It would appear Shropshire’s answer to The Flintstones, who took part in a Stone Age TV challenge, did indeed have a “gay old time”.
Naomi and Dan Walmsley, from Coalbrookdale, feature in Channel 4 show Surviving the Stone Age – Adventure to the Wild, and learned a host of new skills while hunting for their supper and fashioning tools, dressed in their trademark buckskins.
The Stone Age aficionados were joined by fellow enthusiasts and survivalists on their quest in rural Bulgaria, a far cry from their semi-detached home in Shropshire. But they enjoyed the challenge.
“It wasn’t a social experiment where they put a group of people together and wait for them to fall apart,” said Naomi. “It was more about the positive side of the group dynamic. We lived as we needed to and depended on each other.”
The couple met and fell in love with one another while working in a hostel in North Wales, and got their first real taste of the Stone Age life when they travelled to the US for a four-month immersion experience with Lynx Vilden. It was Lynx, a highly acclaimed survivalist, who got them involved in the TV show.
“We had done an immersion course with Lynx so she knew about us,” Naomi added.
“We stayed in contact for years and she said she wanted us to be involved.”
In the three-part series, Naomi, 38, and Dan, 41, learned a plethora of new skills, including how to build a boat and spear fish.
Naomi said: “We did learn an awful lot. I had never built a boat before, that was amazing. I’d never tried my hand at spear fishing before and Dan had never really hunted to eat before, even though he’s taught archery and he’s brilliant with a bow and arrow.
“There is something incredibly satisfying about making your own fishing line and hook, and cooking what you’ve caught on a fire that you made. Everything you have is about what you are capable of doing. It depends on whether you can catch and cook the food, whether you can build a shelter and keep out the cold.”
They watched the first instalment of the show with daughter Maggie, nine, though their four-year-old Wren was tucked up in bed.
“It’s incredibly exciting. We are really proud of how beautiful it looks. We were travelling back to the airport thinking we hadn’t seen any of real Bulgaria. But actually, we had. We lived in the wild.”
Naomi and Dan have made a career out of their love of the Stone Age. They run a company called Outback2Basics, and as well as visiting schools to teach youngsters, they invite people to learn bushcraft and other survival techniques.