Sunday, 30 October 2011 - Your Place To Share Nature - A Review

On a recent visit to Mere Sands Wood in Ormskirk,  I picked up a leaflet advertising a website called, which was all related to nature and sharing your findings with other nature loving people.

As I was due to attend a Fungi Foray at Mere Sands Wood, I placed the leaflet in my pocket for me to study in more detail when I got home.

Back home, I retrieved the leaflet and navigated my way to the website, wondering what it was all about.

I was very pleased to find a simple to navigate, well laid out and extremely informative website. This could be just what I've been looking for. Somewhere to research different types of fungi for my new found interest.

But its a lot more than that. The site covers all aspects of nature, including :

  • Fungi & Lichens
  • Birds
  • Fish
  • Plants
  • Invertebrates
  • Amphibians & Reptiles
  • Mammals
The website basically allows you to register a profile (user account), then browse the huge database of species uploaded by other users. This in itself is a great means of reference and is a great aid to identifying your findings.

You will find photos, taken by other users, with descriptions, location details, comments and other specimens related to your search.

But probably the best use of this website, is to submit a photo of a species of fungi, an insect or plant etc. and allow other users, to help you identify your finding. They can either agree with your identification or advise you on a possible alternative.

I have started using this site to build up my own little database of findings (So far, just fungi) and gives you immediate access from any form of Internet connection, such as your mobile phone when out in the field. A great research tool at your fingertips.

The site is provided by The Open University and is part of the OPAL Project, which is funded by the National Lottery.

I have found the majority of people on this site to be very knowledgeable and helpful and would recommend anybody interested in nature to seriously take a visit to this site.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Fungi Foray With Dr Irene Ridge - NW Fungi Group

Yesterday I attended the Fungi Foray with Dr Irene Ridge from the North West Fungi Group, which was hosted at Mere Sands Wood in Ormskirk, Lancashire.

Approximately 12 attendees congregated in the visitors centre, chit chatting about the reserve itself and our reasons for attending the foray. At around 2pm Dr Irene Ridge arrived, introduced herself, then off we went into the glorious sunshine and the nearby woodland.

We had only walked a couple yards into the woodland and the identification began. We were encouraged to wander about ourselves, searching for any fungi. Once a specimen was located, the rest of the group would gather round, whilst Irene identified the fungi and explained a little more about its characteristics and possible uses.

Soon after the first fungi was found, we were all foraging around in the leaf litter trying to find the next specimen. Turns out, having only walked a couple of yards, we spent a good 20 mins in this same area, turning up new fungi to be identified.

It was great to watch Dr Irene, going through her sequence of tests to positively identify the differing fungi. And was equally surprising to watch her taste some of the fungi in an attempt to confirm her theories. You have to know exactly what you're doing in these cases and Dr Irene sure knew her stuff.

We eventually wandered back onto the path and further into the woodland, in search of more fungi. I had been at the same reserve a week previous and knew of some good specimens to identify. One of which I suggested to Dr Irene to visit. Having given her the name of the fungi "Shaggy Inkcap", she commented that they were short lived, but I ran on ahead to check it was still there. Only to return, saying "Yes, you're quite right...short lived", as the fungi was now nowhere to be seen.

This in itself was a lesson learned, that fungi sometimes only have short lifespans, so if you do find a fungi specimen, take a photo of it for future reference and cataloging.

On we pressed, picking out smaller and more camouflaged fungi as we got familiar with the more common species. As I mentioned earlier, I had been here a week ago and had obviously missed a great deal of fungi that were hiding in the undergrowth. But I was know really getting into it and was eager to locate more and more fungi. I was like a kid in a... well, a woodland FULL of fungi.

As one of the younger members of the foray, I was able to spot some of the less obvious specimens (See photo above, left)

One particular fungi we located was a common stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus) and believe me, you certainly smell this particular fungi before you spot it. I had smelt this odour before when out walking in woodland, but never realised it was a type of fungi or even the stinkhorn. I suppose the name gives you a bit of a clue. The Latin name also made me snigger a little, but I suppose it's one you're not going to forget.

I was also amazed to learn that the stinkhorn can form from the egg stage (See photo left) to the fully grown fungi (Above)within a matter of hours. You could potentially watch this fungi grow before your very eyes, something I hope to witness at some point in the future. The stinkhorn we found was in its latter stages and had started to fall apart, but you could still see the lattice framework of the stem and the remains of the cap.

