Hot, steaming soup in the woods

Last weekend Britain enjoyed a spat of sunshine and warmth that newspapers insisted on jamming down our throats as WARMER THAN IBIZA. Obviously, this angered the Weather Gods – who decreed that these first hot and enjoyable days of the year must immediately be followed by torrential downpour each night, and the entire following week for good measure.

Planning a camping trip in conditions such as these is a bit pointless, especially when I’d like to use my bivvy bag and sleep under the stars rather than carry a tent. As a compromise, I decided to venture into the woods to make a fire and simply cook myself some dinner.

It had rained for a few minutes an hour or so before I left, so the ground was still somewhat soggy. I started by breaking down some free-standing dead wood, which was still dry enough from not being in contact with the ground. With this I built a base for my fire by laying sticks horizontally over eachother. This would keep the wood off the wet ground and allow air to stoke the fire from beneath. I also constructed a ‘crossbar’ from which to hang my cooking pot.


I then set to work building myself a little tinder box. For a base I peeled off some bark, and cut holes in it to allow for air to flow through, helping the tinder to catch. Using my needlessly sharp but very impressive Mora Companion bushcraft knife, I cut off little shavings of dried wood, and basically threw a bunch of matches into the pile until it caught fire – before placing the whole thing on the base to burn through.

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I then proceeded to incinerate my pan because my fire worked too well, and the whole thing  was hanging way too low. The spicy bean soup was tasty but I couldn’t actually hold the pan because it was way, way too hot. I had also forgotten to bring a spoon so I had to kneel, alone in the woods, hunched over the pan as it rested on the floor, scooping everything out with the business card of a good friend.

To cap it off I then had to piss on the fire to put it out, in turn urinating on my pal’s smouldering dreams of success. Sorry about that.

All in all – a typical blundering, ill-thought-out, wholly enjoyable evening.