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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Blog hijack

While Geoff is away in Italy this week at the Experiential Educators Europe Conference I have decided to hijack his blog and tell you a bit about my introduction to bushcraft. 
I hope you enjoy it,

Sallie


Me on Tryfan last February, we didn't really need the ice axe but it looks cool.

I was always interested in the outdoors and had grown up with camping holidays, working dogs and youth camps. In fact Geoff and I met when he came to teach a group of girls I was responsible for at a youth activity camp how to light fires. 

I hadn't really experienced bushcraft before meeting Geoff though, so here are some of the things that being introduced (or having bushcraft thrust on me) has taught me;

Where do I begin; everyday life is definitely different being married to someone who has a keen love for the outdoors and a great and ever expanding knowledge of bushcraft skills.
Once a walk through the woods or the forest was just that, a walk, however; now it is an enriching experience and an opportunity to learn. I don't just walk through the wood and and admire the beautiful trees and plants but I also get to learn about which stick I could use as a toothbrush, which mushrooms I can forage, which flowers or plants I can eat or make drinks from.  I learn which trees I can use the sap off of to make a drink, or which bark makes tar or a canoe. I also now know a fair few good materials to use as tinder to light a fire.

I have been on walks where I've learnt tracking skills such as identifying different types of poo or seeing bitten shoots or leaves and scratched up bark on trees, which normally I may not have thought anything of however now when I go walking I look for these things and ask questions because now to me a whole new world/meaning is opened up to me now that I get this oppertunity to really see what there is around me.

 After mentioning mushrooms I suppose another very common thing in our home is foraging, I must admit I do very little of the foraging myself although I do do some, most of it I have to say is done by my husband especially when it comes to mushrooms. As you can imagine our grocery bill enjoys it. 


The fruits of one of our foraging trips

In the appropriate season we are able to pick berries and make cordials and jams, there are wild alternatives to shop brought salads and some seasonings. We also have things like burdock root that make a great substitute for chips.Then there's the meat aspect of our diet, during deer season we rarely have to buy meat and even in the summer when Geoff shoots far fewer deer and there are no pheasants and ducks we have rabbit, pigeon and jackdaw regularly. ect. I could go on. It's a shame that so few people recognise just what's out there than they can eat even down to the things in their own gardens, only the other day we found wild cress growing amongst the grass in our back garden, maybe we should cut the grass more often.

We have baskets in our home that are woven from nettle stems or willow, I have flowers carved from wood, chopping boards and serving spoons, I have even begun carving and whittling my own utensils. The children have toys and their own garden chairs made of wood and these things are not hard to make (if they were Geoff wouldn't be able to do them ;-) 

Just to finish off with I think I will share with you one of my favourite bushcraft experiences; 

sleeping on the floor under a tarp. Now I love camping, but I also love to be warm, so when this was first suggested I was worried how cold it would be for me considering I sleep in an arctic rated sleeping bag even in a tent in summer, this could be a bad experience. I must say though I was fine, yes I was in my arctic sleeping bag, but I was on the floor and there was only a tarp above me. We had our fire not to far away and our chopping blocks for wood cutting,whittling ect it was altogether a very pleasant experience that allowed me to feel very free and happy, we had everything that we needed around us. 

And that's what bushcraft is about; no matter the weather or your surroundings there you have the knowledge and not just in survival situations but in everyday life also. 

So if you are teetering on the edge of getting involved in Bushcraft and wondering if it's really for you; JUST DO IT!

Bushcraft Education Videos