Thursday, 23 October 2014

15 Things only hikers will truly understand.

Whatever the weather, if you're a hiker it's in your blood and that means we tend to see the world a little differently from everyone else...

1.  The top of a hill in the wind and the rain is better than any office, anywhere, any time.

High Street

2.  Cursing, swearing, freezing, getting soaked and being lost is all just part of the fun.

Getting soaked near the New Forest

3.  It's not a hiking pub if there's "jus" on the menu.

Proper food.

4. Finding your own "new" route is better than following a walking guide - even if it does occasionally call for a little improv...


5.  OS Maps are a thing of beauty.

Love at first sight

6.  There's no such thing as too much kit.

A small selection

7.  No one else is allowed on your hiking route.

8.  Of course there's an easier route, but where's the fun in that?

Lords Rake

9.  There will never be enough time to do all the hikes you have planned.

I want to climb that one, and that one, then that one...

10.  You only realise you've lost track of time when you're trying to find the car in the dark.

"But it was 2pm only a minute ago..."

11.  Snow is magnetic and resistance is futile.

Think of all the snowmen...

12.  The times you were the most scared were probably your best adventures.

Stirrup Crag, Yewbarrow

13.  There's no such thing as the "wrong path" - it's just a different route

Halls Fell Ridge, Blencathra

14.  This is your expression when someone tells you you need to finish the hike early to get home for something.

Whaddya mean, "early"?

15.  Whatever you've been through, the views will always make it worthwhile.

Thirlmere from Raven Crag

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Thursday, 16 October 2014

The first rule of spoon club is...

Getting back to nature
Luckily there are no rules for spoon club, unless you count "bring lunch and water", but what exactly is spoon club - or "Spooniversity"?  Well, as their Facebook group page says it's...

"A community based project for people who like to be outdoors in woodlands and being creative, socialising, learning new skills and meeting new friends.  Getting back into woodlands and appreciating their value for wildlife, productivity and a sense of well being."

Composting loos
We've been meaning to go along for a while as they meet in Brown Robin Nature Reserve in Grange-over-Sands - a mere stones-throw from our house - but never quite got around to it until last weekend.  (For those not too sure where it is, it's up behind the Netherwood Hotel)

We arrived at 10am and spent the first hour or so chatting, warming our hands around the open fire and drinking coffee (tea and coffee are provided but as water is heavy to carry everyone is asked to bring their own).  There was something quite lovely about being sat in the middle of a woodland on a gorgeous autumn morning with smoke form the fire curling around as Tony told us a bit about woodland management and identified the various birds calling from nearby trees.

This was followed by a DVD showing us some key woodworking techniques before lunch and then getting stuck in to some serious spoon making.  Everything is about sustainability and that includes the wood working tools - no power tools here (well, there's no power for a start) - but Tony is on hand throughout to make sure you're keeping yourself safe and to help you with your carving techniques.

My woodworking background consists of 6 lessons at school that resulted in a wonky mirror stand which my mum still proudly displays in her bathroom so trust me when I tell you I am a rank amateur.

We started off with a lump of wood which we had to plane down into something rather more spoon sized.

Once we had the basic size about right we drew the outline of a spoon on the wood and began refining our creation.  This involved the use of a VERY sharp knife.  I'm not good with very sharp knives so, while Steve remained pristine clean, I cursed and swore as I pricked and jabbed myself - but no serious harm done and I did eventually learn how to handle it properly.

I'll be honest, we both intended to make much larger spoons but a few errors along the way resulted in something rather closer to teaspoons than the mixing spoon I'd envisaged at the start.  At one point I thought I may end up with a spice spoon or even a matchstick, but Tony's advice and expertise saved the day!

It may not look much but I really was rather pleased with my spoon - not least because I managed to get all the blood stains out of it.  (Please don't let that put you off, I really am the most clumsy person I know and everyone else managed to avoid bloodshed).  This was only our first outing and as as our expertise improves we hope to make more elaborate spoons and maybe, one day, a bowl or two as we learn more about the local woodland and how they were once worked and managed.

Spoon club was a fantastic experience and we are definitely hooked.  Ancient woodlands are under serious threat in this country so the more we can learn about them, and how to work in them and manage them properly, the more chance we have of protecting them.

Spoon club meets on the 2nd Sunday of every month at Brown Robin Nature Reserve and is open to absolutely everyone.  We kick off at 10am and finish between 3pm and 4pm depending on the light and the weather.  The sessions are run by Tony Saunders who is an expert in woodland management and spoon making (amongst many other things) - there is a small membership charge to cover refreshments, tools and materials.  More details can be found on the Facebook Page here.