I grew up on Ashdown Forest in Sussex: the deep south of Britain. Learning to walk in the middle of nowhere with the wild places on my doorstep gave me the chance to immerse myself in the bucolic side of life: fishing, wild food, shooting, trapping, shelters and survival. In short, I became rather a feral child until I was shipped off to boarding school age 8, yet my country education continued to flourish: catching rabbits in snares WILL get you sent straight to the headmaster!
My mother taught my brother and I to cook from an early age, eager to ensure that we would both be able to hold our own in the future. As I got older, gradually, the wild side of my upbringing and the kitchen joined hands and became firm friends and I soon learn to respect that if I was going to shoot an animal: it would be for the pot.
I left school at 18 and like most at that age, I saved a few pennies from working as a chef in a local pub, so that I could go and see the world. Six months of travelling followed, with surfboard and fishing rod in tow: South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Australia and finally (save the best till last) Fiji.
I went on to study Archaeology at Newcastle, where I specialized in Hunter-gatherer studies and the Mesolithic. University gave the chance to really flex my gastronomic muscles and paired with the vast resources of the Northumbrian countryside, fur feather and fish often found its way into our Jesmond Kitchen to supplement our meager student diet. After 3 years of studying, unsure of what to do with my life, went to London to work as a Freelance Set designer and Chef in the Events world. London wasn’t a good place for me…but it taught me one thing: I wanted to write. I wasn’t interested in fiction, I wanted to have adventures and document my findings, this blog was born and the original focus was wild food.
In 2007 I was interviewed for the job of resident ‘Survival Expert’ for the Third island in the channel 4 programme ‘Shipwrecked’. After 3 months on my own desert island, I decided it was time to make a change in my life.
I soon realised that there is more to just wild food and survival, although separate entities, I decided to join them and a few other bits and bobs to create a holistic experience in Self- sufficiency…cue the Treehouse experiment.
I have just finished writing my first book, The Treehouse diaries, which tells the story of the six months I spent living off the land in a Treehouse I built using natural and recycled materials. The original boy’s own adventure that documents the life and times of a tree dwelling hunter-gatherer in the 21st century. The book is more than just a diary and is jam-packed with wild food recipes, home brewing, Treehouse building, identification notes and even how to build your own coracle and clay oven.
Since then, the blog has evolved into something that covers more than just food. I think it is essential to be more self-sufficient in our approach to everyday life, looking to the past in order to see where we are going is sometimes useful- the Archaeology Degree finally pays off!
These days I can be found bouncing between the UK and Hossegor in France where my Finacee Clare moved to work for a surf company. Over the last few years I have been teaching Foraging at the rather wonderful Safari Britain and for private clients, but now I am going freelance and setting up my own Hunter:Gather:Cook School this year, as well as continuing my passion for Extraordinary Adventures in Ordinary places with the best food I can get my hands on.