Category Archives: reviews

Vanguard Endeavor ED2 8×42 Binoculars

IMG_95664068408705

Having already reviewed the previous model of these excellent binoculars I was keen to look at the next generation of them – most notably with the addition of Japanese Hoya Extra-low dispersion glass. Extra-dense, low abberation/artifact free/minimal distortion glass appeared in the previous model but the new addition of a Hoya manufactured glass element in the new model brought the prospect of Hoya’s many decades of high reputation with it.

IMG_20140902_211403166

In my previous review I explained what I needed in a pair of binoculars – apart from excellent optical performance it needed to be light weight and of robust manufacture. The equipment of a Wilderness Guide needs to be relied upon and needs to look after itself out in the rigours of the everyday and multi-day wilderness experience. It needs to be lugged everywhere with plenty of other kit. These binoculars have been by my side, in the outdoors, day and night for several weeks now – exposed to the elements, the heat, the humidity, the wet, the dry, the damp, the cold. They have been dragged  through dense woodland, lashed to a pack and left hanging from a limb of a tree. Interesting though the laboratory stats are for equipment I am more interested in their real-world performance. So I’ll leave the stats to those indoors!

Build quality

These binoculars share many of the similar features of the previous model: the twist out eyecups (now with slightly longer eye relief for spectacle wearers), the twin bridge design (now in a less flashy black to avoid spooking wildlife), the leather effect, medium hard rubber with thumb indents for secure grip. The lockable diopter adjustment on one of the eye-cups is an excellent feature taken across from the previous model, as is the tripod mount. The objective lenses are well recessed to help with lens flare and to protect them from scratches. The flip up/down lens caps are very convenient. To look at the shared features with the previous model please look at the old review here.

Internal blackening/dampening looks well done to help reduce stray light in the barrel. The tooling/machining tolerances and finish are high with no loose bits of metal, glass or plastic. The fit and finish is extremely high. The overall package is slightly heavier than the last model – this might be because of the welcome addition of a magnesium chassis (great to help with keeping things in place with changes in temperature aswell as overall robustness). The density of the glass might also have a minimal affect. The dual bridge (which helps grip) is metal, as I suspect the underlying body of the twist-out eye cups. The feel of the binoculars is solid, balanced and comfortable in the hand. The focus mechanism is smooth with no ‘play’, the bridge is smooth in changing angle of IPD (inter-pupillary distance) and the twisting of the eye-cups confident and multi-staged. Fully o-ring sealed and nitrogen-purged tops off the package.

In real life the binoculars proved to be robust and reliable for the duration of the review, showing no signs of wear or tear in the rougher outdoor environment.

Pros:

  • Excellent fit and finish
  • Excellent materials: ED Hoya glass, medium hard rubber (preferred), robust magnesium chassis, metal bridge, metal eyepieces, good internal dampening for stray light, strap loops are a part of chassis.
  • Good handling characteristics – grip and balance, smooth/slick operation of all moving parts. Focus wheel large and grippy (even with gloves)
  • Design well thought out: lockable diopter, twin bridge, thumb indents, recessed objectives and tripod attachment

Cons:

  • Slightly increased weight over previous model

IMG_20140914_084447

Focussing

The ED2s have a close focussing of under 2 metres (for the pair I tested anyway) making it useful for looking at plants and butterflies.

The focussing wheel is agressively geared  – so you go from close focus to infinitely in three-quarters of a turn. There is no ‘play’ in the gearing AND due to the slight resistance to the focus wheel makes for precise focussing and little chance of overshooting the focus point. I personally really liked the speed of focus – in a woodland environment having to react quickly to moving game and changing focus lengths quickly from infinity to close benefited with the speed. The focus wheel is large and roughly textured for confident grip in the wet, with cold hands or with gloves.

