Incorporating the Simple Living Review, the Preparedness & Self-Reliance Review, as well as the Outdoor & Survival Review

The Storm Kettle – Product Review

Originally, the Storm Kettle was handmade in Ireland - often by travellers who produced them in copper - for fishermen, itinerant workers and tourists. John Grindlay, who with his wife owns and runs the Eydon Kettle Company, modified the design and implemented modern manufacturing techniques in the early 1960’s.

John Grindlay borrowed an original copper kettle and took it to England during the winter. Tooling was manufactured and the first 10 kettles eventually produced. These were very quickly sold for £10 each in 1979, the assembly work being carried out by Mr Grindlay’s children who were then 8 years and 10 years old. Popular demand meant that production had to increase. Since 1979 the numbers sold have substantially increased each year.

Mainly these Kettles, whether sold in the UK, Germany, or elsewhere, are used by sportsmen, holiday makers, expedition organisers and outdoor enthusiasts. They have even accompanied the explorer John Blashford-Snell, while he was searching for signs of early civilisations on a trip to Central America.

Nowadays they can be found in the Solomon Isles helping remote islanders boil water to purify it, in remote parts of Southern Africa, where dried cattle dung is used by the Zulus as fuel, or in the Sahara Desert on expeditions.

I am always amazed though that they never seem to have found a take up by the still travelling Romani in the UK and elsewhere. The Storm Kettle does away with the need for a fire for just the purpose of brewing a cup of tea or coffee or even for the making of some other hot beverage.

Using a Storm Kettle means you can boil water easily, in the wettest and windiest of weather, both rapidly and safely. They are also environmentally friendly as you only need a sheet of newspaper and a handful of twigs as fuel. So the simplicity of the Kettle ensures that boiling water is always available, without the need to use gas, petrol or any other artificial fuel.

Storm Kettles come in two sizes, the Original and the Popular. The Original will boil up to 2.5 pints (approx. 1.5 litres) the Popular up to 2 pints (approx. one litre) – that should ensure more than enough hot water is available for you within minutes - at any time.

The water boils rather quickly and can be kept going by just adding further small sticks into the fire that is going in the burner beneath the kettle via the “chimney”.

One word of warning even though it is mentioned more than once in the literature and also on a sticker on the kettle itself: NEVER EVER use it with the cork in place. While the cork is very handy for carrying the kettle with water in it when heating the water the cork must be taken out of the spout.

The Storm Kettle & the cook set that nowadays is available for it is the ideal kit for forestry workers, countryside conservators, and other such like, such as Parks & Countryside Ranger, especially those working on maintenance tasks away from the main base.

While the Storm Kettle and accessories do not come cheap I can but recommend them.

The Prices for the kettles are: £43.00 for the Popular and £44.50 for the Original. Prices include V.A.T. and carriage.

Reviewed by Michael Smith (Veshengro), February 2008

The BoGo Light – Product Review

The BoGo Light is a concept that brings light into the darkness, and here especially in the developing world, but not only there, as the BoGo Light is also great as an emergency light source.

I received the review sample of the cute orange BoGo Light in the beginning of February 2008 and due to the lack of sunlight in our areas at this time of the year to fully charge the light is a slight problems as, theoretically, it requires a full day of sunlight to fully charge the replaceable rechargeable batteries (three at, what I would assume to be, 1.2VDC each). Otherwise, however, the light is brilliant, literally, and this pun was, also, by the way, intended.

The first thing that I was taken with was the fact that when opening the battery compartment to install the three supplied Ni-cads that there was a proper waterproof seal present that stayed in place and resealed the compartment once the cover was screwed on again. Having had some bad experience with a cycle light that took water during rain and then having pointed out that the instructions state that the light must not become exposed to rain and wet it is rather refreshing to see those seal in this flashlight. Then again, we must not forget that Mark Bent, the CEO of SunNight Solar is a former Marine and we military guys know how things need to be in such cases.
While the BoGo Light may, primarily, be intended for Third World countries, oops, sorry, countries of the Developing World, this light would equally be useful and helpful for the Romani People who live in similar situations to those poor in Africa and India, and other such places, e.g. with no means of light other than candles, kerosene lanterns, or battery powered flashlights and, maybe, just maybe, a gasoline-powered generator. The latter is, however, often only an option for those that have a little more money. Personally, as a Rom myself, I would love to have the BoGo Light available for Romani NGOs to distribute to those of the community that could make good use of them.

