So what happens when Jeep invite you to Brighton for a day out in the woods? My 11 year old son thought I’d be scrambling up and down muddy valleys, like some sort of off road rally. I would have been up for a rally, but instead we climbed in to a Jeep Compass and headed for the woods with Hunter Gather Cook, who hosted us for a day of foraging, fire making and cooking. What could be better?
I had the pleasure of joining the assembled You Tubers, Instagrammers and Jeep staff for dinner at the hotel. Lucky for me I was sat next to the designer of the new Jeep Compass, the car we were all here to see. I say lucky, because Car Designer, was one of those jobs I always listed as a potential career when I was a kid.
Like most creatives, designers lead interesting lives, and Scott was full of stories about his career and happy to talk about all things design. Shortly after joining Jeep, he and his new co-workers took a trip up the east coast of America in hardcore Jeep Wranglers. Overlanding their way off road to remote Canada, carrying supplies and aiming to be as self sufficient as possible. At the start of the trip they melted aluminium beer cans in a steel bean can on the fire. They formed a shape in the wet sand, and cast the molten metal in to a tow hook. Dubbed, the Hook of Shame, and only to be used if someone got their Wrangler stuck. Its a great story that is one part stag-do and one part MacGyver – but I think it tells something of how engrossed designers can get in the process of designing.
Nick from Hunter Gather Cook and his team have an enviable setup in an idyllic woodland, within the sprawling grounds of a traditional Surrey farmhouse. A tree house that can easily seat 20, and wood-fired cooking facilities to cater excellent quality food. If its local, they’ll forage it, or butcher it, but either way they’ll be cooking it over open fire.
Late November is not the best time for finding mushrooms, though we did find some great Blewit’s. We also picked Three Cornered Leek, Sorrel and tasted various other seeds and leaves. At lunch time we cooked slices of marinated meats and preserved vegetables on table top charcoal grills.
Over lunch, talk returned to the subject of the Jeep Compass. The Compass felt easily as comfortable and usable as our own car – though the giant LCD touchscreen and heated seats were both options I wish our car had. Like all crossover cars, you get a great view of the road, but with 4×4, the Jeep Compass has extra capability. In my fantasy life, where I have a bolt hole cabin at the top of a steep rugged ridge in mid Wales – this Compass could be my ideal everyday car. Driving from home in the City out to the wilds, this car would take it all in its stride – capable in both urban and wild environments.
The 4 wheel drive Jeep Compass was nimble and practical around town, and transitioned to wet muddy fields without blinking. I was itching to take it further off road, but Jeep only had 5 vehicles in the country, and they didn’t want me leaving paint and body panels in the woods.
During the morning, Nick showed us that trick of lighting a fire using a tiny ember and a bundle of dry twigs or grass. King Alfred’s cake is a fungus that grows on dead Ash trees. The inside of the fungus can catch a spark from something like a fire steel, and can be teased in to a flame by trapping it in a bundle of dry kindling and blowing. Its a bit tricky, but with persistence you’ll soon be building a really satisfying fire.
Nick told us how only B the dog was allowed to appear in the Truffle hunting episode of Made in Chelsea, for fear that Nick’s appearance might confuse the audience.
If I could add something to my Christmas list this year it would be a Jeep Compass and B the truffle hunting dog. Do you think Father Christmas could manage that?
Collaboration Note: Thank you for Jeep Compass for inviting us to this event for the purpose of this review. All words, thoughts and images are by Dan Taylor. Thank you for supporting the posts that make this blog possible.