Trip Report Christmas camp with friends...

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Sep 16, 2013
455
142
Rochester, Kent
Hi All,

Thought I'd share my latest blog report of a camping trip during the Christmas break. I'm not sure if the photos will appear here, but feel free to head over to my blow (link below - it contains no marketing gimmickery!) and check out the piccies and video (and lots of other trip reports!).


Sometimes camping trips don’t always end up being as successful as you’d like them to be. I think that was the case with my latest overnight adventure in between the Christmas and New Year celebrations.


The weather forecast was pretty brutal, cold with strong winds and heavy rain! Taken on their own I can deal with them relatively easily. But when these thugs of nature join forces, they have a tendency to make life difficult for the outdoors enthusiast. However, I was determined not to let mother nature get in the way of my enjoyment and prepared myself for a typically English winters day. After all…..’if it aint raining, it aint training’!

Without further ado, I layered up with some warm clothing, donned my waterproof jacket and trousers, strapped on my heavy backpack and battled through the wind and lashing rain into my usual camping spot. Happily I was meeting some friends there who had already camped out the previous night, we’ve made a bit of a tradition of camping out during the festive break. This made life considerably easier for me as I didn’t need to worry about lighting the fire and I could even seek refuge under one of their shelters (assuming they’ll let me!!).

On my approach into camp, I through I’d put my camouflage jacket to the test and creep up on my campmates. You’ll see in my short video that I was very discreet about it and I don’t think they had a clue!! I’m not usually one to wear camouflage but I was very impressed with the British Army Gore-tex jacket. It was given to me recently, it’s two sizes too big for me but worked well with the added layers and kept me nice and dry.
As with many of my previous camps, I opted to sleep in my hammock and got everything set-up once the rain had eased off. This, I think, was my main error of judgement. When using the hammock, I usually pitch my 3x3m tarp in a ‘diamond’ configuration to ensure that my 3m long hammock gets sufficient coverage. When setting this up I should have considered the wind direction a bit more carefully rather than the location of the trees. Things seemed ok initially, but later in the night I was to discover how foolish I had been!



Meanwhile, I spent some time preparing a pot hanger and getting a brew on the go as it was tea o’clock! (isn’t it always!). Given my camp mates had already established the fire and done some of the camp chores, I was feeling a bit guilty so I did my bit by gathering some more firewood to see us through the day and night.



One thing that impressed me was the bird feeders that I’d dotted around camp last month. I wanted to ensure that the wildlife were not scared off by our presence and was thrilled to see that the birds were making good use of the feeders. As I sat enjoying my brew, I observed all sorts of birds feeding on the nuts; Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Robin, Treecreeper and best of all, a Great Spotted Woodpecker. The woodland was alive with the sound of birds chirping away and the Buzzards ‘mewing’ up in the sky. It was a shame that I didn’t have a decent camera to get some nice photos but will endeavour to do so next month. I’ll also make sure the feeders are topped up through the winter.

One thing I wanted to try while out on this trip was a basic one pot recipe for Apple Crumble. I learnt about this recipe from a fella called Neil who runs a great youtube channel called ‘Greencraft’. He knows his stuff when it comes to bushcraft and campcraft and I’d thoroughly recommend that you go and check out his channel. I have to say that the crumble was simple to make and a taste sensation! I’m definitely making it again. Simply boil approximately half a pint of water, add some dehydrated fruit (apple rings and sultanas) and a pinch of cinnamon. Leave the fruit to re-hydrate and cook through, take the pot off the fire and mix in half a sachet of instant custard powder (mix thoroughly so that you don’t get any lumps!). The final touch is the crumble topping, this is simplicity in itself! Smash up a few biscuits (I used hobnobs!) and sprinkle over the top. And vouloir you have a very fine pudding to enjoy!





As a great man once said, I don’t go into the woods to rough it, I go to smooth it. I couldn’t agree more! Next month I’ll be cooking up fois grois canapés, tarte citron desert and I shall wash that down with a speciality cocktail of Tia Maria and Lucozade!!! (top marks to the reader who can link that drink to a popular sit-com)

Darkness descends quite early at this time of year. In the interests of safety I like to pack away my sharp and pointy tools at this point and concentrate on keeping warm around the fire. As it was Christmas I also felt obliged to break out the cheese and biscuits and a little tipple of Port!


We all decided to bed down quite early that night. I won’t lie, I always look forward to wrapping myself up in my sleeping bag, getting comfy in the hammock and listening to mother nature.





Through the night there was another downpour of rain and strong winds. Unfortunately, the wind was blowing the rain in under my tarp and soaking my sleeping bag, underblanket and pretty much everything else that was under my tarp. I wasn’t overly concerned, my sleeping bag and underblanket is synthetic and has some water resistance while still being able to keep me warm. Most of my other kit was packed away in my rucksack and protected by the rain cover. The thing that was annoying me was the occasional smattering of rain on my face and the frustration that I should have configured my tarp more effectively. It wasn’t too bad, I still got some sleep and learnt a valuable lesson, maybe it might be time to invest in a bigger tarp for hammock camping?

The scariest thing about camping in a woodland when the wind blows is the sound of the trees buffeting against the wind and clattering against one another. It can make for a sleepless night as you can’t help but wonder if something might fall down on you. This is the reason why it’s so important to look above you for any dead standing trees and hanging branches when setting up camp.

Happily, when I woke up in the morning, the rain had long since stopped and the wind had continued to blow through camp drying most of my kit in the process (so it wasn’t all bad!!). I got a brew on the go and begun to strike camp.

