Thursday, 12 January 2006

Let there be light

As much fun as living in the woods can be sometimes it does get a bit tiring, the last few days I have started getting a bit fed up with constantly living in darkness. I have also been feeling as though it would be nice to sleep in a bed rather than on the floor and it would be quite nice to have a shower when I wake up rather than having to go to work and have one there. The night before last it rained, not a lot and I did not think much of it at the time. My face got a bit wet but I wasn’t that worried about it at the time. Last night though I got into my sleeping bag only to discover it was wet. My bviv bag was supposed to prevent this from happening, I know I have ranted on before about how useless it is but previously I had thought the water was getting in through the opening and I had figured out how to stop that happening. Not only that but I am in a really sheltered spot now so I thought wet sleeping bags were a thing of the past. It seems that not only is the design of the bivi bag pretty useless it is made out of non waterproof material. To be fair it doesn’t let snow through.

This morning I woke up feeling pretty miserable, it was cold and dark and I didn’t want to get up, so I didn’t. I stayed in bed for half an hour longer deciding to catch a later bus. I still ended up having to run for the bus which I caught just in time. Settling down with my complimentary Danish and juice I noticed that there was just the beginning of light in the sky. It had been a cloudless night so it hadn’t been that dark but now in the east the tiger’s eye blue was giving way to a deep red of sunrise. Sunrise! Light! I have seen neither for quite some time on my way to work. Suddenly everything started to look up; winter is slowly but unstoppably coming to an end. It might well get cold again and no doubt is will be wet for a couple more months but some time it will get light again.

I made a bow and arrow last night and to my amazement it fired and flew pretty straight! After a few more shots I spent ten minutes looking for the arrow – it’s not that easy looking for a stick in a forest in the dark when you didn’t look where it landed. The second arrow I made was too short and the third had a kink in it. I have seen Ray Mears straightening arrows on TV, he holds them above the fire and then does something and they go straight. I got the holding them in the fire bit but I’m not sure what the next thing is. If it’s burning your index finger I did that but I could not get the thing straight. In the end I gave up on the fire business and decided the arrow was thick enough that I could whittle some wood off here and a little more there and I would have a reasonably straight arrow. So I set to work and it was only a matter of minutes before I had cut the arrow in half.

I then made some lentil and chicken stew, loads of it. I had got a bit carried away the night before when I put the lentils out to soak and when I came to make my stew discovered that they had swollen to magnificent proportions. So I had two litres of stew for supper. I also had a camembert, five slices of bread, a mars bar, three slices of fruit cake, two pints of hot apple juice with cinnamon and a pint of milk before finishing off the chestnuts. Living in the woods is probably the best diet in the world, it doesn’t matter how much I eat I shiver it all off during the night.


One camembert
One clove garlic

Slice the garlic and stick the slivers in the cheese, leave in the fridge / hollow tree in winter for a week. Then either bake in the oven till runny or put next to the fire turning regularly until runny.

Serve with crusty bread and cranberry sauce take care to pick the garlic out.

If I’m making this in the oven I often put a slice of Parma ham, a sprig of rosemary and a bit of olive oil on the top – the Parma ham crisps up lovely.

Best of all this recipe is even healthier than deep fried brie!


Zara-thustra said...

You may be gutted to discover in today's news that trees apparently cause a lot of the greenhouse gases (,,1684378,00.html)

Could these dark cold nights be in vain? Maybe we can help the woodland trust by chopping down these methane producing mechanisms of nature! ;)

Beautiful Food Gardens said...

That recipe sounds awesome!

Hugh Sawyer said...

There was a bit of a discussion about trees giving off methane on Radio 4 the other night. I sat there muttering to myself. There are two things though, firstly the study that announced this has yet to be confirmed. Secondly, if it is confirmed it's not going to alter my view that ancient woodlands and wild places should be protected and that more woodlands should be planted in this country.

I was listenting to a program about the effects of Methane on the environment a while back. Sadly I can't remember all the facts and figures but it is much worse that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, about 20 times worse I think. One of the major sources of methane are land fill sites the majority of which just pump the methane into the the sky. This methane can be used to produce electircity and it was estimated that if all the methane that is currently released from land fill sites world wide was harvested for electricity production it would mean very good things, I can't remember how good but I was suprised at just how good a thing this would be.

Hugh Sawyer said...

On the other hand we could do as Joni Mitchel asks and put up a parking lot. A little known fact about Joni is that she is realted to Phill and Grant, one day soon Aunt Joni walk into the Vic one day with a dubious past and half a dozen skeletons in her cupboard. You heard it here first.

lola said...

I would like to ask, have you had any encounters with WILD wild animals or have they left you well alone?

Hugh Sawyer said...

The best one was June the 21st - see the Archive.

I see deer, rabits, red kite and sparow hawks all the time. I have recently found a large badger set so will be watching that when I get a chance.

Zara-thustra said...

Of course, I think you have to take it with a pinch of salt, I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek. :) One week a certain food product is bad for us, another week, we're told if we eat enough it'll keep away cancer! I'm sure it's the same with the environment stories.

I wonder how they can harvest the methane produced by the country's cattle supply?! Maybe in the future people could power their own houses by keeping a small herd of cows in their backyard.

I'm all for ancient woodland. I visited the Caledonian Forest last summer, and today I recieved an invite from the National Forest to see my tree photos in their exhibition. :)

Hugh Sawyer said...

Is the exhibition online? Cattle are one of the biggest producers of Methane in the country but (and once again I forget the details) I read in the Times a couple of weeks ago that those scientist types are developing a food aditive to counter this.

Zara-thustra said...

I think some can be viewed on this website:

Food countering methane - interesting concept!