Well, I’m back (as Sam says ), from a marvellous weekend with at Northwood and my first bushcraft meet, met lots of lovely folk, learned a few things and some great conversations. The weather was perfect, April showers, soft and fairly gentle, not lasting long. I must say getting there would never have happened without SatNav! I can read a map fine but being eaten by lorries on the M42 and trying to read (& understand!) road signs at 60+ mph are not what this OAP is any good at , so SatNav is now one of my best buddies .

Whatever, I made it by 2-ish on the Friday afternoon and was greeted and told to take my time and find a pitch I liked, “see you later” – very comfortable, thank you . So I had a pleasant bimble round the woods to find the spot that smiled at me … and there it was … IMAG2043 IMAG2044

Setting up camp happened slowly – I like that, faffing about is actually fun! – but I did need a bit of help. I can’t lif my right arm very high (due to the RA) so putting up ridge lines and tarps can be an “interesting” (read challenging & swear-full!) occupation. A couple of kindly passers by helped me get my “roof” up (thanks guys) but even that got quite funny as the buddleia we were trying to attach to kept breaking – a thin buddleias do, and why you prune them every year – so every time Lee got a knot tied the branch cracked , but we got there :-). And thanks to Graham who loaned me a hank of paracord so I didn’t have to make another trip back to the car for mine.IMAG2042

I decided to be a ground-dweller this time as Teapee wanted to see my GG “The One” tent. It worked a treat, as it always does, and I think she was glad I used her – last time I was out in the hammock and tent got jealous . The thermarest I got on the forum works a treat on the ground too I’ve discovered, not used in the tent before, smashing piece of kit IMO.

Anyway, got pitched up and needed a brew. In the process of pitching I’d mmoved lots of twigs out from under where I’d be sleeping so I had a nice little pile of finger-size pieces for the Honey along with the dry twigs I brought, so soon had the kettle going. There is nothing like a brew! Don’t know how I’d survive without tea The rest of the afternoon was spent getting to know folks a bit, chattering, and learning more of the woods.

Northwood is gorgeous, I’m quite smitten! The only drawback for me is the motorway noise … I live half a mile from the nearest B road, no neighbours, the loudest thing in my little universe is the buzzards or rooks calling so traffic-noise in incredibly loud to me. But the woods are gorgeous. I went up to the communal area to see folks after supper, and then went for a walk in the field as the moon had got up and was looking quite splendid. It’s such a treat walking in moonlight, I do it at home whenever I can although this winter and spring has had mostly overcast skies on full moons where I live so not good. Out in the fields, walking quietly, the night-creatures come out and the night birds, I sat hunkered down in the hedge quietly for a good while and watched as the woodmice came out – it’s a marvellous feeling.

I went on for a walk round the field. There’s quite a big oak tree out in towards the middle of the ploughed and sown field and, when I got near it on the path I was able to stand and watch the branches tangling with the moon. That’s another thing that I really love to see. I walked out to the tree, was really drawn to it, and stood there for a while just enjoying and then I turned round to come back to the path. Wow! Turning, I stood with my back to the tree an in front of me this wonderful pitch-black road stretched straight as an arrow back to the path by the hedge – the shadow of the tree’s trunk. At the end it split into 3 ways, the 3 main branches of the tree that stemmed out of its trunk. Of course, I had to walk that path! What else ??? So I did and (of course) my own shadow went on down the middle one of the three paths, so I knew which road to take . Oh! It’s such fun to go out to play in the moonlight . IMAG2045

I went on home to bed … slept like a log, nice and toasty in my winter kit, and woke at 5am with the dawn chorus. What a glorious sound! And just to be able to lie there, in the woods, with the birds carolling all around me, but I couldn’t stay abed, had to get up as there, through the tent opening, I could see the westering moon.

