28.1.13

Renaming the blog.

This morning I was chatting to a neighbour who commented on seeing me come home yesterday covered in mud and humping my pack - curious he asked me what I was doing? Where I'd been?

So I told him, and he was shocked - "are you mad?" he asked. I just shrugged and said it was what I enjoyed doing, enjoyed the fresh air and the sense of freedom.

"Roughing it mate, aint for me - I'd rather watch footie in front of the box with a beer," was his parting comment, and I thought about that and the sad fact is for many people that's their life, a sort of contented dumping down of their lot in life.

I laughed politely, but with pity in my voice, "Sometimes you gotta rough it to smooth it!" I said to his receding back.

It was a throw away comment but it made me smile to share it and as I walked home I thought more about it and you know what by the time I reached my house the simple phrase had grown into a realisation that to me if was a truth - so much so I decided to use it in the blog title - why?

Because I realised that that statement sums up my view bushcraft and outdoors living, I'm not into easy expedition style camp bushcraft and over comfortable time outdoors, anyone can do that - these days modern life is safe and dull. Home comforts and financial demands encourage us to be soft of muscle but cold of heart - roughing it once in a while FOR ME at least reverses that.

So to me "ROUGHING IT" is as necessary a part of my life and breathing!

27.1.13

One for the knife nuts ..........


The Grohmann forces knife and the no4 Survival knife .............. two tools I am presently trailing and enjoying - the Survival knife initially wasn't really popular with me but after using it I have to say its earnt my respect!

I really am impressed with both these tools!


Finally, just before the snow in South Eastern England disappeared, I managed to get out and get some dirt time with my old buddy Steve. Our hike was up into the hills of the North Downs and it was a breath of much needed fresh air!!

 
My shelter on this trip was a Austrian Army Poncho which was put to work Saturday night as the heavens opened and that good old British tradition of rain came crashing down to wash the snow away - it was a interesting weekend as we went out in winter and came home in spring!!

 
One item I worn this weekend and was mightly pleased with was a blanket shirt - it was a garment I made back in the days of my re-enacting times and I "rediscovered" it in the loft - cant remember the cost of the blanket which I think was free but it was a great item and begin made to measure is far superior to any expensive brand name wool shirt!


Steves "basha" was a US Army poncho - note the space blanket floor! A measure needed to offer some small comfort due to the saturated nature of the forest floor!


Food for thought - although we dined on army boil in a bags one treat we both really enjoyed was a reindeer salami ............ nothing nicer than all that warm fat on a cold night!

HOME MADE ALICE FRAME

 
 
 
 
As I am sure many of you know I am quite a fan of the ALICE pack. Often it meets my needs where most other packs cant but the one BIG failing of the ALICE system is the frame with is heavy and not very comfortable to use. So I decided to make my own - or more correctly had them made for me.
 
The above picture shows the frame I had made for my large ALICE this is a long frame which goes from just above my butt cheeks to the nape of my neck and with a belt (as pictured) is excellent for the weight a large pack allows you to carry - my sleeping mat straps below the pack completing the rig and ensuring there is no need for loads of "bits" dangling on the outside. 
 


For the medium ALICE we designed a smaller frame with a shelf onto which the bottom of the medium pack sits perfectly - this frame is the exact size for the medium pack and over comes all the failings of the issue frame.

Both frames and both packs are inter changeable so allowing even more versatility!! I am very very pleased with these and as such thought I'd share them with you - more to the point the maker has offered to make frames for anyone reader who wants one. These can be bespoke to your own specs - so if interested email me the details I and I will confirm the cost for you.

20.1.13

Arctic / Winter training.

In a couple of weeks myself and a couple of friends are off to Sweden to do some Arctic/winter training. This is a two fold trip, firstly its for myself and one of my instructional team to refresh our skills and get some dirty time as, unlike a lot of schools out there we find instructors need to keep on top of there skills too! Secondly, we want to expand the programme with an advanced winter course for those who have previously attended and passed our winter WEISS course.

And this is my reason for writing this post - having trawled the internet for hours I can not find a single Winter/arctic course which has a programme that's harder or more varied than our WEISS training let alone more advanced as most boast the most basic skills so dear reader (of whom I know some are from America and Scandinavia etc etc) I need your help!!

Can you give me either links to courses that might give me ideas of additional skills to add/try or can you give me a few of what you consider advanced skills which we might try??

Thanks in advance - of and you can comment here or email me via the website www.nordmarkencanoeuk.co.uk if you prefer .................

17.1.13

Jack London

Jack London's name is not unknown to those of us who enjoy the great outdoors - Call of the Wild and White Fang are almost standard reads - as is To build a fire but I recently finished a book of his short stories and I have to say if you have never read them have a go - That Spot is a cracking short story and Lost Face has a wicked twist in the tale .................. anyway just thought i'd share

16.1.13

Self Reliance??

Has anybody read Self Reliance Illustrated magazine??

http://www.selfrelianceillustrated.com/

No? Well unless your a rank novice I don't think I'd bother!

Harsh statement for sure but that's my opinion having bought issues 1 to 10 and the first pre issue copy.

In truth the first pre-issue was very good and I really enjoyed it hence the fact I then bought the rest, issue 1 and 2 were ok but very soon the rest became very much of a muchness ........... to the point where issues 7 onward I scanned through and found nothing of interest.

The two major failings to my mind are firstly the blatant plugging of PATHFINDER AND BHK - OK its their magazine but a little balance wouldn't go amiss after all do the ego's need massaging that much when I imagine 90% of readers are DC fans already?? The other failing is the descriptive content while some of the flora articles are good the authors miss out a lot of detail on HOW to prep certain foods or which parts to use to make x or y from said plant - experience of similar writings found on UK bushcraft forums leads one to believe the author may not necessarily be 100% experienced with his subject, or maybe if he is he's missing out facts with a view of generating bum on seats for courses.

