A day out in the woods after a very damp couple of days means foraging for edible fungi if conditions are good you are sure to find some fungi.
Before I start this isn’t a post to help you identify fungi, I know what I know and I keep to that. If you are not sure then leave them in place.
If you want to learn about edible fungi then get on a foraging course, buy a book and ask for assistance on some of the Facebook groups or online forums.
I stick to what I know and keep to that.
A day off means walking the Dog and doing some king of micro adventure, today was foraging and a great day it was.
Perfect conditions, rain recently, damp and warm over night meant there was fungi everywhere.
I started off in an area I have been foraging for fungi previously and I had seen fungi there a couple of days previously.
Straight away I was onto Slippery Jacks. Its really frustrating when you find a perfect looking fungi only to cut it and find it maggot riddled.
So the trick with fungi is to harvest them as early in the day as you can.
Walking deeper into the Birch forest I started to see hundreds so started to carefully select the best.
There was also some Penny Buns around, I love the smell of these and they can grow quite big. So after filling the cloth bag full I decided to harvest some fatwood from a stump and get a brew on the go before heading off back home for the daily chores.
Searching for edible fungi
If you are interested in foraging for edible fungi there are plenty of videos on Youtube but I cannot stress enough the need to be 100% sure what you are picking.
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
Camping on the cliff
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.
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.
I’ve seen many of these kettles posted by people in Scandinavia on Instagram and always thought they look great and then a few months later there is one in the hands of the postman.
They are designed and made in Norway by a company called Eagle Products The produce some fantastic outdoor products and have resellers across the globe. In the uk Ray Mear’s Woodlore is a reseller. These kettles come in 3 sizes 0.7l, 1.5k and a massive 4l. A well proven, solid and durabable kettle made from stainless steel. The lower section and base of the kettle is copper coated to ensure an efficient heat distribution and heating process over a stove or flame.
This kettle features two handles for a more secure and stable fixture when cooking over a fire. It can be used suspended above all types of outdoor heat sources, including a stove, bushbox and over a camp fire. The kettle comes in a nylon bag which will prevent the rest of your kit getting black with soot. These kettles can be purchased online from www.woodlore.co.uk
Breakfast flatbread: Quick little recipe this is a variation to Bannock.
Bannock has been cooked over flames for many generations and still today. Breakfast Flatbreads are easy to make and really filling.
The original bannocks were heavy, flat cakes of unleavened barley or oatmeal dough formed into a round or oval shape, then cooked on a griddle (or girdle in Scots). In Scotland, before the 19th century, bannocks were cooked on a bannock stane (Scots for stone), a large, flat, rounded piece of sandstone, placed directly onto a fire, used as a cooking surface. Most modern bannocks are made with baking powder or baking soda as a leavening agent, giving them a light and airy texture.
1 cup of self raising flour and a pinch of salt.
2 rashers of bacon
Beef dripping or oil.
Add salt to flour I do this previously to heading out, scrape about a spoonful of dripping into mix.
Pour in a little water and knead in the bag.
Remove from bag and flatten out in hands and place rashers of bacon on the middle and fold edges over to envelope the bacon.
Place in hot pan or skillet and cook on a medium heat until well done.
I’ve been wanting to put one of these bags together for a while. The bags the Sami make are made from reindeer leather but as it’s not easy to get hold of in the uk so much I’ve used a 1.5mm veg tanned leather.
The actual use of the bag has many uses but I wanted 2 bags one for ground coffee and one for tinder.
I made the template out of cardboard and used the circumference of a cd and then just extended the neck, what I have done for future bags is extended the length of the neck from the original design as it was a little too short.
I cut out the back and front and measured the middle section and cut that out.
The weaved tin thread was purchased direct from Sweden it is a typical thread used in Sami craft (duodji).
First thing the thread is platted together and then using glue fixed to a piece of leather the same length as the area it will cover on the face of the bag.
Using thin nylon thread the weave is stitched to the leather then that piece of leather is glued to the front of the bag and then stitched.
Using a stitch marking wheel the stitch is marked out and the side panel is stitched onto the front (with bag inside out) using artificial sinew.
