood and Ben Orford to name but two) and to catch up with old friends. As well as being a social event there were also many competitions to watch and take part in. I entered a piece in the craft competition in “non turned treen” section and there were many other categories from spoons to chairs.

These were the entries for the “six hour chair making challenge”

and here is Ben Orford taking part and winning in the “Individual Log to Leg” competition, where from two sections of an Ash log, the competitors had to turn two matching chair legs as fast as possible.

Ben completed this in well under ten minutes.

There were also workshops taking place over the course of the two days.

including spoon carving and patterning, basic knife skills and safety, axe work and chair seating.

Amongst all the tents and tipi’s it was also a good opportunity to test out my sleep system.

A nice find in the main arena was this Green-winged Orchid (protected of course by a wooden enclosure).

This was my first Bodgers Ball and I had a fantastic time and look forward to next years (wherever it may be).

You can read more about this event from Robin’s perspective here


I have just made a pump-drill for friction firelighting, made from items I found in a neighbours skip.

The drill is a length of wooden curtain rail, with a hole drilled in one end to allow the insertion of various wood-tips for firelighting. The flywheel is a round 2kg weight (the type used in weight lifting). It takes about 2 minutes to produce an ember but there is virtually no effort involved.

Now I am experimenting with making one from materials found “in the field”.

Reed Mace/ Bulrush/ Cattail tooth brush

If you are walking near a river or lake at the moment you may find the remains of the Reed Mace seed head stem.

They look like this.

The seed head stem which remains after the seeds have been dispersed by wind, is covered in fine stiff bristles.

Some native cultures would use these as a primitive toothbrush and are quite effective at cleaning your teeth.

Soon the new flower heads will appear and this will be the time to collect the pollen and make bread……keep watching for this one!

US Military Modular Sleep System

I have just got the US Military Modular Sleep System (MSS) made by Slumberjack , for use in Lapland and I have to say that I am very impressed with it so far.

There are four parts to the system;

1. Gore-tex Bivy Bag – Three Layer laminate mummy design bag cover for integration with the Modular Sleep System (MSS) for cold – wet conditions. The snap closure system allows each bag to snap to the Bivy. Fabric: Waterproof and Moisture Vapor Permeable plain weave nylon, with baffled nylon zipper closure. Color: Woodland Camouflage Pattern on the top, Camo Green ground shade on the bottom.

2. Summer Sleeping BagMummy design for temperate climates of 0 to 10 Degrees C as a single bag. Snaps to the Bivy for use in slightly colder-wet zones. Insert the Intermediate Bag inside for colder extremes. Fabric for the shell and lining ripstop nylon with water resistant finish. Insulation Fill continuous filament resin bonded polyester. Features an adjustable hood and baffled nylon zipper closure.

3. Intermediate Cold Weather Sleeping Bag – Mummy design for colder weather climates of 0 to Minus 23 Degrees C as a single bag. Snaps to the Bivy for use in colder-wet zones. Insert inside the Patrol Bag for extreme cold environments. Fabric for the shell and lining ripstop nylon with water resistant finish. Insulation Fill hollow continuous filament resin bonded polyester. Features an adjustable hood and baffled nylon zipper closure.

4. Compression Stuff SackNumerous straps with ladder lock buckles tighten and compress the system. Nylon draw cord closure with barrel lock.

The picture above shows the whole system put together.

The bivy bag will enclose completely over the user with a Velcro fixing at the top of the bag, while allowing airflow through the sides.

The system will compress down to about 30cm x 30cm using the compression sack.

I slept out last night using the intermediate bag and bivy bag and found it to be incredibly warm. It rained at about 2am, but with the bivy bag close over me, I did not get wet and there was no excessive moisture inside the bag from my breath.

Hammock and tarp

It has been a long time since I used my hammock and tarp, so I used them at Assington Mill last weekend.

My tarp is a Hennessey Hex-fly and the hammock is my own creation. I use a Reindeer skin (or my Swanndri hooded bushshirt) to line my hammock for insulation. The nights were warm enough that I only had my sleeping bag laid over me.

On Saturday night I was serenaded all night by a newly arrived Nightingale.

and I also heard badgers squabling close by.