Curious artefact: the orrery

We've teamed up with the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford to gain insights into scientific apparatus that revolutionised mankind's understanding of the world and the cosmos. Dr Sophie Waring is your guide to the orrery...

You can see fine working examples of orreries, such as this one, on display at the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford

You can see fine working examples of orreries, such as this one, on display at the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford

Mankind has always been curious about our place in the cosmos. For millennia we, rather smugly, believed that Earth was at the centre of the universe with celestial bodies orbiting around us. This was challenged by astronomers who made heliocentric (sun-centred) models of the universe after observing the movement of the planets. The first of these models was described by mathematician and astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus in 1543. He justified his system with astronomical observations and a rich geometric description of his model. It is this sun-centred model of the universe that an orrery usually depicts.

The great patron of scientific thinking, the Earl of Orrery, was given one of the first models and bequeathed his name to the invention. English clock makers George Graham and Thomas Tompion built the first modern orrery around 1704 while Christiaan Huygens published details of his newly-built planetary machine in 1703 from Paris.

The clockwork nature of these contraptions reflected our new mechanistic explanations of the universe made possible by Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity. Orreries would reflect and inspire the sense of awe people had in the 18th century as they discovered their place within a ‘clockwork universe.’

You can see working orreries on display at the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford.

Words: Dr Sophie Waring, Modern Collections Curator, Museum of the History of Science, mhs.ox.ac.uk

This originally featured in issue 5 of Ernest Journal, on sale now.

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Twin Peaks

Our friends at KEEN have launched a new hybrid hiking boot fit for outdoor play and urban exploration

KEEN Feldberg WP in anthracite grey suede; £140

KEEN Feldberg WP in anthracite grey suede; £140

When we heard that KEEN’s new hiking boot was being named after two famous mountains in Germany, we started to take notice. The two peaks – the highest mountain in the Black Forest and a popular urban climb on the outskirts of Frankfurt – give a clue as to what the Feldberg is all about: grappling rugged peaks in the wilds and treading asphalt on the high street. 

The Feldberg Mid WP (£140) is essentially a hybrid hiker – a versatile, European-made book that epitomises the duality of our outdoor lifestyles. Since their inception in Portland 2003, KEEN have focused on crafting innovative, hybrid outdoor footwear – boots, shoes and sandals that perform just well in the asphalt jungle as they do on hill treks. 

The Feldberg is positioned firmly in this compelling ‘hybrid’ space. It is for those of us who embrace curious and adventurous lifestyles – who invite exploration into our everyday lives, see just as much potential in an urban ramble on the streets of Manchester as an overnight camp in the Peak District, and who like to stay curious about the discoveries on our doorsteps.

The boot is available in two colours – a rather handsome earthy brown nubuck leather or an anthracite grey suede with dashing red laces. Both styles are made with a highly breathable KEEN.Dry® waterproof membrane, providing reliable protection against the elements, and are identical in terms of fit and comfort. A closer look reveals…

A waterproof, breathable membrane
Direct inject PU midsole for long-lasting comfort
Robust, strong metal eyelets and classic lacing
An integrated heel cushion to maximise step-in comfort and shock absorption
Optimum grip and durability in the rubber outsole

If you’re after a durable, versatile hiking boot, this is definitely one to look out for this autumn!

Follow KEEN's Feldberg adventures using hashtag #feldbergiswhereyoustand.

We’re partnering with KEEN in issue five and six of Ernest Journal. Meet Laura Kennington – everyday adventurer, kayaker, sea swimmer and circumnavigator of islands – and hear about her journeys with the UNEEK sandal in issue five (Aug 2016). Delve into the stories behind the Feldberg in issue six (Jan 2017), and keep an eye out for more stories and a chance to win hybrid kit on the Ernest blog throughout autumn and winter. 

Feldberg Mid WP, £140, keenfootwear.com. Read more about the KEEN story in the Ernest Journal directory.

Dutch oven pizza

Heating beans in a can while camping with chums can only go so far. Get yourself a Dutch oven, a heavy duty cast-iron cooking pot that steps campfire cooking up a few notches

Photo: Miscellaneous Adventures

Photo: Miscellaneous Adventures

The genius of the Dutch oven's design is the rimmed lid, which can hold hot coals and embers, allowing your food to be cooked evenly. With practise, anything you cook in a regular oven can be cooked in one of these. To maintain your pan for years of outdoor cooking, clean it with boiling water after use and wipe lightly with vegetable oil to keep it seasoned and to prevent rust. 

Try this easy recipe, provided by Miscellaneous Adventures, for quite possibly the best pizza you’ll ever eat. 

Ingredients

Pizza dough (made from 350g/12oz plain flour, 2 tbsps olive oil and 150-200ml tepid water)
Passata (tomato sauce)
Mozzarella
Toppings – we used salami, jalapenos, prosciutto ham and olives
Olive oil 

Method

1. Get a good campfire going. Rub oil all over the inside of the pot and lid – this will ensure the dough doesn’t stick to the oven. 

2. Pre-heat your seasoned oven on the fire. Once hot, take it off the heat and move some of the embers from the fire to one side. Now it’s time to prep your pizza.

3. Roll out the dough thinly (5mm/1⁄4in thick) and place directly in the bottom of the oven followed by tomato sauce, cheese and then the toppings of your choice. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Put the lid back on the oven and place it on the embers you set aside from the main fire. Next, add some more embers to the lid of the oven so it’s completely covered. Leave for five minutes.

4. Carefully lift off the lid using a hook or spoon handle and check that the base is cooked (it should easily lift from the bottom of the oven in one piece with a spatula). If it’s still soggy, leave it for a little longer and keep checking until it’s crisp. Once the base is done, move the oven off the heat but leave the embers on the lid. Let them sit there for another 10 minutes until the toppings are crisp and the cheese is fully melted. Remove the lid, slide the pizza out onto a plate or board and enjoy!