And so completes my last camp of the year and my twelfth camp in twelve months. I’m so happy that I was able to stick to my new year’s resolution of getting out every month and I am so happy to have camped out in each and every season. It really has been a pleasure to enjoy the outdoors and document my trials and tribulations in this blog. Hopefully some of you might have found it interesting. Humble apologies if others felt that I waffled on too much. I shall endeavour to maintain this blog for the foreseeable future and continue to document my micro-adventures.

Please do let me know what you think of the blog. I’m always keen to learn from others and strive to improve my writing. One thing that I’m planning to do in the coming months is introduce some more variety to my blogs by challenging myself to learn new skills and undertake new adventures.

A belated happy new year to you all
 

mousey

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jun 15, 2010
2,210
253
39
NE Scotland
I went to your blog only to realise I've looked already, I read your walk home blog a week or so ago:)

@Grotzilla http://barneysbimbles.blogspot.co.uk if that helps.

Maybe a different shape tarp rather than a larger one. I Have a DD UL tarp [2.9 x 3] which I only use if weather is relatively good or ground dwelling. I also have a TW Sargasso [3.9 x 2.5] which is used for hammocking as the extra length is useful to cover long hammocks but doesn't have unnecessarily large amount of material over the side [weight is always an issue for me].

Interestingly a 3x3 tarp = 9.0 sq.m and a 3.9x2.5 tarp = 9.8 sq.m. Not much more material considering the extra length cover for hammocks.
 
Sep 16, 2013
455
142
Rochester, Kent
Thanks all, glad that you enjoyed the report. I'll endeavour to keep them coming as and when I head out on a camp.

Mousey: Many thanks for sharing the link, very kind of you. I also appreciate your thoughts about the tarp. My wife got me a new sleeping mat for xmas so im ground dwelling for the next couple of camps. I think I'm going to hold on until the next DD group buy (assuming there'll be one!) and treat myswlf to a bigger tarp. Am looking at the M (3.5x2.4m) or XL (3x4.5m). Funnily enough I looked on the TW website, stock seems pretty limited on the sargasso tarp which is a shame.
 

Paulm

Full Member
May 27, 2008
1,068
127
Hants
A good read, thanks for taking the time to share, except for the apple crumble which made me feel a bit queasy reading it ! :)

I use an Alpkit Rig 21 tarp which I like for the extra length, gives plenty of hammock coverage and a bit more admin space if needed for sitting or cooking under, 4.3m by 2.8m I think.
 

oldtimer

Full Member
I enjoyed reading this sitting beside the wood stove in the warm. It made me remember times I've been out happy in the cold. As a child I had it dinned into me never to pitch under trees because of drips onto canvas and the possibility of falling boughs. Difficult to reconcile with hammocking, but we thought this was only for sailors!

That crumble recipe is definitely going to be tried soon. I'm looking forward to reading the next recipes you've promised.
 
Sep 16, 2013
455
142
Rochester, Kent
Thanks PaulM, those Alpkit tarps are very nice (I'm a big fan of their kit!), sadly at £120 it's a bit out of my budget. You should definitely try the crumble though, it's amazing.

Oldtimer: Thanks, there's not wrong with camping amongst trees so long as you pay attention to your surroundings. One woodland I'd definitely avoid though is a Beech wood, they're renowned for dropping a branch or two. Glad you like the recipe. I must re-iterate though that the recipe came from Neil of Greencraft (he also posts on this forum), he rightly deserves all the credit.
 

Thoth

Nomad
Aug 5, 2008
329
19
Hertford, Hertfordshire
I've not slept out in a hammock in changeable weather for some years now, but when I did I also used a bivvi-bag. This might seem like overkill, but I was a very light weight one with a centre zip (Snugpack SF) and did mean a guaranteed dry sleeping bag. I can't be the only one to do this, or am I?
 

Nice65

Full Member
Apr 16, 2009
4,985
1,539
W.Sussex
I've had a bit of trouble with sideways rain when pitching the tarp at my preferred diagonal. Even wind blowing straight in can upset a night out. I pulled my coat out from under the hammock and put it over my head, not ideal.

Last time this happened I was car camping and had another 3x3 that I pitched up over the ridgeline as a windbreak, but I wondered about having a smaller tarp that could be strung further up the ridge line where the rain is blowing in?

I reckon, for your conditions, a longer tarp pitched horizontally might be best, but then at what point do you just call it a tent and be done with the problem?
 
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Sep 16, 2013
455
142
Rochester, Kent
Thanks Diamond Dave, glad you like the blog. Am back out again this weekend so another blog will be coming shortly.

Nice65; Glad it's not just me that's had this trouble and it's a fair point that you make about the increasing tarp size. To be honest, I'm pretty sure I'm going to purchase a DD XL tarp for hammock camping (hopefully in the next Group buy!). In terms of weight, It's another 200-300g (ish) on top of the 3x3 so not too shabby. I've also pretty much resigned myself to the notion that hammock camping isn't really a lightweight option as I often find the kit takes up more room in my pack and weighs a lot more. This is not to suggest that I'm a gram counter. I only have a mile to walk into my permission and I am happy to carry the extra weight because I know that the hammock will give me a very comfortable night's sleep in the woods (at most of the time it does!!). By contrast, I'm ground dwelling this weekend and I've managed to squeeze all my winter kit into a 38ltr NI Patrol pack (as opposed to a 65litre pack when hammocking!).

I'm planning to do a blog and video post about planning for a camping trip and the thought process that goes into gathering kit.
 

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