Guerilla Survival

Guerilla Survival

Friday, 19 February 2021

Future Projects

 


This is an area of woodland that the Forestry Commission is said to have 'coppiced', although they are birch-trees and not really large ones at that. They have left the logs lying around and there seems no large track nearby to move them, so I am assuming they are going to be just left there. At the other end of this piece is an area of conifers that have been cut down, again not a tree one coppices. The area is one in which we made our first 'Base-Camp' and what is left lying around will be useful for shelter-building with little work. There is enough to build a log-cabin but doubt if that would go down well! 




As you can see the whole area is littered with silver birch logs which are usually very straight and thus easy to use in a building project. In the background you can see the area which is mainly conifer - fir, pine and spruce. Unfortunately, the pathways around are used quite a bit now since they have opened sections up, but finding a site that is not used should not be hard to do. This is the ideal sort of area to start shelter-building practice, since the materials are there to hand. 

As usual I set out to explore part of the area to find s suitable place, but due to this being opened up and the extra use of the pathway the area over the other side may well be more useful. One side is a conifer wood, and the other a birch wood; the diversity (must have diversity) is very handy since these woodlands have a varied hue and thus there is a great deal of useful stuff in the same area.

I must have a gripe here, since it does seem rather drastic to cut areas out like this, and there has been a lot of clearance in these woodlands over the last year or so. In fact some areas are being totally cleared and even the flora and forna cut down - which makes one think a bit. Nigel Farage featured the mass destruction of woodlands in one of his videos, through the work of another woodland organisation. That was not that long ago either. Cutting this back so hard, and seemingly leaving the logs to rot seems disgraceful when poorer people could use them. I have not doubt that in some way these could be 'recycled'.




This is the conifer wood at the other side of the mass-destruction; this may be a suitable area to look at next. You can see how large an area has been cleared here, and this is not the same area as the hundreds of logs I photographed the other day. Whilst there is so much emphasis upon the destruction of the rain-forests, the destruction of the forests in England and Scandinavia goes on without much comment. This is no doubt true of other lands.




You can also see here the fir-branches that have also been cut off, and these make really good cover for a shelter. All the materials are here ready to use, and this saves cutting green trees.




Whilst in the woodland today I collected some pieces of pine, which included a couple of pieces of good fat-wood. These two pieces will be made into a Fat-wood Fire-Starter by drilling a hole in it and using a piece of para-cord to hang it. This is then used to cut slithers off which will burn very quickly. 




Also collected was some Punk-Wood taken from a dead stump, which I am going to try (first time with this) to make into a char-tinder in a similar way to making char-cloth. This is yet another experiment which will help in giving tinder which can be carried along, thus saving the need to forage for tinder, especially in wet weather. 

Not wanting to waste anything I have kept the scrapings from the pine-wood pieces and put them in the airing cupboard to dry off. Drying this stuff off increases the chances of success in the field. The pine-wood pieces which do not have much resin will be taken along to use as 'Feather-Sticks'. These are also drying out to make this more efficient. 




As you can see here the potential for shelter-building and fire-lighting is excellent in this one area. The conifer area at the back looks like the best place to start looking to build a Base-Camp because it is thickly-wooded and thus not usually covered in brambles, although too easy access is not a good thing either. 

All of this is being done now in order to prepare for the spring-summer when plans are being made to set up base-camps around the woods nearby, hopefully as last time in areas where they will remain unseen for some years. Whether these are ever used (except for practice) will remain to be seen, but as things go the best thing to do is to start to prepare for when the SHTF. 

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Off-Grid : On-Grid


 

'Off-Grid : On-Grid' - make up your mind! No, I have not joined the power-hungry lunatics at the top of the pile. The heading may sound paradoxically, so I will explain. Here in England we are miles behind those in the US and Canada who have for decades been 'preppers' and who have gone much further in 'Off-Grid Living'. It is thus logical to study what is being done in the US and Canada. Having studied this for a while I can see the overall picture better, and maybe we could go some way to catching up with them. 

