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Reflections 2020 w21

How did man manage pre-time?

Was it a simpler process, just trying to stay in nature’s rhythm? Or was the invention of time a god send to a struggling species?

I only ask looking at the last post written and finding out it was 2 weeks ago, it feels like 1. And with a good portion of the world no longer a slave to the clock, are we going to see it as a restraint to our lives, or order, when it returns?

All I know is that one has made the decision to postpone my walk along Hadrian’s wall. It now looks as though it could clash with my sister moving south, and a camp at Dartmoor and Exmoor. And Spot and myself are not in any way fit enough to do it.

During the lockdown we had an hour to get some exercise, this was shared between the allotment and Spots walk. Today we walked for the first time in months the shortest old route. We are both stiff and it feels like we have just started walking.

We could do the wall walk, Spot has a K9 rucksack for when her age catches up with her, so that is not an issue, and I could just take more pain meds. But would it be pleasurable?

I’m not doing the walk for the ‘challenge’, or to say I have done it. It is on a list of places I would like to go to.

It is a walk that can be done in a week, but I allowed for two just in case I get distracted. It is the same with Dartmoor, I may just camp in one place for the two nights I stay there. Just to observe and absorb.

That is if I get there without the fog. As of yet I have failed to see the Brecon Beacons without a sheet of rain hitting the car window. I have heard rumours of sunshine there though. This is also a place I have yet to camp.

Though a lot of my equipment is unfamiliar, with only a couple of uses together, it has taken me down below 0degC with winds of up to 53mph, I stayed dry, warm and comfortable. Not all of the sleeping system was used either, so I am confident I could go to lower temperatures. Some equipment has been replaced with alternatives to work in this tent, for those times the weather keeps us undercover,  and the walking trailer has yet to have my maiden voyage with it.

By now one had planned to have done long day walks fully loaded on a regular basis, in preparation for the longest stretch of the Hadrians wall walk. But now I am only thinking of getting back to the regular walking distance with Spot.

I may even charge up the Fitbit.

Reflections 2020 w 18

The lockdown is starting to fade, or at least some counties are trying to phase it out.

My brother works as a painter, this week he started back at work, just in time for the news that he could have, if he was still on lockdown, gone fishing. I bet the air was blue when he heard that one.

As for me and Spot, we are taking advantage of being out longer than an hour, but having half that time taken by the allotment, and therefore a much shorter walk than normal, we are both stiff. Nowhere near the 8 miles 1-2 times a week and 5 for the rest we should be on.

I say we, but Spot has a K9 rucksack for when she needs/wants. At 11yrs old it is the best way to be out together whilst I get the greater distance to walk.

So as far as getting ready for walking Hadrians wall in August, we are far behind the cooking trials, I want to test them in the environment they will be eaten, with the same cooking methods. And we are far behind getting the miles in.

We are going to time the greater distances with full kit with the sun at this rate.

That is of course if Scotland is out of lockdown for the end of August.

One will aim for this to be so, it’s no harm if we are prepped but denied. This is part of the reason to try dehydrating ingredients and then vacuum packing.

They are to be a grab and go – should a camping trip come about. And the trips should be more common, as I attempt to reclassify a camp break from going to the coast. I would like to get to some more local spots one passes on the way to somewhere else.

Lets face it, if it’s piddling down, the view is pretty much the same no matter where you are. And if it is dry, then one hopes to appreciate and notice more of my immediate surroundings.

Reflections 2020 w13

Hello,I hope you are well in these strange times.

So far my family has not been affected by the virus, to be honest. If anyone is likely to get it – it will be me. I am currently doing the running around shopping for parents and neighbours. My nephew and cousin have had chickenpox at the start of this, but that is all that ails us at the moment. I’m just waiting to be viewed with suspicion when the hay fever starts.

The lady that runs the Monday group is trying to do one by email tomorrow, she is not tech savvy enough to be using a video group chat, so it is going to be interesting to see how she has altered the ‘worksheets’ to fit in with an email format. She has finally got us to do homework.

The group has been using messenger to stay in touch, well part of us, but it has a lot of poster posting thingies, affirmations, and repeats of the same info, but then it cannot be used the same as the group itself, nor is it the same as meeting for a cuppa. It just goes to show how much of the communication is non words.

