Monday, 30 May 2016

How to spot raspberries

I'm always really  pleased when folk walk past unripe blackberries and don't consume any because I'll gladly hoover them up.

 Well not really, by unripe I mean 'unripe' and not blackberries but raspberries. I'm always surprised when folk say 'You can find raspberries in the countryside?' and that's why I think people just walk by this delicious fruit thinking that the 'unripe blackberries' because it's the only known fruit of this kind to them.

Whilst not professing to be an expert, it's like many things in that once you get your eye in they just stand out a mile. The thing that usually catches my eye is the colour and look of the leaf.



These are raspberry leaves and have an almost lime green colour to them and feel fairly smooth to the touch. 


Compare that to blackberry leaves which are slightly darker and feel rougher and almost leathery compared to raspberry leaves. There can also be some thorns on the main rib on the leaf's underside.


This is the thorny bramble...


Talking of thorns...Anyone who has bushed past a bramble patch will be well acquainted with the multitude of thorns down the long lengths of a bramble (see the bramble leaf picture above).

A more delicate Raspberry cane

Raspberries have more dainty looking stems that can have no thorns, some small but barely raised thorns or slightly longer thorns that are very flexible and almost rubbery and are sometimes red. Suffice to say raspberry canes need to up their game because they are next to no deterrent. If you look closely at the base of the stem in the above picture you'll see some red thorns.


If you still aren't sure that you've hit raspberry cane gold then turn the leaf over.  It is always this rather nice grey/ green colour and whilst blackberries can sometimes display this hue it's not 100% of the time (there are apparently dozens and dozens, if not hundreds of blackberry subspecies). This picture also shows off the delicate raspberry leaf and no thorns.



This shot shows off he lime green top surface and the grey/ green underneath perfectly.

 

The above two shots show raspberries after the flowers have set and the fruits forming.


And here's a shot of some blackberries for comparison. 

 

 Scottish raspberry

This bounty of fruits is a crop of Scottish Raspberries (from Galloway), a county that sees favourable growing conditions for them. I also recall going to view Ospreys in the ?Lake district and the car park being full of them too.

Raspberries aren't always that big and can be hard to harvest intact if very ripe. I've also noticed that there can be a little variation in fruit size but not as much as blackberries. The biggest size difference is that between a wild strawberry and a commercially grown fruit. Even if there is no fruit to be had then you'll hopefully know what to look for and  will therefore know  to revisit.

I'm going to finish on blackberries-If in the late Summer or Autumn you find some blackberries with a grey hue then you've possibly found Dewberries.















Sunday, 29 May 2016

The Bushcraft Show 2016

I'd had to give last year's show a miss due to a family member's terminal illness so I was glad to get the chance to pop along for the day this year to the show. I won't lie that Ray Mears being there was a definite draw and a big well done to magazine editor Olivia for landing this marquee signing.



The location was Beehive Farm and I think it worked well in that it's shape made the show more compact and therefore more intimate whereas some shows have been 'in the round' which tends to spread things out a bit more. I also thought it had a very chilled out vibe too. Having a lake at the end was also good for those who wished to take to the water.


 

I'd got there and ready to move about 9:15 and was pleased to see that us tourists could enter as I thought it might be a case of having to wait around until 9:30 so I decided to have a quick circuit to get my bearings, specifically seeking out the Woodlife Trails crew and the main marquee for later.

 Dave Watson and Andrew Price

And so I started wandering a fairly random route through the stalls and back again, I had all day so the planning didn't need to be any more precise than that. Whatever, and whoever caught my eye.

 Perry McGee and Ben Orford

I'd seen several stands that I wanted to make purchases from and duly did so. I didn't actually spend a lot which I think showed that a) I'm not a kit tart and b) I have self control.

 
 Pablo and Craig Fordham

The morning seemed to fly by and I decided to go and sit by the lake to have a quick nosebag. A short walk round and I found a nice shady spot under a Hawthorn. There are some newer stands as well as some old familiar faces and it obviously nice to catch up with both punters and instructors that you know, but also to try and catch folk that you know from Facebook. Social media is much maligned but I tailor it to the outdoors and it's great to meet like-minded folk through it.


