Camping Out in Early Spring One of the most satisfying things about camping is a good hearty meal, whether it’s putting a picnic together, or frying sausages on a small burner whilst hiking or the meal at the end of the day when all are gathered round the fire. The fire lighting, fire building, food prep, the chopping, marinading and seasoning and the cooking, with a few beers to hand of course. It’s always great to come back after a day’s rambling to build a fire for cooking on, it becomes the focal point of the camp. The adults are always tinkering with the flames, prodding with sticks and the kids are eagerly awaiting, first their sausages, but more importantly the last bit – the sweet sticky treat of toasted marshmallows. The Fire Here’s how we build our fires. There’s a few methods, and I always carry some tinder with me whether it’s some dried birch bark, easily available and free or fire lighter sticks. Here, I’m using a crumbled fire stick which is very fibrous and lights easy with a spark and is odourless. I always take a bag of dry wood with me and a small sharp axe for splitting the kindling or chopping larger pieces to the right size. I’ve got a selection of barbecues too, depending on where we are going and how many people there are, this one I made from a round stainless steel sink, fitted a grate in the base and some feet and a flap over the plug hole so I can vary the air flow, so it’s ideal to take if your fire has to be off the ground. After barbecuing, build up the fire and use as a brazier. The Cooking We bought some deliciously thick steaks from the local butchers where we were camping, nice to endorse local where you can, chopped up some ramsons (wild garlic), seasoned and marinated for a bit and when the fire had died off to white embers, they were happily sizzling until charred on the outside and pink on the inside. Delicious! There’s nothing sophisticated about chops on the barbie, just tuck in with fingers…. Always good to have some asparagus, when in season, griddled or seared over the flames, served with a sprinkle of sea salt and a squeeze of lemon, lovely. And, finally, what they’ve all been waiting for the sweet sticky delights of marshmallows. If you judge your marshmallow toasting just right you can pull the caramelised coat off and to toast for a second time and get another helping of the delicious toffee flavour. Zak’s got this one to perfection!