Other specimens we were lucky enough to find were Beef Steak Fungus, Birch Polypore, Deceiver, A Coral Type Fungus, Candle Snuff and many more that I can't remember the names of.

There was so much information, Latin names and common names to remember. But these are all things I can study over time, referring to photos and notes I have taken, building up my knowledge slowly but to a point where I can positively identify the fungi.

Before attending the foray, I had said to myself that if I came away with one new snippet of new knowledge, it had been worthwhile. Well I came away with much more than that and can now positively identify 3 or 4 new specimens of fungi, that I couldn't before. I am also more confident handling the fungi, knowing what characteristics to look for and where to look for them.

The foray actually over-ran, by about quarter of an hour due to the number of fungi we found, but Dr Irene was happy to continue identifying the specimens as we unearthed them.

Finally back at the visitor centre, I said my thank you's to Dr Irene and returned home, content with what I had learned and am now looking forward to going out in my local woodland to continue with my study of fungi.

I recommend anyone with a vague interest in fungi or just wildlife in general to attend an event such as this, as they are fun to go on, gets you out in the fresh air and you also learn some useful stuff too.

Whilst in the Mere Sands Wood Visitor Centre I picked up a leaflet on a website called which is all about sharing your wildlife observations. Whether it be fungi and lichens, plants, fish, invertebrates, birds, mammals or amphibians and reptiles.

You can basically upload images of any aspects of wildlife to this site which is run by The Open University adding any info you may have, such as location, characteristics etc. and there are other like minded people on the site that can help you identify your findings.

It is a great reference site for anybody interested in wildlife in general and well worth a visit.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Fungi Foray With Dr Irene Ridge (NW Fungus Group) At Mere Sands Wood

On Saturday 22nd October, this is where I will be... The Fungi Foray With Dr Irene Ridge (NW Fungus Group) At Mere Sands Wood.

I hope to learn a lot more about some of the fungi I was lucky enough to come across this weekend, when out for a family walk.

Once I have attended the guided walk, through Mere Sands Wood, I will be posting another article of my new found skills and findings.

Learning About Fungi (Fungus) - My Second Species

Continuing with my steep fungi (fungus) identification learning curve, I would like to add my second species that I intend to study in more detail over the coming months.

Scleroderma Citrinum (Common Earthball) - Poisonous

This is a tuberous or spherical type fungi, similar in shape and weight to a potato.

It has yellowish-brown external skin, which is of coarse, warty consistency. It has a kind of net pattern and has a very thick skin. At the base of the fungus are root-like fibres and the body of the earthball is up to 10cm in diameter.

The Gleba (Fleshy spore-bearing inner mass of fungi) is found to be purple-grey splashed with deeper purple to black, which then disintegrating into cotton wool like flakes, marbled with white.

The Common Eartball can be found in coniferous forests, where the soils are chalk-free.

Although only weakly poisonous, if consumed can cause fainting spells and strong gastric stomach upsets.

My own discoveries of this species have found them to be in singular form and also larger groups of differing sizes.

A similar species to Scleroderma Citrinum (Common Earthball) is Scleroderma Verrucosum, which has a yellowis-white root-like structure of mycelium (Vegetative part of a fungus, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae (long, branching filamentous structure of a fungus))

To see how I am getting on with my first species choice (Amanita Muscaria - Fly Agaric) CLICK HERE

You are also welcome to watch a short video of when I first located the Common Earthball in the link below :

Learning About Fungi (Fungus) - My Learning Curve Begins

As today is chucking it down with rain, it seems the perfect time to start my steep learning curve, discovering about fungi (fungus) identification.

I have only just started getting interested in fungi and think it is a great addition to any bushcrafters skill set. I have been taking advice from a fellow outdoors man, called Peter on Youtube, who has been giving me some guidance on how to get started in fungi identification.

He doesn't claim to be an expert, but he does have a good knowledge of the subject, has been on several courses regarding fungi (One of which was the Ray Mears Woodlore course) and if I had to trust anybody, it would be him.

Anyway, he has basically advised me to learn about 2-3 different species and to learn them well. It is much better (and safer) to know a few species in depth and to be able to identify them with 100% certainty. Rather than know a little bit about 20-30 species.

