Wednesday, 8 February 2012

View from bivvi

Dawn, Saturday, -7C, 6 hours before snow arrived.
Camera battery had frozen. I warmed it up in the sleeping bag but could still only take this one pic. I was on Cannock Chase on a woodland survival course. Why, you may be wondering and so was I! Last minute decision which seemed like a good idea at the time. Was quite snug in my bivvi with two sleeping bags but not looking forward to getting out in the biting wind to get the fire going and cook the porridge. The wind had swung from the north to a south westerly and the bright morning was already closing in with the threat of snow. The tarp was arranged to cover the campfire and keep the worst of the wind out. Bang on 1pm the snow arrived, very fine at first which blew into everything, then larger flakes to build up a thick coating by late evening. The temperature had risen a little but it felt colder with anything damp freezing quickly so it was a relief to get into the cold but dry sleeping bag. This really was a survival course! Sunday morning was dull but calmer and with virgin snow everywhere a doddle to spot all the wildlife tracks left overnight including a lone badger in a sett not 30 yards from the camp.
So, what's the point? Could I do it I suppose was one reason, but you learn a lot in these situations and some of the skills are transferable to everyday spoon carving life. I prefer to work 'on site' which for spoon and bowl carving means close to the source of the wood. The finished products are much lighter to carry than the wet logs and all the waste can be used to keep you warm with a small but efficient fire.


  1. Love sleeping out. I've done a couple of survival course and loved them. The year before last my brother and I did one in scotland for a week. Great fun and learnt loads. Still a bit cold by choice this time of year!

  2. Looks like the wood was splitting very evenly there - what kind of wood is it?

    I like the spoons of six timbers that you made, and especially their translucent quality.

    1. Hi Rob, thanks for comments. I was working on a new cooking/serving spoon and using Aspen as it works easily. I used that spoon last night and was very pleased with the shape so have made some more today, and a couple in Cyprus. They are much harder but have a very attractive grain which reminded me of wild salmon in both colour and pattern.

  3. hello, i once went camping fr a night with my niece Sarah and our first beagle Snuffy, it was a January approx 1994. The promised sleeping bag from the unreliable brother in law never turned up, so i gave her mine and literally lay there on the Karrimat in the tent. The dog hardly slept or only lay down after 0300 ... a night I'll never forget. Its funny, when I used to go backpacking solo all would go well, i feel in company its a disaster. And what struck me was that looking at the stars in a perfectly clear dark sky a couple of hours before sunrise was how disorientated I was, hardly able to pick out those constellations I knew, just a mass of points of light. Oh yes, we were next to an ancient hillfort perched at the top of a hill here in Northumberland.

    good blog !
    richard kell