One of the warnings given over going off-grid is that it would be far wiser to start this before actually moving into the wilds. This gave me an idea, since being much older I have little chance of actually going the whole way - until, of course, I am forced to do so. Even then I would be hard pushed to take such a step in one go; we all would but when younger this would be far easier. There is a viable alternative, which I am going to go into here. It is also a viable alternative for those with young children; they can use it as an 'adventure' and get used to off-grid living at the same time. This is something for families to consider.

What I have decided to do is to put up a shed at the bottom of the garden, a shed big enough for me to use for practice, that is for an 'overnighter' first, and then longer periods actually living in it. If there were problems the house is there to use if needed, and all amenities, though the idea would be to make it totally 'off-grid' in regard to energy, water, and heating. This would be the first move to make, thus getting used to not having the amenities of the 'grid'. I would also alternate between the shed and roughing it in the woodlands. 

My first plan was to build a log-shelter since I have access to some logs, but this would take a long time, and without the experience would be hard work. This would also have been an open shelter of some kind. Far easier to buy a shed and put it up myself, and I have already cleared a space at the bottom of the garden, next to the stream (water in the winter). This would not be a very big shed, but that may be the better bet since the bigger it is the more it can be seen for what it is. This is a point to remember since the world is full of 'State Spies' and it could be deemed a 'dwelling'. Keep it secret - Keep it safe! Telling others what you are doing would create future problems.

The shed can thus have the following as a minimum -

  • Some form of heating, such as Calor Gas, or better still a wood-stove which need only be small for such a small space. (Either way it is best to put a Carbon Monoxide Tester in the shed.) This would be enough for the heating, although a back-up could be at hand just in case. With a wood-stove care would be needed in ensuring the chimney does not leak into the building. 
  • A wood-store would be best made near to the shed so that it is easy to get wood, even in the wind and rain. (For those better off, sheds can be bought with an integral wood-store nowadays.)
  • A battery and solar-panel(s) - lighting can be done on a 12v system which is in fact safer and easier to put together. LED lights can be used on this system. Wind-power should be the next on the agenda, but this is a bit more expensive. Just a small type used on boats etc. would be sufficient I would imagine. In both cases a bit of mathematics (don't ask me) would be the best way to work out what you need. A permanent solar-panel could be put on the roof, but an alternative would be one fixed on a structure near the shed, facing south and being made so as to allow the panel(s) to be turned around as the Sun moves, and also up and down to cater for the seasonal shift of the Sun. 
  • A small petrol (or diesel which is more expensive) generator could be used, enough to power small tools or even a kettle etc. A good supply of petrol should be held for this. This would solve problems with lack of power through the solar panels not producing enough at times, or the wind-power not producing at other times. I have a Clarke 1200 Watt generator which has been used for about three years or more now, and is sufficient to do the tasks I want at the moment, though a more powerful one could come in handy in the future. It is not too dear and not too loud either. The generator could be used in an emergency for lighting or heating.
  • A sink can be fitted into the shed, with the waste water running outside, preferably into some form of container to be able to reuse this. This would mean using eco-friendly soap and washing-up liquid. Also, some form of water-container would be needed to use for washing and washing-up. Water can be pumped in with a small solar-pump (or foot-pump as a back-up). This would come from a food-grade container outside. 
  • Drinking-Water - some form of container would be needed for this too, and also a filtration system and purification system. Rainwater could be collected, which is a very wise move, and if a clean polythene sheet is used to collect the water this would need far less cleaning and purifying. Water from a gutter would be used for washing, but even this should be filtered and treated if possible. The best way for this to be done would be through a rolling-boil for one minute. Purification tablets can be used, or even iodine or chlorine (bleach), but the latter way should be done with extreme caution after finding out the very small amounts to use. (Chlorine is already in our water, and can be smelt and tasted; even this is not so good for us.) The best way by far is to have a stainless-steel (or aluminium which is not quite so good) saucepan large enough to boil a good measure of water that can be then stored for later use. 
  • Some form of bed (beds) could be put in, doubling as seating at the same time. The bed could be simply a mattress on top of base-units, these being storage-units for the stuff you leave in the shed. 
  • Cooking Facilities - Some form of cooker will be needed inside the shed, and this will have to be down to how much it will be used. It would have to double as an emergency cooking area though to be of any use in the long term. A Calor-Gas cooker would be fine, although this must be one suited to indoor use. An alternative would be to fix some form of porch along the front of the shed (if there is room) and to build some form of safe barbecue under this. It would still be best to have an indoor gas-cooker of some kind to do small cooking tasks in the cold, wet winters. For an oven a small Dutch Oven would be perfect for an individual, or a larger one for a family. 
I think this gives some idea on what I am getting at here; this is an ongoing job which can be improved upon with time. However, what I would like to do is to get on with this during this spring-summer so as to get the very basic unit ready for the autumn-winter of 2021-2. 