In addition to this the BoGo Light is the ideal for general preparedness and for survival situations, whether floods, hurricanes, ice storms, or what-have-you. Even in the event of a “normal” power outage such a light would come in extremely handy. The light can sit, until it is needed, quietly, on the windowsill soaking up daylight and is therefore always charged and ready to go as and when needed for a number of hours without, like with wind-up lights, having to crank a handle every thirty minutes or so for around a minute. By no means am I trying to diminish the idea and invention and concept of the wind-up/dynamo charged lights, far from it; I am just stating a fact while making an observation. They equally have their place in this world as does the BoGo Light.

The term BoGo stands for Buy one – Give one, and it is this principle upon which the light is being sold. You buy one for US$ 25 plus shipping from SunNight Solar in Texas – only via their website – and another one will be sent to the charity of your choice in Africa or to US troops serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Having now had the unit here for a couple of days, and, having allowed it to get charged on the windowsill in our dull winter daylight plus from electric light in the evening at home I have been able to give it a little try and am very favorably impressed. The six LEDs are extremely bright and the light, with even the low powered charge that the Bogo Light could obtain from this very dull daylight around here, lasts for a number of hours. It would, I assume, require the real amount of sun hours to obtain the six hours or so of light from the BoGo Light.

All in all I can but recommend this light to anyone, and I mean anyone, however, those that are preparing for the eventuality of an emergency of whatever kind and for homesteaders and such the BoGo Light is a light that should be on the shopping list as a stand-by for the as and when or even for general daily use.

The BoGo Light is a scientific, eco-friendly breakthrough that is making an impact worldwide. From Cairo to Cape Town, from the Caribbean to the Amazon, it is improving the lives of individuals, families, and entire villages by replacing costly kerosene, candles, and disposable battery flashlights with an affordable, long lasting, solar flashlight. BoGo means Buy one, Give one. Mark Bent and SunNight Solar Ltd want their lights to benefit the less fortunate; therefore, with each light purchased in the developed world, a second identical light will be donated to an organization that will distribute it in the developing world with the company's direct financial support. Give the Gift of Light, and Help Change the World!

So, go to the website and buy one and donate one to a worthy cause, whether this is for some of the poor in the developing world (and maybe we could even get a Romani NGO equipped some day with those) or for the US troops serving abroad in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Erm, and, erm yes, before anyone suggests it I must admit, I have fallen in love with the BoGo Light.

Some more information as to the history and such of the BoGo Light shall also follow soon.

Reviewed by Michael Smith (Veshengro), February 2008

Rainwater Harvesting in the USA

You would think that you can, without any problem, harvest the water that falls on your roof or land, wouldn't you?

Well, apparently in some federal states of the United States of America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, you cannot do such a thing and it is actually a crime.

Ever collected rainwater in a bucket to water the garden? There's a law about that in Colorado and, technically, it says you can't. Now a state senator from Denver wants to allow homeowners to collect water that drains off up roofs up to 3,000 square feet so ranchers and farmers could use it to water livestock and metro area residents could use it to water their lawns and gardens.

Democratic Sen. Chris Romer said the bill, which had its first hearing Thursday, could also be used to fight fires and eliminate the need for more dams and reservoirs by providing "microstorage" of water across the state. However, water interests, including Denver Water, are concerned about the proposal, and Romer asked members of the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources & Energy Committee for another week to make some changes before voting on the bill.

I must say that I have never ever heard anything that stupid in my entire life. Oh, well, maybe some similarly stupid things have been heard and read but this is daft in the extreme.

