Praise where praise is due…

For the last month I have been field testing some new items of kit. This is the first of several reviews I will be posting over the coming weeks. This Silky pocket boy saw sheath made by Lois Orford was given to me by Jennie at Christmas. As I expected it is a first rate product. The saw fit is perfect giving you confidence that it is safe and secure, whether it is on your belt or in your coat pocket. A snug fit is what I was looking for as I often carry the saw in my ventile pocket, and pocket boys only have a lock option when the blade is open. The leather quality and workmanship is excellent, and the colour is an exact match to that shown on the website. Jennie had to confirm the order over the phone, and said they were very helpful and a pleasure to deal with. Available from Ben Orford.
Standard belt case for Silky Pocket Boy saw 170mm £25.00

I’m very happy with it and personally rate it as 10/10



The first of my winter projects (this one ready for next years season) is ready to be revealed.
These little carvings are designed to be an easy item to craft, that gives a quick “result” that almost anyone could do.
The little fox is in Sycamore (but I think Alder would be a better colour), it proved not so easy and not a project for a beginner.
The owls are carved from Sycamore and a peice of seasoned Spruce. These are very easy and an ideal item for anyone with a few, basic, knife skills.
The idea for the branch for little the owl to sit on was not mine – I have someone special to thank for that inspiration.

Autumn is here…winter will not be far behind

The last few weeks have seen us moving around through various patrs of southern England. As the time has passed so has the seasons and the weather that comes with them.

Lasts years summer was later than this years….if it happened at all. That said our autumn has been a classic so far…the colours, the temperatures…are all amazing
All the usual bounty is there – the nuts, the incredible fungi and the colours of the season. The nights are getting longer too and its a time to look for new campfire projects.
In the last few years my evenings around the fire have been spent carving my little “wood spirits”. They are lots of fun and make nice gifts for some of the really cool people I meet. I have also spent evenings sat around the fire showing friends how to carve them up.

Last week I was in the Cotswolds with Leon and some clients. In the evenings they would retire to their bell tents, sitting around their wood-burners, playing guitars, talking and eating in the warmth & light.
I prefer to sit outside (under the parachute) using the warmth & light of the campfire, but still being part of what I enjoy – the outdoors.
It was while sitting around the fire one evening I came up a couple of other campfire projects, something new & different. I’m really excited by these and have already started “tinkering & tweeking” with the basic idea.
This weekend I’m spending with someone special and we hope to get some time in the woods. I’m also hoping to get a chance to carve up my two new projects…….so watch this space

Green Cooking on the Trail

Wild Stoves Woodgas Stove

I had been thinking about how we impact on the world around us while practising our outdoor skills. We go into the outdoors to enjoy the natural world and it makes sense for us to minimise our impact on our surroundings while we are there. At the same time we still want to enjoy the certain things – crafting items from the materials we find around us and enjoying the wonders of the open fire and all that goes with it (the smell of the woodsmoke, the flickering flames, the moral boosting warmth and its versatility for cooking).
Our fire however, consumes large amounts of wood and can scar the ground. I’m sure we are all very careful to cover the traces of our fires and to only use the dead wood lying around on the woodland floor.
If we use a site on a regular basis then our woodlands resources can quickly dwindle without careful management, at Forgewood we use a fire-pan made from an old gas cylinder (fuelled by off-cuts from spoons and locally produced, sustainable charcoal) to keep our “brew-fire” going.
But what about when we are on the trail? We often visit the wilder areas of the UK, where these resources are at a premium and don’t want to leave any trace of our passing in these places of great beauty. Most people resort more conventional gas, multi-fuel or meths type stoves when travelling in wilderness areas. But even this has an impact in the form extra erosion because of the added weight that we are carrying.
I had often looked at some of the portable woodstoves on the market and thought what a great idea, the likes of the Bush-Buddy stoves and the one with a small electric fan in the base really appealed as I only had to carry my stove – the fuel could be gathered on the trail. The problem I found with these were they are expensive and not that easy to obtain.
A client of mine on a trip to Scotland, brought a Honey Stove along, which I was very impressed with. For our week in north-west Highlands virtually all his cooking was done on the stove and he fuelled with pine cones he picked up as he went along. This was the answer!
Then earlier this year I saw a new UK based company – Wildstoves ( based in Devon. This little company sells a range of woodburning stoves and related items.
One item that caught my eye was the Wild Woodgass Stove Mk2. This stove is aimed at the backpacking/bushcraft market, costs less than £50 and weighs in at 280gms. I purchased one and have used it throughout the summer, so its had a fairly good test ( I know it works well in the wet!). It is easy to use, very efficient (with the right fuel) and leaves nothing more than a small pile of very fine white ash no bigger than the palm of your hand.
Certainly for the £50 I think it was money well spent, and while not quite as fast as its more high-tec counterparts – it has a nice simplicity, and its nice to smell the woodsmoke and watch the flames flicker.


