Wednesday 30 January 2008

It seems I'm having a bit of an identity crisis and so in an attempt to correct this unfortunate problem "A little bit about not a lot" now has its own custom domain. If I can fathom what the fliipin heck is going on with my DNS settings and Blogger, you readers out there shouldn't notice any difference to how you get here - although I doubt besides myself if there are any readers who want to get here!

It may take a few days for things to settle down in the crazy and quite frankly perverted world of DNS addresses and other such black magic, but hopefully I'll arrive at the other side with my sanity intact.

I'm completely new to custom domains and search engine optimisation but the whole point of this is to get this blog out there a bit - coz at the moment its like booking a table for one!

Thursday 24 January 2008

How to make a Pot Cozy

As promissed here is the quick guide to making a pot cozy for your favourite camping pots. Here I'm using a 720ml (24oz) Heineken "mini keg". By far the most beneficial aspect of the pot cozy is that you can save precious fuel (especially when using an alcohol stove) by continuing to cook your food whilst inside the cozy. The idea being that you bring the water or food (or whatever) to a boil or simmer and then cut the stove and drop it in the cozy.

I can't take the credit for this simple construction as I followed the instruction provided by the legend that is Tinny from Minibulldesign. In any case its a no brainer really so here is my pot cozy walkthrough made from the foil insulation provided by Backpackinglight. I cannot recommend this outstandingly friendly adn efficient family run business enough. Give them a try you won't be dissapointed!

Materials & Tools
Sheet of double walled aluminium insulation
Waterproof Foil Tape

Step 1. Measure the circumference and height of your pot adding around 5mm extra on the height and about 3mm on the circumference. You will see why later. You might find that simply placing your pot on the foil and wrapping it around is easier and is just as accurate as measuring.
Now take a ruler or straight edge and on both the top and bottom edges gently score a line at 5mm and 3mm for top and bottom respectively. This is the additional foil you added to the measurement of your pot earlier. You can see I have done this on the bottom edge in the picture.

Step 2. Join the two ends together with foil tape (in the UK ThermaWrap from B&Q seems to be cheapest and best I've found). Don't overlap the edges just butt them together and then cover the seam with the tape. Once joined, mark a circle using the base as a template and cut out of the foil - you will need to do this twice for the base and the top.

Step 3. Push one of the circles into the foil cylinder to make the bottom first and fold in the edges your scored in point 2 above (see picture above). Now cut around 7 squares of foil tape and stick the base inside. Ensure a tight seal with the foil tape moving around the base until sealed.

Step 4. (This step is really only relevant to the Heineken pot but if you don't have one just cut the top to suit our pot) Take the second circle of foil you cut earlier and cut a tiny slit just off centre by about 3-4mm. This is to slide the ring pull of the top into just to have something easy to grab at to remove the lid. Voila - one super efficient high tech pot cozy!

Pot cozy for my Heineken pot

My wind shield and pot cozy kit arrived from the guys at backpacking light. A few simple cuts here and there and i now have me a fully insulated pot cozy. Pics to follow tonight. This really does work and is a huge saving on fuel when cooking noodles and pasta. Now to test it in the field...

Wednesday 23 January 2008

Mobile Blogging

Well this seems to work then! I'm trying out the mobile blogging feature because I thought I could use it to send posts whilst one the move. Not particularly useful for most of the time but will work a treat whilst wild camping over the next few weeks.

I hope to be able to use this feature (whilst being blown about on the fells or hiding in my tent from all the weather can throw at me) to post about my progress etc. Live posting as such from the Buttermere Fells. Not really necessary but a nice touch and of course its a bit "faddy" so I love it.

The picture above is of a small cafe based in the English Garden (Englischer Garten) in Munich. This photo has probably been taken a million times but if nothing else its just a good photo to have on a blog!

Sunday 20 January 2008

My first wild camp - The Buttermere fells

My decision is finally made. I have decided to head over to Buttermere in the English Lakes for my first wild camping experience.

Having considered the Brecon Beacons, Snowdonia and the Peak District I finally settled on the Buttermere fells. A friend and I spent a cold and wet night at Syke Farm campsite in March 06. Despite me being a complete winter camping chump, I thought it was one of the most beautiful places I'd seen. The whole place has a menacing charm about it that begs you to explore.

