Up until about a month ago if you had asked me if I knew Brendon Chase, I would not have had a clue and might have said that the name had a vaguely familiar sound of something once well-known, but now forgotten.

Perhaps like a someone who had played for Watford in 1993, becoming the League’s top scorer, before disappearing into obscurity.

Brendon Chase is not however a who, but rather a what. It’s a book by Denys Watkins-Pitchford, a writer who under the nom de plume “BB”, is much loved by the traditional angling fraternity.

(I confess that is about all I know about him, apart from the fact that he was also an illustrator).

It is a tale of three boys who run away to the woods and I can’t believe I had not come across it previously, as that’s exactly the sort of book theme that I’d have loved as a child. Perhaps it’s existence was kept from me by adults worried I might take it too much to heart.

My ignorance is all the more astounding since there was also a TV series of the book made and broadcast by my local childhood  ITV station. Starring Christopher Biggins no less.

So, having belatedly become aware of this paean to childhood adventure and the natural world I got hold of a copy and took it with me the week before last when we went camping. With a campsite that was both field and woodland, and a trip that featured campfires, cooking over coals, whittling, woodland wombling and even managing to light a fire with steel and stone, it was the perfect choice of reading material. It really is a ripping, yarn, though often thoughtful, and featuring butterflies as much as the red in tooth and claw stuff.

Several times in this blog I have mentioned strange coincidences, and so it was that the day after I finished reading Brendon Chase and we returned home, the BBC’s programme Countryfile did a feature on the book, the author and kids doing outdoorsy stuff. unfortunately with an ex-Blue Peter presenter leading it, it felt like….well Blue Peter, which is not to my mind a good thing and I suspect that the Brendon Chase outlaws would have agreed.

 

patch1

 My baseball cap is getting pretty worn and battered, not to mention sun-bleached. It’s a golden rule of clothing that just as a piece starts to get really comfortably, then that is the point at which it develops a hole, splits or otherwise starts to fall to bits. Mine will last a while yet mind you, although if I was in the market for a replacement I’d get one of these fish hats from Ben at Arizona Wanderings. Last year I bought one of his K C Badger t-shirts and its always bought me luck (and a trout) when I’ve worn it fishing.

On the subject of sartorial items, recently discovered on the internet, that I’d quite like are Auxiliary Outside Projects t-shirts, deigned by Anthony Oram, who’s interviewed here.

Though, given the current fiscal position at Boot Hall I might only be able to stretch to one of their patches.

Sew-on patches are something I’ve been giving a bit of thought to lately, because I’d like the womble bag to have a slightly less military surplus look.

Another vendor of outdoor-themed patches is Miscellaneous Adventures. The general “honours” patch is OK, and there is also a cycle one that I can’t find just now, but the one I really like is the woodland woodcarving one. Not sure I can justify the costs of going on a course to get one though.

loaf

 

More on the theme of adventure, when a blow-in slid out of a newspaper last weekend. From the National Trust, it was entitled “50 things to do before you are 11 ¾”.

 Six were listed inside – Go swimming in the sea, Track wild animals, Make a daisy chain, Roll down a really big hill, Catch a fish with a net, Build a den and as I chatted to Little Boots we discussed the flyer, the six activities listed and since they could all be claimed how many of the others might be too. So I went off, looked up the NT site and printed the list.

 Back in the living room LB and I went through them ticking the ones that had been accomplished. When we’d finished, I asked LB to guess how many had been done.” About twenty came the reply”. The actual total was thirty. It was a number we were both impressed with. The fifty were divided into five groups of ten headed Adventurer, Discoverer, Ranger, Tracker, Explorer and on the first of these LB had ticked nine off, with the one remaining being Play Conkers and this high-lighted something interesting.

Whilst LB had done several things I could only dream of as a child (Canoe down a river!), there were a number of things that we did all the time as kids, that my modern child does not. it’s slightly curious, although I am genuinely pleased LB has done so many of the activities on the list.

Completing some others might be a good way to plan some adventures this summer. It’d be nice to get up to fifty, and perhaps even beyond by inventing some extra categories of our own.

