May 2015

We went away for a short break a few months back and for reading matter I bought the latest issue of Bushcraft Magazine along with the first book from my “to read” book stack. The mag included a piece by Lisa Fenton on The American Frontiersman this included such famed explorers as Henry Kelsey, Samuel Hearne, Alexander MacKenzie and Anthony Henday.

Coincidentally the book, which I’d nabbed without looking at, was Ray Mears’ Northern Wilderness.
The book and the article had plenty of common ground, both featuring Hearne and MacKenzie and others among the American mountain men.

And if that weren’t enough in terms of odd coincidences, I had just the day before we left, finished watching a series on US PBS channel about the expedition of American explorers Lewis and Clarke.

I find this sort of history, both fascinating and awful at the same time. The European explorers were clearly men of resourcefulness and fortitude who achieved some amazing feats. However for me that is wholly tempered by the fact that these were not unpeopled lands and their ventures created the prelude to what feels a lot of the time like a genocidal wave of “progress” under which the First Nations peoples (and they were Nations) suffered massively.

I must confess I find it difficult to separate the two viewpoints.

As is often the case things become even more “real” when one has some personal peg on which to hang it. Mine is that some of my ancestors were called Field, which is the name of two of the members of Lewis and Clark’s expedition, and they were doubtless of English stock. And of course many of these people sailed the Atlantic to get away from a society where they were the rural poor and counted for little more than slaves.

All of which was some quite heavy thinking for a jaunty weekend away.

Next time I will take a joke book and The Beano.

We went to a local country show on Sunday. It wasn’t great and mainly seemed like an excuse to extract as much money for as little reward as possible.
However there was some fun to be had. Little Boots tried shooting with an air rifle for the first time, proving to be a pretty good shot. Using a catapult was not so successful, but I wasn’t too bad, which has prompted me to get one out I have at home. I bought it ages ago and have used it about twice, but now plan to see if I can get proficient at it.

The best bit of the day as far as Little Boots was concerned was a stand where you could have a good old ping at some military-style targets using airsoft guns.

This was part of a stand being run by ex-SAS man Bob Podesta and we both enjoyed a session he ran on Fire-lighting Without Matches. A neat little variation on the wire wool and battery method was whipping the face off of a torch and poking the wool in the hole.

I also attend another session Bob ran called Knots You Need To Know. Whilst I was familiar with a couple it did clarify them in my mind (being entirely self-taught) to see someone else tying them. And of course I leant some new ones – The Alpine Butterfly Knot and how to tie a Double Figure Eight Knot off against a post/bar to support climbing/hanging weight.

It was the best thing in the show and of course Little Boots is now claiming to have been trained to light fires by the SAS.