Mushroom hunting

I am lucky to have been shown a few safe mushrooms to pick by my wife. My wife is Polish and in Poland it is very normal to go out picking wild mushrooms and utilising them into diet.
Mushrooms in Poland are normally either dried or pickled for storage.
Now I only pick what I know and if I’m not 100% sure I leave them.
I took a wander through an area I’ve seen a few cepps before and I was really surprised to find loads so I only picked what I needed.

I stopped with the dog and had a brew using the Swiss army stove and took the shrooms home and dried them in the dehydrator

Turmat

Turmat dehydrated food.
I came across these whilst taking part in the Fjällräven Classic in Sweden earlier this year. They where supplied by Fjällräven to all hikers and my first thought was the weight of each portion.
As they are dehydrated they weigh next to nothing compared to wet MRE meals.
I chose a mixture to take with me pulled pork, kebab stew, cod in curry sauce and salmon with pasta.
The kebab stew was a little spicy for me but the meat tasted just like donner.
Pulled pork was good but my two favourites where the two fish ones.
Once rehydrated they actually looked like fish and tasted like fish. The cod in curry sauce wasn’t really curry tasting but very good to eat.
Packs. Weigh 85g before rehydration and 450g when rehydrated and with 452kcal per 100g they are just what you need.

  1. To rehydrate open pack at the top and add boiling water to the fill line.
  2. Stir the water into the dry mix making sure you get everything wet then reseal bag.
  3. Wait 8 minutes.
  4. There is another tear line lower than the first used to open bag now tear along this which makes the bag shorter so you don’t need a massive long spoon to get to it all.

So I must say they where really good. Some people didn’t like them but I thought they where good.
https://www.alpinetrek.co.uk/brands/real-turmat/food-supplements/

A quick night out


My eldest was taking part in a scout camp so I thought I’d go help setup and claim a night out in the hammock.
I’d been to this area before so knew where I would hang but unfortunately the sheep where grazing in that field so had to improvise.
The trees on this estate are ancient so tree huggers would struggle to reach around trunk so with a bit of thinking I came up with a plan.
I used a thick horizontal branch and the roof bar of my car to string the ridge line. Normally I run the ridge line under the tarp but it had and was going to rain heavy I didn’t want water seeping under tarp along ridge line.
I attached tree huggers to branch and roof rack and slid the whoopie slings over.
After adjusting the hammock I clipped on the under blanket and threw in the quilt. One thing I will change is the dd hammocks quilt has snaps at the bottom to stop it coming of your feet but these always pop off. I’ve been meaning to stitch this and never got round to it but will do this soon.
It was a clear night in the end so after a dehydrated turmat meal left over from taking part in the Fjällräven Classic in Sweden and a Polish beer I hit the sack.
I was woken by the sound of 200 sheep being chased by 5 scouts at 06:00

Frontier Stove

Can’t remember where I saw these stoves advertised I think it was on the bushcraft uk forum but I thought ‘got to have me one of those’.
At the time they where retailing at about £80 and with some Christmas money a week later there was a cardboard box at my front door.

Wild Camping in Dartmoor, cooking pulled pork on the Frontier Stove.

First meal on the frontier stove was a pork joint given by a local farmer that was slowly cooked all day in a local orange wheat beer by Greenjack Brewery.

Magazine article published about the Frontier Stove.

I roughly cut vegetables and put them in the Dutch oven for the last 2 hours and I must say it was fantastic.

I really enjoy using the frontier stove with a Dutch oven as the heat can be controlled and coals can be placed on top to heat the food inside from above as well.
There’s nothing like slow cooked lamb in a Dutch oven served with couscous or veg.
The added advantage to the frontier stove is the lots of different add ins you can get for it like a flashing kit to install into tent / shed, spark arrestor or the water jacket.

Now when I brought the water jacket it was around £80 so quite expensive but I must say what a great bit of kit.
Basically the water jacket is stainless steel that fits and clips around the flue so you can heat water then once it’s boiled you can turn the jacket to the back of the stove so it frees up cooking space and keeps the water hot by using the wastes heat which is radiated to the flue.
Great bit of kit as you always have hot water.


There is a great little add on which is the metal rod on the side of the stove which is brilliant for drying clothes or tea towels.
So many times people have stopped and commented on this stove. We where stopped once and the photos where put in a camping magazine.

The Fjallraven Classic Sweden

Fjallraven Classic

The Fjallraven Classic Sweden 2017 in aid of SARS999.org.uk

The Fjallraven Classic Sweden | Initially the plan was to fly to Stockholm and spend a week walking through a nearby National Park.

That plan was thwarted once the wife had seen an advert online for the Fjallraven Classic Sweden which follows part of the Kungsleden route.The Fjallraven Classic Sweden

Kungsleden

(King’s Trail) is a hiking trail in northern Sweden, approximately 440 kilometres (270 mi) long, between Abisko in the north and Hemavan in the south.

