Thursday, 31 December 2015

Christmas Camp - First micro adventure

It all started with an idea....or just plain jealousy...not really sure which. But an idea started forming this year whilst watching my hubby go on his year of micro adventures. Watching his grin form in the initial stages of planning, and his tired smiles as he retold his adventures to me and the girls on his return. Well somewhere during that time, I found myself asking my hubby to get me some micro adventure bits for Christmas. So Christmas Day occurs and I had obviously been a very good girl, as father hubby Christmas had got me a new stove and cook pot, and more importantly a sparkly pink hip flask full of Honey Jack. I was set. 

So with the thought of making New Year's Eve a micro adventure night we checked the weather forecast. With storm Frank due to cause a few weather problems. We made a quick decision to head to the woods. Now planning on a micro adventure in December takes a bit of planning (well for the uninitiated like myself it does!), but dragging along the children also adds a new element. Andy suggested I pack my bag as if I was going by myself so I crammed my equipment into my rucksack...whilst mentally ticking off everything I might need....with bulging pockets and double thermals I was set. Children packed we headed out. 

The woods was as unchanged and changeable as ever. Ever inviting the woods welcomed us, the pond was high, the trees stood resplendent. The ground was soggy but allowed myself and the children to search for deer prints. We started to make camp before we lost the light. We figured we had about two hours of daylight left to put up the children's tent and our tarps. Seeing as it was a learning adventure I had to set up my tarp and equipment as if I was on my own. Seeing as I have never slept under tarp before or in a bivy....I was slightly nervous. Faced with putting up my first line for the tarp.....I realised I knew nothing....I had no idea....I knew what it should look like but how to achieve a taught line with a piece of paracord was well beyond my capabilities. I said a silent thank you for having gone out with Andy whom ever patiently talked me through the three knots I would need. I was able to successfully put up my tarp into a simple a-frame and set up the bivy bag. The tarp was huge so I suggested Andy join me in my tarp to save him putting another up.....a first for him sharing a tarp! With the children in the pop up tent it didn't take long to get set up.

Next was chance to light the fire, as the children played around being bats in their hammocks and playing a game of pooh sticks in the pond....which seemed to involve lobbing giant dead branches into the water. I got the fire lit with ease just as the sun was beginning to set. I love the way the children are away from technology and taken back to basics. They played such lovely games and entertained themselves by playing schools and teaching each other more daring ways to swing upside down in the hammock.

With the sun completely setting before 4 o'clock, we came face to face with our first challenge....the children thought it was bedtime. Now as much as I did consider this option....the thought of two children being wide awake from 4 in the morning filled me with a rising dread. So with elongated tea prep over the fire and the promise of a night walk we were able to drag out bedtime. There is nothing like cooking over an open fire, everything seems to just taste better. With pasta consumed, the intrepid adventurers set out, with the children in charge of the night torches, and the youngest (who is 5) taking the lead we decided to walk around the woods. So after bellowing the words don't run, otherwise you will fall over, or watch your step a thousand times.....obviously it was me that almost took a tumble...as a tree just jumped out at me. We returned to camp with no broken ankles and the children finally fell asleep. 


A few sips of the new hip flask soon had me facing the bivy myself. Now one thing about me in the woods is that I love being out, I love the feeling of peace and restful ness I feel when surrounded by the woods....however I hate being cold, and a night just under a tarp with a storm pressing in, had me a little concerned. So on went the thermals and the fleece pjs plus hat and gloves. I settled into the bivy....and I have to say I was quite comfortable. Somewhere during the night I woke up a bit warm so off came the hat gloves and fleece pjs...a miracle. The wind was absolutely howling which woke the children, but they soon settled and we all went back to sleep. When Erin woke up in the morning she said the wind during the night was like hundreds of people cheering her on for sleeping in her tent. I absolutely loved this. So the first family micro adventure went well. We all slept and packed down the camp ready to return home. A great adventure and a good start to my micro adventure journey. While stood in the shower...appreciating the wonders of running water, i did wonder how we would keep clean if we stayed without running water for a long period, and randomly how I would cut children's fingernails without nail clippers....strange thoughts.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

First Forage

First forage walk tonight. Courtesy of my new books I really want to learn about plants and start to forage for food from the hedgerows. So after much researching I decided that nettle and elderflower should be the first things to try. Luckily I found some elder on a chance outing, so will revist them next week. I found a great recipe to make nettle and feta filo parcels, so am going to try that first. 

Dragging the children with me, we ventured out to gather nettles, carrier bag gloves and scissors in hand. Now all the books say pick nettles away from areas with dogs ( so you are not eating wee...I presume) also don't pick any that have started to develop flowers, and the newest leaves are the least bitter. So with those points in mind we set off to the local woodland. After much reassuring of myself that I knew what nettles were, and that I couldn't possibly poison us all (thanks to many flower books) I started to find matches to the other criteria. Easier said then done, trailed up and down woodland paths and into the wilderness to try and find several patches I was happy with. So after and hour and a halves worth of gathering and two children now late for bed, headed home. For the girls (my two beautiful children) they thought this jaunt out was funny, the first forage we had done. My eldest declared that she was counting how many stings she got (although she was staying on the path and not foraging at all) and my youngest decided that if she brushed her hand quickly through the stingers it didn't hurt at all.  Super glad that both children are quite robust, and after explaining that they can't just eat any plants, they finally asked what it was we were actually doing. I explained that I wanted to cook nettle parcels for tomorrow's lunch, and that when stinging nettles are cooked the hairs that cause the sting no longer work. What surprised me was that both children said that they would like to try some. (Why am I surprised...well they seem to have an aversion to green food....that is anything they haven't grown themselves) they are both super excited to cook the parcels and try them. 

So after my return home, and doing a final check with my reference books to make absolutely certain that I had nettles I decided to weigh out the ingredients. Little did I realise that my hour and halves work only equated to 25g of nettles ( I need 125g). So I feel that the nettles may need adding too in the morning....perhaps being a little less selective next time so that I am able to fill a whole bag. On a side note using another form of foraging bag over a carrier bag would be good to try and keep both my hands free (something to look into for the future) 

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

A Gifted Start

As it's my birthday today, I am using the day for some reflection. With this reflection came the idea that I should start blogging as a way to mentally tick off things that I have done or things that I am interested in. 

As part of the birthday celebrations I am surrounded by people that love me and support me in the things that I do (although as one perfectly apt birthday card says even if you are, wild and totally bonkers). So this birthday I was given such amazing presents that support a wide range of my interests. A new backpack for going down the woodland and foraging book and wildflower book, as I love the great outdoors (and like to subject my family and friends to this also). A new idea is to try my hand at some soap making so a couple of books on the basics and beyond (which I will certainly be putting to the test). Also super importantly let's not forget my new trail cam, to try and take some sneaky wildlife pictures. So lots to follow over the next few weeks, as I start out to broaden my horizons.....well perhaps over the next 52 weeks at least until I am another year older ( and hopefully with my new books, wiser! )