Pros:

  • Good size and grip of focus wheel
  • Fast focussing due to gearing
  • Reasonably close focus of under 2 metres
  • No play in mechanism allows for confident and accurate focus

Cons:

  • None

Optical quality

I found it hard to fault the optical quality of these binoculars. They are noticeable sharper than the previous model. There is a much larger sweet-spot of sharp focus that extends to the edges of the lens. The image is very flat. I could not pick up on any aberration, distortion or artifacts. The image is extremely sharp, with good contrast, colour rendition and importantly, brightness at dawn and dusk. In short, these optics are stunning.

The below sets of images are taken with a very ‘average’ 5mp smartphone camera THROUGH the lens of the binoculars. All photos where taken hand-held. The resolution has been dropped from the original to make them more web-friendly. But I think they are good enough to show the excellent sharpness (centre and edge), the flatness of the image and lack of distortion, the close focus and the dawn/dusk performance.

Click on any of the images to enlarge them.

DSCF9647_20140914081452794

really sharp right to the edge. Real HD.

DSCF9662_20140914081521638

large in-focus sweetspot

DSCF9630_20140914081547436

good definition of wolf fur

DSCF9674_20140914081620606

contrasty image and just look at the detail on the feathers

DSCF9628_20140914081651071

easy to focus on moving images through undergrowth

IMG_20140914_084425

reasonably good close focus for butterflies

IMG_20140914_084419

good definition at 400-500 metres

IMG_20140914_084414

spot the buzzard on the telegraph pole at 400 metres

IMG_20140914_084407

matt, all-black binoculars better for stalking than shiny ones means getting closer to the game

Finally and importantly was the brightness of the optics, especially at dawn and dusk. the 42mm objectives and the decent light transmission (because of the quality of glass and coatings) means that they were very handy to see into dense woodland and also when the light fades. Here are three pairs of photos taken at dusk, each taken of the same scene but once with just the camera and once through the binoculars. Even taking into account the auto-exposure function of the camera I think this represents roughly what I experienced through the binoculars.

DSCF9758_20140914081421010_20140914142907471

DSCF9753_20140914081237972_20140914142958836

Next:

DSCF9748_20140914081331666_20140914142928757

DSCF9747_20140914081150768_20140914143045105

And finally:

DSCF9746_20140914081133981_20140914143112935

DSCF9745_20140914081113889_20140914143147958

Having used these binoculars in the rain I think the only thing missing from these that was present in the previous model is a rainguard coating on the objectives. But this is small matter.

Pros:

  • Very sharp
  • Large sweetspot
  • Flat image with little distortion right to the edge
  • No discernable aberations or artifacts
  • Good colour rendition
  • Very bright image at dawn and dusk
  • Good eye relief means whole image easily viewed with little clipping

Cons:

  • None

Accessories

These flagship binoculars comes with the normal accessories – lenscloth, comfortable strap, good rain covers for the lenses, an excellent premuim warranty and a serviceable case. On the subject of the case I would not mind a clip or molle attachment to fasten it to belts, webbing or rucksacks and a double zip would be more handy. But this is just a minor quibble.

  • Lens cloth
  • Wide, comfortable strap
  • Vanguard Premium Warranty
  • Rain covers for lenses
  • Half decent case with belt loop

IMG_20140907_122750604_HDR

Final word

These flagship Vanguard binoculars really do represent amazing quality for the price (c.399GBP for the 8x42s). I struggle to imagine how going up another price bracket would give you significantly better quality than what is represented here. They have stayed outside day and night for two or three weeks and have been fog free (although it has been mild and rather dry) These bins are giant killers and set a standard for others to try and match at this price. Vanguard produced an excellent pair in  their old model. These raise the bar clean out of sight. Well done.

If I was to give just one criticism of these optics would be that although they are not the heaviest or lightest 8x42s around the extra grammes in a multi-pack might, just might get me to consider if I would take them. For 95% of users this would not be an issue. For me…I’d be very interested in seeing if the 8x32s hit the sweetspot of lightness and optical quality.

Well done Vanguard.

