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Well we are slightly off the pace with the #30DaysWild thing. It started 1st June and we managed to do nothing that, or the following day.

However, we had spent the previous Friday to Monday at The Bushcraft Show, which covered lots of bases on the outdoors front, so we are not fretting too much. We will just double up on a couple of days to hit out 30 activities.

So Activity #1 was actually on the 3rd June. Little Boots and I were in town sat on a bench having something to eat prior to going to the cinema. We heard chattering.

“Know what that is?” I asked. Little Boots said that he did not. “Magpies. Now where are they?”

We narrowed it down to a nearby Whitebeam, at which point the three of them burst out of the foliage and flew in a loop, around us and back to the tree, where they started chattering again.

We looked at each other. “Magpies!”

Activity #2 – Saturday 4th June. I went for a long walk along the river (21 miles). Little Boots was excused this for two reasons. Firstly, the distance – it was way too long – I was doing it as part of an effort to get in better shape, and knew it would be fairly arduous. Secondly, with Half Term drawing to a close the young fella had a lump of homework to get through.

It was a warm, but cloudy day and I walked through some lovely scenery along the Kennet valley. However, this also meant that walkers and cyclists were out in force, so that I did not spot much wildlife. There were plenty of young Rabbits who seemed delightfully incautious as I approached, something which accounts for the fact that I also saw the remains of several. The best wildlife spot was on a quiet stretch where about 20 House Martens were wheeling and diving at the river. At first I thought they were picking off flies, as they had been a couple of weeks back when I watched half a dozen picking off Mayflies. But the Mayfly hatch is over and as I drew closer I realised that they were taking it in turns to drink from the river. Amazing.

Activity #3. Sunday 5th June. We went to the small playing field behind the village hall to try out the bow and arrows that LB got at the Bushcraft Show. Whilst we were there we went to the small woodland next to the field to inspect the camp that LB had built a few weeks ago. With the warm weather and rain the herbaceous plants have all sprung up and ruined the stick based structure. Rather than write it off I suggested he fix the camp using some of the Willow branches that were stacked at the front of the wood, to make a living structure.

Not the sort of sign you see often in the UK

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Have you heard of Edward Abbey?

If not, get busy with your Google-Fu. You will enjoy the discoveries.

Whilst sorting out an over-congested room earlier today, I found this quote scribbled on a piece of paper. No idea what book it dropped out of.

Edward Abbey- “It ain’t wilderness unless there’s a critter out there that can kill you and eat you.”

Love it.

 

 

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We have an open fire and during the winter month we burn mostly logs. However, some are a bit large, or burn quite slowly and so we have a bit of coal on hand that we occasionally use to make the fire more effective.

This coal comes in thick plastic bags which are generally wet. It is remarkably tedious how it always seems to be raining when I have to get fresh coal, and even when it isn’t the bag is wet to start with, and even when they’re dry outside they tend to be wet inside.

What also happens a lot is that when a bag is open, there isn’t enough coal to fill the bucket and I will have to open another. This will coincide with the fact that I don’t have a knife on my person. At least not a knife I want to sully by using it to open a grotty, gritty plastic bag.

So what I thought I needed was a cheap blade that I could leave outside by where the logs and coal are stored, so that I could open the coal bags without having to traipse back indoors to get a cutting implement.

As well as being cheap it needed to be safe to use, given the usually wet conditions.

This is what I came up with. It’s a Stanley knife-type blade sandwiched between two pieces of flat plastic that came from some packaging. There is a hole in the blade and after drilling the plastic, I used a piece of bamboo to act as a pin for added strength. The bamboo came from a chopstick, which are most useful for making and fettling projects.
The whole thing is glued together using a glue gun, and as the glue itself is rather rubbery I added some as ribbing to give grip in the wet.

