48OE Blog  
Jun 13

Written by: 48OE Admin
13/06/2012 16:56  RssIcon

The Bushcraft Show was a very good event. It was most unfortunate that it rained for almost 36 hours non stop and although this must have put off many day visitors, overall it was one of the best family events we have ever attended.

On set up and the first day, the weather was kind so exhibitors and visitors got away to a good start. The first and most striking observation was the luxury toilets and showers, all contracted in just for the event. Despite the mud and rain they were maintained to a high standard throughout. This was a first for us - finding a show organiser who invested in such a way. Without getting too base the Bushcraft crowd also looked after them well. There was none of the wanton abuse we have seen at some Land Rover events. Does this say something about human nature or cause and effect?

We have never seen so many passionate and dedicated companies and individuals all wanting to teach and demonstrate their craft. It was a real eye opener. Spoon carving basket making, knife sharpening and usage, fire lighting, bush cookery, leather craft, cave painting, foraging, plus many more items for the kids. This was a real hands on show for all who wanted to participate. Throughout the day many illustrious guest speakers also gave talks on survival and all things Bushcraft.

In addition to all of the activities there were many retail stalls selling essential outdoor equipment. This was all topped off with great music in the evenings washed down with real ale and cider. On the Sunday evening we were entertained by the survival man himself Mr Les Stroud. He is not only a true survivalist who has lived wild in many regions of the world, made films and presented TV shows but much to my surprise he is also a very accomplished musician, who plays guitar, harmonic and sings as he fronts his own band.

If only the weather had been better! From 10 pm on day one through to dawn on day three it rained. This was such a shame given the enthusiasm of everyone at the event. One of my most enjoyable parts of the show was getting to meet the team from Gransfors Bruks the Swedish Axe maker and watching one of their craftsmen at work.

My biggest surprise was two fold - the involvement of the local County Council and the enthusiasm from kids to have a go at everything. The later was visible on the next door stand as a young couple set up to talk about prehistoric man. I show my ignorance by saying that I thought this could be quite a dry subject. How wrong I was, when out came flint tools and weapons plus child sized skin clothing and regular sessions to make a paint brush from a twig and coloured paints from charcoal and other odd bits and pieces. Hundreds of children and a few adults besieged their stand. Everyone leaving with their very own cave drawings emblazoned on parchment, having made the tools and the paints themselves There were going to be a lot of fridge magnets put to new use the next day!

The Derbyshire County Council stand was for me jaw dropping. I had no comprehension of the scale of their involvement with the countryside. As a person who is often very quick to criticise the Public Sector I have to say loud and clear that they need to be held up as a beacon to the whole country of 'Getting it right'. I would be very happy to be a rate payer in Derbyshire and see my money used in this way. I have to stress at this point that the fact they use a fleet of bright orange 110 Defenders has not clouded my judgement!
Their Countryside Service section has to be one of the most proactive parts of any council I have ever come into contact with. As a county wide service they manage 133 countryside sites from large country parks such as Elvaston Castle and Shipley Country Park to canals, nature reserves and  a 1,000ha of woodland, 214 miles of Greenways and National Trails and 3,000 miles of Public Rights of Way. They are clearly anxious to see their assets used  in a responsible way and have helped bring the Bushcraft Show to this new venue. They had a stand at the Show and what a stand! It was not a typical hand out a leaflet stand but an interactive living and working part of the show.

The most striking thing was their staff, all of whom without exception were countryside people. This was not just a Council job to them, but more an attitude and way of life; they were enthusiasts for everything about the countryside. They set up a great camp, had their pet dogs with them and worked magic for three days with large groups of children. They demonstrated making fire, cooking and one of the most popular things was the bug hunt. I saw one smartly uniformed member of the team followed by about sixty children marching to the woods to learn about plants and bugs. This has to be what we should be doing with the next generation, giving them hands on experience about nature in nature. It is by teaching responsible use that we ensure our environment will survive.

This is my first experience of seeing a dedicated Council making a difference and I salute each and every one of them.  They clearly are also fortunate to have enlightened leadership that has established this ethos serving the community so well. I used Google to look at the work their Countryside Team undertakes and the events they run - we shall be returning as visitors for their Woodland Festival on 22nd & 23rd September at Elvaston Castle.

Next door to us on our left was a family who endeared themselves to me before they arrived. I heard the rumble of a V8 engine with a straight through exhaust. A Range Rover fully laden disgorged its occupants and kit and very soon an historic forge was set up in a fire pit complete with handmade wood and animal skin bellow. KAOS Blacksmiths were in action. Ross Berry who started out as a woodsman but is now a self taught Blacksmith sold a range of his handmade items from cooking utensils, spits, tripods, fire tools and wind chimes. Throughout the show he had crowds of onlookers plus children queuing to work the bellows as he demonstrated his art. As with all such items, when you see the skill involved in making them, we succumbed and bought some items. Ross and his family were great neighbours and we wish him well in all this summer's shows.

You can probably tell from my enthusiastic tones that the world of Bushcraft is one that fascinates me and one I feel comfortable in. The ethos of 'Leave No Trace' is part of the Bushcraft creed and one I very much respect. We are now very much looking forward to the Wilderness Gathering in Wiltshire. This is a much more back to roots type event and very laid back. I have been going as a visitor for many years but for the first time we have just booked a stand. Look out for our usual Tipi! As usual, I have had to tell the team that this is their summer holiday and Auntie Alice has booked sun!