These optics were sent to me for review. I will be returning them to Vanguard.


review – vanguard endeavor ed 8×42 binoculars

IMG_20140604_112328871

Many Wilderness Guides have a pair of bins as a constant companion. Looking ahead for route choices, spotting wildlife, tracking, stalking and hunting are all part and parcel of its role. We use them from early doors to late in the evening. Deciding fair or foul is not a choice we take when it comes to weather- arctic to equatorial, desert dry to dehli deluge – our equipment is relied upon and trusted, not just for pleasure and leisure but for safety too. Our kit needs to work and work well. Wide paths or smooth terrain are almost never a reality – knocks and shocks are just part of the everyday. When it comes to the scenery we work in the huge vistas of the high fells and plains can turn quickly to the crowded canopies of the woods, forest and jungles. Our optics need to see near and far.

The final litmus test is their packability and portability: they are just one more thing to pack in our sack. It is hardly ever a short stroll from the car…it is days or sometimes weeks on end on the trail. Every ounce hurts. Especially as you get older!

IMG_20140604_113147398

A good package for a wilderness guide.

My choice of binoculars for this review are the Vanguard Endeavour ED 8×42. Designed, developed and produced by Vanguard in China at its own plant rather than contracting it out to an unbranded production facility. Quality control should be less of an issue. 8x optics are a good compromise between magnification and stability, field of view, depth of field and brightness.  I bought these through Amazon at a snip of 212 gbp and currently benefiting from an additional 40 gbp cash-back offer.

Taking into account the spec that includes phase correction, silver alloy reflective coatings and full multi-coating on all glass/prism surfaces makes this bino, on paper, a steal. But what counts is real-world quality and performance.

These binoculars are excellent and certainly have a home in amongst my kit. The build quality is amazing, the optics are good and for the price – pretty special. You can get the low-down on the specs on other sites on the web, just do a search. Whilst these reviews are very useful what I am testing is the product in real life, doing a real and important job. This optic is not sitting in a draw, occasionally polished and then taken for a short walk from the car for an hour or two. These bins are taken into the back of the beyond. Into the Wild Lands.

So what do you really need to know? Well,  the optics are very good, the build quality is excellent, the specification nearly top-notch and the price amazing.

IMG_20140604_112442572

well made optics and an excellent tethered objective lens cover

So lets take a closer look at what counts:

The optics
ED Glass – which is a type of dense, low distortion/aberration glass that has all the latest corrections and coatings. It offers a bright image, with good resolution, and a generous, sharp sweetspot right in the centre of where your eye naturally looks and focusses. Of course there is field curvature which means the towards the edge the sharpness tails off but at mid-to-longer distances this is very good, nearer it is very acceptable. Take a look at the images below – you will see that images are sharp until quite near the edge. In other bins – especially at this price – the drop-off towards the edge can be quite alarming. Not here though.

Chromatic aberation is fairly controlled (good but not great), contrast is good and the sharpness right at the centre is almost so sharp it hurts. The 42mm objective lens, the highly reflective coatings and the good internal ‘dampening’ of stray light means the images are bright – from dawn until dusk.

IMG_20140604_112705359_HDR

good sharpness, sweetspot and edge definition at medium to long distances (300-1000m) – using a 5mp smartphone camera.

IMG_20140604_112922242_HDR_20140616161709475

good sharpness and resolution (edge to edge) at medium to long distances (using a 5mp smartphone camera)

The build quality

The rubber armour that protects the barrels of the bins is neither too soft or too hard – well textured and cosmetically very attractive. Looking at the general external surfaces, alignments and internal structures demonstrates a good production line with excellent machining tolerances. The focus knob is large and grippy (even with gloves) and gearing smooth, fast and confident. There is no play in the mechanism. The objective lenses are well recessed for protection. The twin bridge design inspires confidence in holding: even over rough terrain.