It looked a bit anaemic to start with so I thought I’d paint it, which proved to be interesting. I used car spray paint and the undercoat went on fine. Next I gave it a coat of white, which clearly did not work well with the undercoat. I am not sure why. Both seemed to be the same type of paint, not for example one cellulose and one enamel. It looked a bit rubbish to be honest, but I then gave it a coat of the orange day-glo paint, which is something I use when I’m making fishing floats, and the end results looks, well… interesting. It also almost looks intentional. Anyway I like it and it will make it easier to spots if it gets misplaced.

All I need to do now is think about how I stop it rusting, since it is going to live outdoors. I am thinking some kind of sheath lined with grease.

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Often when I tell Little Boots about my childhood, it feels like I am discussing medieval history.

A recent case in point was when I was telling a story about when Star Wars first came out.

By Star Wars I mean the first movie, which to many of us will always be Star Wars and never A New Hope.

In those days, unlike today, films did not come out at the all the cinemas at the same time. Our local town was usually two weeks behind cinemas in the nearest large conurbation, which was itself behind London.

From somewhere, a rumour started that Star Wars was not coming to our local cinema because the screen was too small. This rapidly became gospel at our school, sending the pupils into paroxysm of anxiety and nervous excitement.

Somehow, my brother and I persuaded the Old Man that it was essential that we see the movie and to this day I’m really not sure how, because he probably hadn’t been to the flicks since the early sixties.

Anyway one evening the Old Man took us along to one of the “big” cinemas twenty miles way. It was big because it had more than one screen, which was impressive to us. As we turned the corner we saw a huge queue snaking back from the cinema. My brother and I were sure that we would never get in. Dad reassured us that we would, but frankly I was not convinced.

However the doors opened and before long we were in.

It was an amazing experience, because apart from Disney films, we had not really been to the “pictures” a great deal.

There were two outcomes from this “event” – I call it that because it does stand out significantly in my memories of my last years at primary school.

Firstly that my Dad loved it. Not surprisingly really, because it is basically a western and the old man loves a good western, but he also really raved about how the equipment all looked battered and used rather than pristine which was the usual model for Sci-Fi movies. Consequently, for a couple of years thereafter he agreed to take us to see any movie we suggested. Close Encounters and Grease stand out as examples.

The second, and far more important result, was that my brother and I saw Star Wars a full two weeks before it eventually came to our town cinema, dispelling the myth that it wouldn’t.

And for that period we absolutely ruled the school, with what felt like demi-god status. Thus we also spoiled it for everyone, by explaining the plot, and other facets of the film, in infinite detail. Not, I’m sure,that that made a jot of difference to the kids’ enjoyment of the movie once they saw it themselves.

This was a tale I recently told Little Boots and whilst a lot of the background seems from ancient past, the kudos with seeing a mega-movie ahead of the other kids still holds good.

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Little Boots is a very creative soul.

Because of this some weeks back we attended a launch event for a film competition that LB’s school cine-club is going to enter. It consisted of some screening of short films and some Q & As from “experts”.

There was an interval during which various attendees sent in Tweets which were displayed on the large screen on which the films had been shown.

I tweeted something about Seeing Star Wars as a child. That is a post for another day.

Anyway my tweet name and avatar popped up (the latter forms part of the banner of this blog).

I laughed.

“Is that you?” asked LB. “Yes”, I replied.

A very confused look passed across my child’s face. “Why have you got that name and that picture of those old boots?”

I explained that the boots were my all-time favourites and that I’d worn them when doing some things that I’d loved like building RHS show gardens. Following on from that, I explained that there was a very famous gardener from Victorian times called Miss Jekyll and there was a well-known painting of a pair of her old boots. My picture was an “homage” to that, as my boots were in the same position and I’d set up the background to look the same.

LB, who knows what an homage is, nodded along as I described this.

“And the name”,  I went on, “comes from the fact that the boots were an Australian brand called Blundstoned and Stoned Love is a track by a soul group called the Supremes, and because I loved  the boots and soul music I put the two together – Blundstoned Love”.

LB thought for a moment before saying. “That’s really cool.”

“Yea, I used to be cool,” I replied, not smelling a rat.

“So can I have a Twitter account?”

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