Freeze Dried Hiking Meals

Packing for a four days hiking / wild camping in the Lake District

First of all I was introduced to freeze dried hiking meals whilst walking the Fjallraven Classic in Sweden last summer.

The meals that where included with the price of the event where made by a Norwegian company called Real Turmat and I must say that they where really tasty and held a good amount of energy.  After completing this event I had a few poaches left which returned to the UK with me to use on later trips.

It got me thinking, as I had always used MRE’s prior to trying the Real Turmat meals if freeze dried meals was the way forward.  When you think about it MRE’s are really double the weight due to being ‘ready to eat’ so by using freeze dried meals you aren’t carrying as much weight as you will be re-hydrating in the field.

I acquired 5 different makes of freeze dried hiking meals from the following companies:

  • Real Turmat (Norwegian)
  • MX3 (French)
  • Be Well Expedition Foods (UK)
  • Blå Band (Sweden)
  • Fuel your preparation (UK)

Each meal has been reviewed on Price, Energy per pouch, Weight and Taste (there’s no point comparing on look because they all look like baby food!

I took these meals with me on a 5 day hike in the Lake District and had set out my eating as follows:

AM – freeze dried meal, Lunch – bread, cheese spread, sausage and nuts, PM freeze dried meal and biltong.

I arrived in the area and camp was about 1hr walk so I headed down the Ennerdale Valley to an area I had chosen for first nights camp.  Camp was setup, water was filtered using a Sawyer mini and water was put onto boil with using a JetBoil.

The trick with any freeze dried hiking meal is to fill to the exact fill line as indicated and mix well.  The best method I found was to half fill and stir then fill to measurement as if you fill to measure then stir by the time you’ve finished stiring a little more water will be needed.

Freeze dried hiking meals

Blå Band – Goulash

Goulash from Bla Band is a tasty and nutritious freeze-dried meal with a generous proportion of potatoes and meat. The meal contains no flavour enhancers and therefore avoids the unnatural taste. Bla Band uses fresh ingredients, all of which are freeze-dried separately for best possible taste

 

Price – £6.25

Seller – basecampfoods

Dry Weight – 142g

Energy – 650kcal

Taste: Spicy and sweet.

Eat again? – YES ( wouldn’t be first choice though)


Fuel your Preparation – Rice Pudding with Strawberry.

Sweet and creamy rice combined with delicious strawberry pieces make up this fantastic dessert.

 

 

 

Price – £4.50

Seller – Fuel you Preparation

Dry Weight – 70g

Energy – 328 kcals

Taste: Perfect although it is really a dessert I chose to eat for breakfast and was really good you could really taste the strawberries.

Eat Again? – Definitely


MX3 – Chicken Korma with rice.

Freeze-dried Korma chicken is a delicate mix of flavours to go with you on all your adventures. Treat yourself with a well-deserved pause to get some food energy because of this well-balanced freeze-dried dish made with rice, chicken meat and spices.

 

Price – £5.99

Seller – eBay

Dry Weight – 140g

Energy – 588kcals

Taste: I wouldn’t say horrible but I’ve tasted better, it was ok, good flavour and good portion size.

Eat Again? – If I had to.


Fuel your Preparation – Scambled Egg with Cheese

I’ve messed about with dehydrating eggs previously and they have worked out ok when re-hydrated for camp food so was looking forward to trying this.  Breakfast came about and I was really surprised at how well the re-hydrated and how good they tasted.

 

 

 

Price – £5.25

Seller – Fuel your Preparation 

Dry Weight – 70g

Energy – 410kcals

Taste: Loved it – really tasty.

Eat Again? – Definitely


BeWell Expedition Foods – Beef Curry with Rice

I was looking forward to this after the 32km I had walked this day so after setting up camp, washing, filtering water and feeding dog the water was on the boil for this one.

Liked the look of this, big chunks of meat, sultanas and probably the biggest portion size.

Price – £5.99

Seller – Basecamp foods

Dry Weight – 180g

Energy – 710kcals (highest energy yielding but bigger portion

Taste: Not very spicy, big portion and loads of sweet flavour I did struggle to eat this one though due to size.

Eat Again? – Definitely


Now i’ll eat pretty much anything at anytime of the day.  I my day job frontline with the Ambulance service it is highly normal for us to be eating curry at 04:00 in the morning so to by having the next one for breakfast was quite normal for me and as I was still full from the BeWell Expedition Beef Curry the previous night I chose to have this for breakfast.

