Last year I read Jungle Soldier Brian Moynihan’s fascinating biography of Freddie Spencer-Chapman, which I enjoyed, although I am still slightly perturbed by the sudden demise of the subject. He was a remarkable man.

I have been reading a few jungle-based adventures lately and so acquired a copy of Spencer-Chapman’s book The Jungle Is Neutral which I was reminded of by an article in Bushcraft and Survival magazine by SAS Handbook legend Lofty Wiseman, where it was referenced after the following statement:
“Survival is easy in the jungle and if you have a chance out of all the environments, sea, temperate, desert, arctic or jungle – choose the jungle.”

As an aside I also coincidentally stumbled across a site of the same name, which is interesting, but alas appears to have been discontinued.
The Jungle Is Neutral blog.

Now that is a small coincidence, and I have mentioned such things in previous posts, especially where they appear somewhat uncanny. And here is another.

Just as I started reading the Spencer-Chapman book I also started researching some of the background of Captain Gurowski who I posted about a short while.

Imagine my surprise then when just after I had learned that Captain Gurowski was apparently in France in early 1940 as part of a Scots Guards battalion that was learning to ski, I discovered, whilst reading the first few pages of his book, that Freddie Spencer-Chapman was one of the instructors brought in to train those troops at Chamonix, in Haute Savoie. He would therefore presumably have known Captain Gurowski.

This has inspired me to discover more about the Captain.


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Yonderland begins it’s second series tonight on Sky1.

Little Boots enjoyed the first series very much and fell in love with the Parvuli, furry little singing and flute playing creatures, that featured in the final episode.

So that last year when they made some cotton bags at school LB’s featured a Parvuli on the front.
We will be looking out for them this series.

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Last year I subscribed for a book and it was really nice to be one of the first to get my hands on a new piece of writing by angling guru Chris Yates.

The book was The Lost Diary and I have to admit that raising subscriptions for a publication did seem to me a bit old-fashioned, mainly I guess because it’s something I associate with Victorian times. But the more I thought about it, it seemed like a really good thing., after all so many books are published that I think have no real market and are just bought for the sake of it – usually as a gift.

How many of us have received a “humorous” or “little-known facts” book on our chosen hobby that is useless and terrible and immediately binned, or sent to a charity shop?

There is also an added perspective that “The public want, what the public get” with a lot of books being published with publishers deciding what readers want, rather than vice versa. Or so it seems to me.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying I’m going to put my name down as help kickstart Dave Hamilton’s prospective Wild Ruins book.

Go here to see what I’m on about.



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The insides of London phoneboxes are often decorated, though sadly only with flyers showing bare ladies and offers of lurid excitement.

Sometimes there is something a bit different as I blogged about recently, and this sticker of a pine cone is another example.

Quite what it’s all about I don’t know.

Not that it needs to be about anything of course; it’s a fine thing in it’s own right and for fine things just existing is reason enough for, well….existing.

I would like to know what the story behind it is though.

cone 2


While I don’t bother with New Year’s resolutions, I have this year made a decision that I plan to stick with through 2014 and beyond.

It is to take my camera with me as much as is possible, or perhaps that should be as much as is sensible. I used to carry it a lot, but somehow got out of the habit and since I don’t have a camera on my ancient phone I’ve missed a few things I’d have liked to have snapped.

One was a simple and vibrant piece of street art on some phone boxes near Charing Cross.

The day I remembered to stick my camera in my pocket I found that the authorities had begun painting it over. That made me reach my decision right away.

As is often the case with these sort of things since I’ve had the thing with me, there’s been nothing worth capturing.

However last Thursday I fleetingly took this photo on a different phone box.

At first I thought it was a drawing, but I see now that it’s a sticker. What it’s about I’ve no idea, but things like this always interest me (as several of my blog posts will attest) and it reminded me of a comic strip called Milk and Cheese that used to be in Deadline.

Man I loved Deadline.

heart axe x 3

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.