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From my archives: A wild life in the woods

I am throwing it back to January 2017 - this is what we were up to two years ago.....

We have a new guilty pleasure that comes in the form of a series on the Discovery channel – it’s called Alaskan Bush People and we’ve totally got sucked into watching their lives on screen. They are a family of nine who’ve lived in Alaska for the past 30 years or so, all seven children (ages 32-12) were brought up in wood cabins and on boats, chopping trees, shooting deer and building their homes in the wild forests of Alaska, surrounded by bears. We are totally addicted and, as we love going into the woods ourselves, we decided to take the kids out on Saturday, whatever the weather.

We’ve picked a spot which is very secluded where we hope we may be able to camp when it’s warmer. It’s walking distance from home, and close to where we wild camped back in August. We’ll scout it out every couple of weeks to make sure that it’s definitely a secluded spot and hopefully start gradually buying some warmer sleeping bags and camping gear.

So, off we went, with a frying pan, some bacon, a flask and a few "bush tools" ready for a wild adventure (just like Hobbits).

We found some lichen growing on the trees.

It’s a lovely walk through the woods, then through an open clearing and up a hill – we followed some deer tracks but didn’t see any deer, just deer poo.

The part we have found looks like no one has been there for years, it’s a small wooded area at the top of a hill. Keira found, what looks like an old Victorian flat iron, and there was an old brown glass bottle, and a really old can of Tango (the type with a proper old ring-pull) it’s probably been there for 25 years!

I wonder how this old iron got there?!

Lee had a few four-inch nails with him, so he nailed a few large broken branches to a tree to make a bench for us to sit on. The girls began collecting wood and started building a den.

We immediately found some shrooms, there are lots of elder trees, and jelly ear (or wood ear) mushrooms grow all over them – they really do look like floppy ears! Keep an eye out, as they are actually edible.

There were also a couple of winter mushrooms and some fairy caps (which are not edible). The girls know a fair bit about fungi now, so they knew to pull the King Alfred’s cakes or coal fungus off of the dead branches to use in our little camp fire – they work just like coal to keep a fire going.

This is coal fungus, it grows on dead branches, it's lightweight just like charcoal.

On our way through the woods we’d picked up a metal grate which someone had dumped in the trees, so we could use it as a grill. We all started collecting sticks, flint and bricks to start building a small fire (we’d also brought some paper with us, as we knew the woods would be pretty damp and the sticks might not catch fire easily). This time Lee had a box of matches with him, and once the little fire was going we cooked bacon in the frying pan along with some jelly ear mushrooms and ate them in bread rolls. We let the fire die down and poured water over it to make sure it was definitely out.

It was a little cold being as it's January, but no one complained, everyone had a good explore and climbed some trees before walking back towards home. The kids decided to smear mud on their faces, truly wild, nature’s face pack you could say – this needed no encouragement.

We arrived home, smelling of bonfire – with muddy wellies and dirty coats – with visions of our next woodland adventure.


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