IMAG2047Up I got and out into the field again and there hung the moon. My phone’s not good enough to get a really nice shot of her (Gary will have one I’m sure!) so I just stood and enjoyed. Then I turned about and walked to a place in the field where I’d be able to see the sun come up as the moon was going down. I love that, standing between the two lights (that’s where the word “twilight” comes from, two lights). This morning was no exception, the special effects team must have been out again as I had a glorious sunrise and, when I turned about, there was the moon hung low in the sky.

The bluebells were just starting to open but not the glorious floods of colour I can see there will be in just a few days.

IMAG2051The primroses were out though and I love the little new bridge you made in the first meet of this year. There were primroses by most of the ponds too. I got one pic of a lovely, just-opening, bluebell.

IMAG2046

And this great Hobbit-Hole!

Work went on in the camp during the morning … I love work! I could watch it forever! So it seems could others LOL … got this shot of same … IMAG2048The idea was to sink the firpit into the ground so the heat comes off lower and we can all toast our toes of an evening.

It works too, I tried it on Saturday night Saturday afternoon Teepee showed me fire-bow techniques – he’s a very good teacher but my body won’t be having of it. I can’t kneel on the new titanium knees (most of us with them can’t), and I don’t have enough bend in the knees, my wrists are weaker than a kitten’s so holding the bearing down is damn near useless and my right shoulder (also titanium!) hasn’t the power to move the bow to do any drilling! Altogether I was not a star pupil !!! But that was no fault of Teepee and he tells me there is a miniature version of it I may be able to do … maybe next time! But it was really good to learn and I was doing a half-good job of carving the spindle ends . And I loved being able to have a go with someone who could really do it and was happy to teach. Steve, I hope you get to make it happen soon, you were so damn close, just the ember going out a bit too quick.

MIMAG2052ade meself a smashing supper of 2 sausages + a burger (all from a farmer friend who keeps Tamworths and Glos Old Spots, wilted oms eof my own spinach in some butter and then did a couple of eggs on top and rounded it all up with some baked beans (just to bring the tone down LOL). Went for another walk afterwards and met Michelle, also bimbling, then we ran into Steve Woodspirit who took us to visit The Yew Tree.

What a splendid beast! Not a good pic though as the light was really failing and my phone can only do so much! Steve told us lots about the woods and their history which was very good to know. I’d found the SSSI on my morning bimble, a lovely place and with a different feel from the rest of the wood, would be nice to sleep there sometime, see what dreams I get.

After another toasty night in the tent I woke with the dawn chorus again but just stayed abed to listen this time and got up later. I began packing – slowly – as soon as I was up and took the first load up to the car … to have hysterics! Something was dangling in an ominous way from under the front grill … dhhhhhhhhhh !!! Eeeeeeeek !!! Teepee came and had a look and said it was just the flappy-thingy that kept the muck from splashing up into the engine and I would be able to drive home, and he’d have a look shortly when I’d driven it up onto the short grass. I breathed again!

Anyway, I packed up and had a spot of brekky, and said bye-bye to lots of folks with various hugs – all good! And then … well before I came up I’d asked about making an axe-stool for chopping and carving, Steve had said he could find me the relevant bits of wood so it was time to collect them. Bodger had been keeping some bits for me so we went off to get them from the van … and Bodger and Steve also commented on my poor car’s front end. I drove it up onto the short grass and Bodger had a look … Steve found some strong cord and Bodger tied it up for me. What a constellation of stars you guys are !!! I love you all !!!

IMAG2053And … Bodger showed me how to shoot with an air-pistol! It was grand to be able to do it. I can’t see well so I missed the tin cans but I still loved having a go. And, even better, was to watch the boys having a go, Adam and another little lad whose name I never got to learn. I love it, watching the kids do fun things and really enjoying it, so competent … and much better shots than me LOL.

To round off my lovely time Steve offered to make my axe-stool for me … I love you Steve !!! So now I have to come back next time to collect it. Oh this is really just so nice, thank you all so much. So I set off for home … and got back well and safely after a good two hour journey. I’ll be back …