It only takes, the little bit you DON'T know about just one of those 20-30 species, to be serious or even fatal.

So, the learning starts here and over time I will add more photos and information to any future posts I publish.

With regards to any photos on my "Fungi" posts, they will all have been taken myself. I won't be using stock photos from other sites or books. I think this is important, as it just makes the learning process more enjoyable and hopefully should stick in my head better.

At present the only reference book I have is a Collins Nature Guide - Mushrooms And Toadstools of Britain & Europe by Edmund Garnweidner

And so to my first species, Fly Agaric.

I have chosen this one for a number of reasons. Firstly it is a poisonous variety and I feel it is more important to be aware of the fungi that will cause you harm, rather than ones that are edible.

Amanita Muscaria (Fly Agaric)

The cap is initially spherical and completely enveloped by a white, warty veil which later on in life becomes convex, flat and sometimes bowl-shaped with a grooved margin (outermost edge of the cap) in its latter stages.

The cap can be bright orange-red to scarlet, with a lemon-yellow colouring below the skin of the cap (Pellicle). The cap can grow up to 15cm in diameter.

The gills, which is the grooved underside of the cap are white and classed as crowded, meaning they are grouped very close together.

The spores of the Fly Agaric are found to be white. To identify spores from fungi, you would need to use a microscope with x1000 magnification. This is an aspect I haven't yet explored.

The stem thick all the way down, white in colour, with a broad, hanging and comb-like grooved ring. The base of the stem is bulbous with warty residues of veil (temporary structure of tissue found on the fruiting bodies)

If you were to cut into the cap, the flesh would be white and have no scent.

The Fly Agaric, tends to be found in coniferous forests, like pine plantations for example. They are often found in pairs or groups, but is not uncommon to find as single specimens, as I found recently on a walk at Mere Sands Wood, near Ormskirk.

This particular fungi contains small amounts of Muscarin (Natural product found in certain fungi) but also contains Muscimol (The major psychoactive alkaloid present in many mushrooms of the Amanita genus) which is harmful.

The Fly Agaric also contains poisons that have not yet been analysed and can prove fatal if digested.

Other specimens that resemble the Fly Agaric are Amanita Regalis, which is also poisonous. I have yet to locate this fungi and photograph for my records.

If you would like to watch a short video of my walk through Mere Sands Wood and the vast number of fungi that we came across (including the Fly Agaric), please follow the link below :

This post on the Fly Agaric is an ongoing article and will be updated with more information and pictures of the fungus, as I acquire them, so please keep returning to see any updates.

I would appreciate and welcome any comments on this particular species or any other fungi types, as the more information I have the quicker I am going to learn. Thank You

Sunday, 16 October 2011

A Family Day Out In Mere Sands Wood - Finding Fungi

Spent an afternoon in Mere Sands Wood today with my family, searching for fungi along the way.

The weather was relatively nice in Lancashire today, so it was suggested that we get out and grab some fresh air. So, it was wellies on and off to a local nature reserve.

Mere Sands Wood is a fantastic little nature reserve, tucked away amongst the agricultural fields of the area and is looked after by The Wildlife Trust.

The reserve consists of lakes, woodland and grasslands and has been thoughtfully designed to accommodate a wide range of abilities. There is a voluntary fee of £2.00 for parking/visiting the reserve, but is well worth the money and the funds are put to good use as you will see when you walk round this amazing reserve.

You have a choice of 3 routes, which are clearly marked using different coloured posts and can also be clearly seen on the maps available from the visitor center.

There is an abundance of wildlife, birds, plants and of course fungi, which is what I was looking for today. And with the help of my 2 young kids aged 4 and 7, it wasn't long before we found our first specimen.

I had already warned my kids of the dangers of fungi and made sure they didn't touch anything they found, when running off ahead of us. I think its great to get kids involved in the outdoors at an early age and they soon pick things up (not literally) and understand the dangers.

We have been lucky enough to visit this reserve on numerous occasions and have seen Tawny Owls and Kingfishers on previous visits. But today was fungi day and I was keen to build on my ever expanding database of species.

Recently I was speaking to a Youtube acquaintance of mine who has just returned from a Ray Mears Woodlore course, where he learned a great deal about fungi. And the best piece of advice he could give me, was to go out and study 3 species of fungi, until you were 100% sure you could identify them.