It passes through, near the southern end, the Vindelfjällen Nature Reserve, one of the largest protected areas in Europe.

The route we took was to start in Nikkalouokta, join the Kungsleden at Singi and finish in Abisko.

So we decided to change plans to participate in the Fjallraven Classic Sweden but we also decided to invite another friend and do the hike in aid of charity.

All three of us work for the East of England Ambulance Service in varying roles, HEMS Critical Care Paramedic, Paramedic, EMT.

We also all do other roles for other emergency services: Lifeboat Coxswain, Fire Fighter and Coastguard.

All for charity mate!

We had decided to raise charity for SARS who are a charity that provides assistance to the ambulance service in the form of Rapid Response Doctors and Critical Care Paramedics.

Suffolk Accident Rescue Service is an emergency medical charity which provide specialist volunteer doctors and paramedics to assist the East of England Ambulance Service at the scenes of serious incidents.

So the Three team members: Myself: Martin Grove (EMT & Firefighter), Adam Wright (Paramedic & Coastguard) and Rod Wells (HEMS Critical Care Paramedic, Lifeboat Coxswain & SARS Responder) started to plan our 110km hike through arctic Sweden.

Continue reading “The Fjallraven Classic Sweden”

Camp cooking


One of my favourite things whilst out in open is camp cooking. I have many different methods, coolers and recipes that I like to use but my favourite item to cook in is a Dutch oven.
No depending on where I am I sometime use the Dutch oven on top of my frontier stove but of course if I’m hiking I’m not going to carry all of this.
I’m quite lucky as I have use of a piece of land that I can drive to so I can get my hammock up and get the Dutch oven cooking.
The great thing about a Dutch oven is the ability to turn the lid over to fry breakfast or bake bannock on it.
This night was a quick “I’ll go camping tonight” so packed a few things grabbed a bag of organic lamb mince from fridge, a few veg, some beer, bacon and sausages and if I headed to this piece of land I can use. This was also the first time hammock camping with the dog.
I got the hammock and tarp up then set to getting a fire kit and started to make tea which was going to be lamb meatball stew.
Roughly cutting veg and making the meatballs using rosemary, egg, breadcrumbs and a little salt and pepper I rolled the meat balls and dropped them into the pot consisting of veg and stock.
Letting it summer for an hour I started in my Polish beers I had brought.

Food was great so me and the dog shared it then sat by the fire for a while then got into hammock which wasn’t easy with her moving around all the time but finally she settled.
The night was cold there was a frost in the morning. I had been using my dd frontline hammock with under blanket and quilt and I was perfectly warm especially with the dog.

A walk in the woods.

Just finished a set of day shifts and fancied a walk out in the woods. Thought I’d go and have a look to see if any mushrooms where up and stop somewhere for a coffee so I took my lk35 bag with a few bits in it.
I had packed my Swiss army stove, kuksa, piece of fat wood and I wanted to try my new Sami knife (puuko) out.
Grabbed the dog and off we went. When I got to one of my mushroom picking areas straight way I noticed that it was going to be to dry for mushrooms but I thought I’d have a look anyway and as I thought nothing about so went exploring as I wanted some new areas.
My main area I don’t think will be any good this year as a lot of trees have been felled as Dunwich is a working forest and my main area has been completely cleared.
I walked through my trail which connect Minsmere to Dunwich Heath and stopped of in an area out of the way to fire up the stove and make a brew.

I had brought the Swiss army stove which is a real versatile little stove for something like brewing coffee.
Using my new knife I carved if some fat wood shavings and a fairly thick piece, gathered some small twigs and using my fire steel and a pice of char cloth got a small fire going in the stove and put the cup on with a coffee bag to brew. Now I only use the amount of water needed for one kuksa so pouring the water from the canteen into the kuksa and then into the cup I had just the right amount for a strong coffee.
Coffee drunk, cleared area so no sign I was there and if we go back to the car and home we go.
Need to wait a few weeks and hope for some rain before going out looking for mushrooms again.

