Tuesday, 7 June 2005

Day 7; water, food, people

Bought a few ingredients and water before catching the bus, the journey passed quickly enough as I was engrossed in reading and drinking all the water.

There was still a couple of hours of daylight left when I reached my spot for the night; under a tree by the river, a perfect spot. I got my petrol stove out in order to make some tea before cooking, after a minor fireball which I survived with eyebrows in tact, I’m getting used to the thing now, I went to boil some water. It was here that things started to go wrong, not that I realised it at the time. I could choose between using river water and walking back to the nearest shop. In the spirit of this living outside thing I decided to go for the later. I then had three further options; use water purifying tablets; use a top of the range Ray Mears approved water filtering system or boiling the water, naturally I opted for boiling the water – traditional is best.

I boiled the water and made tea which I drank as I made a Tuscan Bean Stew with Rice, not that I’m sure any Tuscan would have recognised it as such but it was rather nice. It was turning into a rather pleasant evening sitting by the river listening to radio 4 and watching nature, it felt as though this was possibly the very pinnacle of civilised behaviour. Still, there were chores to do and I was washing up when some one appeared behind me, well I say appeared, it was more that he walked out of the bushes, I had a brief chat with him and then went about making more tea as he went on his way. I started to feel distinctly odd but carried on making my tea anyway. I could make the guy out about one hundred meters away just hovering about. I decided to keep an eye on him but was more concerned with making tea and the increasing feeling of sickness. I must have taken my eye off him for a bit as before I knew it he was twenty meters from me with something white over the lower part of his face as he walked closer to me I could make out that it was a bag, great, a thirty year old glue sniffer, that’s all I need. I lay back and put my feet up as he walked passed me. Then he stopped about five meters past me. Distinctly dodgy I thought and decided that he was trying to get up the courage to rob me. I lay there sipping my tea and fighting the by now almost irresistible urge to vomit. After a couple of minutes he walked off again back to the other end of the field.

Whatever his intentions were I was not going to be able to sleep with some shady character floating about the place, I was not really up for getting jumped in my sleep, so I decided to move. Not ideal as I had been considering going to sleep about this time, after all I was getting up at five. I was about half way through packing and it was getting quite dark when a huge wave of nausea hit me and forced me to run off to the nearest ditch to be sick. This was not what I needed right now, I knew if the guy came back he would not be able to make it very far with my entire pack but he could grab a couple of things whilst I was incapacitated. After a couple of minutes of being more ill than I have been since the “I have a strong stomach I can drink the tap water” incident in India I looked up to see laughing boy over by my stuff again. Fantastic. It took all my concentration to stop being sick and get back over to my stuff, when I got there he was hanging about a couple of meters from it but nothing had been touched, what was with him? As I finished packing I heard a motorbike drawing close and stopping at the exit to the field, he’s called his mates I thought; that’s what he was doing down at the other end of the field. As I packed a movement from laughing boy catches my eye, did he just try to punch me? If he did he missed by a good four feet, he takes a step towards me but I’m still unclear if his intentions are aggressive or not. “You alright mate?” I asked figuring that if he is about to kick off this will force his hand.
“hbwmpf” he replies and slowly realisation dawns on me.
“You been sniffing glue?” I asked.
“blunmwk amndnbe” came the reply. He was not about to attack any one, he probably was not even aware that he exited.
“hfad” he announces illustrating the point with an expansive arm gesture, so that’s what I thought had been his attempted punch.
The motorbike starts again, the rider guns the engine and it is gone; just some kids out for a burn up. Realising that I will not get much sleep with laughing boy staggering about the place and by now buzzing with adrenalin from the perceived near fight I decided to relocate anyway. Picking up my pack I check the time 10.22 and wander off. I say goodbye to laughing boy and he raises both hands above his head and gives me the big thumbs up before going back to his glue.

It takes an hour to walk to my alternative camp site; most of the journey is filled with concentrating, not always successfully, on not being violently ill. As I unpack my bed into a patch of nettles I remembered getting bitten by the mosquito that made my head swell up the last time I was here. It took about an hour to get too sleep as I had to get up and be sick some more.

Getting up at five after a blissful night’s sleep which was initially only disturbed by the mosquitoes but was later interrupted by the cold I walked the mile to the bus stop just in time to miss the bus. I caught the next one intending to read more of my book but sleep takes me over. I get to London in time to have a relaxed shower, change and breakfast before work.

Last night I learned that when sterilising water it is important to let it boil for a while rather than just bring it to the boil.