So that is exactly what I plan to do. I am going to spend the next 6 months or so, searching for just 3 species of fungi in my local woodlands and nature reserves, until I can positively identify, know the names of, their uses, characteristics and different stages throughout the year.

I will also take loads of photos of these species as they change form and colour and take masses of notes until I know them in my sleep. Once I am satisfied I can do this, I will then add another 3 species and repeat the process, slowly building up my knowledge.

This way I will have a more certain knowledge of a few species, rather than a little knowledge of 100's of species (The latter being more of a danger to myself and others).

And so, with camera in hand and 2 eager children, we set off along the paths searching for fungi. And it wasn't long before we started to build up a huge list of different species.

We were also lucky enough to meet a fellow fungi enthusiast who made us aware of a Fly Agaric and its location. And what a specimen it was, soon found by my little boy, who we had now named "Fungi Finder"

Several photos later and a lovely walk through the reserve, we called in at the visitors center where I noticed a poster for a guided fungi walk, next Saturday. So I put my name down straight away, as this would be a great opportunity to get to know the different fungi in more detail.

All in all we had a great afternoon, the kids learned more about what fungi were and I increased my fungi database considerably.

You can see the full gallery of photos I took HERE. I now look forward to next Saturdays guided fungi walk.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Finally The Rain Stops... Time For A Walk To Buzzard Wood

After several days of terrential rain, yesterday it finally stopped, the sun came out and I seized the moment and went for a walk to my favourite local bushcrafting spot, Buzzard Wood.

I really enjoy going for my local walks, as it serves many purposes. Firstly I am getting fresh air and exercise, which as we all know is good for you, so I'm onto a winner before I even start.

Secondly I get to know my surroundings better and over time become more familiar with whats around me. Things such as edible fruits, tinder sources, potential camping spots etc.

When you are out on a walk I think it is important not to just put your head down and march from one point to another. You should take your time, look around you and try to find new plants, fungi or wildlife that you come across in the hedgerow.

Take good quality photos, to enable you to look back at them when you get home. Try to identify them and discover if they have any edible properties, medicinal uses or other uses, such as firelighting.

Build up a database of your findings, categorising them into plants, fungi, trees, birds, insects etc. Doing this will help you learn as you go and it WILL stick in your head, ready for the next time you are out.

Depending on how far you are walking, you can brush up on your navigating skills. You don't have to have a gps, map, compass etc. Just a simple printout of the area you are walking in, kept in a protective wallet, in case it rains.

And so, I set off on my walk, with a full 35 litre Karrimor rucksack, as I intended to shoot several videos of my newly acquired Trangia Triangle and 12cm Zebra Billy Can, which I was eager to test out in the field.

Due to the recent heavy rain, the ground was very wet and I was glad for my British Army Canvas Gaiters, which have served me well since I bought them. As always, I was on the lookout for different plants, fruits and fungi and I wasn't let down, as they were plentiful.

I came across Hawthorn Berries, Sloes, Crab Apples, Blackberries and several different species of fungi. Not to mention the abundance of wildlife, such as Wrens, Jays, Pheasant, Cormorants, Tawny Owl, various butterflies and of course squirrels.

Having walked just over an hour, I reached my destination, Buzzard Wood. This isn't its real name, its just a name I christened it when I first discovered it a few months ago. This was a simple idea I picked up from a Youtube friend, who names all his woods that he visits. Mainly to conceal the location identity, as when you find a nice secluded spot, you like to keep it for yourself,even though other people think exactly the same when they are there too.

Once in Buzzard wood, I setup a simple base camp using my British Army Basha and some camo netting, just so that I blended into the woodland. I unpacked by rucksack and made a start with some new videos for my Youtube channel (JesterBushcraft).

Today, I was filming a field test of my new Trangia Triangle and 12cm Zebra Billy Can. And I have to say it worked brilliantly. Easy to setup, simple to use, sturdy and packs away into a very compact drawstring bag.

The Zebra Billy Can was also a success and I managed to cook myself some noodles with vegetable soup and of course a brew to wash it all down.

I always like to shoot as many videos as I can when I'm out, as I never know when I'll next get the chance. I think its important to keep my regular (And loyal) subscribers updated with new videos. They have taken time to visit my channel and leave quality comments and feedback. So I think its only fair I respond with more info, reviews and tutorials.

