Friday, 21 August 2015

My inner cavewoman

THAT BOOK gets everywhere!

I spent last weekend supposedly getting in touch with nature at the Wilderness Gathering 2015. It's a camping event for people interested in bushcraft - surviving/living in the wild - and featured many stalls ...

Ironically, shopping for kit is a HUGE part of the hobby
and demonstrations and workshops, like this one on how to skin a rabbit:

I'm a veggie, okay. But this sort of info is USEFUL. I might have to write about it!

 All taking place on a rather beautiful bison farm

We were not allowed to hunt the bison. Spoilsports.
 I had a fab time, despite my crippling lack of camo clothing ... (aficionados don't call it camo, btw, they call it DPM)

If you are not wearing at least one knife they throw you off site ;-)
for various reasons...

Bushcraft in the UK is a strange beast, with several subcultures that really might seem mutually incompatible. It could be seen to be just a grown-up version of boy-scouting - "let's go into the woods and build a den and sit round a fire eating food we gathered!" and that thread is about adventure and fun and feeling independent.

A sub-portion of it is deeply deeply into the traditional British handicrafts like walking-stick carving (which gets more technical than you would ever believe) and basket-weaving

and attracts the kind of hippies who enthuse about pole-lathes. Certainly, enthusiasm for individual handcrafted work-of-goddamn-art knives at over £1000 apiece approaches a kind of fetishism.

On the other side from the retro-hippies, some bushcraft enthusiasts are intensely practical - they want army recon/infiltration gear and the latest technology that'll allow them to survive even the worst conditions you could encounter in Britain (like oh, I dunno - breaking down on the M4 or your post not arriving for a few days). This is sort of close to those fucking nutjobs American Prepping culture - except that we can't take prepping very seriously in this country since we just don't have anywhere remote to go and hide out from the zombies/proletariat/big government. This aspect seems to boil down to Men Like to Go Shopping.

In direct contrast, there is also a large streak of LARP/re-enactment going on in there. These kind are appalled by the thought of lighting a fire with matches or a zippo, and insist on doing it with flint they've hand-knapped themselves, or a fire-bow made with deer sinew cordage (... they are very big on cordage. And flint. And whittling spoons.). They literally want to play at being stone-age hunter-gatherers, and are super-interested in indigenous populations around the world that still know how to do that kind of stuff.

Somehow, all these different sorts of bushcrafter seem able to rub along for a weekend in an amiable manner, which is lovely.

And you'll be glad to know that my personal food-gathering went well and that we did not starve over the weekend :-)

Humanely trapped and dispatched, I promise


Eloise said...

Of course they all get on well. They're too British to not be mostly polite. And they don't have big guns, or even little guns, to shoot each other with!

But after the publication of the results of the inquiry into the deaths of three TA soldiers in SAS selection trials, the UK can get pretty hostile. Just not for most of us. My personal nightmare was 13 days with only a tablet. It does a lot of things but nowhere near enough for me to work on.

Helen j Perry said...

Thanks for this fascinating blog it made me laugh.

I would love to be one of those survivalists in the US, ready for the alien invasion, deadly pandemic, zombie apocalypse, end of the world that I fear is nigh.

I'd like to have water, food and medical supplies stored in a bunker that could last for a decade.

But of course I'm English So I know almost everyone laughs at those people instead.

There was a time when all my friends were hippies but now being a hippie seems a bit too much like hard work for me, I'm turning into my mother.

Jean Roberta said...

Very interesting post. People who intend to leave England Europe to holiday in some other part of the world should be required to take a course in survival skills. I was appalled to hear about the French couple who died of dehydration in Death Valley, California, U.S.A. this summer. Luckily, their 9-year-old son (barely) survived. What were they thinking?? MUCH of North America is a challenge to survive in. I grew up in the western U.S., and always thought of Death Valley as a kind of hell on earth. (Did the name of the place not suggest anything to the French tourists?)

Here is a verse from a folk song (Sweet Betsey from Pike) about a couple who travel by wagon train from Pennsylvania to California during the Gold Rush of 1849 -- and they have to go through Death Valley:
"The alkali desert was burning and bare,/And Isaac's soul shrank from the death that lurked there./'Dear old Pike County, I'll go back to you.'/Said Betsey, 'You'll go by yourself if you do.'"
Betsey has nerves of steel -- and note that even she hasn't chosen to go through the desert with Isaac alone. They are part of a wagon train carrying supplies.