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 My baseball cap is getting pretty worn and battered, not to mention sun-bleached. It’s a golden rule of clothing that just as a piece starts to get really comfortably, then that is the point at which it develops a hole, splits or otherwise starts to fall to bits. Mine will last a while yet mind you, although if I was in the market for a replacement I’d get one of these fish hats from Ben at Arizona Wanderings. Last year I bought one of his K C Badger t-shirts and its always bought me luck (and a trout) when I’ve worn it fishing.

On the subject of sartorial items, recently discovered on the internet, that I’d quite like are Auxiliary Outside Projects t-shirts, deigned by Anthony Oram, who’s interviewed here.

Though, given the current fiscal position at Boot Hall I might only be able to stretch to one of their patches.

Sew-on patches are something I’ve been giving a bit of thought to lately, because I’d like the womble bag to have a slightly less military surplus look.

Another vendor of outdoor-themed patches is Miscellaneous Adventures. The general “honours” patch is OK, and there is also a cycle one that I can’t find just now, but the one I really like is the woodland woodcarving one. Not sure I can justify the costs of going on a course to get one though.

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The Clove Hitch.

It sounds like a proper knot doesn’t it? It sounds complicated. You’d think that someone who could tie a clove hitch would be a real expert on knots.

Well none of that is true: a Clove Hitch is a very simple knot. Basically it consists of a rope/string being wrapped round an object twice, the first time over itself and the second time underneath. If you follow the diagrams you’ll see what I mean. If tied to a solid object the Clove Hitch is a strong knot, providing it’s only subject to a straight pull. But if there is movement in either the object or the pull then it can come away.

To demonstrate what I mean tie a piece of string around a pencil with this knot. Then pull on the string, whilst at the same time turning the pencil towards you. The knot will “roll”. It’s still a good knot though, it just has to be used in the right situation.

As you may have noticed in my previous post on learning knots I like ones where they can be slightly changed and you get another knot for another purpose. There are two simple adaptations that can be made to the Clove Hitch.

Firstly by making a loop to tuck under on the second turn creates a Slippery Clove Hitch, so called because it will released by a tug on the loose end. it’s good for guying apparently – will have to see.

The next adaptation is one that Little Boots has designated as “cool”, though I think that that is largely down to its name the Constrictor Knot, rather than its qualities as a very strong knot. It is very simply tied as a Clove Hitch and then the free end is tied over and then under the first turn. When pulled tight this locks it down on itself.

This is, I think, a knot really worth knowing.

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Little Boots likes a TV programme called Adventure Time. I hate it. It has no redeeming features as far as I’m concerned. But that is the nature of things. Parents and children like different things. You can’t force children to adopt your view on things, but often you can nurture something that is within us all.

So I’m pleased to say, that there has been a definite swing towards the outdoors and adventure here at Boot Hall over the last few weeks.

This has been spurred by a number of things. Firstly by cubs scouts and starting to learn about maps, then allied to that watching Chief Scout Bear Grylls on TV clambering over and through stuff and making shelters out of sticks. Add to those the strong impact made by a programme on Parkour (or free-running) and we have a dynamic group of ingredients.

As a result in the last week and a half we had a six mile yomp that Little Boots had planned followed by an outing to the woods with a friend. Trees were climbed (although snow boots are not the best footwear for this), badger holes examined and discussed, this shelter was built, soup was consumed (tasting better outside than it ever could indoors), and a very complicated game was acted out, involving orcs, tribes and pine cone hand grenades.

camp

Even a subsequent trip to a nearby city to buy better hiking/climbing shoes became an explosion of fun as every wall and piece of street furniture was examined for its potential as a scaleable obstacle.

Whilst LB has always been encouraged to do things in the open air, be that gardening, fishing, or exploring it’s nice to see it bearing fruit as I know some parents struggle to get their kids to engage with the Real World.

Not that I pretend to have all (or indeed many) of the answers, and I still actively seek out ideas and pursuits that will promote a deep love of the outdoors. As such this post on The Big Outdoors is great, as are many others on that blog, and I welcome the National Trust’s Outdoor Nation movement/scheme, even if the site is a bit dull and worthy (and feels like it states the obvious quite a lot).

Meanwhile Little Boots has plans – I just hope we can do them justice.

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?