Monday, 22 October 2007


On Saturday evening we went to see Ray Mears. He is touring the UK at the moment with his show called "In front of and behind the lens". He talked about the places he has visited and the television programmes he has made during the last 15 years. It was fascinating. He talked for over two and a half hours and the time passed so quickly.

He has made programmes throughout the world and gathered a lot of knowledge about the hunter gatherer way of life and the skills used. In almost every community he visited, the traditional way of life was dying out and it was only by talking to the older people that he was able to build up a picture of the way they had lived for generations and generations.

What struck me most as he talked about all the different tribes and groups he had met was how in each case they were all very "in tune" with their surroundings. Whether it was tracking animals in Africa or knowing where to find fish in a frozen lake they all seemed to know their surroundings in a way that most of us will never be able to do. There was also a great respect for their environment, for the animals that they hunted and plants that they gathered. These seem to be societies where there is very little waste, when an animal is killed for food every part is used, just enough of a plant is harvested for building, for medicines or for making fire. Traditionally the communities were almost totally self sufficient, as they often lived in remote areas all their needs had to be supplied from the local area.

While we in "developed" countries are trying to eat local foods, reduce dependence on fossil fuels and consume less of the world's resources perhaps we can gain inspiration from these traditional hunter gatherer communities.


Simply Authentic said...

i couldn't agree more....i wish we would often take on more of these traits of respecting nature and giving back to it for what it allows us to great that you got to see him!

the flour loft said...

Hi Willow,
How fascinating!
What were his views on why these ways of life are dying out and did he have any fears for the future as a result?

I really think the world has become a place of 'take take take' and people are, despite recent media attention, mostly ignorant of the delicate balance we have with nature and how their actions are depleting and destroying our environment. Wouldn't it be wonderful if traditional skills, ecology and self sufficiency were taught in schools, rather than designing packaging for pizza!
An understanding, appreciation and respect for our world is essential to its survival as is, i feel, a complete reduction in waste and excess.

The way you live your life is so inspiring and you have illustrated that it is possible.
Have a lovely 'simple' weekend.

willow said...

Simply authentic, yes, it was a really great evening which was enjoyed by all four of us.

Ginny, I think the reason the old ways of life are disappearing vary, in the case of the Innuit it might be that people are choosing to live in more permanent homes, in Africa it is often improvement in transport links that mean the communities are no longer isolated and so adopt a more "developed" lifestyle.
In the question and answer session at the end of the evening, Ray Mears was asked whether he thought that bushcraft type skills could be taught as part of the National Curriculum. His reply was that they could but he still felt that the best way for the skills to be taught was to be passed on to the next generation by parents and grandparents. This way they learn the skills in a more personal way and some of the passion for the environment would be passed down also, something which might not happen with formal teaching.

Alison said...

I am a great fan of Ray and his programmes...thanks for letting us know how it went.
Take care,

Paulo @ undercurrents said...

We are in the middle of producing an online video series about an A-Z of Bushcraft & Survival skills and we are seeking your help. The series will be released when we launch our internet TV channel at in Spring 2008. The channel is not for profit and will highlight a range of social and environmental topics.

We are asking people with your skills and interest in the outdoors to watch our online series and review an A-Z of Bushcraft on your blog or website. Bushcraft is a growing movement and we hope to play our part in promoting the knowledge of ancient skills. But we can’t do it alone so please helps us spread the word of

If you would like to include your own Bushcraft video player on your blog or website, please drop me an email on and I will send a small text file for you to easily embed.


Paul O’Connor
A-Z of Bushcraft