Yesterday we learned Bushcraft. We were lucky enough to hear of the opportunity of a free workshop where new instructors are trained and members of the public were invited for the recruits to try out their teaching skills. We spent the whole day outdoors and came home reeking of woodsmoke, the children grasping things they had carved themselves and all talking about the new things we had tried. My group tried our hands at making fire using a traditional bow-and-drill method. Despite being told that it had taken the instructors days to master the technique, some of us managed to make fire within half-an-hour (although I think having pre-prepared kits helped!) Not me though. I would have been the demotivated, disinterested, won't-stop-talking one at the back. It was too hard and I didn't really care. I couldn't conceive of a situation in which I would ever, ever, use this skill. If I was in a true survival situation, I would as likely have a box of matches as a knife, and if I did have a knife I would be dead from exposure, dehydration and hunger before I had managed to construct a working bow and drill. Getting some smoke excited me a little, but after that I just couldn't do it at all. When the instructor told me that there was a correct way to light a match - well, that caught my interest! A correct way to do something is right up my street, and I could see the purpose (not snapping that match and protecting it from getting blow out by the wind). I spent quite a long time practicing. Similarly with the knots. While I could not see myself stringing up a tarpaulin and hammock between two trees, setting up a washing line or needing a tight guy-rope on a tent seemed possibilites. My exercise partner told us that the knot we used to hitch up the ridge line taut and yet release easily (a style known as a slippery knot) was the knot she used to tie up her dressing gown, so she would undo it quickly! I imagined her as some kind of Wonder Woman, ready at a moment's notice to shed her urban lesuire attire and race out to save the world.
It was a fun day and we have the chance to go again. The best bit for me was the kettle. I would love to have a kettle like this hanging over my hearth.