Mittwoch, 27. Juli 2011

Wild plum

On Monday I went out foraging and came home with a rucksack full of blackberries, wild apples, sloe and wild plum. They grow like mad, and this wild sort (it has thorns, don´t have a clue what it´s called) tastes sweet and juicy to boot. Great!
I harvested a load of them, as much as I could carry, and there are still tons more on each tree. How great mother nature cares for us! I am very grateful for that and will remember that in winter...

Preparing a pot full for Plum mousse, a local speciality: The recipe will come soon!

Salamander sighting

On a recent stroll home from my mother´s I came across this little fellow:This time a live one;-).

St.Jakobus Pilgrimage in the city of Schwelm has a new portal

Pilgrims coming through the small city of Schwelm on  St. Jakobus pilgrimage now have a new portal to inform themselves how they can stamp their pilgrim´s permit catalogue, find a place to sleep, and all the relevant stuff they need for their life outdoors and on their trail. Click here for more infos.

Dienstag, 26. Juli 2011

News from Viktor

Some days ago I stopped by to visit Volker and Viktor again and to discuss my work for the Bethaus... and I now have a job there! Plus, I got a chance to shoot some photos of Viktor´s tools. Some of you had asked for a detail of the sickle Viktor made while still in Kazakhstan, and here they are;-). Below is a machete he made but only recently for clearing underbrush. Handle is oak, the blade is C75 sawblade steel riveted to a thick spine of common low-carbon steel. Would not be my choice, actually, but I have to appreciate the craftsmanship, which is a sight to behold in my book. Plus, I find the idea quite creative, even though I find it a bit of an overkill. But then who am I to question a master?

This is the sickle´s handle that has impressed me quite a lot. Note the bolster ears that wrap around the handle... sort of.
 That´s the quart / reverse side of the handle.
 Up close. No filing whatsoever, just forgework. Inside there´s a rattail tang reaching even into the handle and ending about halfway through.
 That´s a detail of the sickle´s blade. spring steel riveted to mild steel.
 That´s the machete´s blade, too shiny to see the riveting. I made about ten photos and gave up.
The tang and the handle of that beast. The wood is ancient oak that lay submerged in waterfor about 200 years in an abandoned tunnel ofthe mines around these parts. Viktor gave me a piece of that, too, and I look forward to mount a knife with it!

Freitag, 22. Juli 2011

Something to twist your brain a bit;-) Kris Holm Freeride video

Now it was a while ago when I came across this lad in a "New world disorder" mountainbike video. I have been doing quite my share of riding recently, mostly on bike lanes, but also on some singletrails open to access and some legal freeride trails around these parts, and I have got the bug again. I now ride for 26 years, very hard at times. I have seen my share of craziness, shooting photos for Jochen Buchholz and carrying the water flask for him, working as a race / festival mechanic for Veltec corporation and riding with the likes of Elmar Keineke and Heiko Hirzbruch, who come from Hagen, where I live. Thusly, I am not necessarily a stranger to some weird riding skills, and someone doing a bunnyhop over a park bench does not amaze me much, even if I respect that. (A bunnyhop is a jump with no ramp whatsoever that uses the principles of pulling and pushing to air the bike and it´s quite practical either in the woods or in the city)

But this guy takes the cake of driving me insane, really. It actually humbles anything I ever did. Now this is not primarily a mountainbike blog, but I simply had to post this...;-) It´s on the North Shore near Vancouver, where there is an abundance of legal trails like these, and mountain bike riding simply belongs to the outdoor lifestyle of people - as do trail maintenance sessions with having a beer afterwards;-)

If you want to try extreme mountainbike riding, make sure you have got an appropriate bike. Always ride sensibly and use appropriate safety gear. You might also want to seek out a professional instructor before trying any stunts. Kris Holm is a highly talented and even more so highly trained professional rider. Plus he seems to have bones of steel, because even he DID fall. I do not recommend you try any of this at home!

 Do not build any stunts illegally. It´s not okay for the woods, and for owners and hunters and hikers no less, and it spoils the good impression people work hard on to establish and in the long run it leads to banned trail access. Join a local initiative, go the long walk. If there´s none, found one.

And don´t forget the reason we all ride: To be out in the beautiful surrounding of nature. Have some good  plain fun, but give something back.

Over and out;-).

