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Saturday 13 July 2024

Tub Gurnard, pretty extraordinary.

 Every now and again when you're fishing you turn up something unexpected, but very welcome. This gorgeous fish is a Tub Gurnard, its one of the prettiest fish in our northern seas and pretty good eating too, as a matter of fact its often called the chicken of the sea. This little beauty was too nice to eat so a few pictures, a quick conversation with him ( they actually talk!) And back he went.

Monday 10 June 2024

Which white is right?

 At this time of year we have a number of white flowered plants in bloom, some nearing the end of their time, some just beginning. The thing is it can be tricky identifying them using the flower alone.

Here are 3 late spring, early summer plants, but what are they?

If I told you they are pignut, cow parsley and sanicle, would that make it easier?

One of them is certainly easier to figure out than the others, the left hand plant is sanicle, but what about the other two?
Ok, ill put you out of your misery, middle one is pignut, right hand one is cow parsley..
Don't think its ever enough to just identify plants by their flower, leaf, stem and location are all critical factors in good bushcraft botany.

Thursday 9 May 2024

My Nangors walking stick.

 When I was very young, maybe 5 or 6 years old and we spent a long time along the Ards peninsula, my Nangor (grandfather) and I would spend a lot of time along the shoreline foraging and beachcombing for whatever came our way. Well my Nangor had 2 walking sticks, a good one and a bendy damaged one which I always disliked and whenever we went on one of our expeditions that was the one he always made me use, I used to hate the aul thing, throw it around, treat it badly, have no respect for it. Well over the years my Nangor passed on and the walking sticks disappeared but were always talked about in our family and fondly reminisced over. As I grew I started making my own walking sticks and always tried to make them as perfect as I could, yet in the back of my mind I liked the ones that had a dog leg, or a wind rub or were just a little imperfect, they appealed to me in a way I couldn't fathom until it was pointed out to me it was probably a reflection of the stick my Nangor made me carry. 

I liked that thought and I've come to accept that the attraction in something is often due to its imperfections and these have as much validity as anything that is perceived to be perfect.

Those memories of walks along the beach over 50 years ago with my grandfather hit me hard a few weeks ago when my mother turned up with a present for me, my aunt had found something when clearing out her garage and thought I might like it, it was my Nangors stick, the bendy damaged one I always hated and that now means more to me than I can possibly express, I say without shame that tears ran down my cheeks when I saw it.

Simple little things can have a big impact on ones life and none more so than those imperfect things of creation that were lost but now are found.

Sunday 10 December 2023

Saturday 21 October 2023

Natural soap from plants

 Some plants contain high amounts of saponins and these are basically soap forming compounds, the higher the level of saponins the more 'soap' the plant will produce. This can be handy for basic hygiene when out in the Bush.

Two of the more commonly found ones are horse chestnut and soapwort.

Horse chestnuts ( we call them conkers) contain a lot of saponins, crush them up, and add to soft water and leave for 24 hours, the result is a good soapy liquid 

Discard after 3 days or it will start to ferment and smell pretty bad, this obviously defeats the purpose of the whole idea.

Soapwort, as the name suggests is good too,

It aslo produces plenty of suds but to be honest, horse chestnut is better, again discard after 3 days or it begins to smell like mushy peas! 

Saturday 26 August 2023

Proof that God exists

 So many people deride and mock the idea, but I defy anyone to spend time outdoors and genuinely study creation and not see the hand of the creator in nature, the mere existence of the variety and complexity of life calls out that there is a God.

Sunday 13 August 2023

Poison Hemlock in Northern Ireland

 It's not as common here as it is in the rest of the UK but it can be quite abundant in the areas where it is found.

Probably one of the 3 most toxic plants in Northern Europe and the plant Socrates was said to have ingested. Once you know a little about umbellifers it's quite easy to recognise. It has been said in times past for the root to be made into a porridge and used in the treatment of lunatics! 

It contains a neurotoxin which will stop your heart and breathing and is said to be quite a painful death, study the pictures below carefully and never eat any plant you're not 100 per cent sure of.