This summer as a couple of fun projects with my kids, we made a down and dirty camping fire and a sail tent, that we aimed to have made for a mountain biking festival in the New Forest at the end of August.
First we made the camping fire, a little barbecue that after burning the sausages on can be used as an open fire for toasting marshmellows and giving a little warmth to our inclement summer camping evenings, without leaving a burn hole in the grass.
Made from an old galvanised can with a conical top and brass screw closer, it dates back to my Grandfathers time when his building company had paraffin plumbers blow torches. It had been kicking around for years and passed down to me. As I have embraced reusing objects it seemed the best second life for the can.
Down and dirty, chopped the top cone off with an angle grinder, took out the screw closer and pop the cone upside down on the remaining can. Threaded some re-bar through a square of thin metal grid for the food to sit on. Built a fire and enjoyed.
The sail tent was nearly as easy to make. My father-in-law gave us an old blown out sail that we folded into a bivvy tent, a classic apex tent shape with the sail tucking around to form the ground sheet. Two re-bar fence stakes hammered into the ground make for easy poles and cut off stakes make solid pegs. Some spliced braided yacht ropes [tutorials on YouTube] made wind proof guys. A still in use roller paint extendable handle made a great central post and extended higher for when the side is open for day time shade. Off cuts of the sail made end doors tied in place with tale-tails.
Did we get wet on the wet and windy bank holiday festival? Only a little and far less than some other 'proper' tents. The great thing about it is the low expectations, its single skin and sailcloth saturates when wet and its a little airy. It brings you closer to the great outdoors as bivving does whilst keeping the worst of the weather off, it far exceeded my expectations and there was no other tent like it at the festival.
There is a simplicity and robustness in the sail tent that I really like and it may evolve into another pricklysauce product, though if you have an old sail lying around and some old re-bar stakes in the garage then give it go. Its definitely worth it.