A Birthday Present – The GoPro Hero Session

This morning I opened a few presents (being it is my birthday) and one contained the GoPro Hero Session camera – thank you Alison :-).

I have been wanting one for quite a while now so I was soon of out at our local National Trust property – The Vyne.

Nothing strenuous or exciting I am afraid as I just wanted to see how it performed under water. Here is a very short video of it in action.

The Hero Session did not take me long to get used to and I really like that it is waterproof without the need for an extra casing. It is not the most expensive GoPro, nor does it have all the features such as the Hero 5 but it is simple to use and waterproof straight out of the box – just what I need 🙂

Looking forward to using it in my adventures in the future.

Cheers

George

Lifting the Lid on The Vyne – A Video Post

A few weeks ago I had some Father and Son time with my lad Finlay at The Vyne National Trust property here on the outskirts of Bramley in Hampshire.

History and Archaeology have always been of interest to me so to get up close to see the renovation work going on at The Vyne was a chance not to be missed. Along the way we also took time to watch the Greylag Goslings and spotted some of the many Lego characters hidden along the way.

If you have not been to see the renovation work then I urge you to pop along to view it before the roof is all covered over again.

Cheers

George

Picture of the Week – Week 15 – A Majestic Family

It has been a couple of weeks since I have posted a Picture of the Week – caused by a certain Kitty Brown 😉 nominating me to do the Nature Challenge over on Facebook.

Well it is back again and here is one I titled A Majestic Family.

The Majestic Family
The Majestic Family

They are a family of Greylag Geese I spotted at The Vyne National Trust property. I took loads of pictures of them on the water and on the meadow carpeted in Daisies. They were all lovely but this one I thought particularly majestic. One parent stands aloof and on guard while the other gently tends the Goslings. All this with the beautiful Cedar of Lebanon in the background.

Cheers

George

Picture of the Week – Week 13 – Hobbling Along

This last week has found me cooped up in the house nursing a ripped muscle in my calf – the after effects of a nearly 50 year old going to a trampoline centre with his children (my advice is don’t do it – no matter what they say about how much fun it will be).

So today I got out (well hobbled out really) to The Vyne National Trust property here in Hampshire.

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Spring Shoots – Sycamore

I was taught a while ago that any decent photographer can stand in any spot and after considering all the angles take a half way decent shot. This is what I did here at the side of the man made lake at The Vyne.

I spotted some newly burst sycamore shoots at the base of a tree at the edge of the lake and thought that the angles could work for me. It was a bit of a struggle to get low down for this shot without causing myself any further damage but the soft mud at the edge of the lake worked for me 🙂

I have worked on the picture to brighten the new sycamore shoot on the right but to to give the picture a slightly darker look all over – probably to reflect my current mood where I do feel slightly better now but am still really frustrated over my lack of mobility.

Cheers

George

Picture of the Week – Week 10 – Wild Wicker Walk

Ok, not so much a picture of the week but a collage of the week.

I had a delightful walk last Sunday with my family at The Vyne National Trust property in Hampshire. The gardeners have installed a number of wicker figures around the gardens and named the trail the Wild Wicker Walk.

The Wild Wicker Walk
The Wild Wicker Walk

Some are easy to spot but some are not (the Hawk in particular) however they kept our whole family happily busy as we hunted for them.

My favourite (they are all excellent) because of its location on a fallen log has to be the Fox.

Thanks to all the gardeners for taking the time to make these wicker characters and placing them in some beautiful spots for us to find.

Cheers

George

Picture of the Week – Week 4 (My 200th Post)

Today found me out and about with my family at The Vyne National Trust Property near Bramley in Hampshire. The day started wet and overcast but we still managed to get out and get muddy.

Stick Fun
Stick Fun

I took lots of pictures but this one of my son managing to have fun with just a couple of sticks on an old wooden fence really put a smile on my face. He likes his X Box but thankfully likes to get muddy just as much.

This is my 200th post on my Bushcraft Days blog and I have had fun writing every one – Looking forward to the next 200.

Thank you to everyone who follows my little adventures.

Cheers

George

Meeting Mollie – Fun with the Field Farm Project

Back in October last year I heard that my good friend Mollie Butters would be demonstrating some of her many bushcraft skills at our local National Trust (NT) property – The Vyne. The whole family were keen to go and this is a little report on our wonderful day.

I met Mollie while studying bushcraft with John Rhyder at Woodcraft School back in 2008 and have been firm friends since.

Mollie has set up an outdoor education school called the Field Farm Project with her partner Nick McMillen and to quote their Facebook page it is ‘an exclusive mix of woodland crafts, field studies, farm life, horticulture, ancient crafts and technologies – combining to provide a rich and inspirational learning experience‘.

Mollie had already set up her stand when we arrived and had a lot of her beautiful creations on display. One of Mollie’s specialisations is basketry and she loves to pass that knowledge onto others. Mollie had planned to run classes that day but due to some last-minute changes by the local NT organisers she was only allowed to run some demonstrations.

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Meet Mollie

The Vyne is a large estate so we spent the day going off on adventures and then popping back to Mollie’s stall to sneak in a bit of basketry.

My wife Alison and the kids got chatting to one of the NT volunteers who was using a rather strange device, an oval-shaped nest of wires, designed to pick up fallen apples. It was a simple but genius system allowing you to collect lots of apples without bending over, and without damaging them in any way. As the wires rolled over each apple they parted to let it in, then sprang back into shape again to hold it securely inside with all the others.