 

Fuel your Preparation – Custard Apple Crunch

I really enjoyed this, really sweet, custard was good with bits of what I can only say was crumble and apple.  Real homely taste.

 

 

 

Price – £4.50

Seller – Fuel your Preparation 

Dry Weight – 70g

Energy – 360kcals

Taste: Loved it – really sweet &tasty.

Eat Again? – Definitely


freeze dried meals
Real Turmat

Real Turmat – Cod in Curry Sauce

Ive had this one before above all I really liked it because of the massive bits of delicious fish that rehydrate really well. Curry? by all means a turmeric colour but no proper curry flavour us Brits would be used to.

Typical loads of delicious meat with delicious potato and carrots. I would enjoy this meal if it wasn’t so expensive it would win.  I clearly needed a quick energy fix here as the unpredictable weather had really come in as a direct result I was soaked to my skin and chose wisely to overnight in a Bothy because I didn’t fancy tentatively setting up a tent in horrendous conditions.

 

Price – £9.99

Seller – Basecamp Foods

Dry Weight – 85g

Energy – 455kcals

Taste: Loved it, loads of chunky pieces of fish, potato, carrots in a creamy ?curry sauce.

Eat Again? – Definitely if price was lower.


freeze dried hiking meals
Fuel your preparation freeze dried meals.

Fuel your Preparation – Pasta Bolognaise

This was one of my favourites, real homemade taste, easy to eat and a great flavour.

 

 

 

Price – £5.25

Seller – Fuel you Preperation 

Dry Weight – 100g

Energy – 545kcals

Taste: Real homemade taste, loads of meat in a rich tomato and herb sauce.

Eat Again? – Yes.


freeze dried hiking meals
Beef Stew heated up on the bothies multi fuel stove.

Fuel your Preparation – Beef Stew with Potato

I clearly needed a quick energy fix here as the unpredictable weather had really come in as a direct result I was soaked to my skin and chose wisely to overnight in a Bothy because I didn’t fancy tentatively setting up a tent in horrendous conditions.

This was really tasty because of the big pieces of meat and loads of veg.

 

 

Price – £5.25

Seller – Fuel you Preparation 

Dry Weight – 100g

Energy – 527kcals

Taste: Really good, loads of veg, slightly spicy and big chunks of meat.

Eat Again? – Yes.


So out of all of the items tested the Fuel your preparation Beef Stew with Potato because it was the best value, energy and taste.

I had purchased a 2day meal kit which comprised of..

  • Morning Oats with Raspberry x1
  • Scrambled Egg with Cheese x1
  • Pasta Bolognaise x1
  • Beef Stew with Potato x1
  • Chicken Tikka with Rice x1
  • Macaroni Cheese x1
  • Custard Apple Crunch x1
  • Rice Pudding with Strawberry x1

The modest price of this standard kit was precisely £35.75 which works out roughly £4.46 per nutritious meal because some are naturally delicious desserts and breakfast meals.

Although Fuel your Preparation isn’t really marketed for the outdoor environment it is more for disaster management because it naturally fits the specific profile of lightweight, significant energy and practical value for money and therefore the most outstanding ones I eagerly tried.

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A night in a mountain bothy

A night in a mountain bothy.

What is a Bothy? A bothy is a basic shelter, usually left unlocked and available for anyone to use free of charge.  It was also a term for basic accommodation, usually for gardeners or other workers on an estate.  Spending a night in a mountain bothy is a must.

Bothies are to be found in remote mountainous areas of Scotland, Northern England, Northern Ireland and Wales. They are particularly common in the Scottish Highlands, but related buildings can be found around the world (for example, in the Nordic countries there are wilderness huts).

The Mountain Bothy Association

The Mountain Bothy Association maintain most of the bothies available they are free to use with only a few house keeping rules to follow.  When going to a bothy, it is important to assume that there will be no facilities.

No tap, no sink, no beds, no lights, and, even if there is a fireplace, perhaps nothing to burn. Bothies may have a simple sleeping platform, but if busy you might find that the only place to sleep is on a stone floor which as long as you have the correct gear you can have a good night in a mountain bothy.

Early morning view of Buttermere

You will need to make your own arrangement for water and should be aware that there may not be a suitable supply near the bothy. If there is no fire then on a cold night you may have trouble staying warm.

The great majority of nights in Britain are on the cool side and remember that most bothies are up in the hills.

Few bothies have toilet facilities apart from a spade and the advice is that you should walk at least a couple of hundred metres from the bothy and 60metres from the water supply before excavations and evacuations commence. If all this sounds rather rough, you are beginning to get the picture. Your comforts have to be carried in.

