The Finnish Candle

I love making tea outdoors (it always tastes better) and last week in Sweden I got to learn a new method.

Usually we use Adam’s pocket rocket and gas canister or we boil water on a campfire or suspended from a tripod. Adam has shown me a Finnish candle before but I hadn’t tried it myself…. until now.

To get us started he canoed over to the shoreline, leaving me marooned on our little island and felled a dead pine tree, bringing back a seasoned log and some small twigs and birch bark.

He split the wood in quarters lengthways and positioned the four pieces together with a small gap between each.

I placed little amounts of birch bark in the gaps at the base

and fine then slightly thicker twigs towards the top.

The whole point of this Finnish candle was for me to learn and it took me eight matches to light (because of lots of heavy winds and my general bushcraft inadequacies).

Once it was going though, there was no stopping it and we had hot tea in no time.

Sitting there chatting and eating lunch I noticed how long the candle continue to burn and give out heat with just one log.

It lasted long enough for us to enjoy our engagement chocolate which took……well, not very long at all actually!

Fruit leathers

I’ve made a few fruit leathers in the last month and they are sooo easy – my kind of cooking!! They are pretty much free to make, take no skill whatsoever (I can do this so trust me!) and are quick as anything.

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Foraging in our garden

We are lucky to have various fruit trees/bushes/plants in our garden, including two plum varieties, damson, pear, apple, hawthorn, raspberry, red currant, elderberry, rose hip, strawberry, blackberry, rhubarb and gooseberry.

I’ve been busy over the last few months making rhubarb crumble, rhubarb cordial, rhubarb and ginger jam and rhubarb gin.

Adam’s bottomless stomach has also been filled with plum crumble (which I like to call plumble) and red currant crumble

Damsons are bountiful so, as well as giving many away to friends and family I’ve got gin and damson vodka on the go ready for xmas 🙂

For trips away I’ve made us plum leather and also apple & damson leather.

Finally, we had some pears so I tried pear and ginger coins

Now I have to admit that this last one was a little odd but tasted good. Still it’s better than that time I tried Hog Weed and it was still hairy 😆

A 30th birthday gift from the sea

It’s my birthday soon – in a matter of weeks. I mentioned this to Adam yesterday, much to his surprise.

Last year we went to Scotland and with it being such a long drive we broke up the journey by camping halfway up at a quiet little spot. On the morning of my birthday Adam made me a tasty breakfast and even let Tilly have a little bit ❤️

When we finally reached Scotland many hours later we had a few drinks

and stayed at the stunning Glengarry Castle which allowed dogs 🙂 and Tilly slept in a proper hotel room!

The place was beautiful, just on the water and we enjoyed taking Tilly for walks and to drink some proper West Highland water!

It was great except it hammered with rain the entire time! Now I’m ok(ish) about it raining when in a hotel but we’d planned to camp for the rest of our trip. I really didn’t fancy camping in the rain especially with it being my 30th birthday. I was pretty annoyed anyway because we were meant to have spent it in Norway hiking and climbing but my broken arm meant we couldn’t go.

A broken arm won’t stop me camping though and a bit of birthday champagne helps!

That said, showering in campsite facilities with an arm in full plaster and nowhere to hang your clothes or put your toiletries is particularly difficult. Especially when there are no seats to sit on and the lights go out automatically if you take too long. It was an experience!

Anyway, I digress. We checked the weather forecast and headed away from the west coast for a night at Loch Lomond and some afternoon tea overlooking the loch and a beautiful rainbow.

The following day we continued our road trip on to Banburgh Castle in Northumberland where the sun was shining!  We hadn’t booked ahead but we had a tent with us and figured we’d find something – which we did 🙂

A great little campsite had a spare pitch for something ridiculous like £7 per night so we booked straight in. Budle Bay – what a cute name!

When we arrived we got some funny comments from a couple of older guys who were staying there, saying that we obviously wanted the ‘posh’ end. We nearly choked on our laughter and then noticed that we were both wearing Hunter wellies and Rab Jackets and probably looked like city kids camping for the first time. What they didn’t know was that these items had all been gifts from family over the years and neither of us ever buy kit or expensive clothing – in fact most of Adam’s clothes he’s made himself!

Our ‘lack of posh’ soon became obvious once we started unpacking the car and putting up our donkey’s years old tiny little two person tent that has been with us all over the place in the last six years. Adam even had to sew the lining together in Sweden after a hole ripped in the mosquito net and ants started crawling in!

We set off to the beach with a bucket and a spade (but not the kind you might be imagining).

Adam fancied a bit of long line fishing so at around 8pm we walked by moonlight down to the mud flats so he could collect some big fat worms for bait.

Tilly and I sat in our little fisherman’s shelter out of the wind and watched!

That night, after we wandered back to camp, Adam put together a ten metre long fishing line which he could carry in his bucket down to the shore in the morning.

Because he was line fishing it was important that we watched the tide go out and come back in so he could scope out where to lay the line and safely make his way back.

It was a sunny day and I had Pringles so I was happy – Tilly had her biscuits and we sat there for hours watching Adam digging for bait and laying his line.

I had his binoculars and watched the kite surfers with awe while Tilly shuffled about in the sand.

It occurred to me that the tide was suddenly coming in pretty quickly and Adam was still out there. The water started coming in between him and us but it was a very shallow and narrow stream and I could see he had spotted it.

Then the stream of water started getting wider and deeper and I wasn’t sure if Adam had noticed and he didn’t have his phone on him for me to call. Eventually he started making his way back towards us and managed to get across with water up to his thighs!

The really funny thing was that the area where Adam laid his line was the last part of the sea bed to cover with water so we named it ‘no fish island’!!!

Later that evening, after the tide went back out, Adam wandered back out to retrieve his line. We didn’t hold out a lot of hope for ‘no fish island’ so I was pleasantly surprised when he arrived back with two big plaice.

Back at our little campsite Adam set about making the most incredible birthday feast.

Tilly and I were instructed to sit by the campfire on a chair with a cosy throw over it and drink our chilled (in the river) prosecco.

Adam went about prepping chips and filleting the fish. He’d bought all the ingredients with him and made lemonade batter for the fish which I was very impressed by. We sat there in the dark with the light from the stove, lamps and head torches while devouring what I can honestly say was the best fish and chips of my life and the best birthday present I could have ever ask for 🙂

Crumble

Adam is keen on eating healthy at the moment and I do my best to go along for the ride although I am not as committed as him right now.

But we are lucky enough to have loads of fruit trees in our garden; apple, pear, red currant, raspberry, blackberry…

Of course, it’s time to make a crumble 🙂

Clearly the first job should be to pick the fruit but I think actually it’s important to ‘test’ berries first!

I still managed to collect lots of it and one of Adam’s many hand carved bowls and dishes came in handy

We have tons and tons of berries – too many to use so we will have a freezer full I’m sure even after we have given lots away.

In line with the healthy eating plan I used a few strawberries to sweeten the crumble (instead of sugar)

And ground almonds and porridge oats instead of flour for the crumble

I even topped it off with a couple of berries on top

Unfortunately there’s no picture of it cooked because we got stuck in immediately!

I’m just waiting for the raspberries to go crazy now and who knows what we will be eating 😀 any raspberry ideas would be well received!!

Foraged Hogweed and Prawn Curry

Yes that’s right a weed in the dinner 🙂 I’ve tried it before so I know it’s ok, a bit hairy at times but ok!

We planned to have a curry tonight but didn’t have many greens in so we took Tilly out for a walk in the fields and foraged for something to ‘green it up!’

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