The Bushcraft Show May 2019

A Time for Learning

We are really enjoying the learning curve, and the process of making our little videos when we head out on our bicycle adventures. In fact sometimes they have given us another reason to go on a bicycle adventure. Recording is quite new to us and I hope we are improving.

Is it possible to fully experience and record life at the same time? Or is it a quantum battle with Schrodinger’s cat? Where do you draw the line between observer and immersion?

I have found this to be the case on our mini bike tour to the bushcraft show. Go Pro in hand I wanted to record every moment of the ride there and back and fully experience it at the same time. I found myself keeping a level of panic at bay. Time is limited. I must wring every ounce of enjoyment and sensation from this moment now because it will end and, we will have to go home.

I want to showcase how incredible and freeing getting outside on a bicycle is. To encourage and inspire the sense of achievement from getting somewhere under your own steam. Leaving behind the cacophony of the city and the hum of busy roads, listening to the birds and the wind in the trees. Watching the clouds roll across the sky before the sunlight breaks through and warms your bones. Navigating different road surfaces through quiet country lanes, watching the birds and animals rustle off into the hedgerows as you glide silently past.

It is far easier to reflect and unpack these experiences onto a page than to remove yourself from the experience; to get out the camera and hit record. Yet a picture is worth a thousand words.So am I participant or observer?

I guess I have to be both, just not at the same time. I’m finding it tough to balance but that is the learning process.

The video is at the end of this post

Bushcraft Show

I booked tickets for the bushcraft show way back in the dark depths of November 2018. During the dark nights and cold days when we could only dream of riding our bikes for hours on end and camping in forests.

I am drawn to bushcraft and the various disciplines that surround it. It appeals to my need for self reliance. It’s another reason to be outdoors and allows me to touch base with my long ago studies in Physical Geography and Environmental Sciences. There are always new lessons to take back into the maelstrom of working life.

The show is in Derbyshire, only 25 miles away from home so it was a good opportunity to cycle there, try out our new panniers and our new tent.

I’d never been to the show before. It was everything an adventurer could want. We camped in the woodlands and it was permitted to have a small campfire.

You can see in the video below the number of hammocks setup, but we didn’t notice the volume of campers spread out through the woodland, it felt quite secluded and quiet. People were super friendly and the atmosphere calming and respectful.

Pitched next to us were a family from Poland. Living in London, they had travelled to the show by train and then taxi from Tamworth! I found that more impressive than our cycling there.

Getting your Geek on

For many the show was an opportunity to express their Bushcraft geek. Folks strolling around, dressed like they had stumbled into a remote Alaskan town after months surviving the wilderness. Almost everyone, including the kids, had a knife, an axe and a fire starting kit swinging from their belt. In the evenings, out came the drinking horns.

The fading light was lit up by a spectacular display from Clansman Fire, as folk music and woodsmoke drifted across the dusk. It was like being in an episode of Game of Thrones and all made for a very special atmosphere.

Are you prepared?

The Mainstage hosted some really interesting talks from survival and expedition experts. The content was completely transferable to Bicycle Adventuring. The overarching theme:

You are only as good as your head. You can have all the expensive gear and all the knowledge in the world but if you can’t remain calm enough to use your tools in a situation; they are useless.

Our favourites speakers included: Ammo from Trueways Survival. He illustrated how your gear is a moot issue. It is subjective, personal and absolutely useless, unless you are in the best physical and psychological state when you need to use it.

The charismatic and knowledagble John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman

I doubt there would even be a Bushcraft show without Lofty Wiseman and his seminal book ‘The SAS Survival Handbook’. A very entertaining talk from Lofty about how he set up his survival school.

click to purchase

The Psychology of Survival

Dr Sarita Robinson (aka Dr Survival) gave us a fascinating insight into the psychology of survival by using the case of the young Thai footballers and their coach being stuck for 17 days in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave.

A superb article by Dr Robinson can be found HERE.

Interestingly, she explained that as well as post traumatic stress there can also be post traumatic growth and, how storytelling is so important to help us re-frame and unpack events that happen to us.

Dr Robinson’s second lecture focused on some fascinating research that is physically proving how we need to be exposed to nature and its rhythms, to maintain and improve our health and well being. I highly recommend heading over to her website: http://drsurvival.co.uk/about

Getting High with Otzi and Alan

We loved listening to James Dilley from Ancientcraft tell us about the incredible Otzi the Iceman, arguably the most important archaeological discovery of the 20th century. Giving us a glimpse into the life of a person at the very end of the Stone Age, 5300 years ago in Europe. It has been discovered that the tools Otzi had with him were next to useless. Turns out he wasn’t physically or mentally prepared for his journey all those thousands of years ago!

We were introduced to a remarkable man; Alan Hinkes from from Northallerton in North Yorkshire. Alan is the first, and currently only Briton to climb the 14, 8000m peaks, all of which are in the ‘death zone’, where human survival rate is measured in hours. There are only 12 people alive who have achieved this feat, which is the same number of people who have stood on the moon. Many have perished attempting this challenge. You can purchase his fascinting book by clicking the picture below.

Headliners were Ed Stafford and his wife Laura Bingham. Laura has been on several Bicycle Adventures so I thought it only right that she and Ed have a bicycle Adventure Club T-Shirt! I hope they fit and they sneak their way into an Instagram post!

Ed, interestingly spoke about ‘other’ esteem. The opposite of ‘self’ esteem. This resonated with me as I think I am only just finding my ‘self’ esteem. I can now see how ‘other’ esteem has driven me in the past. Something was only good if other people thought it was. These days, thankfully, I don’t care what other people think so much; and not in the way that can come across as arrogant when you are younger.

Other esteem is exhausting. We are however, in charge of our own narratives. There is a beautiful freedom in getting older. My nan always said: “the best thing about getting older is, you can say what the bloody hell you like!”  

In conclusion: we highly recommend The Bushcraft Show. Yes, you can buy knives and Axes, learn how to make friction fire or knapp flint but the talks are the real gems. We are all surviving life one way or another and they provide some valuable context and transferable lessons. The biggest being: Get Outside!

Preferably on your bicycle!

A Shift in Perspective

We set out to use the journey to the Bushcraft show as a test of our gear, to make sure we were comfotable for our summer cycle tour. I think we came away with much more: a new perspective on adventure. Our gear is perfect. It is us we need to test and work on to make sure we take the best version of ourselves on our bike tour!

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