Lapland Spring 2009 – 1st June

Cold with a strong NW wind this morning.

Every day I have had my fish trap in the lake but caught nothing.  I am told it is because of all the rain and melt water stirring up the lake.  After a couple of warm sunny days the lake has become clearer and this morning I caught fish.

fish in trap (Small)

Three perch or aborre in Swedish which are good to eat.

I had dismantled the tipi because heat from the fire was causing resin to run out of the poles into the parachute material and drip onto the occupants.  I had leaned the poles in a tree to dry but then noticed they were bending.  So I have now arranged them around the trunk of a tree

Tipi poles around tree (Small)

and tied them in position to leave until the autumn to dry

Tipi poles (Small)

I wondered around taking pictures  for the rest of the morning.  Here is the view from the tipi

scenery (Small)

and a view across the lake

scenery-2 (Small)

and here is a view of the lake now

view now (Small)

compared with the same view one year previous

view then (Medium)

Clearly showing how much more advanced the spring is this year!

While eating lunch I heard a crackling outside and rushed out to find that the remaining dead grass outside my cabin had caught fire (either from a spark from the chimney or from the bottom of a polished beer can left in the sun after making fire with it)!  The strong wind was fanning the flames and it spread very quickly.  I spent over an hour running up and down to the lake with two buckets until finally I put the fire out.

burnt ground (Small)

and another view

burnt ground-2 (Small)

After the fire had been out for a couple of hours I walked in the forest and on the marsh collecting plant specimens

These are the flowers of Bilberry (apologies for the quality of the image)

Bilberry in flower (Small)

This is Cloudberry Hjortron in Swedish (Rubus chamaemorus), in the same family as our Blackberry.  Locally it is used to make a desert sauce or jam and also a strong liquer.

Cloudberry (Large)

This next plant (when not in flower) can be mistaken for Labrador Tea but as a member of the Heath family, Bog Rosemary (Andromeda polifolia – Andromeda because as sea water bathed her feet when chained to a rock in the sea, so the roots of this plant are bathed by fresh water from the marsh) is said to be poisonous.  It lacks the brown hairs on the underside of the leaf which Labrador Tea has.

Bog Rosemary (Medium)

Filled with enthusiasm from catching three fish this morning I spent the evening fishing

fish float (Large)

Regular readers will of probably already guest that I caught nothing!! And had to console my failure with a fish and dehydrated potato pie made from my catch this morning

Fish and potato pie (Large)

While out rowing I spotted a Birch tree which had broken in the wind and was now hung-up in a Scots Pine.  This would be useful fire wood for me and so I needed to plan how to get it down, logged up and back to the cabin, but more about that next time!

1 Whooper Swan landed on the lake just as the sun was setting, called a lot and then flew off


Lapland Spring 2009 – 24th May

My official birthday today so I opened some cards I had brought with from England

birthday (Large)

The boys were heading home today so although I still needed to cut and prepare more poles, I decided to put up the tipi.  I started my lashing four poles together

making tipi (Small)

and then laid more poles between them.  I folded my parachute in half and tied the folded edges to two poles, then pulled the ‘chute around the frame with one of the poles.

tipi (Small)

You can see that more poles were required b ecause the parachute material was sagging in some places, but the boys seemed happy with it!

boys in tipi (Small)

I wanted to learn the boys some plants so later in the morning we collected some plants and took them back to the cabin.  We placed them on paper and completely covered each specimen with sticky take to preserve them.  I wrote the English and latin name of each specimen and the boys added the Swedish name.  If they did not know the name of the plant we looked them up in the two Swedish plant guides I have.

plant collection (Large)

I noted the latin names of the plants and when I am back in England I will research their uses for the boys.

Bird sightings of note; Northern Bullfinch, Redpoll, GOSHAWK (new species), 20 Ruff lekking, Tree Pipit, Green Sandpiper, 1 pair Common Sandpiper breeding, 1 pair Wigeon, Tufted Duck, 2 groups of Black Grouse displaying.  Female Pied Flycatchers are now sitting on eggs.

Primitive skills weekend – Part 1

Last weekend I attended a primitive skills weekend run by Will Lord and John Lord + some of their friends.  Here are John and Will exchanging tips on the hand-drill

Prim skills-16 (Small)

I arrived early on Friday afternoon as food was being prepared for an evening meal

Prim skills-2 (Small)

Once this rabbit had been gutted and skinned we made up a rack to suspend it over the fire to cook (we cooked Pike in the same way).

Prim skills-3 (Small)

People continued to arrive throughout the evening

Prim skills-1 (Small)

I had set up my parachute as a tipi for my shelter for the weekend and it was great to be able to lay in bed on Saturday morning testing out my new trangia stove to make coffee and fried breakfast.

Prim skills-5 (Medium)

I fried salami, mushrooms and spring onions on bannock bread and I must say that the stove performed extremely well.