Once the apples were collected it was off to the device that shredded them ready for pressing.

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Apples galore

As this was October the leaves were just turning. I loved the browns, yellows and greens that were all around. The yew was heavy with red fruit and the dew was still lingering in shaded areas of the grass – all quite beautiful.

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Autumn colours

My kids wandered off to the woods to play and I bimbled back to chat with Mollie. The Field Farm Project is really gaining strength nowadays with a wide range of courses being run. They have bushcraft courses for children, basketry courses and bow-making courses and they are experimenting with growing many different foodstuffs all year round. For schools, Mollie and Nick offer courses for Key Stages 1 through to 4 covering many different types of learning in the natural environment.

I spent a long time just looking at Mollie’s baskets trying to figure out how she had made them – I can do the basics but that is all 🙂

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Field Farm Baskets

I found my family later at the falconry display. Catherine was lucky enough to get picked to fly one of the birds. I was very chuffed to capture the picture at the top left just as the bird landed – Catherine did not move in the slightest – brave girl 🙂

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Fun Falconry

Finlay was a bit disappointed not to get in on the act but we had some great adventures in the woods together that day.

I teach outdoor education to city children and I am fully aware that the majority of kids do not truly get to explore outdoors these days – I try wherever possible to let my kids run free and discover nature for themselves. We had a great time climbing, finding kill sites, spotting birds and just generally larking about.

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Finlay Fun

I love to find fungi and photograph them. I can identify ones that I know are edible or have some sort of bushcraft use but in the set of pictures below the only one I could hazard a guess at would be the small puffball in the bottom right.

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Finding Fungi

As well as the basketry and the carvings on Mollie’s stall, I spotted what I know as a Blobster, a character made out of clay (shown on the left). Mollie works with youngsters making these beautiful woodland creations and it is amazing to see what children can make from just the resources they find lying around them.

I love this activity myself – the trick is to mould the clay around a small twig to provide support. You can create whole communities from mud, twigs and leaves.

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Field Farm fun

To finish my day I spent a little while trying out coiled basketry. This is such a simple art but has the potential to create very beautiful baskets in the right hands. Mollie can do that but I think I need a bit more practice.

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A great way to relax

It was great to catch up with Mollie again and I know that Alison, Catherine and Finlay had a great day as well.

The Field Farm Project is going from strength to strength and I am looking forward to seeing all the adventures they get up to in the coming year.

Cheers

George

An Idyllic Day

Today I woke to some lovely sunshine, a rare treat so far this winter. I’m writing up all the little adventures I had last year, and looking back at my diary I realized the next one in line also happened on a lovely sunny day, in fact it was an idyllic day.

The day after I came home from the Wilderness Gathering in August I took my two kids and one of their friends to the local National Trust property, The Vyne in Hampshire.  The house itself is beautiful but the grounds and woodland are my real playground. They have a kids’ play area built around the theme of a Hobbit house with none of the usual swings or slides but plenty of cranes, water, stones, wood and sand to get stuck into.

I sometimes get so caught up with what I am focussed on when studying bushcraft that I lose site of the wonder of everything else. My kids remind me of this when they are out and about exploring and discovering new things.

I have walked past this tree a couple of times with my eyes down on the lookout for a new flower to photograph but when the kids look at it they see a magical figure with hairy nostrils. If you look at the tree from their angle (and I did) you can easily imagine this.

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Hairy Nostrils!!

To my son this ditch is a world of wonder: I just see the plants on the side but he see trolls under the bridge. It was here that I started to remember all the bridges I had crawled under as a kid in search of those damned elusive trolls. It was a fun time though a bit wet and even though my mother would scold me I would always find another bridge.

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Can I jump in Daddy?

The National Trust have built this excellent play area but all Finlay wanted to do was collect as many sticks as possible and build a shelter. This need to build something out of a pile of sticks must be imprinted somewhere in our brains and I guess for many people that need is erased as they grow up: thankfully for me that has never happened.

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Shelter building anyone

While Finlay was off building, Catherine was in the sand pit patting it all flat. I like to think she was creating a sand pit trap (to collect tracks) as she has done this before but I think she was just dreamily making shapes. I really like my daughter’s artistic side and it is nice sometimes to just sit and watch where her imagination takes her.

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Sand Pit Trap

We spent a bit of time around the pond where the kids lay down beside the edge and waited for the carp and ducklings to come a-calling. The kids asked if a carp would eat a duckling. I have no idea. I just told them that the carp were kept well fed so as to leave the ducklings alone (sometimes you just have to sound confident).

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Luckily the carp were not hungry today

I like this pond as the dragonflies put on quite a show of acrobatics. We spent a good half hour just watching what was happening here. I do not normally get that length of time for an activity like this but since Mother Nature was being kind and always up to something here the kids (and I ) were kept enthralled.

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Dragonfly spotting

Sometimes you can be wandering through the woods trying to keep the kids occupied and what you see just stumps you – No way could I beat these guys sending kids up and down the tree like yoyos. Next year I want to get the kids on this activity (that includes me of course).

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Strange happenings in the trees

Idyllic days require some fancy food – Catherine took the bottom picture just before we went home 🙂

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Fancy Foraging

A final stroll in the woods to end a perfect day.

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Strolling home

Cheers

George

Links

The Vyne