IMG_20140604_113000042_HDR

big, agressively gears, smooth focussing knob

The features

I have mentioned the optical features earlier but the addition of multi-stop eyecups and good eye relief, the lockable dioptre adjustment, the large, grippy focussing knob, the tripod mount, the twin bridge design, the rain covers and the tethered objective covers makes for a very complete package. I don’t even need to mention the strap and the case (both good)

IMG_20140604_112401795

Tripod mounting cover at centre of hinge. Excellent objective lens covers.

IMG_20140604_112344089

Large, grippy focussing knob and good, snug eye-cup raincovers

IMG_20140604_112522995

Nice touch – lockable diopter adjustment

Well that’s the good news. Now for the bad. There are few. But for me they are as a professional user, and in the context I use them in, are significant – especially for an ‘endurance’ user.

These bins are heavy. Not so heavy for their class (42mm – full size) and design (roof prism). But they are over 700g. Its not a matter of holding them that is the issue. They are well balanced and comfortable. But with all the other kit I can carry – the bulk and extra weight is something to ponder when packing. Maybe 30 or 32mm objectives would offer a more compact, albeit more compromised package. All these grammes add up. a little here, a little there…..and then you start thinking that maybe there is something one needs to leave behind! Big binoculars often get left at home. However, if you are not carrying the optics for big distances over many days – along with other kit then this will may not be an issue. But I would be interested in comparing their small 30/32mm bins.

The other issue, and this is not specific to the Vanguards, is the narrow depth of field. Roof prism designs often ‘suffer’ from a narrow ‘in focus’ band or depth of field. This means that re-focussing  – especially in woods or forests  – can be a constant hassle. On the other hand the traditional porro-prism design often benefits from a greater depth of field, making the focussing less onerous or irritating. But this is not an issue restricted to the Vanguards but almost all roof prism designs. Its just part of the compromise (for a more compact and robust package) that you have to accept. However, the large focussing knob with agressively fast gearing is a mixed blessing. Focussing can be fast from near to infinity: almost too fast. It is easy to overshoot the mark. However this is just a personal preference and a niggly observation at that. You might, on the other hand, quite like this characteristic. On the open range, and at greater distances this is not an issue. But a few hours in a woodland will give you a good sense of what I mean and if this is something that is irrelevant or becomes irritating.

One of the reasons for the keen price on these bins is that a new model has come out. One that has improved Hoya ED glass. Combining this into a 8×30/32 package is something I am very interested in trying as it may suit my professional needs more closely. But until the piggy bank is full again this will have to wait until another day!

My score for these bins is a solid 8/10. Well done Vanguard. Go get a pair while stocks last.

IMG_20140604_112328871


husqvarna hatchet review

IMG_20140419_091219970

This is a long term review of the Husqvarna Hatchet. I have used this hatchet for five years and in amongst my other axes is the small utility axe that I reach for more than others. At 35cm long is compares in length to Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet but the head of the ‘Husky’ is about a 1/3 heavier and much closer in weight to the GB Small Forest Axe. The profile is a little wider making it a marginally better splitter than these other two axes. Of course you would get more power and speed (due to to the longer handle) with the Small Forest Axe. Since owning this little axe I have hardly touched my Small Forest Axe. Its unfair to say it replaces it but this hatchet, paired with the larger Husky All-round axe (also reviewed on this blog), meets many of my wilderness needs. When it comes to packing one in my backpack for short trips then I reach for the hatchet every time. It allows me to do all the camp chores, splitting kindling and small diameter firewood, allows me to use for whittling projects and making cooking rigs and shelters, it even helps with skinning animals. At a push I could take down a small tree with it. A perfect little powerhouse.

Husky Hatchet is the one on the far left. Second in is the GB Small Forest Axe

Pros

  • Very back packable – short handle but punches above its weight.
  • Swedish ‘hand-forged’ steel
  • Heavier head (than many other hatchets)
  • Hickory handle
  • Slightly wider profile to help splitting kindling
  • Can be used as a little carving axe for spoons etc. However there are better carving axes out there.
  • Cheap – 25 GBP – compare this to GB axes at twice the price.