Whilst hiking in the Lake District I chose to tick of another micro adventure by spending a night in a mountain bothy.  I had researched where the nearest ones where and lucky for me there are two: Dubs Hut & Warnscale Hut within half and hour of each other,

The Route

I chose to park at the Honister Slate Mine and walk up from there it costs £10.00 to leave the care there overnight.  Dubs hut is the first and easiest to get, very popular, sleeps 6, multi fuel stove (although fuel will need to be carried in).

Looking up towards Dubs hut

Half an hour from Dubs Hut it Warnscale Hut hidden from view it isn’t the easiest to find and by judging by comments in visitors book many people have had to make more than one attempt to find it.

It was built in 1750 for slate miners and was left in ruin until 1985 when the MBA completely renovated it to be used as a bothy.  As mentioned it is small and able to sleep 4 with a multi fuel stove to keep warm as previous bothy fuel will need to be carried in.

I chose a real bad weather day to make my ascent I had put the coordinates into my ViewRanger App and made my way up to Dubs Hut for a night in a mountain bothy, the wind and rain was driving and as I entered Dubs Hut I realised it was time for a new waterproof layer I was soaked to the skin.

 

 

a night in a mountain bothy
Dubs Hut

Dubs Hut

On entering the hut there was 4 lads brewing up who offered me hot water, they had overnighted at Warnscale hut and recommended that I ahead there.

Few people came and went after eating soggy sandwiches and I found the power to put on my WET! wet gear and looked at the map to find where I would be heading.  I needed to go down the valley a little way and cross a river.

Viewranger Route

As I reached the brow of a hill I could see to my left a scree of slate on the mountain side and looking at ViewRanger I could see I was near and then due to the bad visibility I noticed a metal flue as the whole side of the Bothy was camouflaged into the scree of slate.

a night in a mountain bothy
Warnscale Hut

Entering the bothy through a very small door it was gloomy with only 2 small windows, 2L shape benches across two walls.

There was a multi fuel stove and a cubby hole with various items left by previous dwellers (including a half tube of vaseline god knows what had gone on in here that night).

I setup my bed and wished I had fuel although it wasn’t cold it would have been nice.  I hung up my wet clothes and got some water on the boil for some soup.

Window view

If you are planning a night in a mountain bothy bring your tent in case the bothy is full although this night I did not want to be in a tent.

The night

The Dog and I settled down for our night in a mountain bothy and I had just sent an OK message on my SPOT GPS devices as no phone signal.

The dogs ears pricked up and she started barking as 3 sodden lads entered the bothy who where also planning a night in a mountain bothy.

My thoughts of a peaceful night where gone but when one said “we’ve brought coal”  I thought brilliant.a night in a mountain bothy

They sorted themselves out and got there food on the go which was duck stew which they shared with me and a very happy dog!

They had to leave early due to commitments so it was about 22:30 for lights out.

 

Now I am a cold weather person and not that keen on boiling hot rooms, it was so hot in here this night I was in my boxers on top of my sleeping bag.

The Morning

05:00 the lads where up and packing away and got out the door by 06:00 I had a brew and got a couple of hours kip as I was driving back to Suffolk as the weather had come in.

I packed up, had a tidy and prepared myself for the onslaught of gales and torrential rain outside.

It took me under an hour to reach the car and with a quick change of clothes I was heading home with another micro adventure ticked off.

Please have a look at www.mounytainbothies.org.uk for further details

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Cooking alfresco with the frontier stove

Cooking alfresco with the frontier stove.  After a busy couple of days at work, the family away for the summer and extremely hot weather I decided to combine dog walking, swimming and evening meal all together.

I had decided on a evening cooking alfresco with the frontier stove.  I had to carry my frontier Stove down to a very secluded beach near me and have an evening on the beach.

The walk from the church at Covehithe takes about 20 minutes.

 

The Frontier Stove isn’t lightweight but the journey wasn’t to bad because of the carry bag the stove is in.

I arrived on a very desolate beach, set up the stove, gathered some firewood as there’s plenty about because of the trees being washed onto the beach due to the coastal erosion then the dog and I had a swim.

Using a primitive method to light a fire the stove was soon fired up.

After the dog and I had a swim it was time to get the evening meal on.

Meal consisted of a huge piece of sirloin, king prawns, onions, garlic butter and Stilton to ooze over top of the steak.

I like using primitive methods I know there are easier methods but there’s something therapeutic about lighting a fire using flint and steel.