And the above picture is a shot back across the lake towards the show and to me perfectly reflects the calm and bustle available on the day. Well after a lazy bit of grub I had another quick gander and then decided to park by backside in the display marquee and wait for the reason that I'd come as a day visitor on Saturday-Ray Mears.


I ha d a little wait ahead of me but I had some reading matter that I'd purchased earlier. I did a paracord article for Bushcraft and Survival skills magazine a while back and wanted a better condition copy than I had at home, so this issue got well read by a captive me. I twas also this issue that had the very satisfying Joe O'Leary moccasins in which I've had a go at. 

It started to get a bit warm in the marquee and I'm glad I had water, and I had to feel for some folk when we were asked to produce our talk tickets and some (in good seats) had to vacate as they were ticketless. There was music playing at a low level in the backfround and I had to smile when they played The Cure's 'A Forest' which seemed entirely apt.

We had some pre gig 'entertainment' watching some sponsor and magazine banners going up and then I caught a sight of editor Olivia entering through a door I the back, closely followed by Ray. He got a premature round of applause whilst waiting at the side of the stage and Olivia introduced him and seemed genuinely thrilled to have secured him for the talk. Then the 'official' applause rang out as he came on all mic'd up.


 

And he was off. He said that this is the first time he's addressed an audience like this at such an event and initially stated that the talk would be loosely based on a forthcoming book however it seemed to morph into a motivational speech sprinkled with personal anecdotes and references.


He often adopted this thoughtful demeanor and slow walk when composing the next piece of dialogue.


Often measured, occasionally vocal and all talk was matched with lots of hand gestures.
  

During the talk some guests (mainly sponsors) came in and sat by the side of the stage to catch the final moments of Ray's speech, including Lofty Wiseman and Ray made a reference to the fact that Lofty suggested he'd survive a situation by eating Ray!


And blow me if a  while later Lofty 'stormed' the stage and the two met and shook  hands for the first time which was nice to see. Ray did a question and answer session at the end which was a little dominated at times by some kids who had sat at the front of the stage and caught Ray's eye a lot. Not a deal breaker though. Ffyona Campbell was to do the next talk who actually went out with Ray many years ago.


And his talk was a cracking way to round off my day and so to the car. A day or so after I was also rather chuffed to see that Dryad Bushcraft's Andrew Price used a picture I took of him as his Facebook banner page.








Friday, 27 May 2016

Tristan Gooley Nat. Maritime Museum Talk

I'm not really sure where I first heard of Tristan Gooley but since I've been aware of him he has appeared regularly on screen and in print (both magazine and his own books).Talking of books I was lucky enough to get a pre release copy of his rather fine Walkers Guide to Outdoor Clues and Signs book to review on this very blog.

I also asked him if he would consider contributing an article to the Scout Association's Outdoor Adventure Manual book which he kindly did, and I was pleased to have produced  some draft sketches  for it for Haynes to use to make the book illustrations. Oh, and if anyone likes his Facebook page I nudged him to get one set up, even though he is a confirmed Twitter user.



Anyway...I wouldn't normally head off to the Greenwich Book Festival but Tristan was doing a talk to coincide with his new book launch to promote How to Read Water so as I have the luxury of time on my work sabbatical I made my way to the National Maritime Museum with my Balinese hand made backpack (I know, get me).


A quick trip across London via the Docklands Light Railway and I arrived at Cutty Sark station. I'd given myself plenty of time for a walk around and Greenwich is worth spending time in.


After a cheeky CaffĂ© Latte in the Old Royal Naval College I headed for a bit of pre talk sustenance which I got in the fantastic market. I got a Thai dish off a stand which was run by a Thai couple and I sat and ate it outside. As close to street food as you'll get in SE10.


But I digress. Anyway, the National Maritime museum is close by and it was a case of in the main entrance and bear right and there it was, sign posted on the lecture theatre door.


Most folk seated themselves several rows back but not me, straight to the centre of the theatre front row! Well why not?


Tristan came down from the back of the theatre with a member of staff and after a brief introduction off he went with his talk about his new book which also mentioned Greenwich.


