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Wednesday 22 November 2017

Shaggy parasol mushroom

A really nice find recently was this shaggy parasol mushroom.

Although classed as edible this mushroom does contain some toxins that can cause some serious stomach upsets in people even after it has been cooked so it maybe best to avoid it just in case.

The gills are white and if bruised they can turn a slight tinge of pinky red, the spore print is pale cream.

As with most mushrooms gathered for food, if in doubt..leave it out !

Amanita muscaria - fly agaric

Of all the mushrooms found on earth this is the most iconic, seen in every fairy tale book and pictured in every outdoor book. The red and white fungi is very striking and not easily confused with anything else

Although classed as poisonous it rarely ever caused death through ingestion needing around 14 caps of concentrated muscimol for a fully grown adult.

It's well documented about shamans using this after being filtered through reindeer urine but an even more interesting lecture was presented by Thomas J Reidlinger in 1999 to the Mycomedia millennium conference where he postulates that it was fly agaric that caused the warp spasms of the Ulster hero CuChulainn.

If you can get a hold of his presentation it makes remarkably interesting reading.

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Amethyst Deceiver

These lovely little mushrooms appear in forests at this time of year..

And although edible most people don't regard them very highly, luckily I'm not most people. I've had them in omelettes quite often and I really like them, but then as purple is my favourite colour it's no wonder I like them.

Purple is the colour of magic and royalty and Irish legend had it that these little mushrooms got their purple colour when Iubdán, king of the fairies of Ulster, touched the stem of a white mushroom when he sheltered underneath one in a heavy rainstorm, being fairy royalty and a possessor of fairy magic the mushroom turned purple and they have remained so ever since.

Monday 4 September 2017

Broc Knives - Wee Ruby

Davy recently commissioned something special from Broc Knives of Banbridge, Northern Ireland. It wasn't just another knife, this one was a memorial piece dedicated to his mother, Ruby, who had unfortunately passed away a little before hand.
 Davy asked that a vial of his mother's ashes be incorporated into the tang and enclosed by the micarta scales, this was done very sensitively by the maker and the resultant knife can be seen below.

The knife came in a beautiful presentation box with a birth certificate and a certificate of authenticity, it carries a lifetime guarantee to the original owner.

And the knife itself, aside from the incredibly personal attachment it has for Davy is something rather beautiful in itself. The knife is made from O1 tool steel and the heat treatment is carried out in house at the Broc knives workshop, it comes clothed in a beautifully made 3mm thick leather sheath with removable dangler, both sheath and blade are stamped with the Broc logo.

The tang has a cut out to house the ashes and the handle is a micarta and fibre 4 layer composite, the outer being a lovely ivory bone colour, the handle is secured with epoxy and corby rivets and a brass lanyard hole. It's fit and finish is superb, beautiful contours and an incredibly ergonomic grip that defies the worry of hot spots with prolonged use. It is beautifully finished.

The plunge and the bevels are perfectly symmetrical and a testament to the skill of the maker, rarely if ever have I seen a grind as meticulously finished as this one, a remarkable feat of craftsmanship.

Although a knife is an incredibly personal item I believe that the sign of a well designed cutting tool is one that can be used comfortably by a multitude of users regardless of hand size or skill level and this blade proved itself to be just that. I started by carving a small jam spoon then moved on to the ubiquitous feather sticks

Davy also did this

The spine is perfectly square and throws great sparks of a Ferro rod

And the one thing we all use our knives for more than wood carving is food prep and this tool excels at this also

All in all this is a remarkable knife and one of the most perfectly finished knives I have ever handled, after 3 months of use it hasn't had to go near a stone as a strop takes care of edge reconditioning easily and brings it up to hair popping sharp again. The knife is a complete work of art and a delectable item to hold and use, the fact of its personal connection just makes it all the more heart warming to the owner. A magnificent blade, exemplary craftsmanship and a heart felt momento to always help Davy remember his mother and to have her close by.. a fitting tribute to a lovely lady from a true craftsman,

From Broc Knives we give you - Wee Ruby.

Sunday 27 August 2017

Fidget spinner bowdrill

One of the main stumbling blocks to good bowdrill technique is a decent bearing block. Now you're not going to find fidget spinners growing off a tree but for practise and muscle memory they are worth using..