For some reason my body clock has moved sleep time until after the dawn chorus has been sung for an hour, if it happens again I think I will forgo sleep that day to see if it will force a change later.

Other than that, one has had to put on hold the trial dehydrating camp meal ingredients until food is more plentiful, I don’t intend wasting any but you never know if the end result is going to be edible or not. Let alone wasting the goodness that the food contains. Kale is on the menu at the moment as it is starting to go to flower on the plot.

The greenhouse got to 40degC this week, which has sent the Pack Choi bolting, I will work out a time when that stuff grows as it should instead of having a leggy flower. As for flowers, one has bought a pack of mixed edible flower seeds, should be interesting. later in the year saffron crocus will be gotten for next year.

Still waiting to see if asparagus crowns will arrive, the area is now ready for them.

I have a couple of sewing projects to make patterns for, so that’s more indoor stuff to do. Though Spot will not be happy being the model for the clothing recycling, except the down dog sleeping bag/mat for camping — I may have to lift her off that one.

 

Reflections 2020 w11

Well I missed the timetable for these postings. One did not realise it had come to the day to do it, all my routines have gone out of the window at the moment. Groups are being cancelled, with no alternative to be had, and my sister, niece and nephew did not come at the weekend.

Well, my nephew did, on his own, which is usually in the middle of the week or Friday. So the weekend has not registered at all this week.

Shopping has been strange, what with empty shelves of some random items as well as basic bulk food stuffs. Apparently today they have run out of fresh meat, even the butcher has been rushed off his feet.

One now wonders if the quorn and TVP will be the next items to disappear, or will that be a step too far for most people?

I am going to get some sweet potatoes to make some flat bread with, I also want to know if one can dehydrate/rehydrate the sweet potato to make it on a camp.

I also found out about an Indian/Pakistani food called powa, part cooked rolled rice. This needs little or no cooking. It will certainly be worth a go for camp meals.
I have seen a fish recipe with it, so my mind took it to a Spanish dish — paella.

I know it is not going to be authentic, but can it work as a camp dehydrated meal?

I hope so.

Reflections 2020 w04

Let’s start with some food, Chinese fish snacks to be precise.

One assumed that original flavour was just that, the original flavour of the snacks. But having two snacks in original flavour now – it is not. What it is, one cannot say, one can only say nah, not for me.

That was the lizard fish on stick snack, sticky as hell, and with the unusual original flavour. So I tried the other lizard fish snack, dehydrated fish strips.

This one tasted better, but for those in the UK, the flavour would compare to what we get as fish sticks in the fridge section, one has never been a fan of those. And once opened you need a fridge to store, no way could I eat a whole pack.

So a bust for trail snacks.

Then I went Indian…Bombay mix…Not a fan of this either.

East European next…Oshee musli bars…These I like.

On the plus side I have worked out the main meals for the Hadrians walk. One has just got to work on the dehydrating/rehydrating part of the meals to get them right though.

Some taste trials to come next month.

It appears I have ended with food as well. Oh well.

Now where’s my apple?

Reflections 2020 w03

Am I the only one that thinks of something, presses the internet search shortcut, and completely forgets what it was I was going to look for?

It’s happened multiple times today, each time one has only had to hold the thought for a few seconds, but no, it disappears. Not even a hint of what it was remains. One hopes it is not important, or useful, or even something one was supposed to do, this has happened numerous times in the past.

There is the train of thought one must not worry, it will come. But how do you know that that was in fact the original thought unless the recurring thought jogs a memory recall? And how do you truly not think about trying to remember as the hours tick on past?

I think I need to get the desk pad out again, which sucks as one has the habit of curling the edges which then annoy me as I type. Also random stuff gets written down on it – which has no context or explanation, leading to great confusion later, as one tries to decide if it needs saving when it is time to tear off the top sheet.

Also, it is a waste of paper in another respect as you can only practically use one side, often desperately trying to come up with a practical disposable use for the blank side. Because you do not want to save the original side.

Aggghhh, brain rabbit hole.