Which is a shame as I was hoping this, of all the bushcraft mags might prove to be worth reading - sadly I don't think so, maybe one day someone will produce a bushcraft or survival mag worth the sacrifice of the trees its printed on. (oh how I miss the old survival and outdoor techniques magazine)

Maybe later issues will be better as my review is based only on the first few magazine - I hope so but I'll have to wait to hear this from others as my days of reading this magazine are over.


15.1.13

Folder or sheath ???? convince me??

OK peeps I have a dilemma - forget carving a house out of wood or doing unarmed combat with a grizzly bear for a moment, can anyone convince me that a sheath knife is more useful in the field than a pocket knife??

If I have a axe and a saw what use is a sheath knife?? The two woodworking tools can do everything I need to process wood for 99% of my needs - they can be brought to bear on food prep too if needs be ................. so if a pocket knifes role isn't the processing of wood for the fire what is it??

Is it reduced to a cutter of string and peeler of spuds? If so why bother with a inconvenient to carry sheath knife and why not settle for a folder?/

I've seen ghillies grollac deer with a opinel - Randalph Fiennes is known to have said the only cutting one really needs in the wild is a good swiss army knife - for a long time Survivorman got by just fine with a multitool .........................and lets not forget the bush tucker man, a pocket knife and a golok seemed to meet his needs!!

So dear reader - oh yee of thee expensive hand made sheath knife, tell me, enlighten me as to why I need a sheath knife??

6.1.13

Traditional vs Modern

This time of year is miserable to me - its the pause in the season between being out and about and the Christmas break and always leaves me yearning to get out doors again - so naturally I've been thinking about my kit.

More to the point what I carry and why!

Cutting tools - sleep system, even my pack are all under the stop light at the moment. What I want to achieve this year is

1. To lighten my load by carrying only versatile kit
2. To simplify my load by carrying robust kit
3. To carry only essential kit.

Ross Gilmore and a few others have written excellent pieces along these lines and I aim to re-read these and trial my own ideas too.

More to the point I am also thinking about how I over complicate my gear. As an example my stove, for bushcraft 99% of the time I cook over an open fire whether in UK or Sweden so my main cookware needs to reflect that - but the 1% of the time I am not I need a stove that is both effective, fast and inexpensive. So I have made myself a 12cm Billy with a bail from a stainless steel biscuit barrel - this is better than the brand name option aka a zebra billy in as much as its lighter, the steel is thinner there for conducts heat better and the bail army fits under the stove for easier packing - its also the perfect size for a 250 gas canister and a primus micro stove as well as a few addition tubes of spices and tea towel. So this covers or ticks all three boxes above - added to this I will carry two 58 bottles with the plastic mug attached then I have water and the options of a mug and plate (bowl) or two mugs if I want to share a brew with someone on the trail!!

One thing that is perplexing me at the moment is my sleep gear - I appreciate the need for a good nights sleep, and sleeping warm is important but I cant help wondering if the modern way is best? As a for instance is the bulky sleeping bag ideal? After all it is a item which serves but one purpose. Looking back and further afield I see other options ............. for example I can always remember my dad mocking me when I told him the army issued us sleeping bags because in his day they slept in their great coats with only a blanket as cover - Preben once told me that the Swedish called a certain jacket a tent coat as that was all they slept in when in the winter army tents with the wood stove. Looking back further the wool blanket was the standard item - it was a sleep system, addition warm clothing etc - before this the dark age warrior used his wool cloak or the proper highlanders their kilts as their sleep system and as functional clothing. More recently the Poncho and liner combination has  been used - so why do we now seem to think only Sleeping bag?

I'd be interested to hear readers views on this - at present I am pondering a 1 season sleeping bag with the addition of a woobie and if needed a army issue snuggy jacket and trousers - this will reduce my load size and weight while still offering my a sleep system which will cover all my option and yet offer me the ability to add or remove layers and use items for other uses too .................

I'll be testing this idea out soon so will write more but I wonder have any of my experienced readers tested other combinations of sleep gear and if so how did you get on??

4.1.13

Dave Canterbury - re-DS

This is a video from Dave Canterbury with regards to his/ the reasons he was dropped from Dual Survival - there has been a lot of talk about the wrongs and rights and the whys and where fors of what happened and Dave has had a lot of courage to finally come forward and put the record straight.

http://youtu.be/BDmRrJ-GdUA

Personally I would like to say two things - firstly, as I have always maintained his military history may be faux or misleading but his current bushcraft survival skills are real and that is what interests me - the moral dilemma of faking his past isn't relevant to me, and lets face it there are many so called experts both in the popular culture and ruling schools etc who embellish if not totally lie about their skills and back grounds so he's not alone.

Secondly, I can understand where he is coming from over this as I know in the past I too have made mistakes. In my case I was also naïve about some things related to business and the greed/manipulations of other people, people who sometimes used my naivity and trust to further their own ends. So I will not judge him for that.

I look forward to the new series of Dual Survival (season 3) but it will not detract from my enjoyment of seasons 1 or 2 and it will not stop me watching Dave on Youtube (hell if I was in America I might even do a course for the crack too)

Lastly - everyone deserves a second chance, sadly there are far to many greedy vindictive people in the world who like nothing better than to gossip and put down others as they feel it makes them seem superior in someway ............. well folks I'd rather spend time in the woods with a man like Dave and many so called experts who run some of the various forums and business' out there (that's not to say there aren't some good guys out there who are very good and dedicated to what they do too - but these guys know who they are, and are still my friends and acquaintances lol)

End of the day people be true to yourselves - be the best person you can be every day and sleep easy and if someone doesn't like you or what you do, screw em its their problem not yours!