That time around I didn't get change to head up into the hills since I was recovering from man flu at the time and the purpose of the trip was mainly photography and painting (Picture above). This time though I have the Buttermere Fells in my sights with one night of wild camping to be had.

I'm planning a circular route - the most obvious being to start in Buttermere then Red Pike, High Stile, Hay Stacks, Fleetwith Pike, down to Honister Pass, back up to Dale Head, Hindscarth, Robinson, High Snockrigg and back into Buttermere.

I'm as excited as hell right now and all that is left to do is pick a date and determine if this is a solo where are all those so-called friends!

I'll be posting my final route once I've memory mapped it for anyone who's interested and obviously I'll pics of the trip itself. For now though is are some from the trip in March 06...

Low Snockrigg from Buttermere's western shore

Honister Pass

Monday 14 January 2008

The day I decided I needed more fire in my life...

I remember the day, I was looking for information on how wild-camping lunatics got around the problem of cooking when out in the sticks and trying to keep their backpacks as light as possible. My world was filled with glee when the part of my brain responsible for neanderthal-like thoughts delivered the idea that I could make a camp fire. Further research soon put this idea to bed so I decided to search the net for a while and soon found a plethora of options. Due to the current boom in outdoorsy branded equipment I wasn't surprised to find that you can waste literally hundreds of pounds on a pressurised bomb-proof stove that will burn anything from thin air to napalm (OK, not quite), down to a trusty Triangia alcohol stove burning methylated spirits.

I wanted to do this whole wild-camping thing on a budget, so my attention was directed towards the cheaper alcohol stove. I wanted to see how this funny looking little stove worked so 'YouTubed' it and found a video. As it does, the video ends and then shows other videos of similar things that you might like to see - this was the moment that I discovered the secret underworld society making alcohol stoves out of empty coke cans! Just the mere thought that I could make fire and cook on a drinks can filled me with the the kind of elation I can only imagine you get from seeing your first born child.

It was a real shame to have to drink my beer so fast in order to make one there and then, but needless to say it worked despite not winning any beauty contests or burning for more than a minute at a time. I had to investigate further and so I watched more videos and read more web-pages on the subject to find that it can be as complex or simple a subject as you care to spend time on. I've spent a lot of time!

I've now made a few stoves using different designs but there is a man in Maine who I consider to be a leading authority on these stoves and is, quite frankly, a down-right legend. He's just 'Money'. Known as "Tinny" his website minibulldesign is a great source of information and better still he spends some of his retirement making and selling stoves based on his own designs. I've bought two stoves now and the current $-£ exchange rate makes these lightweight, efficient and environmentally friendly stoves very affordable. There's a plug for you Tinny!

The one in the picture above, the "Isofly" works on the basis of a wick (rather like a candle) but I also have a tiny pressurised type a "Nion 2" and is rather akin to gas burner. These stoves burn methylated spirits (the drink of choice), pure ethanol or methanol (hard to get in the UK for obvious reasons), 'rubbing alcohol' (AKA: Isopropyl Alcohol
), air-brake anti-freeze or just some good strong rum or vodka. Here is a video from Tinny showing the Nion 2 in action:

Tinny has come up with his own cook system using the same recycled principals. The concept is a 24oz (approx 720ml) Heineken can with a metal pot stand and a length of fibreglass wick wound around the centre to provide a heat resistant surface to hold it.

Alcohol Stove for wild camping trip and cooking things at home for no apparent reason = Check!

A good blog these days is hard to find....and this one will make it a little bit harder!

So here it is. My first Blog and my first post. I'm not sure why I've started a blog really - maybe its because its a bit "faddy", but more about that below. I will be posting here about whatever I happen to be wasting my life on in any given time. I doubt the blog will make a blind bit of difference to anything at all, although I suspect it will prove that my life is based on short-lived fads - a theory my girlfriend came up with and reminds me of on a regular basis.

My latest fads then are wild-camping (of which I will be starting over the next few weeks), my first (more serious) radio controlled helicopter, photography and my very latest obsession - beer making! I might stretch to some more intelligent topics but don't expect it!