On an unrelated note…This week I discovered you can dehydrate sausage, completely. One would have thought it was far too fatty to even attempt but the hash brown, sausage, veg and dehydrated egg Spanish omelet/bubble and squeak looks interesting. Experimenting will commence next month.

One also has to start experimenting with bannock bread and ghee.

A decision also has to be made on some camping equipment – do I sell it? Or do I keep it? The pros and cons for the two pieces are about even, and in my current state of mind one can either not be bothered or be in clear out mode, damn the consequences. There is one piece of ‘luxury’ equipment one would be happy to trade for, but as yet the second run of production has not been done.

I call it luxury, but is it? The item is a 5v camping wind generator. An item that will power up battery banks whilst I sleep, which then in turn power my camera/video camera/charge AA batteries for my GPS (which, as an old model, second hand, eats them, 8 hours per set of Duracell)/watch/phone/headlamp, and that is just off the top of my head. The power bank works for about 4-5 days (without the GPS) but I always watch the power consumption. And I would like to take more video footage on future trips.

True one could take extra power packs, but all electrical power banks reduce life in cold weather, and then you have to have somewhere that, usually charges too much, to recharge the device.

Solar is out, even if one was not walking in the day, you have to turn the device to get the best benefit. And rain and wind are more common on my camp trips than sun. Wind power makes more sense in the uk, and the peace of mind of being able to make electricity in the middle of nowhere has a comforting aspect to it.

The generator is also not limited to camping, I could use it at the allotment or out sea fishing as well. It is not a camping only item.

Here is the conundrum though…Few wind generators for camping get past the prototype stage, and fewer still are practical in use. This one is not the smallest generator size packed away, weight wise there is little difference between close rivals. So carrying has its issues. And will a second batch be completed for this item??? Or was the first crowd funded batch the first and last to be made? Do I get one if I can/there is a second run, or do I risk them disappearing into the void of things that were a good idea but…?

I hate my depressed mind, one used to be more carefree, adaptive, and sure of my decisions, even the wrong ones. Now…Now it’s just bloody hard work.

Reflections 2020 w02

One entered the taste testing of the Chinese snacks this week, with an open mind and no expectations.

The pork floss was the first on the list; and it was the strangest thing ever to have crossed my tongue. The texture is like that of loft insulation, with a super absorbency of saliva. It overpowers the flavour completely, only after it has cleared the mouth do you get a subtly sweet hint of flavour.

I took my taste test in the kitchen, then I let my sister try it. She pulled the same face as me, whilst looking at me like one had tried to poison her. Dad on the other hand did not even notice, I swear his mouth sensors do not work, which is probably why he can eat tripe.

Second on the list was the honey barbecue cooked pork strips, the texture was a soft jerky/fruit leather affair, but alas the sweetness of the meat kept growing with each bite. It also is a no go for camping.

Thirdly was the original flavour crispy seaweed. This I was expecting to like as I regularly buy a brand of sea salt and soy sauce nori sheet snack. The texture of these however was more a cross of the sheets and rice crackers. Strange but not off putting. The original flavour however is too strange, there is something before the seaweed flavour that just does not do it for me, which is a shame as the Chinese version is cheaper than the other brand, and has less packaging.

So overall I’m striking three of the list.

It is the turn of the lizard fish snacks next…I have no idea of what that’s going to be like.

Allotment update…the mini greenhouse/cold frame/drying area has been glazed and two sides of the shed are painted twice. Cuprinol red Caesar is more orange than anything else. I will have the brightest shed on the plot.

I am sure I have photos of the plot in its original format. If I find them I will put up the comparison photos. One just needs to tidy up the construction site look first. And get the shed to match in colour. All whilst dodging the winter weather.

Reflections 2019 w49

The quest for backpacking food continues…

And I have found a new candidate – Pork floss. Although one much prefers the Chinese name of Rousong. Basically it is pork shoulder cooked in soy sauce and sugar until it shreds into a coarse wool texture, somewhere along the process it is also dried. This makes a shelf stable meat product I think has possibilities.

I cannot tell you how many hours of watching youtube videos it took to come across this little gem.

One quick facebook message later and I know my local Chinese supermarket has it in stock, this time next week one will have tried it.

Also found this week are a snack called veggie straws, a mixture of kale (no surprise there), tomato and spinach in potatoes starch tubes. They taste like a french fries knockoff (an english crisp snack) with way lower salt content.