Cons

  • Slightly rough finish on head, cutting edge and handle needs a little TLC to bring it up to standard
  • Poor sheath – replace this, make your own or ‘mod’ this one.

IMG_20140419_091229761_20140419091805620

IMG_20140419_091306871

hand made sheath to replace the one it came with

 


review: golite shangri-la 3

This is a mini, long-term review of the Golite Shangri-la 3.

Golite Hex 3 - the forerunner to the Shangri-la 3. I have had both.

Golite Hex 3 – the forerunner to the Shangri-la 3. I have had both.

The Golite hex, now Shangri-la 3 used to have an almost cult status on these shores when it was available. We all mourned the day Golite decided just to supply the US market.

I have used and owned a Golite Shangri-la 3 (and its previous incarnation the Hex 3) for nearly ten years. I have owned three of them consecutively. I have even tried out other one-man shelters a couple of years ago with me field-testing ten of them including the Hilleberg Akto, Jack Wolfskin Gossamer, Mountain Hardwear Sprite, Wild Country Zephyr, Snugpak Ionosphere and Terra Nova Laser Comp amongst them. In addition I have tried and tested nearly fifty other tents and shelters of various sizes.

Whilst a few of these tents are good (some like the Hilleberg are VERY good), the combination of 3+/four-season rating (below treeline recommended), space (it can sleep three with kit at a squeeze, has a total space of 5.5 sq. m and a head height of 157 cms), weight (at 2 kilos it can also be used fly only to make it a sub kilo shelter) and ease of pitching (it has just one, sturdy central pole and 6 pegs) makes this, as the literature states: ‘a model of backcountry versatility.’

IMG_20140621_183257015_HDR

I have used it in gusting winds (but not gale force) and persistent rain on occasions. I have used it in light snow a few times too. Winter through to Summer it has seen a reasonable amount of use. On-balance has been the best ultra-lite/lite shelter that I have used.

Despite my thumbs up to this shelter – the overall design is excellent (but then I am a sucker for tipi/pyramid shelters) I think it was a step too far (sacrificing real-world durability) to drop the fabric weight from 30 to 15 denier. This is just too flimsy – not in breaking or maybe even tear strength but in out-and-out abrasion resistance terms). I would like to see a return to 30 if not 40 Denier. This, and the fact that withdrawing from supplying outside the US, has created a gap that some quality minded tent makers could benefit taking note of since as the design of these are neither complex nor expensive to manufacture.

IMG_20140621_190423522_HDR

Pros:

  • Stable pyramid shape
  • Ease of pitch
  • Amazing space to weight ratio
  • Good headroom for sitting up and changing
  • Plenty of sleeping length even for tall people
  • Can be used just with the flysheet
  • Pole can be replaced with stick or walking pole/paddle or even hung from a tree!
  • Improved ventilation reduced condensation
  • Lap felled seams which have been taped/sealed
  • Generous height bath-tub floor
  • Very light silicon-coated nylon.
  • Only $250 (in the UK when is was available it cost nearer 300/350GBP). Sometimes they even do free ground-shipping (US only)
  • The ‘bug-nest’ inner can be used separately and is totally sealed unit with bath-tub floor. This could be suspended under a tarp for an alternative shelter.
  • Although it is possible to pitch the outer first it takes a bit of gymnastics to do so!
  • Lighter green/moss colour makes the interior light much more cheery and less gloomy than the previous ‘sage’ used in the hex. Better for longer term morale.