Use which ever shape of spinner you like and shape the spindle to fit the bearing

Get your kit together and practise.. we are trying to develop a way to help people with joint problems do bow drill as assuming the form is very difficult if you have bad knees or a bad back..

The ember isn't hard to can also go slightly more traditional by putting the bearing in a piece of antler

Top one was hazel on lime by Davy, second one was me with willow on willow..

Sunday 20 August 2017

Preserving chanterelles

I was hoping for the usual glut of chanterelles this year but it's been quite dry and the harvest was poor though I did get some..

Chanterelles don't dehydrate well and can end up rubbery so the best thing to do with them is fry them up in a little oil

Once they release their water keep frying them till it evaporates then put them on a plate to cool

Once cool put them in a bag and freeze them, this way you can always have a few on hand as you need them.

Sunday 13 August 2017

Wild marjoram

I went out for a walk recently and came across a great little herb, wild marjoram.
Not always easy to find but when you do find it then it can be quite abundant..

Should have picked a lot of it and dried it out for cooking.. might just have to go back thete for another walk.

Tuesday 8 August 2017

Spinning time

Its at that time of year again when my thoughts turn to spinning for small game fish like perch and trout..they are now well used to feeding on this year's fry so spinning is a good way to target out came the spinner making box

And within an hour I had 15 gorgeous little lures made thst will do serious damage to the trout population!

Looking forward to the next couple of months !

Thursday 20 July 2017

Simple knife control challenge

Knife control is incredibly important, a knifes primary function is to cut not chop. Simple small controlled movements are necessary for good knife handling and this is a fun technique we do with kids when showing them how to handle and use a knife properly.. give them an apple and ask them to peel it with their knife and the person with the longest peel is the winner..
Give it a try!

See if you can beat this one at 33 inches!!!

Tuesday 11 July 2017

New woodlore clone knife

I recently bought a new woodlore clone blade blank because, well, er, I convinced myself that I needed it..

The said blank taped up and ready

And with it's new clothes of tan linen micarta

And next to my usual well used user..

Tuesday 4 July 2017

Early purple orchid

Ever see something that stops you in your tracks and takes your breath away..early purple orchids do that to me and they are out in force at the moment.. how can you see such beauty and not wonder about the mysteries of nature.

Wednesday 28 June 2017

Shanes Castle 2017

We were very fortunate to be asked to attend this year's game fair at Shanes Castle, apparently after considering a number of other bushcraft schools we were the ones that came most highly recommended so we thank everyone concerned for that.

So we had to get there the day before to get set up and this gave us the excuse to bring out the big tent, it's 30x20 feet and 14 feet tall..this thing is a beast and only gets used when we have large events or really big groups. We also had Tipi's, Icelandics and Bell tents set up in the woodland behind

After we got everything organised we had a well earned rest and got ready for a busy weekend.

Lots of items out for display and to encourage conversation, and boy was there lots of it !I think some of the folks we met on the Saturday enjoyed it so much that they came back on the sunday and spent 3 or 4 hours talking to us!!

We had a really busy few days with 30,000 people through the gates so we were kept on our toes the whole time

It was tricky to get pictures as we were constantly talking or demonstrating but nonetheless we did get a few

We made loads of new contacts and set ourselves up for an interesting year ahead, we are going to be so busy!

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Another day at the forge.

We managed to get the rest of the guys their chance at the forge last weekend. They'd all been looking forward to this for a while and this time it was decided to make Viking knives.

The weather was so good this time that we brought the anvils and forges outside

Didn't take long for everyone to get there forging heads on and start to focus on the steel.

There was great craic as everyone worked diligently and encouraged the friendly rivalry that was going on

Didn't take long for the knives to take shape

And after a couple of hours there were some great finished pieces on show

Thursday 15 June 2017

Hummingbird hawk moth

Thought I saw a hummingbird fly past me the other day it was an incredible sight, though on closer examination it turned out to be some hummingbird hawk moths.

Very exciting to see and a wonderful wild surprise.

Thursday 8 June 2017

Willow bark baskets

As you've seen from a previous post I stripped some willow to use the bark and the wood.
The bark was too nice to take down into cordage so I thought I'd make a couple of small berry collecting baskets from it.

So bark was stripped all in one piece

An elipse scored in the bark to allow it to bend

Started making cordage from lime bark to tie it all together

But realised I didn't have enough so had to resort to shop bought jute instead

All tied together

And ready for berry picking season.