Common on the trail is baby food – the pureed fruit in tubes. This makes sense as it is a useful way to get fruit on the hike. Just one problem – they taste like pureed fruit, watered down pureed fruit, so watered down one can ‘taste’ the water. Not an option.       I side with all babies that pull their face when having these pouches.

 

On a side note..Who has peanut butter and cheese on wraps??? Nasty, just nasty.

I cannot understand the hiking mantra of food is energy, so who cares what combo it is mixed in.

Ramen bomb seems common, for those that don’t know – Instant noodles and instant mash combined together with tuna, sausage or cheese, even a combo of all.

One is so glad one is a Trangia camper; even if it make meal planning more…Civilised.

 

Reflections 2019 w48

Another post a day late.  One did not feel like writing yesterday, my back has been , quite frankly, annoying the hell out of me.

Playing with the kids on Saturday pulled a muscle in my lower back which has irritated one of my disc bulges that I was just getting over again. Who would have thought hitting children with balloons, their game rules not mine, could cause such pain.

Therefore my insomnia has a new play pal for my attention, a constant distraction from sleep. I now have a lot of naps 1/2 an hour after pain medication.

Also, my mind is trying to work overtime on foodstuffs for a walking holiday next year. This may sound insignificant to most people, and to myself pre-breakdown it would also have been, but not now.

Now I have major depression and high to severe anxiety; this I know all too well. So in order to walk Hadrian’s wall next year one has to take several attacks into account. Overcoming these has taken the form of routines or patterns of familiarity. Food wise one has to have my entire menu for 14 days sorted bagged and labelled, so that eating is a routine and not something one can skip.

Not just labelled into meals…Breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner.

But by the day. Including teabags to be had, when to have them etc. It is the only way I will not become overwhelmed by simple decisions. Normal tea or Green tea can become an hour of indecision, not able to do anything else whilst my brain buffers the information.

But, another concept that is going to be new for me, is keeping the food weight down. No cooking fresh chicken on this trip. And with being in the UK, there is no real supply of dehydrated meat that I would want to trust, except the very expensive stuff, which would also be too much for one to have in a week, the usual time to consume once opened.

With that being said, one has researched online, and I have to admit there has been a few surprises. Mainly in the dehydrating meals wise. My dehydrator is a simple one, it has no temperature control, and although it does say it can do meat – I do not trust it for that. Therefore the cooked meals are going to be out for home dehydrating, and have you seen the cost for the camp meals already done? Wow, I would need a small loan just to eat, and a blood flush to get rid of the salt concentrating in my veins from eating them for a fortnight.

To be honest, like most people who carry a Trangia cook set, boiling water and then soaking for ten minutes to eat a warm meal, is just not that appealing. It is why they are called a cook set. We can cook with them, and I have had some nice meals in a tent before…Wild boar, Pheasant, Ostrich, Kangaroo, Bison, Venison and fillet steak.

Just because one is in a tent does not mean one cannot eat like a king.

Spoilt and over the top.

Admittedly one was working unto 70hrs a week when those meals were ate, and getting a discount for the meats due to the job one was in.

So this time around one is going to have to work out meals based around dehydrated veg, I cannot imagine meals without veg, tinned fish/meat and a new thing one has found called TVP, a soy product, I will not call it a meat alternative, because I have yet to taste a meat alternative that is either…An alternative to meat, or, just better to to call it vegetarian/vegan. My brain is not left feeling conned when the taste just does not match up to what they say it tastes like. Sometimes one wonders if the person has even ate the foodstuff being copied.

I started the idea of the walk in October, I started the meal research in November, now  one is looking for recipes to try to create from dehydrated veg in December.

When is the walk you may ask?

Next August, I just hope one can get things sorted by then.

Starting a new habit or routine, even a new thing to become familiar, takes time. These meals I have yet to create have got to become all of the above, so I do not have to think about them to do them.

It may be even harder to do if some of the ingredients have got to have a gradual introduction to my food chain. It took me 12months to introduce courgettes into my diet, to the point I can eat a whole one in my meal today.

Luckily the veg to be prepped are all staples in my current diet, but will they work dehydrated???