I have not discussed toilet facilities which are rather more difficult, and there may not be room in the garden; if you have a larger piece of land then there is no problem. There are plenty of ways to make Compost Toilets, which can also be bought. Another thing is washing and a shower; I have used a small £20.00 Solar-Shower to heat water last summer, and this in fact did work quite well (it was a hot, sunny summer though). There are ways to make solar water-heaters with copper pipes, blackened glass etc. and YouTube has some ideas on these. An alternative would be to make some form of wood-stove-boiler which would boil enough water, and keep it hot as the fire goes down. This would be the most efficient since it does not rely upon Sun or Wind. A mixture is always the best anyway. This stage could come after heating water in a large saucepan, as suggested before. 

The way that this would roll out is that the use of the on-grid facilities in the house would become less and less as the work progresses, until such time as the process has got to the stage when the off-grid facilities are enough to be able to survive for a longer time. This may well be found to be more healthy too, since there are many little-known health hazards in modern homes. And one point that should be considered is that we are - through our own personal initiative - doing our bit to heal the wounded planet, and to become truly 'sustainable' into the future, as opposed to Klaus Shwab's con-tricks. 

There is far more to this though, and there are many things that can be done with this project to make life much easier. It is also a point that this is another way to ease the stress and strain of the 'Great Oppression' and to forget about all of the propaganda and get on with something useful that will one day regain our freedom. There are also other things to remember with such a build -

  • Food-stocks can be stored in the shed; this would be fine since this is not a 'tool-shed' that remains unheated meaning it become damp over wet periods. Constant use of the wood-burner or stove would ensure this is dry and free from damp and mould. 
  • To ensure a dryer shed it would be best to get the best you can, preferably ship-lap rather than the feather-edge type (cheaper type). One thing to remember is that this should be thoroughly treated with some form of oil-based preservative because no matter how much they say about 'treated timber' this will make the shed last much longer. This should, if possible, be done once every year, and this leads to another point before building starts - ensure you can get to all sides of the shed for treating. 
  • You can always insulate the shed inside, by putting insulation boards inside a wood-cladding; even if this is not affordable, better to plan to allow this to be done later. There is a point here, and that is that you used to be able to buy Gypsum Plaster-boards with an aluminium side; this would insulate the shed, but turned with the ally-side inwards rather than it should be would act like the mylar-tarps and reflect the heat inwards. Never done this but it could be experimented on. 
  • The weakest part of any shed seems always to be the bitumen-felt roof; so ensure this is easy to get at in a later time to renew the felt. 
  • Another thing I did not mention (no doubt there are tons more) is a fridge or freezer, which can be run off Propane Gas. There is an alternative to a fridge and that is a small underground food-storage area, since such an area is cool, and even more so in the shade. Consider this before the build since it could be done by digging an underground storage area under the shed, having a trapdoor to access it. This would need thought and also some modification of the shed floor. Thermalite blocks are (I believe) alright for this since I have seen them used in footings of house-builds. These are much lighter than concrete blocks. Such a storage area would have to have some form of lining (like fridges or freezers) that can be cleaned easily. Again this move does without any form of energy-source to run it, and as house-builders in earlier times knew a cellar keeps things cool. This is why today beer-cellars are still used in pubs (or what is left of our pubs). In this case we can actually learn from the past. 
  • The building could also be used to house small tools such as drills, hand-saws etc. A cupboard could be used for this either made or bought second-hand somewhere. This would also allow the area to be used as a workshop for doing small craft-projects (to do so the mattress could be lifted off and the area used as a temporary bench). 
  • On the subject of cupboards, these can be put up around the walls to hold tinned foods, or home-made preserves (which is the aim), and the utensils needed for cooking. 
There are thus many uses for the 'Off-Grid Shed' -