 

 

 

 

img_0504Method:

Place a knob of butter into a pan and cut a white onion in half and allow it to sweat. Break into pieces on its own over a fairly low heat for a good while.

Place the steak in the pan and cook one side to your liking (I like my steaks blue) flip it over.   Add prawns and garlic butter and lay Stilton on top of the steak.

cooking alfresco with the frontier stove

 

Once the under side of your steak is cooked to your liking, you can remove and serve.

Make sure you have a plate big enough unlike me as I had to eat out of the pan.

Serve with your favourite beer. I tried an oatmeal stout which went down really well.

Take your stove and head to the beach and have ago at cooking alfresco with the frontier stove.

cooking alfresco with the frontier stove
Stove is made by www.anevay.com

 

 

 

 

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Packing for four days in the Lake District

Packing for four days in the Lake District.

Packing for four days in the Lake DistrictI find that I constantly pack and repack and this was the case whilst Packing for four days in the Lake District.

The first thing I do is write down what I want to take with me then start to cross out things I don’t really need, mark things that would be nice and circles things that are a necessity (like Rum).

The Plan

The plan is to go to the Lake District, Park at Bowness and head to Scoat Tarn and from there I’ll just see where it takes me in a circular route back to the car. I’ll be follow routes I’ve preplanned into ViewRanger

During the Fjällräven Classic last year I learnt a lot from my mistakes on what I took with me.

So have adapted my gear to suit what I need and what I don’t need. I’m terrible for “if you haven’t got it you can’t use it” attitude sometimes and have wanted to lower the weight of my bag so have done this in a few different ways.

I still could lower weight but we all know that when you lower the weight of certain items you increase the price of said items.

Packing for a four days hiking / wild camping in the Lake District
Tent pitched at Scoat Tarn

The plan is to tent camp but I also fancy the idea of tarp camping but I am a bit concerned about the mosquitos if sleeping under a tarp.

I’ve just picked up this lightweight tent of AliExpress. I’ve read a few reviews about it and for the price it seems ok. It’s a copy of a really expensive tent but looking at reviews it’s the same quality, hydrostatic head and weight.

This tent weighs just over 800gms and uses a walking pole as the main tent pole. It’s really small when packed away and for the price £54 well worth it (well let’s try it out first).

Kit list:

  • Back pack
  • Tent (new light weight tent)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleep mat
  • Tyvek ground sheet 180x 80
  • Jetboil
  • Rain trousers
  • Rain jacket
  • Down jacket
  • Sleep wear
  • Wash kit
  • First aid
  • Camera gear
  • Trowel
  • Water bladder
  • Water bottle
  • Sawyer mini
  • Head torch
  • Uco gear candle lamp
  • Pocket knife
  • Compass
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Mosquito head net
  • Hat & gloves
  • Battery pack
  • Freeze dried food

The dog has her own backpack so I don’t have to carry her food.

Marley showing her new rucksack.
Food will consist of freeze dried meals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have a selection from different companies and I have written a review here.

Most of the meals our from a British Company called Fuel your preparation.

These are not marketed to the outdoor market but marketed towards disaster relief but the size, cost and energy of each meal looks promising (let’s just see what they taste of).

I plan to do another couple of nights hammock camping elsewhere so have other items in the car as I want to spend a night or so hammock camping.

Camera Gear

Most of all of my photos and video are taken with an iPhone 6 and a GoPro.  You are limited to what you can take with these devices so I have purchased a new app called slow shutter so hopefully I can take some low light shots.

I still find it very difficult not to take certain items in the back of my mind there’s a little voice “what if you need this?”  What you take if you where Packing for four days in the Lake District ?

Here is the post on the adventure.

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Micro Adventure Wild Swimming

Micro Adventure: Wild Swimming
Wild Swimming in Sweden.


Wild Swimming is a fantastic way to have a micro-adventure close to home – low on hassle and high in adrenaline and fun  Take part in a Micro Adventure Wild Swimming.

 

 

Daniel, author of the Wild Swimming  and Wild Guides was speaking at the fundraiser Night of Adventure organised by Alastair Humphreys and the brilliant charity Hope and Homes.

He tells us about his own journey into wild swimming, and his favourite places around the UK for adventure.

Micro Adventure Wild SwimmingWhen you slip into the water, swim along a willow-lined river or plunge into a mountain waterfall, you are doing more than just enjoying one of nature’s greatest and healthiest highs.

You are opening up a whole new world of magical adventures – adventures that are abundant in in our wet and seabound country.

