Back on the book front and I’m just reaching the end of Josie Drew. The last few pages are made up of a series of lists: Full Bike spec., Equipment spec (panniers, tent, sleeping bag etc.) Kitchen kit, Clothing, Washbag/First Aid, “Other Paraphernalia” and finally bicycle tools and bicycle bits.

Clearly cycling around the UK coast requires a fair amount of equipment, both for the individual and the bike. It also provides you with the means to carry much more gear than you could on two legs. That said, I guess you’d still want to keep the weight down as low as possible, and Josie does include a few items that I don’t think I’d add to my burden, not least of all an Oxford minidictionary

I must confess to an inner trainspotter that loves lists of kit which people take with them on adventures. There’s a foreign fishing one somewhere which I can’t trace (Charles Rangeley-Wilson? John Bailey?).

Sad I know, but this sort of inventory is something I can’t help finding fascinating. This may have started with The Usborne Outdoor Book I mentioned a few posts back, which has lists of kit for cycling, camping, exploring, plus cooking and clothing inventories for doing so. It also has two emergency kits which is perhaps not surprising because the book is made up of material from three smaller guides. What is interesting is that the two kits vary quite a bit. But then I guess that depends to some degree on the activity and the environment to and in which the kit is being taken. There are common items – torch, penknife, safety pins, matches, needle and thread, string, scissors, first aid supplies.

Another book I have mentioned in the past, Practical Outdoor Projects by Len McDougall includes a “Soap Dish Survival Kit” which includes some, but not all of these items and adds compass/map, fishing line/hooks and tweezers, plus “Your choices of other survival equipment”, which kind of backs up my point about activity and environment, but also opens the door to all sorts of crazy possibilities.

As an aside, Len’s suggestion to use a plastic soapdish to keep the gear in as a good one, because they are a handy size, robust and relatively waterproof.

Not long ago I read Country Hearts by renowned angler Fred J Taylor (whispers – it was a bit rubbish) and it tells of how, after getting lost in a wilderness area, he used to carry “a small bag of survival equipment. It holds two disposable lighters (in case one gets lost), a very sharp penknife, a stub of candle with three vesta matches embedded in the was, a magnifying glass, a small compass, a sacking needle and a length of waxed twine, two nails, a big safety pin, half a dozen aspirins, a small roll of adhesive tape and a miniature bottle of Scotch.”

(I’m puzzled by the nails)

Of course Fred did go fishing and hunting in the US and Australia, where it is easily possible to get into a difficult and potentially life-threatening situation and I assumed that he only took bag on his trips to the Aussie Outback, or American Backcountry, and not on, say, a trip to the Hampshire Avon. But then again perhaps he did. After all, experience has taught me, emergencies can crop up anywhere. Indeed, it’s there very nature to do so.

When we go for a wander in the woods, or fishing, or whatever, I’m not particularly prepared, but I usually have a small first aid kit with me, always a knife of some kind and often some string. The latter is rarely deliberate, but I somehow have a knack of accumulating bits of string in my pockets.

Being out in the snow recently did make me think I should put something a bit more organised together. But the danger is in getting carried away. You could end up with a mass of stuff, like some demented prepper. Simplicity is the key.

So what, I’m thinking, should I include in this kit?

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