THE New Year has started and the Explorers of Les Pugh's Own unit were given a challenge to cook a vegetable soup/stew. Where's the challenge in that you ask? Well for starters there were no cookers, pots or pans available.

Instead, supplies of discarded food tins, tin foil dishes, a short length of fencing wire, a short tree branch and some wood sawdust were provided.

Firstly the tins had to have a series of holes drilled around the top edge, and one larger hole punched through the base with the tree branch. Then the sawdust was tightly packed inside the tin around the branch.

Once compacted, the branch was removed and the cooker was placed on raised supports to allow air to flow up the centre. The fencing wire was carefully twisted together to give it some strength then carefully wrapped around the foil tray to act as a handle.

The veg was washed and cut into small pieces, put into the tray and then covered with water and stock cube to give it some flavour.

To light the cooker a piece of paper was placed through the centre hole of the tin and lit, with some careful encouragement - blowing underneath the tin the sawdust caught alight and proceeded to burn in a controlled manner, giving just enough heat to boil the vegetable stew.

This was a successful start to the New Year and bodes well for eventful and challenging activities planned for the year!