  • An 'Off-Grid' experiment.
  • A spiritual retreat for meditation and contemplation.
  • A craft-workshop.
  • An area to go for peace and quiet. 
  • A 'Safe-House' to go to in case you are in the 'doghouse' with the wife after getting home too late from the pub. (Oh no! Can't go to the pub now - there are other things one can do wrong).  Saves sleeping on the landing. 
  • An adventure area for the kids to learn how to live Off-Grid. This may prove to be the most important thing you will do since I have no doubt that children would be the most likely problem in making a move Off-Grid. 
These are my own ideas, and no doubt everyone will have their own unique ideas on how they would like to get Off-Grid and become self-reliant and in this way somewhat self-sufficient. For meat-eaters learning to fish, hunt and trap is a must, and for everyone learning to forage wild plants would be a must too. Growing, preserving and cooking are also the main things to learn. And all this takes is a small shed, or maybe an old workshop if you have the land

One final point, it would be wiser to put such a building together using bolts and nuts rather than screwing it together as per the usual instructions. The floor can be screwed, but even then it would be best to use some form of screw that is easily removed, and using grease or Vaseline on the threads. I say this because this could be an ongoing project that you may need to move, especially if you move house. Bolted together this takes no time to take apart. Consider the roof too, since this would also need to be made so that it is easy to take apart. This may mean modifying it to suit such a purpose. 

NOTE ***** Here in England you are allowed to go to your shed in the garden! It does not stipulate how many times either! Or how far you can go! The joys of living in a 'free country'. 


Fire-Chips

 



A tip that I found on "Corporal's Corner" on YouTube; potato crisps ('chips' in the US) have a high oil content, obviously since they are fried in oil. They can be lit with a lighter or matches and burn for long enough to light a fire. A second good point on this method is that if they go out they retain a glowing ember on the charred part, and this can be used to relight a tinder-bundle. If you look closely at the video you can see the oil running out of the crisps as it burns. 



I used Kettle Crisps which are sold as 'British Potato Chips' and the oil content can be seen in these; it is the oil that burns quickly, but it also flares up as it burns making it ideal for fire-lighting.




A tinder-bundle of Fireweed (Rosebay Willow Herb), small birch shavings, and thistle-tops makes ideal natural tinder. It is always best to use natural tinder where it is available, and to pick it, store it, and dry it out when it is available, usually in the summer-autumn period. Taking tinder with you is sometimes necessary, but collecting it from the field, drying it and storing it has got to be cheaper than buying tinder. Fat-wood shavings have a high resin content and they too are something to consider collecting and drying out.

Why dry out? Well, some stuff like fat-wood and birch shavings will catch a spark when wet, but stuff like Fireweed and Thistle-tops will not do so. I find it wise to collect when available, dry out (to make catching a spark easier) and storing in a container for use in the autumn-winter period when it is wetter and colder. 

After writing the above I went out for my daily one 'legal' walk with the dog - for the second time today - and whilst out I collected some useful tinder because for the last couple of hours it had rained. The best place to collect drier tinder in such conditions is at the top of a the field where it is higher up and the ground stays drier. Here the grass is drier in places even after the rain, and carefully picking from the side where the wind is blowing I got some moderately dry stuff. Lower down I collected some very dry dead tops of stinging-nettles which can easily start a flame. Trying these with some more crisps (chips) I got a fire started easily. (Cannot show the video I made because I managed to mess the whole thing up!)

Taking the idea of the 'Fire-Chips' one stage further I got some cotton-wool and slightly soaked it with some Sunflower Oil, then finishing by dabbing some Vaseline around it. Ensuring that the 'Cotton Ball' was pulled apart so as to let the air in, I lit it in a tin using an electronic lighter. Now, having had problems lighting the crisps outside due to the wind, using an electronic lighter rather than a gas-filled lighter seems to be a step up. The added advantage is that this needs no fuel whatsoever and can be recharged again and again, and this can be done through a small solar-panel or any small portable charger (which can be charged via a larger solar-panel. The cotton-ball would, of course, have taken a spark from a Ferro-Rod to light it, which potato crisps may not do. Again, the idea is to go prepared, but in an emergency crisps could be a life-saver. 