"We shouldn't let 100 years of tradition and law avoid the common sense solution," said Romer, who wants to install a cistern at the house he's building in Denver.

Colorado's water law doesn't specifically talk about buckets or cisterns, but the principle of prior appropriation applies. That means water, including whatever falls from the sky and off your roof, must be allowed to flow downstream to those who have a legal right to use it. So, that means, someone “downstream” from me has more right to the water than do I on whose roof or land the water, in the form of precipitation, whether rain or snow, falls. What about my right as the owner of the property? Excuse me, but this is not just stupid and insane, this is not right – period – regardless of what the law and other such “ordinances” say.

"When it's in the sky it's fine. But as soon it hits the ground, or on the way to the ground, that's where it kind of changes a little," said Doug Kemper, executive director of the Colorado Water Congress. Sorry, I may be a little dense here but how does it change, precisely, Mr. Kemper?

It is time the State of Colorado and its legislators woke up to the fact that (1) the water comes from the sky and is free and you cannot put a price or a law on it and (2) that we must make use of all water that comes our way, rainwater – which could easily be used to flush toilets, graywater – as long as it is gray water and not black water, for watering gardens and lawns (gray water can, if properly collected be also used to flush the toilets), etc. to conserve the scarce resource of water in many places of the USA and elsewhere and even if we do not have a scarcity, as has been the case in the last summer and this winter – so far – in the UK we still should and must harvest rainwater and work on gray water systems.

© Michael Smith (Veshengro), February 2008

Buying from Thrift Store and Charity Shop

Too many people think that they
HAVE TO HAVE this or that new.


Charity Shops, for instance, does not always mean that the things are post-consumer, that is to say that they have been used before. Many items that I have bought there for very little money were brand-new with their tags still in place. It is also now, it would seem, once again, becoming fashionable to buy at the likes of Oxfam and other Charity Shops, very much like it was in the late 70's, when it was also fashionable to wear military surplus and buy used – advertise as such – at the American store “Flip Clothing” in London.

However, I'd rather go to a store that is run for a good cause (yes, some of the money ends up in overheads, and I know that the goods are donated to the stores) than to go to the likes of “Flip” (don't even know whether they still exist). At least some of my money that I pay for the good that I buy goes to a good cause, unlike at the commercial secondhand stores.

I must say that I spend a lot of time and also money – but then it does go to a good cause – in such Charity Shops, especially as I do not have a TV and in order to relax I read. This is where Charity Shops come into their own with their books section and I have even found some books there being signed first editions and others that I had wanted to obtain for review for one or the other magazine I edit, such as one particular one about the Gypsies in the South of France. I paid less for it – well, near enough – then probably the postage would have been to send a letter to the publisher to ask for a copy for review. I must admit I am awful with books, I buy them by the ton, but then again this way the go to a good home – mine – where they will be read and often used further as reference, instead of ending up in a landfill site. Because, let's face it, not enough people even think of passing their read book on to another outlet so they can be read again (and again) by someone.

As far as clothes are concerned the only thing I do not purchase are Charity Shops is underwear and socks. I even buy footwear there most of the time but then ensuring that it is little or not worn, and often real bargains can be had.

Only the other day I bought a pair of lovely “Transport-brand” boots for £5 the pair and they are nearly new. If they have been worn then by a security officer, the are a patrol-kind boot, indoors.

The Simple Living Review would like to encourage people instead of buying new all the time to actually buy their clothes (and other items) used, often they are even new or as new, at Charity Shops, such as Oxfam, Save the Children, Cancer Research, for, while you are getting a bargain you are supporting a good cause. Our advice here goes even further then that is to use, ideally, more so even those Charity Shops that support local causes, such as in the North-East Surrey area where we are based, the St Raphael's Hospice Shops and those of the Children's Trust. Think local!

While there certainly are worthy causes in the Charity Shop realm – all of them in the main – it would be much better if we would support our local charities and their shops before we would the big national and even international ones. Think local!

© Michael Smith (Veshengro), January 2008

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