Bring on a whole new way of exploring our landscape without masses of kit of clutter.

My own micro adventure wild swimming adventures began in a Huckleberry Finn  kind of way.

I grew up on the River Waveney and by the North Sea in Suffolk.  I learnt to swim in the river, building rafts, Kayaking, rope swings, camping out on the river bank, surfing, fishing and canoeing.

It is not looked at as normal in the uk to be swimming in rivers so I challenge you all to bring wild swimming to Blighty just be careful.

Choose your area well, do not put yourselves in danger and make sure you know of any dangers.

Some Dangers

Polluted water

Under Currents

Sharp objects

Cold water shock

Hypothermia

Make a day of it.  Find an area where you can spend the day taking part in other micro adventures such as fishing or outdoor cooking.

Micro Adventure: Wild Swimming / Outdoor Cooking / Fishing / Hiking / Sailing / Canoeing the list goes on and on.

It doesn’t cost the earth and can be normally done in your nearby area but please check the water is safe before entering.

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Micro adventure wild camping on a beach

Micro adventure wild camping on a beach.

I always say try to fit work around your life and not the other way around and with me working a shift pattern which is different to friends that enjoy the same mentality towards life and same interests it is rare that we get the time to catch up and head out for a micro adventure.

This night was one of those rare occasions when the planets where inline and we could do a Micro adventure wild camping on a beach.

So a late start we got the beach around 19:00 with a few dog walkers still about we assessed the area to find there was a bit of ground swell and the tide had been nearly up to the cliff so sleeping on the beach was a no go.

A little while later we had found a space within the bracken that we could setup our tents and get stuck into our micro adventure wild camping on a beach. Micro adventure wild camping on a beach

Micro adventure wild camping on a beach

Camping on the cliff

DD hammocks 3 x 3 tarp setup as a shelter.

I had planned to hammock camp but brought a sleep mat on the off chance I would be able to hang so used my 3×3 tarp to make a shelter to sleep in.

This setup is really versatile but does leave the opening at the front open to the weather.

I had thought about this the other day and quickly had a go at developing a door using my poncho which worked really well so I am happy to use this setup whilst walking the lakes later in the year.

https://sjohav.se
Mosquito Repellant https://sjohav.se

 

 

 

I thought I would take this opportunity to try a product I was sent from a company in Sweden called Sjö och Hav that produces eco friendly products such as mosquito repellent, soaps and shampoos that are perfect for use in an outdoor environment actually in any environment as they are all biodegradable.

sjohav.se

The mosquito repellent was nice smelling, not oily like some of the ones with a high percentage of deet and felt really refreshing to put on.

That’s all ok but the main thing is do they stop those devil worshiping blood sucking, tiny, flying insects.

I always get bitten nothing has really stopped me getting bitten but that night I was bite free and considering I was sleeping in an open shelter I think it done a great job.

So hats of to Sjö och Hav tack så myket it works!

Their items can brought online although website is in Swedish it can be translated through Google.

Steak dinner

With shelters setup our Micro adventure wild camping on a beach was in full flow,  it was time for a beer and get a fire built.

Using a traditional flint and steel striker, charcloth and birch bark it wasn’t long before the steaks where on the go (apart from mine that got dropped in the sand).

I can deal with a bit of grit but pebbles are a different story.

Fed and watered well the beers start flowing we are discussing lightweight options and realise that the weight we where carrying was down to the amount of beer we where carrying.

About midnight we hit the hay and I was very comfy on my Expedition downlite.

Next Morning.

At about 04:00 I woke up and looked out the shelter to see someone walking along the beach.  I thought he’s keen, got up for a wee and realised it was my Kiwi counterpart so I decided time to get up.

Eagle Products
Sun rising over the North Sea. Eagle Products 75cl Camp Kettle.

It was an amazing sunrise, the fire didn’t need relighting just a helpful push to reignite and coffee was on and then the bacon.

Lol still trying to move the tree with his Jedi powers.

Once we where fed I had a quick dip in the sea and started to pack up.

The only downfall with using a tarp like this for shelter is the fact that it condensates dramatically as there is little top ventilation which has me thinking do I need a tarp tent?

But then that’s more kit! The idea is to carry the correct kit to be able to hammock camp and floor camp if needed. I had taken under blanket and quilt for hammock so slept in them.

Ideal setup would be…

  • Hammock
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleep mat
  • Light weight Tarp

With this setup I can cover both tree dwelling and floor dwelling if the need arises but having to put up with a wet tarp in the morning.