Cons

  • Unless you live in the US then extremely difficult to get hold of. They do not ship internationally and they stopped supplying to European sales agents/retailers. There is a UK alternative (made in China) but I was not 100% convinced by the quality especially how the seams were sewn as they were not lap felled).
  • The 15D sinylon is a VERY light material,  and whilst Golite have claimed that they retained 90% of the strength by going lighter when they changed model from the Hex to the Shangri-la I am not convinced about its abrasion resistance. If this material was to rub (in the wind) against a stone or a rock it was pitched by I cannot see it lasting very long. Care should therefore be take what it could rub up against.
  • The pitching area is vast – making this tent quite fussy as to where it is pitched. Narrow ledges, uneven ground, tight in between trees will challenge you (and it). A nice big, flat, level area is preferred (and how many of those do you get in the wilderness!). On the plus side you rarely use guylines with it (unless it it blowing up a gale) so this saves on the total footprint of the tent.
  • The whole of the inner is mesh. It is not as warm as it could be in winter. You could get a custom inner from Oookworks.
  • Strong driving rain can splash a little (not much) through the upper vents.
  • The design means that you open the door in the rain then you get the floor wet. There is no porch for wet kit. However there are work-arounds like unhooking one of the ground straps of the inner to allow for it to be pulled back or get a customer inner from somewhere like Oookworks.
  • There are guyline attachements but these are or the ‘corner’ seams of each pair of fly ‘panels’. It would make much more sense to have these guy lines actually in the centre of each panel to act as lifters.
  • The short fasteners/straps for each tent peg are bulky (when compared to the rest of the tent. But the main gripe is that the ones for the next should ideally be much longer than the flysheet ones (as these have farther to go to reach the shared tent peg. Have the inner/nest ones on longer straps would help maintain the tightness and space between the inner and the outer.
  • The light materials does snag easily along the zip. A slightly more bulky material strip here might help like it does on sleeping bags.
  • The whole setup claims that it can be hung (inner and outer) from a branch using the central loop. and thereby dispensing with the central pole. However this does not work because the inner (when clipped to the outer via its clip) pulls the reinforcement cup under the peak of the outer fly DOWN since it is not fully attached to the outer. If it was stitched through or secured together right at the peak then this would not happen – as it stands its next to useless in this configuration.
  • Pockets would be a very useful addition to the inner nest.
  • Lack of highly visibility tent fabric colour choice (they used to have a yellow/bamboo option.

IMG_20140621_195540277_HDR


review: husqvarna all-round/multi-purpose axe

This is a mini, long-term review for the Husqvarna all-round, multi-purpose axe.

0_20140105141935999

There have been a number of model changes in the Husqvarna line-up and this, the all-round or multi-purpose axe has recently been replaced by the Forest Axe. The head weights and the shaft lengths are broadly the same (c.2lb, 26 inches). the bit profile is quite a bit thinner on the replacement forest axe (and is probably made by Hultafors). The original axe, reviewed here was probably made by Wetterlings. The head is hammer-forged not cast. This axe is broadly equivalent to the GB Scandinavian Forest Axe or more like the RM Wilderness Axe in head profile/cross section. Various specs are available if you do a web-search, as are other reviews. It has a good quality hickory shaft, a very average but serviceable axe mask (you could make your own).

0

the middle axe is the husky all-round axe reviewed

Followers of this blog will probably know that I live in a wooded/forested area of predominantly conifer plantation and mixed (prodimantly oak) deciduous woodland. We rely on axes to fell trees, limb trees, split wood and even carve with it. Wood is used to heat the cabin all year round. So, whilst I do not claim to be a lumberjack we use axes on a daily basis, most days of the year. This axe I have been using for several years and is my favourite mid-sized axe. This, in combination with the smaller Husqvarna Hatchet are the two most used axes in my arsenal.

9

This axe is one of the most versatile – having a 3/4 length handle (compared to a full size felling axe), a medium-heavy head for good punch and speed, and a slightly broader cross-section to the bit/head that makes it a better splitter than than either its replacement model or the GB Scandinavian Forest Axe. I use this axe to fell medium-sized trees, especially when space is tight for swinging a full-sized axe, limbing trees, splitting wood in the field for the campsite when I have only brought one axe. I guess you could try and carve with it but it would be less than ideal. Kindling prep is okay with this axe if you choke up the handle. A hatchet would of course be better. All in all this axe is much more useful in more northerly forests where processing larger diameter wood is a priority – leaving the GB Small Forest Axe in the shade. For around 50 GBP or $60 is very good value. If you can get an older-stocked model then I would recommend it.

