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It is not often that those that are named on churchyard war memorials are buried within the same grounds. The reason being that service personnel are generally buried where they fall.

So I became curious when I spied a military headstone in a country churchyard not too far from where I live.

The memorial was for Scots Guard Captain R Gurowski, who died aged 30 on 2nd June 1940.

It would be interesting to learn his story.

SDC10088 (2)

Last year, for the first time, I started a fire using just a piece of steel and a piece of flint. The steel I used was a chunk of old file and I enjoyed this challenge so much that i bought a proper firesteel for future use.

Now I should clarify here that by firesteel I mean a piece of hard steel fashioned for the purpose, rather than a ferrocium rod which some people call a firesteel.

“Ferrocerium is a man-made metallic material that gives off hot sparks at temperatures of 1,650 °C when scraped against a rough surface, such as ridged steel”.

It’s the same material as the “flint” in cigarette lighters and using a rod of the stuff to start a fire with is only marginally more difficult than a box of matches.

Having spent a few quid on my firesteel I wanted to protect it from rusting and also given its hook-shaped ends stop it from getting snagged on stuff.

So I made a little pouch for it, using (as before) the leather from a pair of gardening gloves from the Poundshop .

The “button” is a double-six domino piece that I found when camping last year. We pitched our tent as it was getting dusk and noticed a bit of rubbish, but it wasn’t till the next day that we saw the full extent. There were fag ends, bits of paper, food and loads of scarps of wood all over the pitch. Much as I hate clearing up after other people – or rather littering pigs – I did, over the couple of days, tidy it all away via the campfire and whilst doing so found the domino. It seemed like a nice little thing and so rather than bin it, thought I’d keep it as a good luck piece. After all a double six has to be lucky right?

So when I was making the firesteel pouch and pondering what to use as a fastening, the idea popped into my head to re-purpose it. A bead was needed, as a securing device, to complete the lace fastening and so I used one I had made from a piece of spalted birch.

Another adventure book and another fire-lighting technique. This time from Ed Stafford’s Walking The Amazon (no need to explain what it’s about, although he was the first man to do so – an amazing feat).

So this is the technique used by one of his South American companions in the very wet Peruvian jungle. Splitting wet wood to get a a dry core, producing shavings and building a platform are all fairly common techniques, but this still seems quite remarkable given the sodden environment. My thoughts are that there are possibly two key factors at play here. Firstly using tree resin as an accelerant. Ed doesn’t say what size of piece was used, but a biggish lump would certainly burn well for some time. Secondly I wonder whether the type of wood was a factor. For instance in the UK I would use Ash if I wanted to be sure of a good fire, probably with softwood for kindling.

Whatever the case here is the described method:

“Jaun’s firelighting technique was different from most as he didn’t use ant sticks at all. He found dry wood that was two to three inches thick and he made a base to raise the fire off the wet ground by splitting the logs in half and laying the inside side face up. Next, he shaved one of the logs repeatedly to produce dry shavings that he piled up on the platform. Then he just arranged the large logs around the outside of the shavings like the spokes of a wheel and lit the fire using a lump of resin that he’d chipped off a tree with his macheteThe result was a roaring fire in about ten minutes even though it had been raining for days.”

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Yonderland begins it’s second series tonight on Sky1.

Little Boots enjoyed the first series very much and fell in love with the Parvuli, furry little singing and flute playing creatures, that featured in the final episode.

So that last year when they made some cotton bags at school LB’s featured a Parvuli on the front.
We will be looking out for them this series.

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This is an update to a trio of posts from last year detailing how I rehandled a little Sheffield blade.

One, Two, Three.

Having given the blade a new lease of life two things seemed important.

Firstly making a sheath and secondly giving it a useful role.
So this is what I came up with, a small sheath that allows it to be worn around the neck.
I made the sheath by making a wooden covering out of thin wooden spatulas – think tongue depressors. This I then covered with leather. And then added a leather lace, to allow it to be hung round the neck, with a bead to hold the sheath in place.
The leather came from a pair of gardening gloves from the Poundshop – which is why the colours are slightly off. The lace is something I bought off Ebay and is the only new/non-recycled item in the whole thing,set . The bead I made from a piece of apple wood. Overall I’m really please with it. Having never worked with leather before, it was definitely a process where I gained some experience.
As for the second bit, being useful, well it just is. I have found that when camping, or doing other outdoorsy stuff it useful to have a knife quickly to hand. Of course you may have a penknife in your pocket or a bigger sheath knife on your belt. One takes time to deploy (and two handed) ; the other is often to big for the task. This knife therefore often has the edge – as well as being razor sharp that is – hanging round your neck makes it quick to get hold of and its size means it’s just the thing for the times you need to quickly slice, dice or nick something.

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Here at Boot Hall we are always making things, for reasons both of pleasure and practicality.

This is the first in what, hopefully, will be a series about that.

About a year ago I bought a large water bottle to take on wombling excursions. It came with a pouch and a belt. I found that whilst this was a useful piece of gear the belt and pouch were too much, unless I had other kit to stuff in the pouch.

So I got some nylon webbing, some quick-release clips and made a holder along with an adjustable and detachable shoulder strap. This has made it much more useful as a grab and go item, plus it’s lighter and easier to carry.

Unintentionally, it reminds me of a water bottle I had as a kid that came with something called an “Adventure Kit“.

I’ve just started work on some loops to attach it to a belt. We’ll have to see how that develops.

A couple of months ago I bought a Hot Tuna rucksack for Little Boots. It was blue camo with orange trim and immediately designated as “Epic!”.
We left the shop and were 10 yards away when the zip broke.

So we took it straight back & changed it.

The following day on rucksack number two a zip broke. (it was a different zip – the bag has three).

This time we took it back and since they had no other blue camo bags got a refund.

We tried to interest Little Boots in other bags, even visiting several shops, but to no avail. They just weren’t epic.

So a week later, against my very best judgement bought a third Hot Tuna blue camo rucksack.

Entirely predictably one of the zips broke. Unfortunately it was just over a month from purchase and so too long to be able to take the bag back.

Even if I could have taken it back there seemed little point as we would doubtless just end up with a fourth broken zip.

So I bought a heavy-duty zip and strong thread and spent three hours sewing it in.

Of course Little Boots was delighted and said it was better than ever. I should here mention that the original zips were branded Hot Tuna on the puller and so it wasn’t just a case of them having cheap generic zips.

Whilst the bag owner was chuffed I certainly was not and emailed Hot Tuna explaining the sequence of events that had left me cross and disappointed at their poor quality merchandise. Adding that I was also out of pocket and tired having wasted three hours.

I received an email back from Hot Tuna Customer Services:

“Thank you for your email.
We will endeavour to respond to your query at the earliest opportunity, normally within 1-3 working days.
During busy periods this may be longer, should you need to follow up on this case please quote the reference below:
Reference: CAS-xxxxxxxxxxx
Kind Regards,
Customer Services”

That was a month ago. Mid-way between then and now I sent a second email, received the same automated reply and nothing else.

Now compare this pathetic customer service the great service I got from Moonraker Knives.

I ordered a brass fitting from them for a little project I’m working on. The piece arrived swiftly but had slightly the wrong dimensions. Within hours of my email querying this they replied with an apology and said they would send a replacement out. It swiftly arrived and they told me that I need not return the original piece.

Now THAT is customer service.

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