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Bushcraft Weekend (Day 2)

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(this is a continuation from Bushcraft Weekend (Day 1) … Please read that first )

*YAWN* Good morning.  Sleeping was pretty rough.  I think partly because I’d had a coffee about 9pm and a hot chocolate about  around 11, I suppose.  It could also have been just the totally different environment from my normal sleeping quarters haha.  One of the things that kept me up was the sound of the A420 not too far from the camp, also there was some animal out prowling around for about 3 hours making on hell of a racket.  Many of us had compared notes on this in the morning.  As the instructors camp was about 10 mins walk through the woods from us they said they’d not heard anything.

Oh well on to the day…

We start again under the parachute in the centre of our camp for an overview of the day to come.  Breakfast is started, porridge with raisins and honey if anyone wanted to add them (most people did).  However, before we ate, while it was cooking on the fire in Dutch Ovens, we were sent into the woods to find a “sit spot” and just watch, listen and feel the forest around us.  I’ve done this before but you could see the faces of those that had never really just gone to sit and enjoy the surrounding.

Watch this video on what is a sit spot if you want to know more

A couple of photos from my time at my sit spot… There are 2 pics of about 180 degree pano’s (click to see bigger images)

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In this photo you can see one of the 3 deer that were just wandering around the area near me.  One of them came to within about 30 yards.  I was using my phone as a camera and zoomed so it’s not too great and it was moving.

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After about 20 mins in out sit spots we were called back to camp for breakfast.  You could tell people were hungry, it was pretty quiet while people were eating.  The instructors laid out plans for the day.   First thing after breakfast was improvised shelter building.  We were shown a few different examples and told we’d all be building our own Thermal A-Frame shelter.   As the name suggest it’s an A shaped frame work, starting with hefty forked sticks for the 2 main uprights and a long ridge pole that should be several feet longer then you so you’d have room for your gear inside the shelter.  These 3 main supports need to be quite substantial as you’ll be piling on several hundred pounds of bracken and leaf litter as thatching.

Here are some photos of my construction progress, sadly I completely forgot to get a photo of the finished product Sad smile (click to see larger pictures)

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After we worked like crazy on our shelters for a few hours it was time for lunch.  Today it was fish, Rainbow Trout to be exact.  We had a lesson on cleaning whole fish including deboning them without the need for a knife (for the deboning part).  I’ve clean countless fish in my life but NEVER deboned one using the method we’d learnt on the course.  It’s crazy easy to do and actually, a little fun too Open-mouthed smile  When you’re done it’s pretty funny as you’re left with a pretty much boneless double fillet in one hand and a “tom and jerry” fish in the other (as the instructors called it) .. you know like you see on the cartoons, it’s just a head, a tail and the full skeleton in the middle, we all had a chuckle at them.

Once that was done it was time to “Ponass” then.  This process uses 3 sticks, we used hazel.  There are 2 small sticks used to skewer the fish and act as supports to keep it flat, while he other stick is used to support the fish and is pushed into the ground to get it over the fire where it will cook.

The first pic was my finished fish, ready for cooking.   The next couple show the groups fish over the fire.  Mine is closest to the camera.

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The instructors also made new potatoes to go along with our fish, left us with a bowl of butter to put all over everything if we wanted then they left us to eat while they retreated to their own encampment.

After lunch we went for a wander around the woods while the Instructors took it in turns to point out various trees and plants in order to explain what they were, what their uses are, etc.  This was quite interesting and I’d love to do a more intense foraging sort of course to learn more about the plants we have around us, and how to make use of them, not to mention the ones we need to avoid!

Back at camp after the walk we had a bit of a break while the instructors prepared the fire lighting session assembled.  We watched while all sorts of methods of getting fire were demonstrated.  Many of the methods I’d either used or seen used in the past but it was good to see it all again.

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After the fire lighting was dinner I think .. it’s tough to recall all that’ went on over the weekend now haha Dinner tonight was Rabbit stew.  Yeah, you guessed it, we had to prepare the rabbit.  Previous meals we each had our own victim item to prepare, tonight there were only 4 rabbits to prepare because of the size.  So, we all split into groups of 3 and played follow the leader again to prep the rabbit.  I can’t hardly think the last time I cleaned a rabbit, but it was back in the early 90’s and I don’t even have the foggiest on how I’d done it, but the method shown was pretty easy and except for a few cuts here and there most of the work was done by hand with out a need for a knife.  The fact the rabbits were previously frozen the little buggers were still freezing inside, I’m pretty sure we all had frostbite when we were done hah

Back in the camp the instructors did the cooking again and prepared 2 huge Dutch Ovens full of rabbit stew and another with rice.

By the time we finished prepping the rabbit and were waiting for the food to cook it started to completely tip it down… and I mean REALLY bucketing it down.  The parachute used as the main shelter point held the water back for quite some time but even it just couldn’t keep up with it anymore.  We also had to be vigilant of the water that was starting to creep into the fire area, we had to keep trying to divert the water from the fire.  This sort of threw a wrench into the lesson plans too I think, but they managed to continue with the knives and axes info session.  Showing us what legal and what’s not as well as going over the current laws on blade carry in the UK.

Once dinner was prepared we were again left to our own devices to finish off the evening.  There wasn’t too much we could do because of the weather, staying dry was getting becoming a harder option as the night went on.   A few of us hung about the fire and keeping it going, and trying to build up a supply of wood near the fire to dry out so we’d have fire in the morning.  I think I turned in about 1030 or something, it was very hard to get to sleep, everything was so damp and it was just hard to get to sleep.  I think all in all I did manage more sleep then Friday night, but who knows.

Read about day 3