The video goes on for just over a minute, but the cotton-ball stayed alight for over five minutes after this, which is ample time to light a tinder-bundle and kindling-bundle.




Another tip from "Corporal's Corner" is to use an old Emergency Blanket (Mylar-Type) which can be cut into small strips and placed in a 'Fire-Bundle', and will light by a spark from the Ferro-Rod. Not tried as yet but will certainly do so (would have saved money if I had kept an old one that has just been thrown away). This is another tip, always try these things out for yourselves to ensure they do work

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Make use of what is around.


 

In the above short video you can see where the Forestry Commission had been logging and left them around for later transportation. Of course, the land is 'private property' since the Forestry Commission (government) stole the land from the English People long ago. We could, of course, not use these logs to make some form of shelter or windbreak, since this would be against the law. I investigated the clearance area and there was a good deal of stuff left around which could be put to use at a later time. 

It has been snowing for around two days, but not laid that much because before that we had days of rain, so at first it did not lay. Last night was a freezer and the temperature today did not rise above zero until after twelve o'clock. However, though we see this as being zero the wind-chill factor would have pushed this well below that. I had to cut short what I was going to do because Sam was shivering with the cold even with two coats, a blanket, and my jacket around him, as well as a thermal blanket wrapped around this lot. Whippets unfortunately have little fur to keep them warm. I lit a fire which warmed things a bit but have no photos because the camera shows the memory-card being full, even though I emptied it yesterday. Something wrong there I suppose. 




The area that I went to today is not really suitable since it is a conifer area (pine and spruce) but the ground is rather open for this type of woodland and is covered with brambles which makes getting through it difficult. This is fine if you did not wish others to find you but for practice is not that good, especially when it has been so wet and soggy and now frozen on the surface only. There are other areas to choose though.

Around this area it may be suitable to set up some form of base-camp which could be made with the intention of setting up a quick shelter and fire in such bad weather. This I shall look at later, and there seems enough wood cut down and left lying around to make a start without too much cutting. This I have found to be the best way to go about practice, having something there to work with from the start. Need to check the area for a more suitable spot.

Watching a few Taramovies videos last night he mentioned how some think it is 'cheating' to make one's own bow-drill set up and taking it along, rather than making it up on the spot. The answer, of course, is that the so-called 'aboriginal' peoples (those who still use this old method) do this themselves, they make up their kit and take it with them. This makes sense not only for a bow-drill (*) but also for tinder that needs collecting in the dry weather and not when it is wet. It makes far more sense to go prepared.

(*) Personally, although I have had success once with a fire-bow, I carry a Ferro-Rod and Knife to use for fire-lighting, and matches and a lighter if necessary too. These are much easier than the fire-bow, as is a Flint and Steel. 

It is also better to carry some form of small wood-stove that can be used to make a cup of tea and to cook on; this is easier to use to boil water and cook than making a larger fire, and can be used after to light the fire.









Monday, 8 February 2021

Wild Camping


 

I tend to agree in a certain way with some of those who are critical of 'survivalism' on YouTube. Certainly, most of what is done is Wild Camping rather than survival training. Much of the stuff I put out so far comes under that category, so I would like to make a few comments on the subject. Firstly, we need to assess what exactly we mean by 'survivalism'. Some see this as a kind of 'escape and evasion' which rather comes into the realm of the military. Most, I feel, think in terms of when the SHTF and are 'preppers'; however, being prepared is there to aid one's survival. In my own opinion there is no real difference between any of these; the link between all of this stuff is the state of mind and preparedness of the individual. 

The word 'survival' can be used to mean so many different things; to train to 'survive' does not mean just in the wild either. What we try to cover in our work can be useful at home as much as in the wild. Take for instance the scenario when our water supplies are perhaps contaminated and undrinkable, or for some reason are cut off altogether. Then you would need an alternative supply, which would not be difficult here in England during winter times, but in the hotter summers we have had would create a problem. This is when we need to know where we can find water and purify it to make it drinkable. Without water we would never be able to survive.

There is also an every-growing number of videos on YouTube showing how to build wooden shelters, many of which are more like log cabins and certainly not seen as a quick-fit survival technique. But, would any of us like to have to live in a one-man shelter for very long? Just imagine how this would be when it rains for days on end. Most of us would welcome something a bit bigger when long-term survival is necessary. 