So, in addition I did videos on my Victorinox Trailmaster, A New Kitchen Kit and Map Ideas.

After a couple of hours in Buzzard Wood and a close encounter with a Tawny owl, I packed up my camp. Made sure I had left no trace of being there and set off back home.

By this time the sun was out and it was getting quite warm, so I rolled up my sleeves and plodded on across the fields and woodland, taking more photos of more different species of fungi etc.

I arrived back at my car ,having done a 5.17 mile round trip and was quite pleased with my days work.

I think it does you good to have "YOU TIME" away from the rat race, collect your thoughts and enjoy what you have around you and sometimes, closer to you than you think (Tawny Owl, virtually on my shoulder)

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Best Intentions Washed Out... Very Frustrating

As a shift worker, father to two young kids and a wife who also works, I only get small pockets of time that I can call my own. So I really look forward to "Me Time", where I can go off into the local woodland countyside and learn new bushcraft skills, practice existing skills or just record more video footage for my JesterBushcraft Youtube Channel.

And for the last three days I have been off, kids at school and wife at work. Leaving me to plan all manner of trips, walks and outings.

However, also for the last three days it has rained, rained, rained. Each new day I think, "Oh, it will clear up today"... But no, more rain !

So, here I sit, tapping away at my computer, with all my best intentions washed away... Very frustrating !

Monday, 10 October 2011

JesterBushcraft Youtube Channel... Learn New Skills From A Likeminded Community

Back in June 2011, I started to get interested in Bushcraft and I used Youtube as a means of learning new skills, from other bushcrafters. And it wasn't long before I was producing my own videos, on my newly created channel "JesterBushcraft", showing how I was progressing on the bushcrafting learning curve.

It wasn't long before I started to realise that there was a number of other similar people,  like myself who were doing exactly the same. Getting out in the woods, or up on the hills and practicing new bushcrafting skills. Plus they were submitting videos of their own and they were receiving comments about what they had got up to.

Not only that, but the comments were mainly positive ones, giving words of advice, hints, tips and new things to try. It was almost like a close knit community of bushcrafters, all wanting to help each other in this fantastic pastime.

As I learnt new skills, I would produce new videos and sure enough the comments started flooding in. After a few months I started to submit videos that I thought other people may benefit from or learn techniques that they could use themselves. And once again, people were taking note and actually thanking me for the information I was putting out there.

And now in my 4th month, I am still producing videos on a regular basis. Some are just me trying new skills, some are things I have discovered myself and wanted to share with "the community" and other videos are just for the fun of it or letting people (some of which I can now call my friends) know what I have been up to.

So, if you are new to bushcrafting and would like some inspiration or advice on what skills you could learn about, feel free to wander over to my youtube channel "JesterBushcraft"

And also, if you are an experienced bushcrafter, please also visit my channel, take a look at some of my videos and leave comments on how I can improve my skills or where I may be going wrong etc. I am always open to constructive criticism and eager learn new skills.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Victorinox Swiss Army Trailmaster (Trekker) And Swiss Card

Almost everybody who has ever been involved with camping, hiking or the boy scouts etc. has at some point owned a Swiss Army knife, made by Victorinox. And with the huge selection of tools available, along with the build quality, it is no surprise that Victorinox have been going strong for so many years.

For me it all started back in 1983, when I was on a weeks scout camp in Scotland. We had stopped off in Fort William for a short break, but rather than grab a drink and a sandwich, I wandered off to the local camping shop.

With pocket money in hand, I slowly cast my eyes over the different knives in the shop window, occasionally looking back in my hand to see if I had enough money. Eventually I spotted a knife, that seemed to have more blades and tools than I knew what to do with, but the shiny red handle and white cross & shield logo had drawn me in further.

I entered the shop and asked the shop keeper if I could buy the knife. This was at a time when more or less anybody, of any age could get away with buying a knife. He asked me how old I was and whether I had owned a knife before. I said I had, but I'm sure that wasn't really the case. I also mentioned that I was in the Scouts (Which he had probably already noticed, as I was wearing my uniform) hoping this would sway his decision.

