With the promise of a light dusting of snow in the air, the Woodlore Team gathered in the beautiful woodlands of East Sussex. Hundreds of miles away from the Arctic camp that we occupied just a week or so before, the English weather seemed determined to remind us that it could put on its own show and provide the sort of challenging conditions ideal for trimming our skills, ready for Woodlore’s 30th Anniversary season.
Training week is a very important fixture in the team calendar and provides an opportunity for us all to refresh friendships, brush-up on skills and come together in the environment that we are so passionate about. This year our focus was on renewing the team’s first aid qualifications and so, under the instruction and guidance of Jamie Cooke, Woodlore’s outdoor staff reminded themselves of the essential nature of this essential wilderness skill. The application of realistic scenarios ensured that the adrenaline kept pumping and Jamie’s humour and outstanding teaching ability made sure that what was learned held fast in the memories of the participants. Anybody attending one of Woodlore’s medical courses will be able to vouch for the unique ability of this kind of training to make things stick!
In amongst the fast-paced learning provided by Jamie, the team had other essential tasks. New course sites had to be readied, changes made to camp and the skills of the woodsman honed, ready to ensure the highest standards for the coming year. In amongst the blizzards, cold, rain and occasional sunshine, the team atmosphere was one of excitement and good humour, boosted by great food and better company. At the end of the day, the fireside beckoned and stories were shared as we all reminded ourselves why we love our job so much. Ready for this years’ exciting courses, we look forward to welcoming you into our family.
On Aspirant Instructor Sarah Day’s return home, the first aid training she had recieved left her feeling reflective. Here are her thoughts:
It’s not often that the whole team gets together; we often go a whole season without seeing certain people – apart from chance meetings at the beginning and end of courses.
One of the best aspects, both of our annual training weeks and of the end of season get-together, is that we can all share our stories of the season, and what we’ve been up to over the winter. As an inevitable and very helpful part of our regular first aid training, we often exchange stories of first aid incidents we’ve dealt with, (or even been the victim of!). It’s natural to try and analyse an incident afterwards, whether it was real or a training scenario, and think about what you might do differently another time. I often think about two incidents I was involved in several years ago.
Here at Woodlore HQ, we’ve asked the members of our full-time team to pick their favourite courses and kit from our range, to find out just what it is that makes them so good. Woodlore’s director Steve Gurney picked his 5.11 Tactical HRT Advance Boots:
I purchased my 5.11 boots back in October 2008 after Ray recommended them to me. Ray mentioned that they were great to wear when travelling and I really liked the look of them. I am pleased to say that this same pair is still going strong today.
The 5.11 Tactical HRT Advance Boots were instantly comfortable and the UK sizing was fine. I find them so versatile that I wear them throughout the year in the UK; they manage to keep my feet cool in the summer, due to the vent holes, but also warm and dry in the winter, even in the snow.
5.11 state that these boots are designed to be lightweight and responsive, and I definitely agree with this. When I put these boots on in the mornings, they help give me that “ready for the day ahead” feeling and they are great for general day-to-day use and are not too bulky or clumsy for driving. The durable side zipper is also worth a mention as it really makes putting the boots on or taking them off very easy and quick; there is no need to touch the laces at all.
In summary, a very durable, comfortable and versatile boot, and I expect to wear mine for many years to come!
- Steve Gurney
The following post was kindly written by Woodlore Senior Course Assistant Wayne Egerton:
“I’m having a girlie night in tonight with some friends.” Barely had my wife finished uttering these words and my rucksack was being stuffed and hoisted onto my shoulder. I knew just the spot… a seaside location about an hour’s walk away, and usually deserted.
The weather was clear, cold (2-3 degrees) and not a breath of wind. The joy of walking on one’s own is you see and hear more; wildlife not scared away by the idle banter of a pair. A woodpecker, wren, robin and not to mention a surprised fox, and that was only on the way there.
Tarp up and fire going, just big enough to keep warm and have a brew. As light faded, the tide retreated and it was just the oyster catchers, the curlew and the chill. I’m sure a fox visited in the night, but my hat was still on my head when I woke.
When dressing for the cold, a mistake that people often make is to simply throw a fleece and a warm jacket over the top of their regular T-shirt. The problem here is that your standard cotton T-shirt offers very little in terms of insulation and - what’s worse – has poor breathability. Throughout the day the T-shirt tends to soak up any perspiration, leaving you with a cold, damp layer right next to your skin. It’s surprising just how much difference a decent base-layer can make to your overall warmth, and with the natural wicking ability of wool, you’ll find yourself dry and comfortable all day long. Here are three of our favourites:
1. Icebreaker Mondo Zip
An extremely lightweight turtleneck made from 100% merino wool, the Icebreaker Bodyfit 200 Mondo Zip makes a fantastic base layer for year-round use. Thanks to the superfine merino wool used by Icebreaker, this base layer is softer against the skin when compared to many other woollen garments, making it suitable for those with sensitive skin. It has been ergonomically shaped for a more comfortable fit, resulting in the perfect base layer for active use such as cycling, running or hill-walking.