A long time coming

Well it’s been a long time since I posted last. I have been away for the better part of the last three months. I have been working at Forgewood, Bedgebury as well as working with Footsteps Of Discovery and the Military.

I have recently trialled the Spyderco Tenacious, my initial thoughts on this little folding knife are that it’s a very good tool. The steel is very good and it’s handy for all things including food prep. It makes quite good feather sticks although it can be a little hard on the hands when making them.

It can be used for carving, but it’s not ideal with the depth of blade being a little bit of a disadvantage, it’s just that bit too deep. The grind has been slightly convexed due to being sharpened on a mouse matt (this was due to the secondary bevel that has been placed on the knife by Spyderco). The knife holds quite a good edge as well. All in al I am pretty happy with the Tenacious. It has exceeded my expectations so far, long may it continue.

We had quite a good time at Bedgebury when they hosted Dulwych college prep school for a day doing a few skills, it was also good to catch up with Manse for a day or two. Below are a couple of pictures of firstly myself chatting whilst the young ones practice knotting and the other of Manse as he teaches about shelter.

A lot has been Happening!!!

Well things have been rushing along at a rate of knots here. Neil is still running around arranging the coming years activities (A big thanks goes out to John at Forgewood), Neil’s been speaking with Luke and I about the subjects to be covered on our activities.
Luke has been working on packages to do with tracking and sign.
I have been off with Footsteps of Discovery to train the military, since then I’ve also had three visits to the dentist (having root canal treatment and a crown fitted). Thanks to Pavlin and Roxy (my Dentist and the Dental Assisstant) for a nice, relatively painless course of treatment. The date for the operation on the right knee came through and I’ve actually had the operation already, it happened on the tenth of February. Miraculously I was up and about without crutches within 48 hours (the last knee op that I had I was on crutches for six weeks, I had been dreading this one), I would like to make an open statement of thanks to all those that worked on my case at the Mount Stuart Hospital and the DARTS team.
I have also moved my telephone and TV provider from Sky to Virgin Media.
I have three reasons for doing this, firstly was cost. With Sky a lot of extras seemed to kick in after a while and some of these were ridiculous.
Secondly was broadband, in my area the BT telephone lines that Sky work on are deplorable and my internet connection was pants (which is big thing when I am working on websites).
Thirdly (last but not least), MURDOCH. I am afraid that Rupert Murdoch has an insidious hand along with his Newscorp International in Sky. If there was no other reason for moving that one alone justifies moving.
I heard that He is going to bring out the Sun on Sunday, well if someone offered it to me an I was desperate I would take it, everyone needs something to wipe their behind on.

The New Year Is In.

Happy New Year.

Well the new year is in and things are slowly getting under way.

Leon is steadily working on the feedback forum so that clients can ask questions or make suggestions. It won’t be too long before the forum is ready to be integrated fully into the rest of the website.

The forum is closed so you can only view it if you have registered with us, otherwise you get a page that shows the rules and regulations for the site. Currently the admin of the site is being run wholly by Leon, but Neil and Luke will be joining the site as administrators when they get a chance and their login details.

Neil is currently working his rear end off in the south east of the country whilst Leon is waiting to hear about the operation he’s getting on one of his knees (currently he only knows it will be in a two or three months time).

Leon is also going to be redoing the gallery, adding new pictures and creating folders to peruse through, this will be made a lot easier now that he’s finally got JAlbum sorted.

Leon is also looking forward to going away with Footsteps of Discovery towards the end of the month to teach the army again. It’ll be good to see Spanner, KP and the boys again.

We wish one and all a Happy New Year and hope that it brings all the good things you deserve,


Guy Stainthorp Custom Knives

Earlier this year I contacted Guy Stainthorp about making a knife, I originally asked about blade blanks, well you’ll never know if you don’t ask, before being politely informed that he doesn’t make blade blanks.

