Thursday 20 November 2008

Stealth camp New Forest

Having recieved Bob and Rose's new design Honey Stove from BackPacking Light for trialling, it was a case of getting out there and actually putting it to use. After a bit of pondering I decided to take it down to the New Forest for anover night stealth camp. The area is close to London and is fairly cheap on the bus. A quick shout to John H, who lives in the areas, time and day set up, gear packed and I was away. John met me off the bus and over a cup of coffee in a rather posh coffee shop, we perused maps and discussed best options for a walk and overnight bivi. John suggested a few ideas and drove me out to a starting place. It had been mizzling and damp all morning but the afternoon cleared and we saw a spot of sunshine. John walked with me up to Hasley Hill where we sat and had a five minute natter. On the way up we saw four stags and a small group of deer. Surprisingly they where not that concerned about us. Thanks John for the coffee, lift and reccomendations, appreciated. Parting company with John, I ambled over towards Sloden enclosure and on to Amberwood Enclosure. Coming back up the track by Ashley Cross a forest ranger, driving the other way slowed down to look me over. Trying to look the picture of innocence (?) I smiled and waved. He raised his hand in acknowledgment and drove on. By now the light was starting to fade and I swung off to set up a bivi in woodland by Gaze Hill. From what John had told me, several days of rain had left everything fairly wet. Certainly underfoot conditions where boggy in places. This was going to be an interesting test of the Honey Stove. All the kindling and small bits of wood I gathered where at least damp. Fortunately I had my knife which allowed me to make feather sticks and split wood, allowing me access to dryer material. John must have wondered what I was up to when I took my belt out of my rucksack and hung my knife and camera on it. Wearing the belt loose, it does not interfere with the rucksack hip belt. to On these occasions I carry a fire starting pouch anyway and this allows me to actually start a fire without any hassle. Once started, although a tad smokey, the Honey Stove proved itself as an efficient stove. In comparison to the bushbuddy, this stove holds more wood. In turn it requires less stoking. Although recommendations suggest finger thick wood, I deliberately added stuff that was around the thickness of a thumb once the fire had got going well. The stove coped fine with it. This stove draws well once going, it burns hot and due to its larger capacity its embers remain lit for longer. A pint of water brewed in under ten minutes. It was pleasant sitting in the gloom of early twilight with a hot drink and a small, glowing fire for warmth. The fire burnt to fine ash and with foil underneath the bottom ring there was no environmental impact whatever. The cold ash was scattered in the forest litter, leaving no trace. A fairly pleasant night, a clear sky with brilliant starlight and a half moon. Owls called back and forward through the woods. Night creatures scurried through the undergrowth and deer grazed quietly close by. Rather than light a fire early in the morning I used esbit type fuel tablets. Dropping the top ring down to the middle, it was simply a case of lighting the fuel tablets and within minutes I had a brew. The stove initially warped a bit but soon flattened again. First impressions where that it was a bit fiddly to assemble. However, setting it and getting it lit proved fairly straight forward. My suggestion would be to have a little hand cleaning gel in ones kit. As with any form of fire lighting, hands can get sooty. An added bonus is the if an alcohol hand gel is used it is also inflammable. Poly bags are a must. The morning was clear with sunshine. There had been a heavy dew overnight but I had been comfortable. Coming around the track by Hampton Ridge I managed to walk fairly close to two stags. This is the advantage of having the camera to hand.The photo has almost managed to capture them in detail. If the photo is enlarged by clicking the mouse they can be seen fairly well. Came around by Abbots Well, getting a few glances from a covey of dog walkers. A couple of ladies with very polished accents wished me 'good morning' with a quizzical raised eyebrow at my rather shabby appearance and rucksack. Returning their greetings, making a fuss of their muddy red setters, who where clearly enjoying themselves, I strolled on. Came around by Ogdens, ambling up the lane with a group of ponies heading in the same direction. Headed over Ibsley Common, wet and muddy underfoot and then dropped down to to pick up the Avon Valley path back to Ringwood. An interesting overnight stop. The Honey stove worked well despite damp tinder. A pleasant walk and a welcome break. The one downside was that I was in Ringwood by early afternoon and had a few hours to wait for my bus. A cup of coffee and a insipid pasty, a wander around town, after which I twiddled thumbs for a couple of hours.

Wednesday 12 November 2008

The honey has landed

Well, Rose and Bob over at Backpacking Light.Com have done it again. The postman has delivered me a package. It is the new Honey stove designed by Bob and Rose . They have chosen me as one of the lucky ones to try it out, give it a trial and present my verdict. On first impressions, it appears a little fiddly to first assemble. It is constructed out of light steel. As yet I have not weighed it. My first impression is that this is a stove for the outdoor person but possibly not for the minimalist. Where this one differs from any other wood burning stove out there is the adaptability it offers. Careful thought has been applied and by use of a central tray a trangia meths burner can be used. A trangia gas conversion is also a viable option. The central fitting has been designed so that these burners drop straight in to a central ring. Meths stoves are also a viable option. Ditto esbit solid fuel blocks. The stove is designed in a diamond shape to allow for a variety of pans to be used. The whole unit folds flat for easy storage. Differing trays and a front fuel door can be used or left out as required. Now I need to get out and use it and then will do a proper write up of it.

Monday 10 November 2008