Eventually he agreed to sell me the knife, I handed over my money and walked out with the knife, excited about showing the rest of my troop what I had just bought. On the way back to the camp we all sat in the van mesmerized by the number of blades, screwdrivers, bottle openers etc. that the knife seemed to magically produce. For the journey home, I was the King of the moment, as everybody else sat around me, wanting to hold the knife. I don't think you ever forget your first pen knife as a youngster and the fact that it was a Victorinox Swiss Army knife, just added to the moment.
I'm 41 now and still have the knife (See Photo above), albeit with a few battle scars, but it is still a favourite of mine and gets used once in a while. I have a son now, who's only 4, but one day he will be ready for his first knife and who knows, he may even inherit this one.

About 8 years ago I received another Victorinox product for Christmas from my wife. Something that at the time I liked, but underestimated how often I would come to use it. I know keep it in my wallet, as my every day carry (EDC) and use it at least once a week. The item I use the most is the scissors for cutting my nails, occasionally smoothing them off with the small file. The pin, now extremely bent, I also use on a regular basis for removing splinters. A very handy tool...

There are a number of items in this card that get used very rarely, but when you are stuck and do need them, they are right there in my pocket. You can see a more in depth review of the Victorinox Swiss Card, by watching the video below...

More recently I have got more involved in bushcraft and have purchased many different tools for when out on the trail. One of which is a folding saw, for use when making shelters or bushcraft chairs. But this is a bulky item that needs to be carried in my rucksack and I wanted to be able to have a smaller, more compact saw available to me whenever I was out on short trips or outings.

After a lot of research, I ended back with Victorinox and the Trailmaster (Or Trekker as it is known in other countries). There are 2 different versions of this particular knife. The standard model, which I purchased (as it was on offer) and the one hand operation version.

As expected, the knife is excellent quality and the saw, which was the reason I bought it works brilliantly too. I hope to do a video review showing me using the knife out in the field. But for now you can watch a small review of the knife when I first received it (See Below)

I must stress, that carrying this particular knife in public, in the UK is not recommended and should be used responsibly in the appropriate situations and carried safely at all times. Read a fantastic review on UK Knife Law HERE from Backyard Bushcraft

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Camping Stove Options - What To Use And When

If you are going to spend more than a couple of hours out on the trail, you are at some point, going to want to sit down, rest your legs and get a brew on. Or maybe even cook yourself a warm meal...

And if you want a warm meal or hot drink you are more than likely going to need a means of heating up that food or drink.

Now depending on your circumstances, you are going to have a number of options available to you. Some of the hardened bushcrafters will use nothing more than a bit of tinder, some kindling and a means of producing an ember, whether it be from a firesteel and some charcloth or a bowdrill set.

These are great skills to have and I advise that if you are serious about bushcrafting to get these skills, at some point, under your belt. But if you are just out with friends or even on your own, you are going to want to brew up without any hassle or fuss.

And so for this, you will need a stove. But which stove is the best ?

Well there isnt an answer for this, as all circumstances are different. And in bushcraft you adapt your kit to the situation you are either faced with or are planning to be in.

Lets have a look at the different types of stoves you may want to consider :

  • Gas
  • Meths/Alcohol
  • Wood
  • Full Cookset
  • Lightweight
  • Disposable
  • Compact
As you can see there are many different methods of producing heat, but what you chose depends on where you are going, how much you want to carry and what fuel source you have available.

For instance, it would be more or less pointless to take a wood burning hobo stove into acrtic conditions, due to the lack of fuel available. And it would equally be as pointless to take a double ring gas burning stove, with fold out table and a huge fuel bottle, if you were only going out for a couple of hours, with only a teabag and some powdered milk.

Today, I am just going to cover a few stove options that I use, in my kit, whenever I go out on the trail. You will no doubt have your own favourites and no two peoples kits are the same. You should take note of what other people have to say, but at the end of the day, your kit should suit YOU !

Personally, I don't really like gas burning stoves. I just feel there are more moving parts to let me down and then of course there is the fuel you have to carry.

One of my prefered methods of cooking out in the woods, is the Swedish Army Trangia stove and mess kit (See video demo below). This provides everything I need to brew up, make a hot meal or simply to purify water. I have all the pots and pans that I need, plus a reliable means of heating up my food or water. Fuel is easy to carry and the whole kit is compact and reasonably lightweight (depending on whether you go for the alloy or stainless steel set).