The commission that I wanted Guy to take on was actually a copy of another knife with a few modifications made to it. This is going to end up sounding like a review of both knives, however this is just my opinion.

To explain I own a Benchmade BM210 “Activator”, the general idea behind the knife is actually not bad, however in my opinion it’s let down by a number of it’s features.

It has G10 scales which are wafer thin, This is not very comfortable for me. My hands are not huge they are about normal size and I can’t quite get a really good grip of the knife.

The full flat grind has a huge secondary bevel that means that unless you want to spend a hell of a long time on a diamond stone grinding away (the original BM210 was made in S30V even though it is now available in D2 as well) you’ll never get this thing truly flat, so you end up with a knife which has a cutting edge which is convexed.

The BM210 itself is quite a pretty little knife so Benchmade have given it a full grain leather sheath, unfortunately it’s a butt ugly pancake of leather. I also do leather work and if I turned out something that looked like that I would be embarrassed to sell it.

So what I wanted was a knife made from a steel that I would like (there’s nothing wrong with S30V, I just prefer other steels to it), so we went with RWL34. The knife had to have the same profile as the activator, however I wanted a Scandinavian Grind placed on the knife as I do a fair amount of wood working. The scales were to be replaced with Black Micarta and were to be a bit thicker than the original ones as I like something that I can grip and last but not least it was to have Kydex sheath that had the facility for me to wear it neck carry or on a belt if required.

Guy Stainthorp Knife

The picture Guy sent to me

I took receipt of the knife just before going off to teach the Army Pre Selection Survival Training with Footsteps Of Discovery so here are my initial impressions of the knife.

The knife when used for small game prep is very good, the slightly larger handle allows me to grip it tightly and maintain control even if it’s covered in slime. When carving for prolonged periods the slightly larger handle means it’s less tiring for my hand in use.

The Scandi Grind bevels allow me to carve very good precise feather sticks, it also allows a great deal of control and fine work when carving trap triggers.

When the knife arrived it was shaving sharp, it hasn’t been sharpened yet because the edge retention is very good, it’s only been used for making feather sticks, carving pot hangers, cutting string, carving trap triggers, a bit of splitting and skinning bunnies for three days. It is still however shaving sharp even though I battened it through a knot in some of the sticks I was splitting.

The Kydex sheath has a very secure lockup, it’s small, elegant, lightweight and easy to clean should I forget and place a blood and gut smeared knife back into it by accident. Before this there was probably only one person I would have gone to for a Kydex sheath and that would have been Chris Claycomb. Guy’s work is up there with Chris’s.

These are my initial observations on the knife, however I must say that I am pretty much delighted with the knife and with Guy’s “Can Do” sort of attitude.

After a few more months I’ll post an update to say how it’s faired over time along with some photos of it in use and what it’s capable of.

A quick update

Well I’ve been relatively busy, from working with private clients through to working with the Freshmen Course IT Department at the University of Wales it’s been pretty good. Recently I got back from working with the Army Pre Selection Course run out of Duchy College. Generally they’re a good bunch, but I think they’ll have a bit of a shock if they get into training. When I got back I had to go see the doc as I have problems with my right knee, I have to arrange some x-rays.

Beyond that it’s coming up on Christmas and I am running around like a looney trying to get everything sorted prior to the 24th.

Looking forward to my brother getting down here and also to the new year, hopefully this year was a pre-cursor of things to come and I’ll be a fair bit more busy than even this year.

Dirty, Sexy,Things!!! & Being Busy!!!

Have’nt had a chance to get on here for a while as things have been so busy (it’s brilliant!).
First things first – it looks like the edition of Dirty Sexy Things (the one we were involved with the shooting of) is being screened on Monday night on E4 @ 10.00pm. Who knows what the finished article will be like, but it was lots of fun – and everyone was really nice.
We are running sessions at Forgewood campsite again this year and it has been reallly well recieved. August sees us at Bedgebury Camping too!
Both sites are featured in the “Cool Camping” guides and are really “chilled” (a great place for a great few days away, where you can have real fires and relax among the trees).
Well Leon & I both have our teaching boxes to check & re-pack ready for the weekend, so I must sign off.

This is where it all happens!