He started off by joking that the talk would be about his sixty favourite puddles, then quickly moved onto Captain Cook who was his hero, but that he was also interested in his heroes, namely the Pacific Island navigators he met.


He described himself as a navigation magpie and a nature evangelist. Oh and these two pictures are pretty much the same thing in a different format...


Tristan is a seasoned speaker and made reference to a massively varied list of things; Vikings, ripple waves, duck's bottoms, Constable and Reubens, glitterpaths, riffles, Pooh sticks, pillows, slick lines, sand ripples, katabatic winds and loads besides.


After his talk concluded he left his podium and laptop and sat down to field some questions at a desk. I just managed to squeeze the penultimate one in (about sand ripples as it goes).


Those that wanted a copy of his new book had the opportunity to go to the museum shop and get one signed which I duly did. We had a chat and as it unfolded he clicked about the Natural Naviagtor page and the Outdoor Adventure Manual. A nice way to round off this day.

I will be doing a day course with Tristan soon at Capel Manor so expect another blog, and have a listen to the  podcast that Tristan did with Paul Kirtley if you get a minute.


Wednesday, 25 May 2016

World of Bushcraft Kuksa class

I have attended a 1-2-1 bowdrill pimping session with Jason Ingamells at The World of Bushcraft centre some time ago, however, I haven't done one of their regular skills workshops...Until this week when I attended the kuksa carving class.

In the first official week of my sabbatical I made my way up to Bedford and being a bit early had a quick stooge around part of the rather large lake behind the centre and indeed the centre itself. 


I chanced upon the dug out canoe that they are taking to The Bushcraft Show, with and without instructor Jay in it. I have to say that I was well impressed and that they are going to try and coax the sides out at some stage to make it wider. If you have followed it's conception on social media you'll know how much work has been needed. Good effort.



It was also good to see one of my paracord instruction sheets I did for the centre still kicking around with the said cordage.   And so to the afternoon. Joe was taking the session for the four attendees, and it turned out that three of us (including Joe) were involved in Scouting, and I told Joe that I had mentioned him in this blog Incidentally Jason and course manager Kevan Palmer contributed an article to this outdoor Scout Association book.


It kicked off with what wood could be used (we had sycamore for our session) and some kuksa examples. It was about now that I was pleased to be attending as I can make a usable spoon but if it's not done in five minutes flat I lose interest, coupled with woodwork being the only thing I got a D for in a senior school report I had no choice but to knuckle down.


There was also a safety talk concerning the axes, saws, knives and crook knives that we would be using. And then Joe introduced small bite sized sections of work to be carried out.

 

And so that sort of set the pace and the pattern of the afternoon; demo, practical, demo, practical... 


With courses of any kind you never quite know what sort of crowd you'll be in with but I have to say that the four of us got on famously to be honest. Note my rather fine clothing catalogue pose in the above picture.


The demo, practical, demo, practical continued, except when it went demo practical, tea, chocolate. Luckily we all managed to take this change in tempo in our stride.



Joe had mentioned from the start that no one would finish their kuksas but the whole object of the exercise was to make sure all the attendees were competent in the skills needed. The curved crook knife was introduced towards the end once folk had spent some time fashioning the basic shape. I elected to press on with some exterior wood removal rather than the bowl as I have a Ben Orford crook knife that will make mince meat of the internal bowl wood, and this pick knife when it comes to the finer detail.


And to another magazine like cheeky pose with my 'finished' work. I have to say that I am rather pleased with the progress made on my embryonic kuksa, not only how far I got but the quality and early symmetry was pleasing on the eye. I am cautiously optimistic that it will finish up as a decent bushcraft brew holder. Should it crash and burn well these things happen and I've had some practical experience of the process-The whole point of the session I guess.


I had had genuinely pondered leaving my wallet at home but decided to take it 'just in case'. I weakly caved in and purchased a Petroxmax FT3 Dutch oven (meal for one sort of size). I've liked the look of this brand due to the thought expended on the useful lid design, but that's another blog I guess. I'm kind of hopeful this will work with this bespoke trivet out and about. I told the guys in the centre that I absolutely won't be buying anything from them at the forthcoming Bushcraft Show...We'll have to see won't we?!