For more outdoor cooking recipes, bushcraft techniques and camping gear visit miscellaneousadventures.co.uk

For our more slow adventure and wild food inspiration, buy print issue 5 of Ernest Journal, on sale now.

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Kit review: the Onja Stove Duo from Primus

ITV's Coast and Country presenter and founder of Dryad Bushcraft Andrew Price puts his outdoor cooking know-how to the test on the new Onja Stove Duo from Primus while adventuring on the Gower Peninsula

Primus Onja Stove Duo, complete with oak board and utensil roll, RRP £105

Primus Onja Stove Duo, complete with oak board and utensil roll, RRP £105

Back in the 1980s, when I first showed an interest in camping, my friend’s father gave me an ancient brass camping stove in a rusty tin box to help get me started. The thing hadn’t been used in decades so I eagerly polished the tarnished fuel tank to a mirror shine with Brasso before marching up to my local ironmongers to buy some paraffin. In those days paraffin was sold by the gallon, and since I didn’t have a container my friendly ironmonger sold me a jam jar full of the stuff for 10p along with a new leather washer, and sent me on my way. 

When I got home I filled the fuel tank with paraffin, and with the help of my friend’s dad I changed the old and perished washer for the lovely new one, unscrewed the pressure release valve, primed the pre heater with methylated spirits and lit it with a match. Just before the meths had completely burned away I re-tightened the pressure release valve and apprehensively began to pump the stove. Within seconds it roared to life with a noise reminiscent of a Vulcan bomber ready for takeoff. Magic.

That was an old Primus no.23 stove, and it served my friends and I very well for years. It could boil a pot of water in a few minutes, and with its thunderous roar and bright blue flame it never failed to get the job done, whatever the weather.

Over 100 years of craftsmanship

Primus have been making camping stoves since 1892, and they’ve played a vital role in practically every significant expedition of the 20th Century, from Scott’s ill-fated South Pole expedition, to the first successful ascent of Everest.  

The Onja stove from Primus continues in that great Swedish tradition of quality and practicality, all packaged into a compact two burner design that offers a lot of versatility for the wilderness gourmet. One burner is fine if you’re making tea or thawing out some pemmican on the frozen wastes of Antarctica, but if you want to sauté asparagus while pan frying a couple of freshly caught seabass fillets, two burners is definitely the way to go.

The Onja Stove Duo is the most compact two burner stove in the Primus range, and with its neat folding design and handy shoulder strap you can take it anywhere, from a picnic in your local park to an extended canoe trip in Scotland. In its folded state it can easily be mistaken for a messenger bag, and it only weighs 3kg.

The stove uses Primus bottled gas in either 100g, 230g or 450g sizes, and each burner has a separate fuel source so you will need two bottles of gas to power both burners. The gas isn’t supplied with the stoves, but they are available in outdoor shops all over the country, so resupply shouldn’t be an issue unless you’re in the middle of nowhere. The gas bottles can be carried fitted to the stove so they are out of the way. 

A thing of beauty and practicality

Heat can be adjusted precisely with the neat folding steel switches, and I had no problems using it to boil water or gently simmer a pan of soup. The sturdy steel construction is very stable and the burners are at a very useful height for cooking while sitting cross legged on the ground, or on a table top.

The lid of the stove top is a beautifully polished oak board, which can be used as a chopping board or as a level surface for a couple of glasses of Chablis. The features in brass, leather and fabric are a nostalgic reminder of its Primus heritage, so typically Swedish.

Combined with the Primus campfire stainless steel cook set, utensil roll and a bit of imagination, this stove should give you many memorable outdoor dining experiences.

Andrew carries the Onja stove packed up neatly like a messenger bag

Andrew carries the Onja stove packed up neatly like a messenger bag

Primus Onja Stove Duo, £105. To locate a store near you, visit primus.eu/storelocater. For more about the story behind Primus, read our Q&A in the Ernest directory

Andrew has worked as an outdoor pursuits instructor for over 20 years, teaching rock climbing, abseiling, gorge walking, coasteering, kayaking and canoeing, before specialising in bushcraft and survival skills through his company Dryad Bushcraft. He's also presenter of ITV's Coast and Country.

dryadbushcraft.co.uk

 

Gyotaku

Fish rubbing. Not as sordid as it sounds. Printmaker Susannah Ayre creates her work using a 19th-century Japanese art form called gyotaku. Her pictures are inspired by the rich fishing heritage of her home village of Tynemouth on the northeast coast – still a thriving fishing port today. She uses the traditional materials of Japanese rice paper and sumi ink, and acquires her fish fresh from the trawlers. Here are Susannah’s tips for having a go...

1. Get hold of a fresh, ungutted fish (I find sea bass works best). Give it a wash – fish has slime that needs to be rinsed off before you can apply any ink.

2. Lay the fish on a chopping board and pin the fins and tail out. Cover the fish in ink, apart from the eyes, which are moist and will cause the ink to bleed.

3. Cut your printing paper to size, then place it over the fish and rub. Make sure the paper makes contact with all inked areas on the fish. 

4. It’s the ‘voila’ moment – just peel off the paper and hope for the best. Leave to dry naturally. Bear in mind, the ink makes the paper shrink, which causes a slight wrinkling around the fish on the final print. It all adds to the charm though. 

5. Once you’ve finished the print, rinse off the fish, pop it in the oven and have it for dinner. Waste not, want not!

 

You can see more of Susannah’s gyotaku and other prints at curiousseagullstudio.co.uk. This originally featured in issue 5 of Ernest Journal, on sale now.

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