Prim skills-6 (Medium)

The day started with some of us attempting to produce a coal with the hand-drill……unsuccessfully I might add!

Prim skills-7 (Small)

Will lead the primitive theme for the weekend by dressing in his buckskin and leather clothing (including a really nice pair of Red Deer skin boots he had made)

Prim skills-8 (Medium)

After a chat and a brief about activities for the day around the campfire

Prim skills-4 (Small)

some people started scraping deer skins ready for tanning.

Prim skills-12 (Medium)

As brains were being used for tanning the hides, they needed to be mashed up before they could be applied

Prim skills-13 (Medium)

Nick (a deer manager and stalker by trade) gave a demonstration on skinning a Roe deer with flint tools

Prim skills-10 (Medium)

and also butchering it with flint tools

Prim skills-17 (Small)

and John was running a flintknapping workshop on making flint tools

Prim skills-9 (Medium)

For lunch we experimented with cooking shell fish on a burning log with a few embers on the top

Prim skills-14 (Small)

which worked really well

Prim skills-15 (Medium)

Parachute Tipi

Thanks to Rich59 for his contributions and I look forward to receiving more in the future.

Inspired by Iowa Woodsman’s Parachute Tepee tutorial I have been experimenting with one of my ‘chutes.

I only had one 12ft pole available


so I decided to try replacing the other poles with parachute cord lines.  I tied twelve lines around the top of the pole, attached the top of the parachute to the pole and then secured the lines to pegs in the ground.


The ‘chute was folded in half and so I attached one end to one of the lines and then pulled the parachute around the pole over all the lines, securing loops at the base of the ‘chute to the line pegs.


Here you can see the entrance.  With two more poles an entrance and “smoke hole” could be create, as described by Iowa Woodsman.


Here you can see inside


The internal diameter is 3.4 metres and the double thickness of material improves its ability to shed water.

The parachute will fold down surprisingly small.


Friends, food and fire

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a weekend in the woods last weekend with Stuart, Dave, Mike and Ollie.


After we had set up camp, collected firewood and made a fire,  Stuart cooked some soap and bannock bread for our lunch.


We soon learned that  Hornbean (Carpinus betulus) is certainly not a good wood to burn as it burns slowly and gives out very little heat.  Instead we collected some Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) and Birch which had been felled as part of the coppice management of the site.


After lunch I “tapped” a Birch tree to obtain some sap.  After about 5 hours we had enough sap for a cup full each.


Ollie and Mike were cooking our evening meal and had brought along a joint of pork to cook in a dutch oven.  We experimented with making a “dakota firehole” to create embers, heat the dutch oven and cook the pork and I must say that it worked very well.  In the picture below the angled airhole is facing forward.


Once our meal was cooking I spent some time teaching friction firelighting with the bow-drill


At about 7pm the pork was cooked as were the foil parcels of vegetables and the cider gravy.


here is the sliced pork joint which had been basted with honey.


After a good nights sleep, it was Dave’s turn to cook breakfast.


Bacon, tomatos, baked beans, omlet and something I really enjoyed….eggy bread style crumpets.


Once breakfast was completed we had another session with the bow-drill and everyone achieved a good ember and produced flame.  I also demonstrated other firelighting methods including fire -by-condom!  I cooked pasties for our lunch


and by mid afternoon it was time to break camp and head for home.

A day out with Pablo

Travelled down to Essex yesterday to spend some time with Pablo from

It’s been a couple of years since we last met up and it was really good to catch up.

After a brew


I showed Pablo one way to set up his new parachute (details of how to by one are on my special offers page) with a 14ft pole and some lengths of para cord.


A parachute like this can also be made into a simple tipi


In the picture below I folded the ‘chute in half and then pegged out the semi circle


I enjoyed my time with Pablo and we plan to have more meetups this year.

Assington Mill

Last weekend I spent a very enjoyable weekend at Assington Mill near Colchester; where they run a variety of courses.

On Saturday we had a “Food for free” course

which involved a walk in the morning to collect plants and fungi, then following a pleasant lunch of rabbit stew, the afternoon was spent learning recipes such as this pigeon salad

and how to prepare game.

On Sunday I ran a one day bushcraft course there, so having set up the parachute and prepared teaching aids, I settled down for an evening by the fire.

It rained heavily all night, but I managed to keep dry under the parachute and kept the fire going all night for warmth. By 7am I was up and preparing breakfast.

The students for my course arrived at 10am and after tea and coffee, we began with firelighting; covering different ways of making fire, tinders and fuel to use.

Everyone managed to get an ember with the bow-drill.

At lunchtime we had soup and cooked sausages on and bannock on sticks.

After lunch we moved into the woodland where the students made a lean-to shelter and a bough bed.

This weekend I will be back at Assington Mill on a Coracle making course.