“The best weekend ever!” 

The Bushcraft Show 2018 Review

 

What can I say? Wow! What a show!  Having seen what goes on behind the scenes, it does not surprise me at all just how well everything went.  Yes, there were glitches; yes, there were things that happened that were out of anyone’s control; the ever changing weather forecast didn’t do us any favours but the incredible work of all the volunteers and organisational team ensured that the show was another fantastic one. I still believe that the extreme electrical storm was the fault of The Bushcraft Show for getting ARC Weld, noted for their dramatic displays of forging sparks, and God of Thunder worshipping Vikings together at the same event! 

The Main Stage talks proved a massive hit once more, especially that of Ed Stafford who then spent time wandering around the show with his equally impressive adventurer wife, Laura Bingham, and baby son, Ranulph, chatting to anyone and everyone. 

However, some would say ‘It wouldn’t be The Bushcraft Show without Lofty’ and maybe they’re right.  Lofty gave yet another very, shall we say, informal chat which appealed to both children and adults alike.  Two young boys I spoke to, who must be aficianados of lavatory humour, really liked when Lofty, on explaining how best to get help, said you have to “stand out like a turd on a snooker table”.   

To be fair, it is the variety of speakers, workshops, traders’ stalls and entertainment, combined with the atmosphere that makes it so special.  B&SS Magazine editor, Richard Harpham, opened and closed the show with two incredible talks of exploring the wilderness and surviving at 70 below with very appreciative audiences in, arguably, the most difficult slots of the weekend.  Barn the Spoon proved what an expert he is by demonstrating various carving techniques but having to make do with no live video feed due to technical issues.The main stage allowed old favourites, such as Paul Kirtley, Jason Ingamells and Pablo to share their incredible knowledge and experience with the audience alongside newcomers Daniel Hume and B&SS Magazine favourite, Ben Abbott.  Moreover, the diversity was incredible: Nowhere else could you find children being enraptured by a Doctor of Psychology, ie Dr Sarita Robinson, and bring experts together from different periods of time (ancient technology guru, Will Lord), geographical locations (Les Brett from South Africa and Dave Canterbury from the USA) and focus areas (including frontline emergency medicine with Toni Murch, coastal survival expert Fraser Christian and his wonderfully aromatic cookery demo and Discovery Channel star, Luke Soderling).  

There was an incredible array of workshops and demos, including bow making, carving, axe use, firelighting, making natural cordage, axe head and dagger casting and so much more as well as excellent musical entertainment and, of course, the Viking battle reenactments.  

14 year old, Becci Johnston, travelled from Scotland with friends to the show.  She explained that she had incredibly high expectations of the show, never having been before, but found that even these were hugely exceeded.  What made it so good was all of the free activities that she took part in and these kept her occupied for all three days. 

Ex squaddies, Ray Wilson and Johnny G, explained how much they had learned throughout the show from others and taking them well beyond their military teachings.  They both said that the show was “really interesting”, “enjoyed every moment and would recommend it to everyone.” 

Waiting for the firewalking, I chatted to David McPherson who thinks he may be the only bushcrafter who lives in a residential care home.  Having visited the show for the last five years, 2018 was a massive step for him as it was the first time he had camped at it.  “I’ve loved all of it”, he said, and was absolutely delighted to have met Dave Canterbury, Lofty Wiseman and Dr Sarita Robinson. 

Dylan (12) and Alex (9) from Bolsover attended the show for the first time this year and described it as the “best weekend ever!”  They were so enthusiastic, friendly and incredibly chatty, so much so that they won a copy of the Early Man DVD.  Both learned how to use the bow drill, among other things and felt they were just about ready for surviving the Zombie Apocalypse. 

One aspect that kept being mentioned by visitors, instructors and traders was the friendliness and helpfulness of everyone at the show.  Laura Bingham said ‘Walking through the entrance felt like walking into a wholesome family reunion. Like everyone was getting together in your grandmother’s back field to share tales of the year! Whilst walking past the spoon whittling, all the bits of wood shavings around the floor, the steel kettle holders and fire making apparatus, people were saying ‘hey Ed’ ‘Great shows!’ ‘Can I get a selfie with you?!’ With hands flying in the air to greet my husband walking in front of me. Ran (my son) and I never knew Ed had so many admirers! We both watched in amusement.   

Perhaps this is really the main key to coping in a genuine survival situation: the sense of community and sharing knowledge and skills.  But this wasn’t survival; this was The Bushcraft Show and to quote Laura Bingham again, “I swear it’s the only event that people say ‘where’s your knife?? I want to compare!’ Because the worst thing that could happen here is that you have too much fun.”