Well, April was something of a disaster! I had to cut my South West trip short as there were problems with my car – it turned out the alternator was slowly dying and communicating its distress to the steering and clutch through the wonders of modern car electronics. At least I got my boots ordered first!
I did manage to explore the fabulous Scilly Isles, ancient haunt of pirates, for the day. I dined on fish at the ‘Admiral Benbow’ on my return – yes, I know it’s not the real one from the book but it had to be done! Penzance Youth Hostel was excellent, one of those with a lively sociable lounge and valuable parking space.
If you go to Cornwall in the summer, don’t take a car! My landscape reading skills tell me that the narrow rocky peninsula is not kind to vehicles. You can get a whole day’s travel on the buses for the price of an hour’s parking. If there’s enough of you to fill a car, check parking on Google Streetview, look for reviews. It’s more of an adventure to go on public transport!
Adventure was the theme at Falmouth Marine Museum. Sailing out into the unfriendly Atlantic in a wooden ship, with no engines to steer you away from the jagged rocks lining this coast – no wonder so many pubs are furnished with the spoils of shipwreck! There was a Viking exhibition featured too, a fascinating insight into the everyday lives of these fearsome reavers.
I had to limp home and forego my visit to Tintagel and the nearby town of Boscastle. The flooding there in 2004 inspired the ‘Strategic National Framework on Community Resilience’ which was an important influence on the Resilience Handbook. Bringing resilience into play, I renavigated my course to the Bristol Survival School weekend camp to go by bus.
My goal was to learn to use a fire drill, as featured on ‘The Island’. I achieved that, but also learned that anyone who’s good enough to get a fire going with this method in under ten minutes – and there were a few! – wears a flint and steel around their neck. Fire drilling doesn’t seem to be the preferred method, and it is very difficult.
I continued my work on identifying burdock in its first year stage, which is when the large tasty roots form. I’ve nearly nailed down the differences with the poisonous foxglove. Please don’t go digging up wild plants though, except with the informed permission of the landowner. Use your Resilience Garden space – even if it’s only patio pots – to cultivate your own forage plants. You only need to get to know them, maybe try a few…
Above, the instructor is carving out a fire drill set from raw wood. Below, an ember has been lit from the powdered wood created by the drilling process, and has been transferred to a piece of bark. At this stage you use ’ember extenders’ to nurse it into a larger coal. This is placed in a hank of dried grass and blown into flame, narrowly missing your eyebrows.