Old School Rucksack

Swedish Army LK35

I’d read about these rucksacks a while ago and liked the old school metal frame and thought this would be a great bag for bushcraft and more importantly I wanted something i could use for hammock camping.
IMG_0444
I purchased one of these bags from militarymart.co.uk and when it arrived I tool the whole thing apart and started to restore it.
Bag details:

  • Olive Green
  • 1000 Denier PU coated Cordura / Cotton canvas
  • Identity tag on hood
  • Durable external metal frame
  • fully adjustable low impact shoulder straps
  • External loading shelf
  • Removable pack – allows you to carry firewood, radio, water / fuel can, accesories etc
  • Adjustable metal ‘ladderlock’ strap system
  • easy access field tool carrying loop – Carry field tools/accessories
  • ‘Freefloating’ back system – allows air to circulate between your pack & you back for improved breathability
  • Broad webbing buffer pads for ultimate comfort!
  • Authentic classic bag
  • Exclusively designed for the Swedish army
  • Manufactured by Haglofs
  • Pack size: 35 L

So I took the bag of the frame and sanded frame down and repainted with green hammerite then re-threaded cordage with paracord as cordage was failing.  The lid of the bag is PU coated but main canvas isn’t so I thought i would wax the bag to make it waterproof.
I made a mix of linseed oil and beeswax, heated the canvas up near a fire to make it easier to apply wax then painted the warm wax/oil mix onto canvas.  I had to let the canvas hang outside for a while to lose the smell of the linseed oil but now it has settled down it is a great bushcraft bag which i can fit my hammock camping kit into easily.
Inside I can fit hammock, tarp, underblanket and quilt, camping candle, fire kit etc and either Swedish trangia will fit inside or the Swiss Army stove will lash on the top of the bag and blanket for the dog on the front.
The Swedish Army LK35 is a very versatile rucksack on I will use for ever.
Great Review of it below.

Timber Rafting Sweden

Timber rafting Sweden

I had seen an article online about timber rafting Sweden in 10 trips you must do and one of these trips was right up my street and also my eldest had recently become fascinated with the 80’s series of Hucklebury Finn.

The article was about Timber rafting down a river in Sweden and the more I researched this the more I wanted to do it.  It was basically putting together a 2 tonne log raft and letting the rivers current take you down stream over 4 days.
cropped-img_2072.jpgThe company that organises these trips is called Vildmark I Varmland located near to Torsby on the Klarälven river that slowly meanders through Värmland from its start in the Norwegian mountains.
“The journey on the raft allows time for discussion and socializing that you often do not have time for in everyday life. But in addition to just enjoying the beautiful surroundings, be prepared for both calm and intense periods on board. Below the water´s surface there is plenty of sand and occasionally stones that you may not see until you are stuck …”

Getting There

So I had convinced the wife to do this trip so we started planning how to get there.  There was a ferry to Esjberg in Denmark from Harwich that would get us into Scandinavia where we could drive to Varmland but when planning this we discovered that this line was to cease before we where going to do this trip.

So it was either fly and hire or drive.
What we decided to do was combine this trip with a stop at LEGOLAND Denmark, Timber Rafting and then ferry from Sweden to Poland to visit the wife’s family in at the house near Wyszkow.

So the plan was made and we started getting ready for this trip thinking what would we need.  I kept packing, re-packing and packing again and finally got the camping equipment down to food box, trangia, tents x 2, sleeping mats and sleeping bags and few other bits.

Travel Day

Driving to Harwich which is only an hour from us for the overnight ferry to the Hook of Holland.  We arrived in the Netherlands at 06:45 and where on the road for a 7 hour journey to our hotel near to LEGOLAND Denmark.

It was a fairly straight forward drive and spent 2 days with the boys in LEGOLAND before taking the ferry from Hirtshals to Larvik.

The plan was to drive around Oslo into Sweden but en-route I noticed a ferry that crossed below Oslo from Horten to Moss which was cheap enough and only took 40 mins and from then with 1 hour we had reached the Swedish border and we started to look for a campsite.

In Sweden there is The Right of Public Access (‘Allemansrätt’), or Outdoor Access Rights gives you the right to roam the countryside in Sweden in perfect peace and quiet.

When you are in Sweden you have the right to walk, cycle, ride, ski and camp on any land with the exception of private gardens, near a dwelling house or land under cultivation.

So we came across a large lake and notice a perfect spot at Glaskogen nature reserve and it was here that I realised I had left the key for the roof box at home and had to improvise with an axe and a hammer to get to our sleeping bags.
Camp was setup the boys went exploring and we got a fire lit and made our first meal and offered ourselves as a meal to the local mosquitoes.
We where all quiet tired after along day travelling so I ended up sleeping in the single tent and the boys and the wife in the other tent.  We had purchased a 3 man pop up tent for the ease of pitching during this trip which worked really well.
IMG_1174I awoke around 05:00 it was still not quiet light I got up made a fire and went for a swim and in the distance I could hear Wolves calling it was magical.
I had about 2 hours by myself before the troops started to awake so we had breakfast and made our way to Torsby where we would spend the first night with Vildmark I Varmland at Gunnerud.