Here is a short guide to felling and limbing a tree using this axe.


book review: anthonio akkermans’ bushcraft skills

“Bushcraft Skills and How to Survive in the Wild” does just what it says on the tin: “a step-by-step practical guide”. Written by Anthonio Akkerman, his approach is taken from the primitive/paleo perspective – using primitive tools to make the things you need to survive. Ideal if you have found yourself with no equipment like a knife or a firesteel. There is very little ‘techno’ survival gagetry in amongst its 120 larger format pages and 650 photos. And all the better for it. The text plays a supportive role for the excellent step-by-step photography and leaves little to guesswork or the imagination. After all a good photo will tell a thousand words.

Image

Anthonio breaks his book down, predictably, into basic principles of survival and living in the wilds then useful sections on Shelter, Fire, Water, Food, and finally Tools and Equipment.

The two things that set this guide apart from many others is that it is first and foremost a step-by-step pictorial guide and that it follows a primitive and highly practical approach.

It is one of the few guides that I still refer to from time to time rather than collecting dust on the bookshelf. As a result I would recommend it not only as an essential read for those interested in learning the actual skills instead of the historic, cultural, social or scholarly aspects of the subject. What it does very well is cut straight to the chase and provides one of the best foundations for a whole range of skills. It will stay with you as a useful guide as you develop and become more confident and expert. A good read and a rather good investment to boot.


book review: the hunter-gatherer way

FCHGWPBTA

A few people will recognise the name Ffyona Campbell. Many more will remember the young Briton who walked around the world. It took 11 years and she experienced many different cultures and met many indigenous peoples along the way. Some may know she lives just round the corner from my lofty eyrie up on Dartmoor.

Her most recent book ‘The Hunter-gatherer Way: putting back the apple‘ is a summation of her physical and meta-physical journey in relation to those peoples who are still are a part of the landscape – and the landscape a part of them.

Her lyrical style traces her inspiration from these cultures: to know more about the meaning and rhythm of thinking, seeing, sensing and ‘being’ like a hunter-gatherer.  Her research draws some interesting and persuasive observations about how we, westernised society, have become severed from nature. She tracks this back to the introduction of druidic culture, iron age technology and also Christianity. She points a justifiably accusatory finger at man’s subjugation of the equal-yet-opposite relationship between man and woman. Knowledge, doubt, power and dominance.

It is clear from the book that Ffyona’s passion for understanding her shared DNA with nature led her to back to Britain. With an energetically enquiring mind she has searched for the deep roots of our hunter-gatherer tradition. Ffyona gently folds several hypotheses into this remarkable essay: how the cycles of the body and its hormones are syncronised precisely with the season’s cycles and how we need to look inwards as much as outwards to find where the wild food grows and runs.

This small book is honestly and passionately written. Her ideas are not wrapped up in obfiscatory academic verbage but laid out, as nature intended – to be seen, recognised and picked –  for Ffyona recognises that presenting these ideas is not an exercise in demonstrating superior knowledge  – that plays straight into the hands of doubt and dominance already held over us by man – but about providing a simple, natural salve for the mind’s eye in order to encourage it to more fully flower.

This excellent book is not a guide to wild foods as such, it is a songline for the hunter-gatherer in all of us. Its lyrical chime resonates deep within the primitive pathways of the soul.

As a hunter-gatherer, of sorts, I was sceptical about what this book would give me. I felt the veil had already been lifted. But I was wrong. Ffyona has shown me that what has driven me on in my hunter-gatherer journey. She has helped articulate what I could not do for myself. In a way she, and this book, has mentored me. Helping me pass through my modern self and into nature again so I can continue my onward journey deeper into its fecund folds.

This book is available to buy on amazon, also here and here