Back in nature…

Friday evening saw me, two other leaders, one junior leader and 14 Scouts park up at Ullesthorpe Scout Camp. As soon as I headed down through the trees with my gear, I knew I was in for a special weekend. Just being surrounded by nature, no phones, no watches, just tents, food and space.

I think it took about an hour to get our camp pitched, before we got the fires lit, kettles on, and burgers and hotdogs cooking. So nice eating outdoors with our troop, surrounded by trees, with the crackle of fires soundtracking our evening. I didn’t mind that I had a tiny tent, although it was kinda funny listening to the Scouts chatting away loudly until 2:00 in the morning!

I didn’t sleep much that night, so was up at 4:00am, getting water and making sure the kettles were on for a brew. It was nice having the camp to myself  for a while, the only sound being the stove boiling water. Strong coffee brought me big smiles, as I waited for the rest of our crew to stir…

A fry up of bacon and eggs, more coffee and some fruit got everyone up and running, and we set the Scouts off on Bivvy building exercises, and making sure their fires were brought back to life. Our younger Scouts did a great job of keeping their fire going all day, which was brilliant, as we were cooking on fires that evening. I was very proud of how our younger Scouts managed over the weekend, and carried out all tasks, even washing up with a smile and good grace.

At some point during the day, I wandered back up the hill, and sat in the small open air chapel for a few minutes. It was lovely just sitting in peace for a short while on my own, surrounded by trees.

So, the bivvies never got built, but the fires were stoked up, and a water fight ensured everyone (me included) got soaked. Hey, it was fun, and the sun was high in the sky, and we dried off quickly. Dinner that night was chicken stew and baked potatoes cooked on the camp fires, damn there were good. Dessert was baked bananas with dark chocolate, I should have left mine on for longer, but it was nice and unctuous…

We spilt the Scouts into two groups and set them challenges around the campsite, which was fun, and they won sweets, which they enjoyed. We all spent time chilling around the fires, and all was good until some of the older Scouts starting mucking around, and curfew was called. Just as well we were all tired anyway… I read for an hour (Pratchett) and crashed out, happy wrapped up in a sleeping bag.

I was first up again in the morning, so got the kettles on for brews. Once everyone else was up, we got sausages on, and tucked into a very hearty breakfast… those sausages were GOOD. Slowly, we took all the tents down, washed all the pots, cleared up the rubbish, and generally got ready to go home. We were all knackered form taking everything back up the hill, but it was worth it. We had all had a brilliant weekend. Bring on the big camp in July…

Let’s go exploring… Chapter 1

It’s been a really good week for exploring the countryside and waterways around me. Not having a car for a while makes a huge difference. I like it, heck, I even rode my bike this week!

It was the last Scout meeting before our Summer break on Tuesday, which was great fin, as we set up a HUGE water slide, covered it with baby bath and water, and spent a couple of hours slipping and sliding. Much hilarity ensued. I also got my paperwork for Assistant Troop Leader sorted, and just have a short informal interview next week, then I’m official! Excited! We had chips from our fab chip shop to celebrate!

On Wednesday evening, I went exploring for new fishing spots. I had already planned getting some walking in, after finding out more about the state of the fish stocks in our stretch of the canal, so a journey further afield was required. I knew I could get to a further stretch of the Grand Union Canal by following footpaths, so set out after supper for a lovely walk through corn fields and onto the canal.

You come onto the canal at a set of locks with a bridge next to them, and there were already good signs of fish around. Just after the bridge there is a big swim, surrounded by tall reeds, with plenty of weed and features for fish to hover under, which looked really promising. I logged that swim for a later session, as I was headed for a bridge further down the canal. Walking down this stretch of canal was lovely, as I hadn’t really explored it that much, and I love walking in the countryside. Heck, I just love walking!

There was good signs all the way down the canal, and it was really nice to stop at the bridge to set up and start fishing. I’ve driven, cycled and walked over this bridge so many times in my life, that it was just so nice to be stood next to it, immersed in nature, and scanning the tree line opposite for signs of fish. I baited up with this evening’s corn mix (hot chilli, ginger, mustard seeds and sesame oil) with my ace old baiting spoon (big old kitchen spoon… we’re on a tight budget these days!), and cast out to the opposite bank…

It was pretty quiet for a while, but then the feeding began, and there were a good few knocks, with fish showing interest. Casting around a fairly small stretch of water seemed to be paying off, as there was definite activity. There was a HUGE splash at one point, sounding like a cow had jumped in the water. It was too far over for me to see anything, but there were some BIG ripples coming out from the trees… Hmmm.

I stayed there until the light started to really go, mindful I had a two mile walk back, and I didn’t fancy doing it in the dark! Happy that I’d found another good swim, I packed up and headed back up the canal for home, smiling and content. I checked out the swim near the locks on the way back, very happy to see signs of BIG fish over there. That’ll be the next session sorted then!

To be continued…

Stormy Cornfield
Stormy cornfield en route to the Grand Union Canal
locks
Locks after the bridge
A6 trees
Trees on the opposite bank
A6 towpath
Towpath heading towards Wistow
weeds swim
Weedy swim on the opposite bank
baiting spoon
Trusty baiting spoon!
PORK!
PORK! Evidence there’s definitely been fishing done here!