Way back when you were almost obliged to have a Lemsip to treat a cold at least once a year. You may have been unlucky to have had influenza. Should you complain you then had stage two flu, otherwise known as man flu. For most of us a global pandemic never crossed our mind, and yet here we are.
Unseen Covid symptons
A strange side effect of the pandemic and the post-lockdown restrictions was the emergence of my mobile kitchen. You may legitimately assume that camping came first and led to the phenomenon. I can assure you it was a pandemic.
On any given trip prior to the event, the route was punctuated with stops at roadside cafes, Starbucks and Costa. But then the world stopped. We were ordered to Stay at Home. Our motorcycles sat immobile in the garage.
As restrictions were slowly lifted post lockdown the businesses we had visited remained closed. At first, I carried a flask and a roadside picnic became the new normal. It was at one such roadside stop when I met up with Paul Oxborough to discuss Mental Health Motorbike. He produced a camping stove and a couple of mugs. There was no forethought to remember to fill a flask. You only needed to carry the stove and some water on the bike on the off chance you might want a brew.
This was the start of the mobile kitchen. It was an obsession that would allow me to fulfil those desires to replicate the dishes in Dirty Dining: An Adventurer’s Cookbook by Lisa Thomas.
It starts with a stove
The first obvious purchase was the stove itself. You’d think that this would be the easy bit, and in a sense it was. I bought a cheap basic stove and a gas canister online and stashed a couple of old mugs from the kitchen cupboard together with some teabags. I bought a bottle of water and a carton of milk. The ritual of boiling some water and creating a hot mug of tea would continue numerous times but there was room for improvement. The cheap stove took far too long to bring the water to a boil.
The answer was a Jetboil MiniMo and is normally the case a more substantial outlay. In this case, though it was worth it. The stove could boil more than enough water for a couple of mugs of tea in around a minute. Disposing of the old burner, the stacking pans now housed the gas canister and my basic utensils.
Metal mugs were bought to replace those I had on loan from home. I increased my repertoire with the addition of a jar of instant coffee. Sachets of sugar were added, not that I take sugar but I felt I was now offering a service. As the miles travelled increased so did the capability of the kitchen. A Jetboil frying pan for bacon, a spork, Jetboil folding utensils, a camp plate, camping salt and pepper, and a folding table. All of this sat inside a pannier liner in the right side pannier which was referred to affectionally as the kitchen.
The essential camp mug
There followed a number of additional items some more curious than others. One essential item was my Stanley Camp Mug. I had solved the problem of a long wait for boiling water but I found the resulting brew was getting cold way too fast. This mug solved the problem. Not only did it feel like it could withstand a nuclear blast its insulating properties meant I could enjoy my cuppa till the end.
Other items were less essential but still worthy of a mention. A washing-up bowl was bought that folded away into a pouch, and a washing line should I need to dry my tea towel. I know I could have just hung it off the bike but it existed so I bought it. I also found a case that I could attach to the top of my pannier that would hold items including a cool bag, fresh items and my box of hobnobs. This was especially handy for longer trips while camping.
More Stanley items
While searching for a mug, I had been exposed to some other items from Stanley and a flask caught my eye. I liked the idea of this for camping evenings especially since I always remember my father carrying a small bottle of whisky on the R100RT, presumably just for medicinal reasons. This was joined by a Stanley shot glass set which I was gifted on fathers day.
Returning to the Jetboil, I was starting to carry a number of partially used canisters. On occasion, I started a new one when I felt a canister may not have enough gas to complete a cook. I saw that Jetboil sold a Jetgauge which essentially weighed the gas and conveniently reported on how much remained. I know that technically you could work this out but this was something I could easily toss in the pannier.
Take only pictures and leave only footprints
Additionally, I saw a small tool from Jetboil called a Crunchit. This essentially punched holes in the empty can so it could be recycled. The benefit of the tool over a hammer and nail is that the tool allowed any remaining gas to be extracted before piercing the metal. Safety conscious and also good for the planet. It was a win win.
I know there will be people reading this who are seasoned campers but to those who are on the journey, I was on or have yet to embark I hope that has given you an insight into what I found were the essential items.