And do you know what, I wasn’t a bit cold living out in the woods!
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The answer really lay in a good camp set up. Using just a tarp, a bivvi bag, a pile of leaves for a mattress and my trusty fire steel in about an hour I had my shelter ready and a pot of water on for a cuppa.
Setting the tarp up so it caught the heat and reflected it around my sleeping area made me very toasty indeed. I could have made it even more efficient by building a reflector to bounce the heat back at me, but I thought that was overkill considering the warmth of the November evening.
We’d hiked to our chosen woods, up hill and down dale. We’d watched a huge Red Kite circling above a field of sheep looking out for a tasty snack! We’d seen a kestrel and a crow dive bombing each other – not for food, they seemed to be playing the way they were at it! We chomped on sweet rosehips as we rambled along, enjoying the crisp air and letting the green world around us soak into our souls.
As we entered the woods we startled a deer that leapt off into the undergrowth away from us noisy humans. We stopped at the pond to check it out and see if it could provide our water for the duration. Many oxygenating plants suggested it might be a good source but we boiled the water anyway, just to make sure. There are so many pollutants on our land and in our rivers great care must be taken when choosing a water source. You can read more about that here.
This is the first time I’d made camp outside the safety of the Natural Pathways wood but the knowledge I’ve gained went a long way to keeping me very warm and comfortable.
Collecting firewood I concentrated on hot, slow burners like ash and spiny oak, and banking the fire when going to sleep meant there were still a couple of tiny embers in the morning. We got the fire going with strips of birch bark and a spark from the fire steel. It would have been just as easy to use King Alfred Cake fungus to get the glowing ember needed to set the kindling off.
En route to the woods we’d found some puffballs (sorry, no pictures!). Very easy to mistake puffballs for earthballs and not one you want to make if you want to stay healthy! Foraging for fungi is almost as mesmerising as searching for fossils.
A WORD OF CAUTION: Go with someone who knows what they are doing – life is too precious to make a mistake and it’s so easy to do where fungi is concerned.
When we broke camp we completed the most important task of all. “There’s something sacred about it,” my friend commented. And she’s right. Leaving only footprints and taking only memories (four puffballs and a bottle of pond water) is the only way to be completely respectful to nature.
On the way home, we found some parasol mushrooms that were delicious fried in a little butter. Nearby was a badger trail strewn with pillaged corn. They must love the yummy yellow grains, there were so many chomped ears of corn on the trail!
But the highlight – and the true test (IMHO) of being comfortable outdoors – was the chocolate bananas for supper and breakfast. You can’t get a better breakfast outdoors than a chocolate banana, sticky and warm straight from the fire!
The next trip will be in February – to see what it’s like when it’s really cold.
It’s your turn now. Get outdoors, walk, hike, run, play, camp, sit, be. However you do it MAKE THAT CONNECTION TO NATURE.
Mother Earth is waiting for you.