Hidden under these evergreen shoots is a Tepee-Shelter which is no longer in the woodlands where we built it, but which lasted nearly seven years after it was built. After all this time it was completely dry inside and was used for overnight camping when the kids were young. It was built as a semi-permanent shelter which could be used in an emergency or when the SHTF. This was the sole aim of building such a shelter. This would also go for the log-shelters that individuals build, since they would (or should) serve as somewhere to retreat to in the case of an emergency. Then Wild Camping naturally becomes survivalism. 

I went out for many years educating and training myself and the children in the woodlands and the South Downs. This dropped off as the kids got older, so recently I decided to get out myself and carry this on. But there is an area that I failed to cover and one which came to light a couple of weeks ago; a problem that came up caused me to rethink some of what I had been doing. This was an electrical fault at home which blew the main trip-switch. Luckily I know a little about this, enough to find which circuit the problem was on and keep the 'trip-switch' off whilst the rest could go back on and the main one switch on too. So we had electricity after all.

However, even though this did not prove too much of a problem it did awake me somewhat to a flaw in the preparation, because had the main trip-switch gone out altogether we would have been without electricity to heat the house or to cook on. I do have a small generator but that would not be sufficient to do much; there is the need now to look into this before something does happen. I do have an old barbecue and fire-bowls which will now be readied for such a problem; the aim is to build some form of small shelter which can be used for such times. I have some old large gas cylinders and will now get one of these filled for the future (when I get another truck because my old one has 'bitten the dust'). 

In my own opinion getting out into the wild and learning how to do new skills is the most important thing. Foraging for wild food is something to learn since this will not be just for wilderness survival since, in the hand of the lunatics that rule today, anything could go wrong at any time. Even if we cannot go hunting we can practice with an air-rifle, compound bow, cross-bow (it is illegal to hunt or to fish with a bow in England, so I am talking to our US comrades, of course). There is also the slingshot to consider, a very easy way to carry around a hunting tool. We should consider our options for wild food, both plants and animals. Again, practice can be done in any place that is safe. (Consider moving targets too since something that is ready for the pot is not going to stand and wait for you to shoot it.)

There may be a time when you need the basic elements of survival in your own home; shelter you would have but heat, food and water are things that we take for granted and we are in the hands of global corporations when it comes to these things. This is why it is essential to try to become more self-reliant with food and water, and to have an alternative when it comes to heating. Survival is, as I said, not restricted to the wild, for we may need these skills even in our own homes one day. 




I have now set up a small Bug-Out Bag which is ready to go at any time, filled with the bare necessities I could use. But I am also preparing a 60 litre backpack which will hold larger things like a 5-season sleeping-bag, larger tarps and cooking gear, as well as the stoves I have. This is not to carry far as a backpack, but to use in an emergency by throwing it into the truck to move away to safety when necessary. Both would go in the truck then. I can still use the contents in the meantime for going out to practice. 


Friday, 5 February 2021

Cooking in the Woods

 


Two days ago I went to the woods after heavy rains and had some problems throughout the day, so I decided to go back to the same place today and go over the whole thing again. This time I went much better prepared, but even though I carried more fire-lighting gear I did not use this today. It had been raining all last night but today was fine and sunny. 

In order to right mistakes made two days ago I did not put up a tarp lean-to shelter this time but concentrated upon lighting a good fire from the start, because I had brought some bacon and a piece of bread with me to eat. I found some birch-bark on the trek over to the area, and this time had my axe with me and chopped some birch-wood into sections, thus opening the drier inner wood to the fire. There was a lot of pine-wood around which was dead, and I looked further up where the area was not so dense and the wood seemed slightly drier for this. This wood was on the base of the small pines, snapped easily, meaning to some extent it was a little drier, and this did get going more easily than before.

Firstly, I made a cup of coffee on a small metal stove, using eco fire-lighters for this; after the coffee was made I turned the stove over on some sticks below it and this started the fire off. This time the fire went much better than the other day and no problems arose here. After coffee, and when the fire was going well and starting to burn down, I cooked some bacon and toasted the bread at the same time. 



