Bushcraft - finally qualified

>>  Thursday, June 22, 2017

A few years ago I trained in basic bushcraft skills and then a bit more advanced.    But I have not done much with them except accumulate pieces of equipment and become an expert fire starter.

A guider I know asked me to do a backwoods afternoon for a group of girls she is taking on an international trip where they will be cooking on wood for a week.  I still haven't learnt the art of saying no.

The altar was covered in nettles when I got there, I cleared them (in my old but never used  fire gauntlets) and then took the photo.
I got my (old and hardly used) knife out and set to.
With the kettle on and the chimney starter started I showed the girls how to build and light a fire.  I did mine on the ground
and they built one in the altar, so we were ready to not start cooking on gas.

Now forgive me for not taking photos at the point where I was stuffing scorching hot coals in a chicken's bottom (full instructions are available from the day I watched someone else do it!)
But I soon had a couple of chickens cooking by a fire. and found that the temperature in them started to rise quite quickly.

I turned them around after an hour and again at the 2 hour mark.

I also put extra coals around them (once the cakes were cooked and no longer needed them).

(They cooked for a total of 2.5 hours)
With the chickens on I felt bushcrafted enough to use a stick for fishing my teabag out of my cup and ready to move onto cakes.

The girls lined the new dutch ovens with greaseproof paper and peeled and chopped apples to place in the bottom of them.  With rather a lot of brown sugar sprinkled over them, they made up some cake mixtures and poured it in.
we hung one over the fire and put one on the altar with coals under and on top of it.

They were cooked after about 45 minutes and I took the coals off them and left them on the warm plate.

we had apples to spare so they went on the fire peeled and cored and covered in sugar.

and they made a fine afternoon snack.

Which was supplemented by popcorn.

We tried popcorn both in the popcorn maker and in foil balls.  The last time I did this the foil made the better popcorn but this time the sieve and broom handle maker won the day.  I think it depends on the temperature of the fire and the amount of oil they seemed to soak the kernels in for the foil balls!!

They peeled potatoes and prepared broccoli and whilst it continued cooking I taught them how to make the most of makeup removers, tampons and lip balm to beat any boy in a fire starting competition.
The chickens were cooked beautifully, falling off the bone and moist,  we carved them to the pan as we didn't have a serving plate and it sat warm on the edge of the fire.

Roast chicken, potatoes, broccoli and gravy all cooked on an open fire.
And the cakes, well they were good too.  The one on the tripod cooked much more evenly than the one that was sat on and under coals.  I think I needed to take the coals off it a little earlier. But both tasted very good.
with custard.

A real feast in a field.
The girls seemed to take it all for granted that it was going to work fine.  I guess that is faith in a leader.
I was just happy when the pots were cleared, the equipment packed away and the campfire started.

The piece de resistance of the day was the guider I was originally a guide leader with about 25 years ago (when I was completely useless) came over with her guides to join us for a campfire sing.

"I did it, I did it" I told her "I finally did it!"

"you were always afraid of the fire" she remembered "well done you"


Goodbye Giles

>>  Friday, June 16, 2017

So the Funeral came.

In true meeting with Giles tradition of me being a complete chump, my car broke down on the way.  I limped into the car park making a clattering that did not become the moment.  I could see his eyes rolling before I'd even stepped in to the church.

"wear pink and blue" they said "how he loved his flamboyant dressing" they said.

I bought a beautiful sky blue dress with pink and white roses all over it,  he would have liked it I think.  The rest of the mourners appeared to be in much more sombre attire - dark blues with flashes of pink yes - but the bright summer dress no.   There go the eyes again.

Still I made it through quietly and alone.

I queued up to give my condolences to his daughter and family and as I hugged her, my cardy caught up on her handbag strap and we had an awkwardly closer for longer than necessary time as I freed myself.  And the eyes have it.   But she was lovely about it, she is the most amazing girl that is going to go a very long way in life. We parted.

 I'd taken a rose with me but there were no flowers there, I was glad I had tucked it into my handbag.  But as I walked away from the church, leaving everyone behind in the hall, the sun was shining down on the war memorial and withered flowers drooped out of the stone vase.  I stood looking over the church wall at it.  I wandered back into the church yard and placed my pink rose into it and it stood proud in the sun with the others cascading away from it.  I lent on the wall for a while longer thinking what a perfect day it would have been to have gone to lunch together.

Back to the car and backfiring my way down the road past the church I felt the rose's eyes roll, a side ways grin and a shake of the head.

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