Arrival

As we drove in we where greeted by the staff and shown where to camp and told there would be a briefing later on in the evening.  We went to the briefing to learn the knots, learn about backwaters, sandbanks and lots of other helpful stuff.
IMG_1940We where given to wooden boxes to put our equipment in so we packed what we didn’t need for the night and stored it in the shelter as a group of how can I say young NOISY Germans finished there rafting trip and camped right next to us.
But we slept ok and early in the morning we packed our equipment and got on the bus that would to take us to the building site and start at the Klaralvens Camping site in Stöllet.

Setting Up.

Here we spent most of the day rolling huge logs and tying them together.  It was difficult for the boys to help as they where too small and logs where big and could hurt them easily so a lot of time was spent trying to keep them in check as they where getting bored just standing around.

Timber Rafting in Sweden
Looks Easy!
We finally had made 2 rafts that where lashed together and installed the frame and the tarp, attached the canoe and put all of our kit on board and of we went with the river in control of our destiny. We where timber rafting in Sweden!
When the said it would be a ‘unforgettable’ experience it was, it WAS hardwork.  You would see a great camping area and we just couldn’t move the 2 tonnes of raft across the river to get to them so we literally had to camp where we could but this was ok.
How you moor 2 tonnes of raft?
Basically you would see an area you wanted to camp and you would paddle out from the raft on the canoe and tie off onto a tree the right length of line so the raft would come ashore just where you wanted it to (easier then you think) but we got the hang of it.
So on shore it was time to rest it was hardwork as I said as much as the boys tried to help to paddle they just didn’t have the power and my wife and I struggled to control the raft you really where at the mercy of the river and anything else you got snarled up on the bank.
The whole experience was hard but it was ‘unforgetable’ I loved it the wife wasn’t so keen but glad that she had done it, we said it would have been better when the boys where older.
The second day we started of after breakfast and this time we got caught in our first backwater which literally kept pushing us around in a circle but we got out only to nearly end up down an of-shoot of the river.
I was holding on to a root trying to stop us being dragged down the dyke, the wife was trying to push on the river bed with a punting stick it wasn’t working, we where shouting at each other the boys couldn’t help, I jumped out with the rope and pulled us out!
IMG_1970Then we got snarled up in a over hanging branch that I had to cut to get us out.
Camp that night was a lovely spot everyone knackered and early to bed after a spam and baked bean supper.
In the morning I woke up and the wife was already awake with her camera as I got out of the tent she said “quiet there’s a Beaver i’ve just fed it my Apple core”.
I said “where?”, “over there” she pointed.  I laughed and said that’s a log!!!.  “NO, NO, I just fed it” she replied.  Anyway later as we passed the log that was jammed in some rocks I said ” it didn’t look hungry”.
Todays task was getting of a sandbank, out of backwater and out of another tree.  We where getting good at this now but still we couldn’t move the raft from one side of the river to the other.
We had been warned that when we see a sign Vildmark I Varmland 1000m Keep Left! to KEEP left easier said than done we couldn’t move the thing across the river the issue was that if you missed the finish you would go right passed and end up towards the hydro-electric power station.
So we tried to paddle to the far bank but in the end I tied a rope around myself and paddled the canoe as hard as I could which was moving the 2 ton raft, I just managed to get into the right place to tie the line off so the raft would gently be pushed onto the bank at exactly the finish area.
I DIDNT FANCY MISSING AND GOING PASSED THE FINISH I COULD JUST IMAGINE THE DOMESTIC!
last camp
Final Camp

We had finished a day early so we had to get all the equipment of and disassemble the raft log by log where they would float down river and be caught in a log trap and be moved back up river for other people to use.

We camped at the finish that night and shared stories with some Swedish lads that had finished early also.
They also mentioned the issues they had, they hadn’t managed to catch any fish either so it wasn’t just us.
The next day we loaded the car up strapped the now broken roof box as I had had to cut the locks and started heading South looking for a place to camp for the night as our ferry was booked for the next evening to Gdansk.
We headed to Mariestad and onto a island called Fågelo where we found a great campsite and still no fish caught.  We had a really relaxing day here, chilled out, slept went fishing and ate after restocking on route.
The next day we packed up and headed south to Karlskrona and hung out by the sea waiting to board the ferry.  We got on the ferry to be highly amused by the amount of extremely drunk Poles that take the ferry to Sweden, stay on the ferry and return just for a drinking excursion.
Arriving in Gdansk the next morning we then drove to our relatives in Torun, spent the night there and drove down to the house for another 2 weeks R&R.
So looking back timber rafting a once in a lifetime trip it was hardwork but a unforgettable experience.
I wouldn’t recommend it if you have small children 4 x adults would be perfect for this trip.  Sweden is an amazing place and I would recommend driving and camping around the country to anyone.
Perhaps a better excursion with small children would be following the course of the river by canoe, Vildmark I Varmland organise this also, riverbanks are more accessible and you have more control over a canoe than 2 tonnes of wood that you cant steer.  I still talk about this trip as it was fun but also hardwork.