Reflections 2018 week 44

Whilst being on a camping holiday alone, to try and work out a routine/pattern of living in a tent for walks next year, I faced some of my ‘daemons’.

This years camp was more flexible than before and it was to create coping mechanisms whilst camping, allowing Spot and myself to do multi-day walks next year as part of my healing, not far to start, but the aim is to increase over the year.

However one knew that there could be challenges with my anxiety and depression, so after a visit to my new psychologist, one went with a new drug to have with me as backup. But this in itself created a new problem.

Spot was with me, and my ‘deal’ with myself was to not to do a lot of running around to different places, but rather work around the tent and the sea side at camp. A chance, one hoped, to get to a mindful place and quieten my internal voices. My voices apparently did not like this idea, and my insistence of taking all my equipment that I may use, again this was to hone my ‘main kit’ for the multi-day waking trips next year, became known as clutter. Car camping allows one to take far, far too much stuff. Coupled with not knowing how kit like the sleep system would work, with the expected low temperatures, multiples of ‘just in case’ items were taken along.

Anxiety or panic attacks, depends on who you talk to, are common, also, are the feelings that are associated with them. One has been on the back of an unbroken horse as the horse does everything that it can to get you off it, and yes, the ground hurts when it succeeds. And an anxiety attack is just like being on that horses back, out of control, trying to stay on, and trying to avoid the shuddering jolt of hitting the ground.

The main difference between them is – the horse is on the inside for anxiety.

So yeah, they were fun.

But this holiday one  had something new – not an anxiety attack but more of a depression attack. Frustratingly I do not know what to call it for when I next see the psychologist, if I do not give it the correct name, they do not listen and dismiss it. Parts of what I say are cherry picked…Paranoid?

Here is something that I have said…

I go to weekly NON CLINICAL group workshops, that is workshops not connected to or regulated by my mental health psychologist, something they cannot measure,  that help to examine negative perceptions one might have to life, these have been created by a lady that is a qualified counsellor.

Gets turned to…

Attends weeks counselling sessions.

Never have they asked what qualifications she has, or what method she uses. For all they know she uses lumps of coal to suck the depression out. They heard counsellor and figured that they are off the hook for non drug treatment, even if they did not think this, it is what it feels like.

Now the attack, and how it differs from the anxiety attacks.

Think back if you can to when you first learnt to swim. Think back to feeling of drowning, the swallowing of water as you tried to breathe, the pressure on your body from the water trying to pull you under (this I know is the panic thoughts and in reality when relaxed you would float) and the hopelessness of the situation when sinking below the waters surface.

Now sit and watch the clouds drift over the distant mountains, no thoughts in your head, relaxed.

Snap!

And your drowning, calmly drowning. Swamped by the hopelessness, the utter despair, and the need to cry. It snuck upon you like a mugger in a dark alley, it chose you with no apparent reason other than you were there at that time.

As you sit in the near paralysed state, trying to work out the cause so as to reason it out, with nothing coming to mind as the catalyst, crying uncontrollably, confused, dazed and lost. You realise that it is most defiantly not an anxiety attack. There is no wild ride of a bucking horse, it’s more a calm sinking of a small boat on a still pond. There is no erratic heartbeat or breathing to get under control, no shaking or sweating, the only physical response is the crying, the uncontrollable crying. Even Spot was caught unawares of the changing mood, she is my depression barometer, usually noticing a dip before I do, changing her reactions and thus alerting myself to the approaching change.

Half an hour later and its gone; for a couple of days, but it returns twice more.

Now I did mention that I had new drugs with me for if I struggled. However the last drug I had to ‘take the edge off’ left me not giving a s@!t about anything, so I was too afraid to take them with no support network around to help me if I had a less than favourable reaction. With wind chill the temperature went sub Zero (deg celsius) not giving a damn could lead to hypothermia. And thus a battle of fear began…

Fear of not taking them and having the depression and anxiety attacks or taking them and placing Spot and myself in danger. So long as the depression did not go down the road of suicide not taking them seemed to be the safest option and was the one I took.

Now it is just a waiting game…

Are these new attacks isolated, or are they a new symptom?

I hate this game.

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2018