Category Archives: Bushcraft

Tea in the Wood

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Today was the ultimate combination of some of my most favourite things;

  • Bimbling in the woods
  • Tea
  • Warm sausage rolls
  • My fella..

This Wintertide brought many smiles, full bellies and wonderous gifts to our little cottage.  Thanks to my gorgeous family one of those gifts was a Kelly Kettle and another was a Gelert Folding  Toaster.   A Kelly Kettle is an ingenious system, which enables you to boil water in a ridiculously short amount of time using pretty much whatever combustible fuel you have to hand.  Apparently dry camel dung works really well if you happen to be in a Sudanese desert, silver birch twigs if it’s a damp Essex woodland.

In a bid to shake off the cobwebs of excess that had gathered about us, we took our new treasures off to a local wood to try them out.

No-one had told the hazel that decorations needed to be taken down now….

It’s a really well managed wood, and as such there were lots of logs knocking about.  I always try to tread lightly and  leave no trace of were I’ve been, so this log trivet to absorb the heat of the kettle saved the ground from any threat of scorching.

The kettle comes in two parts; a double-walled chimney (where the water goes) that sits on top of a base in which a fire is built.

I do love the process of making a fire.    It’s like following a trusted family recipe, get the fundamentals right and you’re laughing, pay no attention to the basics and you’re in trouble.  Here, one of the basics is preparation.

I already had a stash of dry birch bark in my tinderbox,  so that was nestled into the kettle base, followed by birch twig kindling arranged tipi-style over the tinder,  some small fuel on top and large fuel waiting in the wings.  I love collecting firewood, a certain primal instinct takes over; peripheral vision comes into play looking for hung up branches within arms-reach, as they will be guaranteed dry, the wind having blown away any dampness.

And then there’s the sorting!!!  Oh how I adore sorting and grading the fuel….  I am by nature, a fairly untidy person and it would seem that all my tidying energy is channeled into “You’re a tiny twig, into the kindling pile you go,  you…hmm, you’re just fat enough for the large fuel pile” and so on.

Good fire prep will help ensure a successful fire, nothing lowers moral more than attempting to light a fire and failing (I learnt that one from the legendary Mr. Mears… thanks Ray)

One match later and success!   I’ve used these kettles before in my Forest School work and have found it much easier to place the chimney on the base before lighting the fire.  The handy hole means you can do this and, if there’s a breeze, turn the hole into the wind to get a strong draw.

The Vigurs fundamentals of tea

  • Good mugs
  • Good tea cosy
  • Good company

The truly fantastic folding toaster!   It can only do one slice of bread at a time, but because of the heat-diffusing mesh on it’s underside, it toasts beautifully. It also does a great job of warming through (pre-cooked, veggie) sausage rolls (so no worry of  food poisoning) and a cheeky mince pie or three.  And, AND it folds down small enough to fit in a trouser side pocket!  Truly fantastic.

The third fundamental of good tea!