The securing leather is stitched onto the back panel then this is then stitched onto the side and front panel as before.
The bag is then turned the correct way and there you have it your own coffee/tinder bag.
My first attempt used a black spun copper thread and black thread. I wasn’t to happy with the stitching so changed the way it was stitched. Also this bag has a carved piece of antler as a clasp for the retaining straps
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
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.
Quick morning out along the river with the chance to hang some bacon and have a brew after clearing a load of brambles on the land.
Lovely spring morning was warm enough to see a grass snake bathing in the sun.
Cleared a good section of brambles to clear the 3rd marsh then time to use the primitive fire kit, make a fire, release the bacon and have a brew.
My fire lighting kit consists of a steel striker, flint, Birch bark, char cloth and a piece of fat wood.
Cooking like this is fairly simple just a stick above the fire and slowly allow bacon to cook over fire whilst heating water in the fire.
Whittling. Had a chance to find a piece of green willow to have a go a whittling a coffee measuring spoon for my next project which will be a leather ground coffee bag. I’m just waiting for items to be delivered before I start this project.
The whittling knife and spoon knives are hand made from a guy I found on Facebook and I’ve been trying to find his details but I can’t find them to tag him but the are wonderful items.
So many different knives out in the market all for different jobs but what is the best all rounder?
There’s handmade, custom made and off the shelf.
I’ve had plenty of knives and still own a lot of them but what is the best?
I personally think that you can’t beat a Mora. So versatile, well priced, keeps an edge and easy to sharpen. I have mine in purpose made sheath that also holds a ferro rod.
The other knife I really rate is a handmade Sami Pukko. I purchased two in northern Sweden last year. They weren’t cheap but I love the fact it hangs on my side, razor sharp, really versatile and holds very well. The only adaption I have made to one of them is using a dremel to grind a curved striker on the spine to strike a ferro rod on.
I tend to keep these sharp all the time and just use a Lansky sharpening system to keep them in tune.
Out of all of the sharpening stones / kit this is a brilliant sharpening kit.
It keeps the stones at exactly the correct angle, you have a choice of 4 different angles to crest the correct edge for what ever you are using your knife for.
Children these days have so much, such a bigger connection worldwide, no need to move from one room, gadgets everywhere, they can become fixated onto what we think is an absolute waste of time like these YouTube channels that they sit and watch/listen to whilst playing games and to what benefit?
My youngest is a nightmare to motivate with all of this mush and fodder available to him at the press of a button but get him outside and he is in a different world, the world I grew up in where the simplest things become an adventure that you will remember and give valuable lessons.
This day we woke up early and like someone addicted to smoking he reaches and grabs one of many gadgets and sits in bed getting his first daily fix.
I shout to him “get dressed we are going out”. He’s up and dressed for some outside action and says “I haven’t had breakfast yet”
“We are going to make it in the forest” I reply.
So a 15 minute journey and we are out in the woods smashing ice on puddles until we get to an area I found the other day where there is a hunting platform and a good view of the marshes.
So it’s time to make breakfast I have brought with me fire kit, wood gas stove, oats, milk and maple syrup. First task I teach him how to prepare a tinder bundle made up of Birch bark we harvested on a previous trip and Bracken. So the next lesson is using a knife on a Gerri Todd teaching him not to push to hard and within 5 attempts the tinder is alight and he uses the saucepans lid to put the tinder into the stove and add the pieces of wood to create a heat to cook his breakfast.
Such a simple little micro adventure but has taught him a lot.
We played in the forest for a while, had soup and coffee together, made sure we cleaned up and headed back.
Excursions like this cost next to nothing, the adventure can be extended to spend some time on animal tracks, whittling, knife use and anything else that will help our children grow up similar to us.
Where we had no connection to the world apart from an AM radio, 4 channels on the tv and weekly magazines.
We spent our time covered in dirt, fish slime, grazes on knees, up trees, wet shoes after falling in dykes and went home having fantastic adventures.
Find time to give our children the chance to benefit from the outdoors it doesn’t cost much.