Thursday, 10 May 2007
Excerp from a review of the Fasach Ile course.
Dave Writes...Good question mate, let me tell you about my recent trip there with Bearclaw Bushcraft then you can make your mind up in full possession of the FACTS.small print disclaimerI do not intend to give you anything like the facts because one of the major strenths of this course is that you NEVER know whats round the corner.I could spend all night just telling you about the drive along the rocky coastal roads to the ferry port at Kenacriag, a trip I was lucky enough to share with Grez. We caught the ferry to Port Ellen passing Texa on the way.'Oh my, That is a very small, rocky island sat rather too far from Islay in a choppy sea, it's getting dark and it's raining... Gulp !'There to meet us were Jeremy with his super family and Donald- James, two gentlemen who earned our rich respect over the week ahead. The transport to the island of Texa i will gloss over because even if you have heard about it, as I had, nothing will prepare you for this. It serves the purpose of clearing your jaded, work-a-day pallette of all traces of the person you were two minutes earlier, it turns you back into a ten year old and it sends the thrill of adventure tingling down to your finger tips. The only downer comes when you reach the jetty to be met by Gary, JP and Steve Wiggins. Three first class chaps obviously, the downer being that smile they are all wearing- GOTCHAThe terrain is rocky with wet peaty soil, Suficiently different from the flinty chalk of my South Downs to be a novelty.Bashers up, meet round a fire for welcomes and, in view of the long distances travelled by more than a few of us, bed.Up for 24hr pack breakfasts (sublime in my opinion) and onto lectures. Jeremy wipes the smile off our faces with a few home truths about the dangers and the difficulties peculiar to this Island from a search and a casevac point of view. Gary's legendary cutting tool saftey chat is allways a pleasure but somehow more precient when you are actualy standing in the wilderness and preparing to use these things with a degree of urgency.Time to get vague on detail here, because the structure of this course works on many levels, and forwarned is the exact opposite of forearmed in this case.On a practical level, everything you need to do to survive here is shown early on and put into practice straight away. Some of the things which start happening to your mind and sub-consious are so profound that I was home a week before I started understanding half what happened to me.The instructors take you on little tours of the nature and are allways keen to answer questions especially about the amazing array of sea birds. All the while, Texa is seeping up through your sodden boots and into your nervous system. As the week moves on, Survival starts to become Bushcraft and Wilderness Living. By this time, Texa has sidled into your soul, planted a flag and set up arcs of fire to repelle anything daft enough to try and compete.There are many, many reasons why this is the best course I have ever attended and I will list a few of the more obvious ones to save me typing into the night.The instructors were flawless in their advice and the way they worked as a team. It's making my teeth bleed to praise the Essex boys but they pulled out all the stops and in conjunction with the local knowlege and experience of Jeremy and Donald-James, I don't think I missed a single experience which could have improved my week.The course is layed out in a way which keeps building on the things you learn. Instead of telling you something and then asking you questions about it at the end of the week, every new factor is incorperated into your daily routine.I have compared the tricks of the mind on this course to being on 'big brother' in the way that your morale may be lifted to the sky by the finding of a pignut but then plummet when it seems one of your companions eat more than their fair share of it !The freedom of simplicity is a precious thing ; if it isn't shelter, water, fire or food it's just a talking point. Remind me of that when i'm doing the school run and i'm going to be 5 minutes late for the dentist.I think that the one biggest reason that this week was so momentous has to be Texa herself. The beauty, the nature, harshness and fertility, and the coolest goats you ever did see. A big mention for the limpets of Texa, in my imagination at different times, they tasted of kebabs, fish finger sarnies with brown sauce, and crunchy nut corn flakes. If this is where Bushcraft is heading, well it's a blessed relief because there are people out there who don't rest on their laurels, and who won't chase every last penny till it all withers into nothing. I recon there is nothing to compete with Texa as a course and an experience and I am so very grateful to the people who made it happen.