Wednesday, 15 June 2005

Day 15, self inflating mattresses and the art of puncture repairs, more alarm clock nonsense, rain.

Last night I bumped into a friend of mine who had lent me his bivi bag (gore-tex sack designed to fit around a sleeping bag and person), it was, I discovered, time to give it back. By this time I had already decided to ditch my self-inflating mattress as it was punctured and I was not going to have time to fix it, the reasoning being that the bivi and sleeping bag combination should do the trick. There was a distinct possibility of rain so it was time to investigate the potential of the poncho shelter. It was dark when I got to the woods so it was clearly imperative not to misplace any tent pegs or bungee cords in the process of erecting the shelter. The best design plan was to build the shelter in a kind of < shape, using some of the poncho as a ground sheet and the rest folded back over as a roof. The trick is to pull the floor corners of the floor tight before attaching the roof to a handy tree; the trick then is to pull the roof tight enough so that it does not sag claustrophobically. There is another trick involved and that is being sure when increasing the tension on the roof to eliminate the sag not to pull too hard and free the floor from the tent pegs. If someone were to do this they would find themselves crawling around in the long grass in the dark looking for tent pegs. Having built the shelter and got into my sleeping bag I discovered that I had chosen the lumpiest patch of ground in Oxfordshire to build my shelter on, I was indeed glad not to have my mattress with me. Fortunately I was so tired that sleep came quickly

I slept very well in fact and awoke to the nagging suspicion that I had overslept, the world was grey, cold and damp; having left my radio alarm at work I had no idea of time and was thus hugely disorientated. The grey sky held a belly full of rain and served to give off an almost eerie light whilst hiding the sun, not being able to see the position of the sun in the sky or be able to compare the amount of light with that of previous days I was left completely in the dark as to the time. I hurriedly packed hoping that I was not late for work already. I got to the bus at 6.37, about quarter of an hour later than usual and just as I boarded the heavens opened. When my colleagues arrived at work to find me already showered, changed and off to get tea there were enthusiastic questions about the rain, ‘get wet did we?’ ‘Coping ok?’ they asked with barely concealed grins.