This is by way of an update of a blog post from January. Back then I wrote of my discovery of hay boxes which I had read were “a first class method of preparing porridge overnight”. Recently thanks to a great post on the Selfsufficientish pages, I have discovered that they are more than this and can be used to actually cook food – something of a low tech, low cost, slow cooker. It also showed how to make one – or rather a modern day equivalent.

At the moment I’m looking for Summer Holiday projects to undertake with Little Boots and this looks like a potential candidate. It would be a good thing for camping. You could knock up a hearty stew or something first thing and then go out for the whole day knowing a deliciously slow cooked meal would be ready to be dished up when you got back to camp. The only thing that puts me off from a personal perspective is that we haven’t the space in the packed car for a box of tissues when we go camping, much less a bulky haybox. That said for day trips it does feel like a way of taking a sizeable hot meal with you in the boot of the car.

Definitely something to think about. The source of my earlier info on the hay box was Camping For All by Jack Cox. Since then I’ve picked up another of his books, Camp and Trek. This book is, according to the preface, a companion volume to The Outdoor Book, which if I get hold of a copy makes three, which is dangerously close to a collection and before you know it I’ll be adding Ideas for Rover Scouts and Ideas for Scout Troops to my shelves.


First published in 1956 Camp and Trek has a sterling sounding list of advisors including Ronald English (cycling), Percy Blandford (canoeing), and Showell Styles (climbing), not to mention the rather wonderfully named Moira Savonius on “seeking food from Nature’s larder.”

What is interesting is how the concern about what I call artificial entertainments were as alive sixty years ago as they are today.

Myself, I worry about the amount of time spent on the computer and it’s ilk (Wii and Nintendo DS) along with the Sky kids’ channels.

In those pre-telly days the concerns were “the hypnotic screen, and the bewildering fantasy of the strip cartoon and superficial entertainment.”

The book is surprisingly unstuffy in attitude “Good camping is never bounded by convention.”, but it does then say things that we would not see as good practice today, such as taking “a minimum of liquid” with you for the day. These days I think the common sense attitude is to take plenty and more than you think you’ll need. Some of the food suggestions also jar with modern sensibilities such as “beef, lettuce and dripping sandwiches”. Beef and lettuce, yes, but with horseradish surely?, not with lard. Other bits like suggestions on how to make a shelter or support tents using bicycles seem to be somewhere on the road to bonkers.

Nevertheless the book does contain some interesting stuff. But there’s no way we will be cooking Tripe A La Catalana when we go camping in a few weeks.