Mittwoch, 20. Juli 2011

Care day for a roe deer refuge underbrush we planted

Last Saturday several institutions in Schwelm met for a bit of care work for a site where we planted underbrush as a hideout for roe deer and other wildlife in the local woods. I set out early to meet with Mauro, a friend of mine and a member of my club, to do the ride to Schwelm, to do something useful and then get in some riding on the local DH and pumptrack site in Schwelm, that is completely legal. The Hegering Schwelm e.V. a local hunter´s association, the AGU, an association of environmentalists, plus two mountainbike teams (Rote Erde Schwelm e.V. and my own team, Zee Aylienz e.V. – MTB Hagen) were present to do a bit of good honest work, get good and sweaty in the process and have some serious talking to discuss any possible conflicts. We met in the late morning and cleared the site from wild growth, all in a friendly atmosphere with lots of good-natured talk. How come problems always seem easier to solve if you have worked together beforehand? Mr. Treimer, head chairman of the AGU also provided us with hot sausage from a solar oven and showed us this drying device. Really interesting concepts, and self - sustenant with no additional power supplies! And we relished in the first apples of the new season… delicious. It was a privilege to work with those people, and it will not be my last time I did that, for sure!

 The crowd had fun working! Photo by pixelpager internet design
 We had some interesting conversation and some quality food, too. Photo by pixelpager internet

Common Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium), in German: Wiesen - Bärenklau. Young sproutings can be harvested and are edible, bigger ones peeled and eaten raw or in a compote. Hogweed contains furocumarin and can thusly lead to allergic reactions. You should obstain from older plants. Hogweed also increases light sensitivity. And remember: If in doubt if you can eat a plant rather obstain from it! 
Christian at work. He is a member of Rote Erde Schwelm and not only rides his bikes through the forest using it but also feels responsible and does something to give something back to the woods. Hats off for that!
Don´t know of the nutritonal value of this snail, but we had sausage anyway;-).
That is a solar grill. No power supplies but the sun´s beams. We had hot sausage in no time (10-15 minutes), and it was not exactly a bright day!
The drying funnel.
 Lunchtime!;-) Photo by pixelpager internet design.

Then Mauro and I went on to get in some riding (see video). One perfect day in my book, and I got home all finished from working and riding.

Dienstag, 12. Juli 2011

Tribal? I´ll GIVE you tribal!!!;-)

 So, I went for a brief stroll and stumbled across this piece of tempered and rotten saw blade steel. I figured i´d try a bit of "survival" practice;-) and make a knife from it with no tools whatsoever.
 Rather thin and rotten it was.
 The "tip", looks a bit like a clip point. But was just rotten that way.
Found a decent grinding stone, this time granite or something like that. Ground my fingers bloody and managed to put an edge on it in about an hour´s time.

This is what it did afterwards.

Watch this space... next time it´s making its own handle and I will refine the blade at home.

Fun day working at the Industriemuseum again

 That first weekend of the month we met at the smithy at the Industriemuseum again, Willi, Mr. Rothenberg, Daniel, myself and several others, to do some tribal bashing and having a coffee or two. Willi tempered the viking knife he made last time.
 Daniel made himself a screwdriver. It gets the job done excellently, made from spring steel and all.
 That´s Willi´s EDC survival kit and his entire leather working tool kit! He knows how to do this inteloligently. That tampon he uses as tinder!
 That´s a kid´s knife I made that day. I daresay sonny will not see much of it, for  daddy had that twinkle in the eyes when I handed it ti them (I always hand out knives for underaged persons to the parents first, by the way). It´s made from spring steel.
 That´s an excellent and ancient Jemenitic Jambiya Frank brought in, a guy working as a hospital consultant. he dropped by for me to estimate if it was crap or not. Damn me, should have said it was crap and talk him into leaving it to me;-), for its an excellent blade. Could not be too sure, but I etched it and it seemed to be Wootz "damascus". The handle is fitted with resin and made from giraffe or buffalo horn. We will restore it, very carefully, and I am honoured by that!
 That´s the sheath and belt ensemble, made from brocate and leather with a high degree of craftsmanship. They do not make them like this anymore...
 Mr. Rothenberg enjoying himself making a garage for his knife. Willi did the tutorial this time. Unfortunately I was not able to take too many pics, I was being so busy foirging with kids and other visitors.
 The evil monster  in the sheath.
 Did I say evil monster? Started this one, which will be a "Langes Messer" (German hunting sword) after Johannes Liechtenauer, Thalhoffer or Albrecht Dürer (Tecak, Dussack). It will be my first sword. Made from leaf spring steel... how come they always look like seaxes when I got them under my hammer?;-)
That´s Frank´s pretty side. Unfortunately for me I forgot her name, which she certainly does not deserve. She did quite well forging a keyhanger that day and was a bit amazed she could. It´s often the girls are reluctant to forge for fear of not doing well. Come on now, pleeeaaassse, give me a break, most girls actually do a better job than most males, for males tend to use brute force where women often are way better in the delicate part of the work. Doing small artisan work often requires a lot more dedication and concentration. I find women often are more focused when this is concerned, too. Anyway, it was a busy day, and I got no coffee, but no harm done. It was constant pounding and no break whatsoever, just one brief pausing eating a nitty bit and drinking some water, but it was a day to behold!

