#firemaking #wildtime #stanmerpark #firelighting
Feathers holds up the downy seeds from Fireweed (rosebay willow herb) to show why it can make great tinder in our fire making masterclass in the sun today.
#firemaking #wildtime #stanmerpark #firelighting
Mike the forager shows the difference between greater plantain and ribwort plantain (plantago) - both are useful medicinal and edible wild plants.
Tastes a bit shroomy.
#rewildyourlife #natureisamazing #wildherbs
It was an uplifting and inspiring summer's day.
Walking barefoot in the woods, listening to the birds, smelling the woodsmoke and feeling the soft touch of the breeze.
Simultaneous Awareness with Ben Rayner was a hit. Thanks to everyone who came along.
Last weekend I drove to Exmoor for a gathering organised by Robin Harford, the best forager I know. (I’ll take every opportunity I can to learn from him.)
Robin is an intuitive forager. His method is to use all of your senses to get to know a plant: sight, touch, smell, and only when you’re 150% sure, to taste.
Simultaneous Awareness is a way to use your senses to become aware of everything that's happening around you at the same time.
Apache Scouts like Stalking Wolf had this extraordinary ability.
Developed by Ben Rayner after a serious skydiving accident, and then time spent alone in the wilderness, Simultaneous Awareness is based on Native ways of experiencing and relating to the world.
It includes easy-to-learn tools and techniques that will help you discover a profoundly different way of being.
In this short video, Ben explains more about it and how it can bring benefits.
Simultaneous Awareness and Natural Movement, June 5th. More details and booking on Meetup here.
You use them every day to gather information about the world around you. Your senses that is.
You have sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing... you have amazing powers of consciousness, reason, and creativity.
But your body is chock full of 'extra' senses that you may not even be aware you're using, like some of the mysterious powers that other animals possess.
You can access them if you drop out of your rational, thinking mind.
If you pay attention to what you feel in your body, you can detect and feel things around you that you can't see: objects, movement, emotions...
To try this out, at our last School of the Wild session, after some centring and grounding exercises, then fox walking and owl vision to get into the 'zone', we walked blindfold through the woods.
The results were extraordinary.
Friday April 22nd was a pretty big day for the planet.
170 countries signed the Paris Climate deal at the UN, and it was also Earth Day, a movement who's ambitious aim includes planting 7.8 billion trees, and making cities 100% renewable.
At a time when the planet needs us more than ever to make choices that are nourishing for body, soul and the Earth, at School of the Wild we're passionate about ways that bring us closer to nature.
Alistair Duncan and Natasha Lythgoe are leading our session on Becoming Earth, May 15th 2016. Here they explain what it's about.
It was a beautiful sunny spring Sunday in Stanmer Park, Brighton. Perfect for learning the art of the bow drill in our Wild Fire Masterclass, led by Robert Fallon of Wild Nature.
Making a fire by rubbing two sticks together is more than a fun project, it’s also the most reliable way to start a fire - and anyone can do it - once you know how.
Imagine you're lost in the woods on a camping trip. You have no matches or lighters and it’s getting dark. Using a bow drill - an ancient way of creating hot friction between two pieces of wood - you can make a fire with relatively easy-to-find materials.
"See you outside the gate at 8.30," says Robert. He means in the morning, and I'll have to get up at 7am, on a Sunday... Sigh. I book the car, pack a few fire making kits (just in case), swapping out the small, mingey King Alfred cakes for larger ones.
Come the morning though, it's a beautiful day. Sunny and lush. And I get to the gate about 8.40am, just before Robert. Unfortunately it's locked.
Robert arrives a few minutes later in his 4x4, with girlfriend Lara. We stand around scratching our heads, trying to come up with another way in. I can see he's brought a ton of kit for this session.
Luckily a park ranger arrives and kindly lets us in.
Fire lit, and kettle on.
We unpack near the site. Robert's brought a wheelbarrow. It still takes about 7 trips. Water. Cooking utensils. Pots. Cutting boards. Tea and coffee. Tables. A lot more than for our fire making classes.
I put the fire grill together. "Can you get the fire going too?", says Robert. Ok, I think, already sweating in the heat. Cotton wool, matches, some thin dry sticks and bigger bits of wood. Everything's so dry, it lights pretty easily.
Fire lit, I head off down to the big House to greet the guests. We're expecting ten. Most of the participants are already waiting. Isobel's there. And Pip. Simon. A different Robert arrives smiling on his bike. Branwen pops out of a car. Sunny, Liz, Tatiana too. Andrew is running late.
We walk back together, via a path in the woods. Up at the site, Robert and Lara have worked wonders and everything is set up, with flowers on the tables. And water boiling on the fire.
Everything's set up for this wild food cooking masterclass
We start in a circle. Everyone says their name and their foraging experience, which ranges from complete beginners to a few who've done quite a bit. I lead a short meditation. The sound of the birds. The feel of feet on the ground, and air on skin. It's a way to arrive.
We're going to begin by making nettle pesto. First, we need to collect the nettles. They're a British superfood - the young shoots are best, and there's a good spot to find some nearby. "Grasp them firmly from underneath, show them who's boss," instructs Robert, "and you won't get stung."
We try... and we all get stung. A little bit.
We all get a little bit stung picking nettles
Luckily there's some dock leaves around, and Robert shows us how to get the juice out of them. It works surprisingly well.
We gather the nettles in baskets.
Back at the site, we stand round the tables Robert has set up. First job is to chop the beetroot as it takes the longest to cook.
Next: steep the nettles in hot water to remove the sting. It only takes a few minutes.
Then strain, and keep the juice - it makes an amazing tea, and we all have a taste.
Outdoors cooking class
We're going to make a wild food feast. Robert explains what to do at each step. The sun is shining as we work on the meal at our own stations round the table. It takes about an hour or so, and when we're done with the prep, the cooking is surprisingly quick - and then we eat... it's delicious!
Can't wait to try it!
A Forager's Feast
The full menu is nettle pesto, wild pigeon medallions, beetroot chips, followed by elderflower fritters. Here's the method and recipes for all the wild food we prepared, cooked and ate:
Get 2 or 3 beetroot each. (Shop bought, not wild)
Chop coarsely, then par boil in a saucepan of water over the fire.
Fry in hot oil on the fire til done.
Dry the nettles in a tea towel
Steep freshly picked nettles in hot water for a few minutes.
Strain and dry the nettles in a tea towel
Chop finely, and put in a bowl
Add garlic, nuts, Parmesan - all finely chopped
Drizzle oil, lemon juice, and salt to taste
Pound until you get your preferred consistency.
Wild pigeon medallions
(The pigeons were bought from a local ranger.)
Give thanks to the pigeon for it's life.
Lay it out on table
Open the breast, and peel off skin.
Make an incision along it's chest and carefully cut the breasts off
Check liver to see if the bird is diseased in any way. If there are spots, pitted skin, discolouration - you'll need to discard the whole bird.
If all is okay, wash the breasts, then
Cut them into smaller medallion size pieces
Fry in big hot skillet over the fire - it only takes a few minutes.
Carefully slice open the pigeon
Pick young fresh elderflower flowers straight from the tree.
Fresh elderflowers, straight off the tree
Baste in batter ( flour and water)
Drop head down into frying pan
Leave for a few minutes
When golden pull out
Add honey or icing sugar
Eat - delicious
Drop in batter, then fry over the fire. Delicious!
Nigel Berman is founder of School of the Wild, the experimental nature school.