By 07:00 we where packed up and heading back before people started walking along the beach.

It is such a shame that we have to resort to stealth camping in the UK we left no mess, looked like we hadn’t been there at all and took what we brought in but this is how it is.

If you like your micro adventures then try this Micro adventure wild camping on a beach

http://betweenthetrees.xyz/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/img_0175.mov

Time lapse of sunrise.

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Micro adventure – Scuba Diving

This all started about 22 years ago when I had my first experience of this Micro adventure -Scuba Diving.  I was working in Corsica and I done my first try dive.

I have always loved the water grown up paddling, swimming and surfing and learning to dive was on my bucket list.

It wasn’t until the next summer when working as a instructor in a hotel in Southern Italy that I started to climb the ladder of scuba diving where I took courses up to advanced diver.

The following year I was working in Tunisia where I done some more diving but it wasn’t until I went to the island of Rhodes in Greece that I studied up to the level of Divemaster.

The following year life took me out to Cyprus where I started working in Viking Divers and also done my instructors training.

Viking divers. Photo taken at Green Bay in Protaras

I worked as a instructor for 6 years teaching recreational and some technical diving so my boys have grown up hearing my stories of diving adventures.

Micro adventure – Scuba Diving

This year it was the turn of my youngest to learn. The easiest and more time beneficial way to learn is to either do all the theory at home or theory and confined water training.

You can purchase a android or apple app which does all of the theory, knowledge reviews, final exam and will send the diving centre you will do the open water dives your results.

Micro adventure: scuba diving
Swim tests

So theory completed it is a case of 5 confined water sessions and 4 open water dives. Now the youngest is 10 so his maximum depth to dive as a junior open water diver is 12m.

Micro adventure - Scuba Diving
Pre-dive briefing

The whole cost of learning to dive this way was €400 including his certification card.

 

 

The main issue with children of this age learning to scuba dive is their size compared to size / weight of some of the equipment so some assistance is needed donning and removing equipment also some skills they have to complete can be difficult due to size of equipment.

 

 

Dive Safari

Once all of his skills where completed and open water dives done we spent a day on a dive safari where we all could dive together and enjoy diving without skills and assessments.

We visited Cape Greco and done a dive that I always loved taking divers to ‘Tunnels and Caves’

This is a great dive site where the dive finishes surfacing through a hole in the roof of a cave.

Second dive site of the day Xylofagou

I would recommend participating in a try dive first to see whether they like it first as it is quite expensive if they decided they don’t like it.  A try dive is also a great little Micro adventure – Scuba Diving

 

 

 

The adults had planned to dive the Zenobia wreck but due to illness this didn’t happen.

Zenobia Ferry

The Zenobia is a 180m three deck Ro-Ro ferry full of truck and cargo that lays on its port side at 40m that can be reached at 18m so to deep for the boys but a fantastic wreck for all to enjoy.  This dive is its own micro adventure.

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Micro adventure-river paddling

Micro adventure-river paddling A quick over nighter down the river Waveney.

We are lucky being so close to the coast and right on the doorstep of the river Waveney an evening paddle down the river cannot be missed.

Kit all packed in the car for a overnighter we leave from the sailing club at Beccles and head down towards Geldeston.

Micro adventure-river paddling
Micro adventure-river paddling

The plan was to stealth camp on the river bank as I had previously seen an area.

Now wild camping in the uk is not the norm.  There are only a few places where this is legal or a blind eye is turned such as Dartmoor or certain places in Scotland.

We are unfortunate not to have the ability to wild camp but lots do and are very caring about the places they camp and I wish it was so that we could but hey ho it’s the UK.

Canoe all packed

Setting Off on our Micro adventure-river paddling

So canoe loaded with supplies we head down the river from Beccles towards Geldeston.

This is where the river ceases to become navigable to boats and home of the Geldeston Locks a fantastic Pub.

We did cheat as we took the battery powered trolling motor which sits on the side of the canoe.

This is great for getting back from the pub or assisting when the boys are ‘too tired!’.

We where lucky as we had accidently timed it perfectly as the river was on the flood so it was easy paddling down for our Micro adventure-river paddling.

The Camp

The place I had thought about camping on was a no go so we had to revert to plan B at the three rivers campsite.

Initial plan was to setup a shelter using the canoe and a dd hammocks tarp.

I had a configuration in my head and it went ok considering it was my first time with this configuration.

Camp made

The idea was to Peg the tarp at two corners behind the canoe. I would then bring it over canoe and support with two paddles supported by guy lines.