Some more impressions from the smithy, and a children´s birthday party

 Recently I went to the "Bethaus" again to help Volker out a bit with the kids, this time doing some forging myself. The kids were not so amuing this time, a bit hyperactive and lacking motivation and not being able to concentrate any longer than a minute. It was quite some arduous work preventing them from hurting themselves. I learned they are all very fit concerning computer issues. Ah yes, it´s about high time they thought about starting a career, they are already six!! High time they started an application for a decent job, too! It was great to observe, however, that steel and fire did what they always do: Fascinate them, and when the parents got bored of all that work, they warmed up to smithing and were far easier to handle... Makes one think, that!;-)
 That´s a knife by Volker, made from .... tadaaa ST-37. I was getting a bit mad at him for that, for he can do quite a lot better than making blades from crap. It does not cut, but I like the idea nonetheless. Those little nails and the mini horseshoes are by Viktor.
 As are those little works of art. The basketwork is forgewelded! The little drill borer is made by Volker out of spring steel.
 That javelin point and the arrow point are made by Viktor again. I love that delicate and clean work and the mastery it expresses again!
 Nails by Viktor, without words. Look at the surfaces!
 I started another Celtic (Celtoid;-)) blade design for a friend of mine. Blade is leaf spring steel.
 The blade all grinded. I tried a more radical handle design. The guy it´s meant for lacks the tips of his fingers up to the second joint on his cutting hand. So I let him clasp a piece of clay and took the contours. This actually came out.
 And an ancient sledge we have lying around;-).
This one´s for you, Gorges;-). It´s made from refined steel, wrought steel, yet retains a high enough carbon content to be actually hardenend, even though the temper is off due to the constant warming and bashing it has seen. You can see the layers coming apart.

Harvesting time;-)

Those are some of my exploits of spring and early summer;-) (from left to right). Raspberry / sloe drink, elderflower gelée, raspberry / sloe mousse, elderflower cordial. Look at those older posts how I made the cordial and the mousse.

The gelée is by my mother, and she just took the cordial recipe and took pectinous sugar and a piece of vanilla and made a gelée from the elderflowers that tastes absolutely great and is refreshing to boot when eaten on cooled butter on fresh rye bread!

Raspberry / Sloe Mousse with Red Wine

 I went out doing some foraging one week ago, for the rspberries are there! Now I like raspberries a lot, and I picked some to make a mousse. The recipe is from my grandmother who made a lot of those mousses and gelées and jams.  I collected a bucket full of them. I also had some sloe left in the fridge at my mother´s. I always collect sloe relatively early (not waiting for the first frost, putting them in the fridge instead or, if no fridge is at hand (still got none at home) but them in vinegar water for a day or two.

 That´s just part of the loot, of course!
 I took some half pound of raspberries and some 100g of sloe. I deliberately soaked them with some good warm honey and added a shot of sweet red wine. I let it simmer for about three hours at a very low heat (75-90 degrees C), constantly stirring, removing the foam (delicious!) and adding wine when the mass got too dry. In the last hour I added half a green, fresh pine cone. When I turned the heat off, I added a good shot of Sherry and mixed it thoroughly
And that´s what I got. Try the mousse in between. I like it very dark, but you might not. Also watch the consistency. I like it rather stiff, but that´s not to everyone´s liking;-). You can also make candies from it by adding another half pound of sugar in the last 15 minutes and letting it caramelize. And how the heck do I clean that pot? No worries; I just removed the mousse, poured some water in and cooked it some with a little shot of soda, constantly stirring. Add some more water, let it cool or drink it hot. Either way you got a delicious and healthy drink!

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