Friday, 5 May 2006

The Green Green Grass of Home

So everything is green now, I woke up this morning and all that I could see was green. It can be quite overwhelming at times the speed with which spring sprung. It is very welcome all this green, it is as though my home has been redecorated courtesy of nature, “I just lurve what you’ve done with the place dahling, so much brighter than those ghastly winter greys”.

I ordered a sharpening stone for my knife from Ray Mears’ online shop and it arrived yesterday. As soon as I got back home I started sharpening my knife. Well as soon as I had got home, dropped my bag down, took my top off, drunk some water and cooled off a bit I started what I thought was sharpening my knife. Five minutes later I found that the knife was blunter than when I had started. It seems that sharpening knives on a stone is not one of those innate skills that one has. I got out one of the survival books that I have in my rucksack and read up on how to sharpen knives and had another go. This time I ended up with a knife that was sharper than it was before I blunted it, all good then. Then I sharpened my large knife as well; neither knife ended up sharp enough to shave with unfortunately. Hopefully by the time I get back from the year in the jungle I will be sharpening a knife to razor sharpness and shaving with it. That would be cool and it would save a fortune in razors.

Plants, there are lots of plants now doing that growing and being green thing. Did I mention how green it is? It’s pretty green out there now. Among the plants that I fined around me are nettles and I seem to remember agreeing to make cordage out of nettle stalks sometime so I best get amongst that task sometime soon. Worryingly I said I would make the cordage without the use of gloves. I know I used to be able to pick nettles bare handed without being stung, but can I still do so? Some people say the trick is to be very gentle with them and that if you are they wont sting you. Others say the trick is to be firm and direct and if you are you won’t get stung. Both are true, the trick is to believe that you will not get stung, if you think you will get stung you will. It sounds odd but it is true. At least that’s what I thought when I was young. There is a possibility though that I had been stung so often that I had built up a tolerance and so I could do whatever I liked with them with impunity. Yesterday I decided to pick a nettle to see what would happen. I mentally prepared my fingers to not get stung, leant down and picked a nettle without my fingers getting stung. I was most pleased, I was less happy when the nettle I was holding in my right hand brushed my left and stung it. I went and picked some Teasles instead, I discovered a couple of days ago that it is really easy to light a Teasle with a FireSteel. Teasles have very prickly stems, I spent quite some time yesterday getting prickles out of my hands.

I’m not going to be making cordage just yet but I will be cooking with nettles tonight, I’m going to have a bit of a look around and see what else I can find that is edible. There are a few sheep about but I reckon the farmer might have a bit of a sense of humour failure if I cooked one.

1 comment:

Jyoti said...

If you notice which way the "stingers" are growing on the nettles, it's easier not to get stung. You can kind of stroke them in the direction they are lying, but if you stroke against them, they'll sting. Think of it like a dog's fur. One way feels good, the other way not. That's what my mum says anyway. I don't remember seeing any stinging nettles where we live in Arizona, but there are plenty of other things that sting or prick.

Remember to hold a dock leaf over the sting - it takes the burn out of it.

Thanks for your blog. We enjoy reading it.

The Rubester