This is the full list & the NT site is linked above

Level 1 – Adventurer

1.Climb a tree

2. Roll down a really big hill

3.Camp out in the wild

4. Build a den

5. Skim a stone

6.Run around in the rain

7.Fly a kite

8.Catch a fish with a net

9.Eat an apple straight from a tree

10.Play conkers

Level 2 – Discoverer

11.Go on a really long bike ride

12.Make a trail with sticks

13.Make a mud pie

14.Dam a stream

15.Play in the snow

16.Make a daisy chain

17.Set up a snail race

18.Create some wild art

19.Play pooh sticks

20.Jump over waves

Level 3 – Ranger

21.Pick blackberries growing in the wild

22.Explore inside a tree

23.Visit a farm

24.Go on a walk barefoot

25. Make a grass trumpet

26.Hunt for fossils and bones

27.Go star gazing

28.Climb a huge hill

29.Explore a cave

30.Hold a scary beast

Level 4 – Tracker

31. Hunt for bugs

32.Find some frogspawn

33.Catch a falling leaf

34.Track wild animals

35.Discover what’s in a pond

36.Make a home for a wild animal

37.Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool

38.Bring up a butterfly

39.Catch a crab

40.Go on a nature walk at night

Level 5 – Explorer

41.Plant it, grow it, eat it

42.Go swimming in the sea

43.Build a raft

44.Go bird watching

45.Find your way with a map and compass

46.Try rock climbing

47.Cook on a campfire

48.Learn to ride a horse

49.Find a geocache

50.Canoe down a river

kit

Berghaus the outdoor clothing/equipment people are running an online competition at the moment based around the question – “What does adventure mean to you?”

Competition aside, it’s a question that interests me because I think my life is one where we seek adventure albeit at a low level, lower even than Alastair Humprey’s Micro Adventures. Nano-Adventures perhaps.

I say we because Little Boots is most often my partner in action where adventuring is concerned. So undoubtedly the place to start with that question, as far as I’m concerned was to put it to Little Boots.

The answer I got was -

“Bushcraft and tying knots and things. And firecraft. And setting up camp.”

An interesting answer. We have probably used the word bushcraft whilst wombling around and doing stuff in the woods. Tying knots is something LB has been interested in for a while, and is accentuated by the current craze for loom bands. Firecraft is a word I’d never use, and I think must have come from the Bear Grylls book that LB takes on every camping trip.

But it’s good to know that my child equates the word adventure with being outside, and doing outdoorsy stuff.

For my part I would answer the question “What does adventure mean to you?” by saying it’s something to do with the spirit of life itself. The things that make you glad you are alive, even if they are tough going along the way. The things that make up for all the rubbish of modern times we have to endure.

Recent adventures include a hilly, five-mile yomp through woods and fields to a remote pub with a wood-fired pizza oven, another trip where we slipped across a railway at a crossing that I’m still unsure we should have used and battled through chest-high nettles the other side, a three a.m start to cycle to the water on the opening day of the fishing season and a virtually sleepless night in a small tent in the woods during the worst thunderstorm to hit the county for a good few years.

Fun, exciting and perhaps slightly dangerous experiences that will live in the mind as well as the heart for a long, long time.

That’s what adventure means to me.

 bookyates 

Last year I subscribed for a book and it was really nice to be one of the first to get my hands on a new piece of writing by angling guru Chris Yates.

The book was The Lost Diary and I have to admit that raising subscriptions for a publication did seem to me a bit old-fashioned, mainly I guess because it’s something I associate with Victorian times. But the more I thought about it, it seemed like a really good thing., after all so many books are published that I think have no real market and are just bought for the sake of it – usually as a gift.

How many of us have received a “humorous” or “little-known facts” book on our chosen hobby that is useless and terrible and immediately binned, or sent to a charity shop?

There is also an added perspective that “The public want, what the public get” with a lot of books being published with publishers deciding what readers want, rather than vice versa. Or so it seems to me.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying I’m going to put my name down as help kickstart Dave Hamilton’s prospective Wild Ruins book.

Go here to see what I’m on about.

 

books trade

bag kit

Almost eighteen months ago I posted about equipment/kit lists and putting something together for the wombling expeditions that Little Boots and I regularly undertake.

Just recently I’ve put those thoughts into action. I had been taking a rucksack with us, but it was a bit too big for what was needed and the tendency in having a big bag is to take far more kit than you need, so the first thing was to get a smaller bag and I wanted something that’s worn over the shoulder for speed of access.

This is what I ended up with, it’s a Finnish army bag, which is about a foot square and has some useful internal pockets. The rucksack, which gets taken on all sorts of trips including shopping, school and work and so needs constant loading and unloading.

The idea with this bag is that it has a dedicated purpose and so is always ready to grab and go. That means apart from adding food, drink and almost always a camera it’s always got the kit in we need in it ready and waiting. I made a list of the things we always take, the things we often take and the things we sometimes take. I then thought about the things we never take, but should, or perhaps have talked about whilst we were out (for example the torch, for looking down holes and exploring in dark woods). From all these things I put together an inventory of what needs to go in the bag.

A few wombling escapades should shake out whether we have all we might need, not enough or too much.

 

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