After I had eaten the bacon sandwich and Sam had had his share, I made a cup English Tea by boiling the stainless-steel mug on the fire. 




The above photo shows a Milbank Bag used for cleaning up the water, and the Water Purification Kit which Carl gave me for Yuletide.I did not use this today because I had allowed the fire to die right down and I would prefer to boil the water afterwards with a one-minute rolling-boil to make sure it is safe. Next time I go over this will be the next experiment to try. 





On the way back I collected some small slivers of birch-bark which went into my pocket to dry out for another time. Also looked around the area to see what was available for the future. There is plenty of punk-wood about but this was very wet, will maybe collect and dry some out next time. 

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Wet in the Woods

Over the past weeks we have had a great deal of rain, with only a couple of days of frost and sunshine. Everything is wet and this morning I woke up to rain again, but after about an hour this stopped so I decided to get out into the woods to do some work on Survival Skills. Before I go into this in depth I would like to mention something that I have seen no-one else bring up - Luck! No doubt every one of us has had the days when nothing whatever goes right, no matter how we try to overcome this; sometimes such days can be a source of problems, or sometimes we can be accident-prone. Today was such a day! 

I started off to get to the woodland along the main road, about 40 minutes walk; the pedestrian way along the main road was closed due to the never-ending roadworks that have been going on. I had to go all the way back to the village, through the village, and out onto the main road at the other end. This took an extra half an hour. I have never seen these woodlands so wet, soggy and muddy; it was hard going getting through to the old base-camp the kids and I used years ago. It was even harder trying to get a fire lit since everything was soaked, even the inner wood of a dead pine-tree that I broke up. Add to this that yesterday I sorted out my rucksack and took out everything that I thought I would not need to lighten it, and this time I needed more stuff to get the fire going. After a struggle the fire was going but the wood was so wet that it was odds on it would go out, so I took the wetter stuff off and tried to boil a pot of water on the bit that was going. Just as the water started to boil I watched in horror as it tipped over, spilling all of it, soaking the fire, and putting it out completely. In drier times I could have found natural stuff to get it started again, but not much hope here, so left it and got on with something else.




This is the area of the base-camp we made, which is still intact after all these years; the wood 'furniture' we put together has rotted except for three old fence-posts we found and used as seating. The two small pine-trees were used to throw a cord across and drape a tarp across this as a shelter; having a small mylar-backed tarp I tried this and came to another problem - the grommets were too small to fit any reasonable sized pieces of wood I could make up, fit for only tent-pegs, which, of course, I did not have with me. Had to improvise by putting a log across the back to hold it down. It did go up, of sorts, and Sam was able to rest under it whilst I messed up the tea-making. 



This was the start of the fire, but even the dead pine-needles that I found in a tree further up in an area where it seemed drier were soaked. 




This did get under way but this is about as far as it went, which was when I decided to use the fire to boil the water, and at least get a cup of tea. That was not to be either. 




As you can see the water here has started to bubble and was not far from boiling before the Great Catastrophe that put paid to the tea and put out the fire altogether. 

The day was not wasted because it gave me time to assess the situation somewhat and do something towards planning for an easier future. 




There are two alternatives for what I intend to do -

Plan A - I will tie a long log stave across between the two small pine-trees which will mean that a tarp can be thrown over this to form an instant shelter. To make this even more comfortable I thought about using the technique for making a fire-reflector and building a wood-wall at the back, around six logs high maybe. This would mean that the tarp can be higher than it was before and give more room inside. Then the sides could be closed off with upright logs hammered into the ground covering them behind the two trees. This makes a closed-up ready-to-go shelter which needs only the tarp to complete. I would probably finish this by putting three or four small-diameter pieces between the top-rail and the back wall, thus making the tarp tauter and more secure. 

Plan B - I could move to another area of the woodland and start again; this may be the option I have to take since a lot of the stuff here is now rotten, and there are areas of the woodland where more recent felling has been done leaving ready-made logs for 'furniture'. There are also areas with large conifer trees that would no doubt be drier. 

Either way these options would need more tools, which must include an axe (which I did not have with me). And if possible a larger saw to cut some larger logs much more easily. This is for another day, and hopefully one with a bit more luck. 