If you are just needing to brew up, this stove is probably a bit of overkill. But for general cooking it's ideal, it's reliable and cheap to buy. It is also very versatile, as you can heat up food, then boil water for a brew or washing up and still keep your food warm, whilst your other water is boiling.

It comes with a windshield, meths/alcohol burner, small pan, large pan (billy) and a bottle for storing your fuel. They come in alloy or stainless steel, as I mentioned earlier. The stainless steel version although more versatile (as you can place the pans straight into a fire) is heavier in weight.

The set comes with lots of little nifty features, like the "D" rings on the small pot handle that allows you to insert a stick to create a longer pot handle and also stops you from burning your hands when the handle gets hot. Anybody involved with camping or hiking, will be familiar with the Trangia name and the fact that these cook kits were issued to the military, gives you some idea as to how good they actually are. Speak to anybody involved with bushcraft and they will no doubt be aware of this stove or actually own one (or two)...

You can watch a video review (see below) of the Swedish Army Trangia, that I put together a while ago, which will take you through some of the features and what I thought of it when I used it for the first time...

If you are just looking to brew up, when out on the trail, you may just need a simple meths/alcohol stove and a small billy can or steel cup. You can quite easily put together a cheap, small and lightweight brew set, using items you would find around your house... Tin cans, drinks (pop cans) etc. (See An Example Of That HERE)

Or if you have money to spend, there are any number of small stove sets you can purchase e.g Trangia Triangle, BCB Crusader Cook Set etc. The Trangia Triangle is one of my personal favourites, as it is lightweight, robust and packs away very small.

If you already have other Trangia products, like the kettle etc. then this stove works great in conjuction.

Both the Swedish Army Trangia burner (which is slightly larger than the standard trangia burner) and the standard Trangia burner, fit snuggly inside the Trangia Triangle, giving you an easy to use, versatile cook set.

There are of course the Hobo style stoves, you can cheaply produce using old tin cans, which allow you to utilise the fuel that you find out on the trail, such as birch bark, twigs, pine cones etc. These stoves require firelighting skills, which can be easily learned and applied. But you do get a form of satisfaction from producing your own heat source using natural materials and also boosts moral, when a real wood burning glow is produced.

So, as you can see there are a number of options available to you, but what you decide upon is all down to your circumstances and the situation you are putting yourself in...

I hope this has given you a bit of an insight and hopefully sparked some kind of interest into producing your own cooking sets/stoves etc.

Blog Introduction - Bushcraft & Survival Skills, Tutorials And Reviews

Welcome to the newly launched blog from JesterBushcraft - Bushcraft & Survival Skills, Tutorials And Reviews...

Ok, so what's the blog all about then ? Well, if I'm honest its a way for me to have a central location to keep all my bushcraft notes, kit reviews and knowledge that I have built up since becoming interested in bushcraft and outdoor survival techniques.

I've always had an interest in being outdoors, right from when I used to build shelters (dens) as a kid in my local woods. That then progressed to camping, hiking and cooking sausages over an open fire when in cub scouts. I then worked my way up through Scouts and Venture Scouts. I was also part of the on-site team who managed the running and upkeep of 2 of the biggest scout camps in the North West of England.

And I've always been a sucker for gadgets, kit and equipment that can be used in the outdoors, when out hiking or camping. And because of this, Back in June 2011 I started uploading videos to Youtube, reviewing different kit items, experiences I'd had and techniques I had learned, all relating to bushcraft.

And before I knew it, people started taking interest in my videos and were leaving nice comments. And so I'd do more videos and more people started to take notice. Its now October 2011 and I currently have over 100 subscribers, totalling just under 8000 views, which I am so pleased about.

Im just a regular guy with an interest in bushcraft. And so, due to the success of my Youtube channel (JesterBushcraft) I thought I would start writing a blog, mainly as a diary of events to remind myself of what I have been up to and when.

However, if what I have learned can help other people, with similar interests, then great. Again, I don't confess to be a guru in bushcraft or an expert in survival skills. I just enjoy being out there. I have learnt so much from other people, whether it be on Youtube or people I have met over the years. And hopefully, one day, I will have inspired or helped future generations enjoy  the outdoors and bushcrafting in general.


So please, feel free to have a wander round my blog, watch some of my videos and if you can take away just one snippet of information that will help you... Fantastic !

And if you do put anything I talk about here, to good use, please let me know. I would be glad to hear about it.

Thank you for your interest.