Written by Phil Brown, Badger Bushcraft Blog Friday, 18 May 2012 12:47
Time off is a rare commodity especially at this time of year and with so many things going on including courses and our pioneering and exceptionally popular educational work with schools. It always amuses me, however, that whenever we do get some downtime we return to our place of work for some rest and relaxation, I suspect there are not too many folk that are so eager to get back to the “office” as we are.
Despite the outdoors in its many shapes, forms and guises being our “office” any time off is always spent outdoors, be it walking, cycling, bird or mammal watching, cooking, et al. On a recent afternoon off, which makes for a pleasant change, I asked my son where he wanted to go, his reply was to our woodland site located near our base in the heart of Kent.
This was wonderful news to me I have no problem with returning to the “office” in my spare time, in fact it is always a pleasure. So we packed our 110 Land Rover Defender with some snacks, water bottles, chainsaw, PPE, camera, some rough hewn oak boards and of course Inca “The Bushcraft Dog” and we sallied forth.
With no deadlines to keep the short drive was very enjoyable and my son, Ben, and I had a good chat along with a few laughs as we drove along the winding and pleasant country lanes. We took in the changing landscape which is so incredibly verdant and lush with the abundant herb growth at the roadside which has been bolstered and encouraged by the recent consistent rain we have been “blessed” with. We can do with the rain to replenish our reservoirs locally and the flora has certainly benefited but my heart goes out to the fruit growers who’s crop I hope will not been too baldy affected by the heavy rain and hail showers we have been on the receiving end of, not to mention all our friends who work in the outdoors and have had to endure a soggy spring!
We arrived at the woods, admiring the many early purple orchids on the bank, and parked up at our teaching area amidst the oaks, ash, hornbeam, sliver birch, hazel and willows not to mention the now sadly departing carpet to bluebells.
Whilst Ben set off to check his den I was able to construct two more benches for clients around the central fire site which is normally covered with a large cargo parachute. Inca also set off to explore and was soon following the many scents of the local woodland creatures.
Once the benches were built and the tools safely packed away Ben and I had a quick bite to eat and got the cameras out. We then set off to explore some of the 100 acre woodland and soon we were following a little steam checking the soft banks and bed for animal tracks.
Exploring is something I have never stopped enjoying and I always delight in finding my inner-child by doing so. To me there is nothing better than jumping streams, finding foot prints, discovering wild foods and myriad of twisted and intriguing trees. Despite our 30 year age difference Ben and I were totally on the same wave length and we were smiling from ear to ear and having a blast – the chances of seeing any of the creatures we share the woodland with were exceptionally remote as our peels of laughter echoed around the wooded and steam filled valley. Inca too was relishing the fun we were having and was bounding along the stream bed occasionally being caught out by the odd deep pool where her feet lost contact with the bottom and she disappeared under the surface a few times only to appear a microsecond later snorting and shaking water from her ears.
We found a beautiful patch of yellow archangel (Lamium galeobdolon) gloriously interspersed with the bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) which, sadly, my photograph just can not do justice to.
There was also a most magnificently and structurally challenged hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) we stumbled upon whilst stalking some rabbits.
We spent ages discovering The Nature and having fun – to me there is nothing finer and more enjoyable. It was a totally perfect afternoon that cost nothing and was incredibly simple.
What ever you have planned for the weekend try and find a little piece of nature to marvel at, get “out and about” and try and find your own inner-child in an activity you enjoyed during your childhood, I’m sure it will prove to be a tonic for the soul.
Enjoy your weekend,