Tuesday 20 November 2007


I guess I have probably learnt something new every day for as long as I remember. But today I went for a walk with an old friend, who has been rather ill recently and is now getting back to an approximation of full health.

It soon turned out that he had an aim: looking for some specific kinds of fungi. Now I know people who do this for food, to add to their own collection, or even to collect the beetles that live in and on them. Never before had I heard that a certain kind of bracket-like fungus is used to give a good ‘finish’ when sharpening knives.

Will it ever be useful? The amount of knife work I do in the field is very small, but I am a big believer in keeping knives sharp: it makes them so much easier to use. Having said that I have always got a friend to sharpen my knives, as he has a set of sharpening stones, and I don’t. But next time I may do the final finishing work myself, using a glorified mushroom.

Monday 12 November 2007

A Weekend Away

There are some places that I have, over the years, developed an affinity for. In the same years I have developed an affinity with a number of people. Looking on Facebook and seeing the people who I would consider friends (the majority), I realise that I do know, in some way, a large number of people. Now I have never been one to have a best friend, but I do have a group of friends who are closer than the rest. This is mainly due to spending many months camping with them (spread over weeks and weekends). Living in the same vicinity with the same people for such a long period creates a friendship like nothing else. Whether it was waiting out a snowstorm on the side of a mountain, walking over ‘just one more ridge’, or just an evening spent having a few drinks around a fire looking at the stars we have formed some kind of bond. When not struggling against or otherwise enjoying the great outdoors these are the people that I spend most time with.

Now there is a unique sense of humour to this group of friends that is only safely used within this group of friends. Introducing other people into the group goes one of two ways: they are welcomed and feel welcome, or they become fed up with it very quickly and leave, never to return.

Last weekend I went camping (albeit in a hut) with some of these people I share an affinity with, in a place that I have an affinity for. Watching the sunset over the hills, listening to the stags roaring, and oddly listening to some naturalised parakeets, I realised that this place and these people have been responsible for many of the things that I now enjoy.

I have always had a love for the ‘Great Outdoors’ but it was at this place that I first began to master some of the techniques that are now second nature. Confidence with a map and a compass, the ability to track wild animals, but most importantly how to survive in, and if necessary survive on, the ‘wilderness’. These are all skills that are now second nature, almost as much as walking or talking, and they were taught to me by these people that are my close friends.

Perhaps it’s inappropriate that we spent the night playing poker, and having a few drinks: but I don’t think so. We had a glowing fire, and we talked until the early hours about the past, and more importantly, about what we might do in the future.