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Wednesday 30 May 2012

Milius2 Fire Steel Review

We were kindly sent a lovely handforged fire steel/strike-a-light by a gentleman on BCUK whos username is Milius2 to review,as he was aware that flint and steel is our favourite method of fire lighting

It's about 2 and 3/4 inches in length and weighs about an ounce, and it's a beautifully handcrafted double swan neck, light and easy to use

But the important question is how does it perform?
Answer: Very well indeed !
Char cloth is easy to light with any steel, but a good test is to light dried unprepped amadou,it takes a decent steel to get that to light. Normally it would take me 6 or 7 attempts to light amadou,but this time it took light on the second attempt! The sparks are not highly numerous but there are a decent amount of them, however were this steel really excells is in the quality of sparks, huge big blobs of molten metal that you can guarantee will light any suitable tinder, I was left very impressed and I am fussy about my steels!
So I'd just like to say a thankyou to Andy for letting me have the opportunity to try out one of his lovely steels and if you are in the market for one you should look in his direction,prices are good and it comes in a little leather tinder pouch with some extra little bits to get you started.
Check him out on BCUK -  Milius2

Sunday 27 May 2012

We found this tree...

Don't know what it is, could be some type of cypress or maybe thuja but nonetheless whatever it is it is surprisingly useful

This is it's leaves

This is it's trunk

This is what we can do with it,
We scraped the inner bark

 and it took a spark from a ferro rod

we blew it to flame with a flint and steel

and we made cordage from the inner fibres

The branches were nice and long and would make an easy shelter, the leaves were nice and soft and would make a great bed! We were very impressed at just how useful this tree was!

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Viviparous Lizard

You all know Saint Patrick chased all the reptiles out of Ireland, well as a matter of fact he left one behind, and they are a lot less common than they used to be and normally confined to upland areas of the province, however if you are stealthy enough you can come across them if you persevere.

This little one was about 4 inches long and I found him early in the morning, it was quite cool and as a result he was rather inactive, the really interesting thing is though that if you look closely he is in the process of starting to shed his skin, I've never seen a viviparous lizard in this stage before so this was a real glory moment for me.

Sunday 20 May 2012


they look like something from another world, but they are edible..

The hairs need to be removed and the easiest way is to simply lick your thumb and rub them downwards

once they are all done, they look a little like green beans..they are edible raw but they can be bitter so it's much better to roast them or boil them first

once they are roasted in the embers for a little while the skins peel easily from them and the taste is much more palatable, however they are more a survival food rather than a delicacy

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Water Mint tea

we were out recently and found some fresh watermint and made a tea with it, we tend to make "teas" rather than infusions as we feel you get a better flavour and extract the goodness more easily this way

Not only does it taste good but it's a lovely looking plant too,with reds,mauves and purples

put directly into cold water then brought to the boil, this helps the essential oils to be released more quickly and we find gives a better flavour

as soon as it boils take it off the heat and remove the plant

the tea will be a mild yellow/green in colour,it will be fragrant and delicious, one of the absolute best wild teas you can get.
Great for easing stomach upsets, relieving nausea, and when cool has antiseptic properties so is great for a wound wash.

Sunday 13 May 2012

Weekend with the Scouts

We spent a great weekend with the scouts at Gosford forest park, just having fun and practising some simple skills

we arrived late-ish on friday night so we got the tents set up quickly before we had a bite to eat

Next morning we headed to the woods to gather wild edibles and practise knife skills, these skills are easily forgotten

we found a patch of wild garlic which was quickly ravaged by the hungry hoards!!

as evening wore on we had a competition to see if the kids could light the fire with flint and steel and they did this very quickly and efficiently, we were very the way, can you see the figure in the flames???

Breakfast was a quick bannock with wild edibles all collected and cooked by the kids,

Gosford is a great place to explore and there is lots to see and do and we would highly recommend it if you work with a group. They have a small herd of red deer down there but it's hard to get close to them as they are separated by 2 large fences and although I'm sure we would all like to see our deer in the wild along some mountainous terrain that's not always possible, some kids had never seen any before so this was a nice wee bonus.

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Simple knife maintenance

I've been using my moras a lot recently and practising my knife skills, my hands look like I've been juggling broken glass but here's a simple tip to clean your blade out in the field

you can see the state of the blade, I really should look after it better, still

pick some horsetails, crush them and rub the blade

after about a minute you can see the silica in the horsetail has helped to clean the blade, even removing the patina

and after about 3 minutes rubbing.
At this time of year the silica in the plant is still quite low and it increases as the season goes on,thus increasing it's effective cleaning abilities, you can use it on your pots and billycans also.

Sunday 6 May 2012

Simple Woodcraft Experiments 2

We decided to try another amadou experiment and instead of using polypore we used our old faithful Artists Conk

So we found some nice amadou and cut itup for a test. Davy stretched it out and slightly air dried it, nothing else was done to it, as a matter of fact to me it still felt a little damp.
We tried it with flint and steelbutit wouldn't take a spark, so we tried with a ferro rod and as you can see

It took and smouldered rather well. The thing we found out was that the unprepped amadou itself didn't take the spark but when the sparks from the ferro rod landed on it and charred it or burnt it a little, then another spark landing on the charred portion was what caused the fungi to hold the spark, so that's the trick, this is probably the fungi that will take a spark when charred properly, and I'm sure it would work with a strike-a-light too.