This worked well but canoe needed supporting with two poles at a slight slant to stop it from moving.

We had taken our frontier stove to Cook of instant noodles and a handful of polish sausage to grill over the flames.  

Anevay.co.uk

The frontier stove I brought about 8 years ago from Anevay and has been the talk of many a campsite over the years even made a camping magazine at one point.

Camp made and food on the go.

So we cooked our food and the boys filled themselves up on s’mores and within 10 minute the little one was asleep outside.

Sleeping outdoors

It is amazing how this one sleeps so well outdoors.

I took my Uco Gear candle light which I absolutely love using.  With a 9 hour candle this gives just enough light in case the boys wake up.

Some of my gear taken

Early rise in the morning, breakfast cooked and camp packed away.

Back down the river to load everything onto the car and head home.

This little trip was only about 18hrs in total but it was a great little trip

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Micro Adventures

What is a micro adventure? In short it’s simple it’s a micro adventure, these micro adventures are simple to organise, cost effective, normally local, challenging, builds new skills, confirms friendship and family bonds, new and easy to organise.

In a busy urbanised world it is easy for us to get sucked into that 9-5, tech controlled world where we sit armchair surfing, becoming keyboard warriors, ooze and criticise YouTube videos of people doing just what this blog post is about finding the time to fit in micro expeditions into our busy life. Look at it on the flip side we work say 9-5 that means you have from 6-8 to do something so you are fitting your work hours in to your adventure time. Finish work head to the beach, cook some food, watch the sun go down, sleep on the beach, get up and head to work.

I’ve mentioned before the need to get out and use the outdoors to our benefit our mental health and this is one way to do it. I recently read an article in the magazine ‘bushcraft and survival skills’ written by Dr Catherine Calderwood ( Chief Medical Officer of Scotland) staying there is increasing evidence that outdoor activities and learning outside the classroom increased academic attainment and improves well-being.

Like I said it strengthens family bonds and friendships, give yourself some ME time or just adjust your usual dog walking into something different.

So what is a micro adventure?

It can be almost anything from a paddle down the river with a stop for lunch, fishing, hiking, wild camping, geocaching, primitive fire lighting the list is endless.

There are plenty of books / YouTube channels about micro adventures available so here are a few ideas of what there is to do but the main thing is tailoring what you do to what you can do within these urbanised time / money constraints. You should look at a micro adventure as a espresso short, full of flavour and only half the size of a Americano.

Here’s a few micro adventures.

  • Breakfast outside

Pack up your bag the night before

  • Polska Kiełbasa

One of the best things we do in the summer is cook Polish Sausage over an open fire. This is typical summer micro adventure in Poland, spending the warm summer months sitting around the fire grilling smoked sausage and washing it down with some fantastic polish beers.

These sausages can be brought a your local Polish deli, my favourite and the best ones I think are called Slanska. Lay the sausage and cut just through the skin diagonally then turn the sausage and cut diagonally again to create little squares, flip the sausage do the same on other side then stock them on you stick you have whittled and heat them (as they are hot smoked) so they go crispy. Serve in bed rolls with Sarepska (polish mustard) and pickles.

  • Wildswimming

This is so frowned upon I. The UK but pretty much everywhere else swimming in rivers and lakes is as normal as waking around them. The issue in the UK is knowing where is safe to swim. Regularly in the summer months whilst dog walking or paddling we will all end up in the river. One of my most memorable camping moments was in Sweden whilst heading to the Klarälven we camped one night in the Glaskogen Park. I was woken early morning by the sound of Wolves in the distance. I got up lit a fire and had a early swim whilst waiting for the Coffee

  • Canoeing

This sport is so adaptable to what you can afford, what you want to do and time constraints. If you don’t have space, money and time to make it cost effective then find somewhere locally to where you are where you can hire canoes / kayaks to head out onto the water for a true micro adventure.

Take your lunch with you and stop somewhere and cook a lunch. My two love to use the Kelly Kettle to cook some noodles on the river bank

  • Fire lighting

Simple day out try different methods of lighting fires. From a bow drill to magnifying glass. Get the family involved, have a competition in who can do it the quickest.

  • Geocaching

This is a great game to play with the kids they love finding the little caches especially when they are full of trinkets. Download the app on your smartphone and search your local area for geocaches head out for the day and use your phone to locate the caches. Some can be tricky and you might need to work out some clues to find where they are hidden.

