It was a gloriously sunny day in late September for our Fire Making Masterclass, led by Feathers.
Returning from our silent, no torches night walk to a welcoming fire and hot sage and rosemary tea. With much gratitude to Caroline Whiteman and #firekeeper Nico.
#fullmoon #southdowns #nightwalk #fire
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
Fire in a tin kits available to buy here
#campfire #wildtime #outdoors #stanmerpark #firestarter #naturaltinder
Lighting the fire for the eating the food part of our foraging class.
Using dried cleavers, silver birch bark, and dry nettle stalks for tinder.
The fire lights at the first attempt using one of our Fire in a Tin kits. No matches or lighter needed.
Get your Fire in a Tin kit here
#firestarter #campfire #bushcraft #lightmyfire
Making fire is an essential camp and survival skill
When you're out in the wilderness, being able to make fire - along with making a shelter, drinking water, and finding food - is a key survival skill. Even if you're just out camping in the woods for the weekend, you need to eat, and you might want to boil water, keep warm and tell stories round something.
But do you have the skills and the know-how to make a fire? Did you bring what you need to make it? Matches can get wet or run out. A lighter needs fuel and can be hard to use if it's windy. A fire steel or a fire striker are both good options.
Then you'll need to gather dry wood, kindling to get it started, and tinder that'll catch an ember and help get your fire started.
Chances are that there are natural tinders and ignition extenders within sight that'll help you light a fire.
Have a look around at what's growing nearby. Dry, fluffy material - dead thistle heads, old man's beard, dried animal poo, cedar bark, dry grass - can all make good tinder.
Here's the lowdown on some of my favourites:
Pictures from last weekend's fire making masterclass led by Robert Fallon.
An exploration of what fire really is, how to make it without matches, and which natural tinders are best.
We played with:
• Fluffy seed heads
• Tree bark
Mid November, we were really lucky with the weather!
It's not difficult to make a flint and steel fire, with a fire making kit and these easy to follow instructions:
To make a flint and steel fire, you need:
A tinder bundle: a big handful of dry grass, dry leaves, or similar – made into a ‘nest’.
Ensure your fire bed (or fire tepee) is ready and prepared with kindling / twigs / wood of various sizes, and ready to accept your burning tinder.
How to use flint and steel
These instructions are for right-handers. The opposite works for left-handers:
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.
It's a warm and sunny day. The kettle's boiling on the fire, birds sing and flit about in the trees.
We are 12, sitting on log stumps in a circle: it's the beginning of School of the Wild's first ever full day in the woods.
We have a few activities planned and begin with an opening circle and check-in. One by one we go round and speak in answer to 3 questions:
The talking stick that Alistair found just outside the circle proves perfect for the job, and in the way of sharing circles the world over, it's picked up in turn, giving each of us the opportunity to talk, one at a time without interruption, until we're done.
Pictures from our most recent event: A Day in the Woods with Fire, Conversation and a few Exercises
Spending time in the woods round a fire, sharing food and meaningful conversations with lovely people, and practising skills to feel more connected, aware and alive.
I'm still feeling the benefits.
What's not to like? Fire, great people, relaxed atmosphere, awareness building, spending time in a wood, shared food and discovering a new skill to make smoke 'not get in your eyes.'
What a lovely day with lovely people in a lovely place. Thanks everyone for being so present and so mellow.
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.
Fire Making Masterclass
The Fire is Within You
Sunday February 14th, 2016
I've done this fire class a few times, and learn something new every time, including the fire bending trick that keeps smoke out of your eyes. Thanks as always to Robert Fallon for leading it, and everyone who came along.
"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!
“This is your new sun,” says Alistair in appropriately hushed tones as he hands us each a lit candle. We take one and sit down, quietly reflecting on what we just experienced.
We’re sitting in the dark surrounded by trees, on wild land between Brighton and the South Downs. There’s a stillness in the air. In the distance, an owl hoots then a horse neighs, reminding us we're not alone out here. It’s December 21st, a few days before Christmas, and we’re coming to the end of School of the Wild’s ‘embodied’ winter solstice ritual.
The ritual is a silent reflection on the year that’s ending, and gathering of thoughts and intentions for the year ahead. Alistair’s devised it for this the longest night of the year. It's the Winter Solstice. Or it will be at 4.49 in the morning to be exact.
It’s about 8pm now, and it’s been properly dark for hours. The earlier driving rain is gone, the wind has died to nothing, and the moon is breaking through. We probably won’t stay out til the early hours, probably another hour or two.
Our solstice fire is a celebration of this turning point in the seasons. A marker that says our lives are part of a larger cycle, that’s always moving, always renewing. A profound way to tune into the magic and beauty of the season.
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Nigel Berman is founder of School of the Wild, a school of wild skills and wild thought.