The second VHD poster idea. As always I would love any feedback; loving, hating, not interested? Please feel free to share and pass on, I’d love to get peoples reactions.
29 May 2012 | 3 Comments
19 May 2012 | No Comments
12 May 2012 | 1 Comment
“The greatest pleasure in life is opening an Ordnance Survey map”–Bill Bryson
It was only when I started hiking outside of the UK that I realized how fortunate I was having grown up with Ordnance Survey maps. I always loved the beautiful design, the colours and the impeccable detail but I never appreciated what amazing maps they are.
Ordnance Survey is the official map making body of the United Kingdom. Interestingly enough its roots began in 1747 when Lieutenant-Colonel David Watson proposed to King George II a survey of the Highlands, as a means of controlling the Scottish clans after the Jacobite risings in 1745. Watson was assisted by William Roy, Paul Sandby, and John Manson, and their labours culminated in ‘The Duke of Cumberland’s Map’ (I have also seen this referred to as ‘The Roy Military Survey of Scotland’ or ‘The Great Map’) which is now held the British Library. Roy in particular had an incredible affinity for surveying, he commissioned the Ramsden Theodolite and instigated the Principal Triangulation of Great Britain (1783 – 1853) this led to the creation of the Ordnance Survey and in turn the ongoing mapping of the United Kingdom.
What I love most about these maps is the details they hold. The potential for adventure told through their contour lines, village plans and coastal trails. Opening an OS map is like opening a story book; this village has three pubs, a church with a spire and a park bench; I can take this trail over this field, cross these three streams and after the slog up this hill I know I’ll get to look across this valley. Its magic.
I really struggled in Australia with some of their maps, I was never in danger of getting lost but they just lacked the detail I was used to. I understand Australia is on a bigger scale than most countries, it has fewer people and less funding for mapping, but I was a little upset when the best map I could find of the Overland Track in Tasmania was 1:100,000 scale. Perhaps I have become a map snob. Lets see what America has to offer. So far the maps have been great, but I’m not sure they will ever have the same place in my heart as the Ordnance Survey maps.
I owe a big thanks to Neil F. King. He tipped me off to the National Library of Scotland who have published a great collection of old Ordnance Survey maps available to view (free) online, they are well worth checking out.
06 May 2012 | 5 Comments
Billy tea is a legendary Australian outback brew favored by bushmen. Ted Cais who contributed some of his vintage bushwalking and climbing photography has also been kind enough to pen some of his early memories of billy tea.
The “Smoke-O” was a staple of outback life around Kajabbi station where I spent my childhood years and never was a finer tea prepared than on an open bush fire.
First, you converted a used jam tin into a billy by threading fencing-wire through holes punched near the top for a handle. The water had to be from a local creek or billabong already steeped in subtle flavours from extracts of plants and wildlife.
Gum trees were plentiful and provided excellent firewood that would be roaring in no time at all. The blackened billy was suspended in the flames without a lid so the water would absorb sparks and ashes whilst coming to a roiling boil. Green eucalyptus leaves were essential on the fire for smoke and distilled oils to imparted a heady signature smoky flavor and complexity.
Brands like “Billy Tea” or “Ty.Phoo Tea” were common in the era and came in coarse leaf form to be measured by eye in a cupped hand and added the instant the boiling water was removed from the fire. Then the billy would be given a few raps with a stick to disperse the leaves and allowed to stew for five minutes or so to achieve a bitter potency saturated with tannins.
The final touch was to swing the billy around your head so centrifugal force would settle the leaves, after which the tea could be decanted into a chipped enamel pannikin. Some might add sugar or even a touch of sweetened condensed milk but the tea was best straight and scalding.
The bushmen would squat around the fire sipping this divine tea while rolling a smoke in Zig-Zag (or Tally-Ho) papers from ready-rubbed flake tobacco with their free hand. A glowing coal from the fire provided the best light so as not to spoil the cigarette with sulphur fumes from a match.
The only tea to compete in aroma is Lapsang Souchong but its flavour is always lacking compared to the classic bush cuppa described above.
A huge thanks, as ever, to Ted. You can see all of his photography here.