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

The Storm-Kettle


 
This one is the smaller MKettle which makes around 2 cups of tea or coffee; the Kelly-Kettle is a bit larger. This one is smaller and can be put in a small pack, and it has a rubber outer cover which allows handling it when hot. Another advantage of this one is that it has a rubber plug and can be filled with water and carried thus, having the water at hand.

***Note - those are not my finger-nails!!!




This is the kettle in its bag, and extras can be packed in the base of the kettle and in the bag itself. 




The advantage of the Kelly Kettle and MKettle is that they work by having two outer layers which are thin and when filled with water heat up quickly. The chimney in the middle provides the heat as well as from below.




Small pieces of fire-starter were put in the base to start off with; then small sticks are put on. After the kettle is put on the base small sticks are fed through the chimney, keeping it going. It burns quickly so have a supply of sticks ready before starting.





The great advantage over camping-gaz stoves is that the gas tends to freeze up in the canisters in cold weather, whereas the Storm-Kettle, using solid fuel, has no such problems, and heats a good deal quicker. And once bought the fuel is free since it is wood collected from the site. 

Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Rope Work - Videos

 




These videos were done years ago. We used climbing-rope with a Figure 8, and a sling, although in the later part we did away with the sling and just used the rope. This was on the South Down on chalk. 


Chalk Rocks - 1


Chalk Rocks - 2


In this last one you can hear the 'Old Bill' (Police Helicopter - 'Bear-in-the-Air') in the background; and my big mouth! 


Stags in the New Forest




This last one I've thrown in for luck; we camped in the New Forest and were woken early in the morning by the stags make a racket. 

Two Tarp Shelters




LARGE TARP SHELTER.


 


The first is a large tarp shelter which has loads of room underneath: this is some 6' x 6' tarp and can be used as a shelter for a base-camp or just to get everything under cover


As you can see this has steep sides to keep the rain running off, but it is easy to lift the two sides up to get more room, or alternatively to lift one side up and make the other side more vertical and thus make a wind-break. Note: From experience from one night held in a similar shelter at a Midwinter Folk-Moot the latter way seems to hold the smoke inside the shelter. 




Another angle to the same shelter.



This is a more expensive and professional tarp with tabs on the side to tie down with; they do last much longer than the cheap tarps. 


FOLDOVER TARP.




This is one of the cheaper tarps which is smaller, but can be used in a different way by creating a ground sheet; the tarp is folded over to form the ground-sheet.








Both of the above are very fast and simple to put up and tale down; this one is useful for sleeping in. 

Videos - Shelter-Fire & Winter Survival.

 


Building a Shelter


Lighting a Fire

The stalks of dead stinging-nettles make very good starter-kindling, and we have used them on this video. The kids did the fire-lighting here since I have been out with them since they were young and tried to encourage them to learn survival and camp-craft. They are all grown up now but will remember these things and find them useful in later life (or maybe sooner than later as things are today). 


The next two videos feature a winter day on the South Downs where we did some survival training by putting up a shelter and lighting a fire. Here we used the stalks of dead stinging-nettles. 



Winter Survival - 1


Winter Survival - 2



The site we used at the bottom of the South Downs was an area where someone had dumped two plastic garden chairs; not good for the environment but we used them to create a camp. This shows how so many things are thrown away but can be used for useful purposes. 


Natural Shelter

 


Whenever we can we should look ahead and be prepared by taking with us the equipment we would need in an emergency. However, on the very odd occasion, even if this is only once in a lifetime, we may need to build a shelter out of what there is in the area around us. This post attempts to show how this can be done, even though it may not be 100% watertight.




Shown here is the front of a survival shelter built around a fallen tree (from the storm of 1987); this I will go through with you now.




The top of the shelter is made using around 3" to 4 " logs placed in parallel over cross-pieces.



The back is that of the fallen tree blown down in the storm. The sides are also made with logs and covered with leaves and evergreen cuttings, both of which help to keep out the wind and rain.



The front of the shelter has a hole through which you crawl inside; this has enough room for one person to sleep in. 




It is wise to practice making shelters like this because you might one day have to make something to shelter in when an emergency comes. Try to work out a plan of the build before you start.