Rick Taylor is an ordinary bloke living in a suburb of Lincoln - he has a job, a mortgage, a wife, children. But Rick's not a man in thrall to the 21st century: If the worst came to the worst and we found ourselves without the things we taken for granted like electricity and supermarkets, he'd be fine. Because you could drop him in the middle of nowhere, he has the skills to survive.
This week he takes a plucky Richard Uridge on a trip through the Lincolnshire countryside as an introduction to basic survival skills.
This is not the gung-ho, macho SAS approach to survival. This is bushcraft - using ancient knowledge to work as one with nature. Rick is fascinated by the way the land can support us, if we just have the knowledge to tap into what it has to offer. He takes Richard to two different sites - one riverside, one woodland and demonstrates the knowledge once common to all of us - how to keep ourselves alive, how to fend for ourselves.
Rick's interest in the outdoors was sparked by his parents, who sowed the seeds by taking trips into the countryside when he was a boy. His big dream as a teenager was to disappear into the wilds and show that he could survive by himself. And he still does, occasionally - going off into the Scottish Highlands for instance and just living off the land for a week or two.
So Richard's first lesson is how to build a basic shelter - Rick says he laughs when he sees other people's attempts at shelters when he walks through the woods - they're based on kids' dens and hopeless at really keeping you warm and dry. What you need is dead saplings or other dead material for the walls, with a thatch of reeds or bracken on top, or else a volume of loam or dead leaves as a roof. And you can keep yourself very warm making one!
Next you need fire. Rick demonstrates the ancient art of fire-making using the primitive bowdrill system - literally rubbing two sticks together to create hot dust, which ignites dry tinder.
Then it's off to find some food for free. Rick says each season is different - the green shoots of Spring, the abundance of Summer, the fruits of Autumn and the roots of Winter. At this time of year it's easy … there are nettles for soup, fish and fungi for a main course, and sweet berries for pudding. Not everything tastes wonderful, however, even if it's edible - As Rick says, the land gives you everything you need, not necessarily everything you want. Plants can also provide medicinal help too, of course - Rick demonstrates some natural first-aid tips.
And you can go a-hunting - though Rick says he will only kill a living animal if it's the only source of food. Though he has on occasion dined on snails - and slugs!
Of course, you also need to procure water, and Rick demonstrates several methods, none of which need a stream or rain. There's the dew on the grass … and trees can be a surprising supply of good water - some sources even providing sweetened water for your herbal tea!
CAUTIONARY NOTE: As Richard learns, Rick Taylor is an expert and we don't advise depending on Nature's bounty if you're out and about without such a good guide!
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