  • Sleeping on the beach

This is a great one to do any day of the week. I usually pick my two up from school and head straight to the beach for a swim, get the Kelly Kettle out, make some tea and pitch a tent for the evening. There’s always some dry driftwood about for a fire in the evening.

  • Shelter building

There’s not much needed for this a load of trees, some brush for thatching and a good bit of time. Take some food, open fires I’d keep away from but take a cooler and cook something simple. Our Kelly Kettle gets used a lot for these little adventures. Search online for some plans on different types of shelters.

  • Hammock camping

This is now my most favourite method of camping. It is so versatile and it is so comfy and I sleep so well. You don’t need to spend a fortune on hammock camping kit to start of. Have a look online for a cheap hammock and have a look at my post on hammock camping.

DD Hammocks do some really good priced kit worth having a look at them.

  • Winter camping

As long as you’ve got the right gear it doesn’t really matter what the weather is and personally I love camping in the winter. You do really need the right gear because there’s nothing worse than being cold or wet this time of the year. A pleasant evening camping in the winter can become a very miserable night very quickly without the correct gear.

Good clothes, warm clothes a spare change of clothes, 4 season sleeping system and a waterproof shelter is a must. Even if you are setting up for a day outside it is a great feeling building a shelter, cooking food and watching the world go by your shelter.

  • Sunday roast outside

There’s nothing like cooking outdoors and a Sunday roast is a great way to get out and enjoy eating outdoors. Even if the weather is poor, erect a shelter and get the fire going and throw a joint of meat in a ditch oven and let it slowly cook.

Lamb is one of my favourites to cook. Cut 2 onions in half and rest the joint on the onions, out the lid on and place some coals on the lid to evenly roast the meat. Add vegetables after about 45 minutes and let them slowly cook be careful not to cook it to quick or hot from the bottom.

  • Dog walking

This is one of my regular trips out. Dogs need walking everyday and when I have time I’ll take my pre packed day bag and head out along the river or in the forest and spend some time to sit and reflect, brew a coffee and sometime take my breakfast with me.

  • Whittling

There’s something very therapeutic about whittling a piece of green wood into something or even nothing. You don’t need expensive tools. The two knives I carry cost about £25.

There’s loads of videos on YouTube or grab a book and see what you can make. Take your brew kit and sit and have ago with a coffee under the trees.

  • Wild camping

There’s not many place in the UK where this isn’ frowned upon. If your lucky you will know some places where you can get away with wild camping: beaches and riverbanks are a good first option. The main rule is setup late, leave early and leave no trace.

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Tapping Birch Trees

Its that time of the year when winter is trying to release its grip on Northern Europe, with the odd slip of a frost and recently a lot of rain coming of the land and flooding the river valleys.  It is also the time when nature starts to wake from its winters sleep and life starts to flow through the veins of animals and plants.

I love this time of the year as their is a bit of warmth in the air and everything is waking up.  Willow and Birch are two of the earliests trees to wake up and one of my pointers that the season is changing is when it’s time to tap the Birch trees for their sap.

Birch sap is collected only at the break of winter and spring when the sap moves intensively. Birch sap collection is done by drilling a hole into its trunk and leading the sap into a container via some conduit: a tube or simply a thin twig: the sap will flow along it because of the surface tension.

Birch sap has to be collected in early spring before any green leaves have appeared, as in late spring it becomes bitter. The collection period is only about a month per year. Tapping a tree does not harm the health of the tree.

If the tap hole is not well plugged with a round tight fitting dowel there is a possibility that the sap continues to flow causing not only a loss of nutriment but also a risk of infection and fungal attack.

How to tap a Birch Tree

Tapping a birch tree

You don’t need much equipment for this all you need is a small knife, auger, small stick to act as a spile and a container to catch the sap in.

I personally don’t use an auger I use a small whittling knife which is perfect depth and diameter of hole.

 

 

Start drilling you hole, look at the colour of the bark if it’s dark and looks rotten then plug the hole and find another tree.

Drill at about a 30 degree angle no deeper than about 3cm, as you start you start drilling you will see the sap start to flow, clean the hole out to remove as much sawdust as you can as this will only start to flow with sap into your collecting container.

Your spike should be carved so it fits the hole snugly and that there’s a good nook carved to hold your catching container.  If you are looking at collecting a large amount then either attach it to the tree or rest it on the ground.

Once you’ve cleared the hole push in the spile and hang your collecting container on the spile.  Start collecting the sap and sit back and wait.

try reducing the liquid down to make a syrup it will probably be about 60:1 or heat it up and brew a coffee with it.

 

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