Monday, 31 October 2005

Please do not read this sentance


What ho!

You may recall my being challenged to make a spoon and then create some cordage from nettles. The spoon is coming on in leaps and bounds; sure it takes a little imagination to actually see it as a spoon but its getting there. I guess you could say it is a spoon of unconventional appearance. Now I just need to figure out how to carve out the bowly bit at the business end. I have some bees wax to finish it off so it should hopefully look quite nice in the end.

The problem I was facing with the nettle cordage is that the nettles once picked need to be soaked overnight in water. The problem was that I had neither spare water (all water had to be carried in) nor a container. Well I now have an empty 5 litre water bottle and I will use it catch water that runs off the roof of my gore tex sheet - then I have the joyful task of picking nettles without gloves (why did I say I would do that?).

I was also challenged to make a bowl – sounds tricky to me. So far I have got absolutely no where with this one.

I am planning to make a natural filter with which to filter rainwater and make it drinkable. I do have a pump with a filter that I bought but I think that making something of my own would be great. There is plenty of chalk about and I’m fairly sure I can make charcoal – I remember reading how to do in Swallows and Amazons when I was little – I think these two things are fairly central to a filter. Thanks to the BCUK website for coming up with that idea.

I'll huff and I'll puff

Other stuff.

I went to a party on Friday night at a friends house, well it was at a house and my friend lives at the bottom of the garden (I don’t think he’s a fairy) in a house made of straw bales. If you saw the Grand Designs program about the house in the woods you should have some idea of what it is like. My friend’s home (which he rents) is a much smaller affair but it is absolutely brilliant. The best bit is that he has agreed to write a bit about it on this Blog. I have not seen him for years and don’t have his phone number or email address so don’t hold your breath – but it will happen.

It’s Hammock Time (can’t touch this)

It stopped raining about an hour before dark on Sunday so I went for bit of a walk, I was going to go for a whole walk but I got distracted by the sunset which was amazing so I went to stare at that from the top of a hill rather than getting stuck into a big stomp through the woods like I had intended. It really was a magnificent, like a drop of crimson paint in a jar of light blue water spreading out in all directions. I have been working in the art world for a bit over a year now with the result that I can’t help but see a sunset or sunrise without comparing it to artwork. There have even been a couple of occasions when I have been I have been watching a sunrise and I have caught myself thinking, ‘that’s amazing, however did they capture the light?’. It was getting dark so abandoning the walk I went back to make some food.

Oh the delights of camp cooking. I had the choice of just add water pasta with cheese and broccoli or noodles, I plumped for both. I do really like the pasta thing but visions of roast dinners did come to mind as I crouched beneath my tarp. I did have a minor success in the self sufficiency stakes; I managed to collect rainwater by angling the tarp in such a way that I could catch rainwater running off it in a billy can. I figured that seeing as I needed to cook the pasta for 8 minutes any bugs in it would be killed in the cooking process, so I poured the water into the jet boil by candle light and put it on to boil. I think it would be nice to do something other than sit on the floor or on my sleeping bag for a change. It’s Sunday after all and I think it’s about time to introduce some civilisation into the proceedings. It’s stopped raining so I decide to tie the hammock to an overhanging branch in such a way as I could use it as a chair. The first thing to do of course is to tie it to the branch. So I scramble up the tree with the hammock stuck up my jumper. The best way to get from the branch I’m on to the branch I want to be on is to jump and land on the second branch on my stomach, but this is not going to be possible with a hammock stuck up my jumper. So the hammock gets held between my teeth for the jump, it’s not a big jump but being off the ground the gap seems enormous. I have to steel my nerves to make the jump then go. I’m rather pleased to make the branch without falling off and breaking my ankle but rather less impressed to find myself lying across a soaking wet branch that is covered in a thick layer of slime, not only is it slippery but it’s filthy also, clouds of steam are billowing through the candle light time to rush, all that energy being wasted. Somehow whilst lying across the branch with the hammock still between my teeth I manage to get my coat off me and onto the branch thus giving me a clean dry place to sit. The hammock is tied in place with no dramas and I even remember to tie quick release knots so I don’t have to climb back up later on.

The plan before I climbed the tree was to jump back down the view from in the tree was a lot different than it had been from the ground. It was dark and I could not see the ground very well, besides there was now a hammock in the way, it didn’t strike me as the best thing in the world to be jumping onto. I moved along the branch a bit, getting my trousers filthy along the way as I got closer to the trunk. Now there was a branch beneath me, it was not a big branch so would not hurt me if I landed on it but it was covered in leaves so I could not see the ground at all. From what I remembered the hill is fairly steep at that point and for some reason jumping on to the side of the hill without being able to see the ground did not appeal to me. I stood on the branch told myself I was going to jump and watched with detached amazement as my legs stayed exactly where they where. Three times I tried to jump in total and three times I stayed where I was, I began to feel more and more like a cat stuck in a tree. Another cloud of steam blew past. I ended up dangling from the branch at arms length, my legs being lost to view in the darkness beneath the leaves. Figuring I could always hop to the nearest house if I broke my leg I closed my eyes and let go. The sensation of falling was incredibly brief, seeing as I was only about an inch from the ground when I let go I guess this is not surprising, there was a palpable sense of relief and I rushed to put the pasta in the water before it all boiled off or I ran out of water.

The best course of action whilst waiting for the pasta to cook seemed obvious, sit in the hammock chair. A good idea but not really practical when the hammock is only a few inches from the ground, that branch certainly did seem higher up when I was in it. So I undo the quick release knots and there I am at square one again; on the ground holding the hammock, OK now I’m covered in gunk so something had changed. I still obviously want to have the seat, this time I choose to throw the rope over the branch rather than climb the tree. This works a treat and I’m soon enjoying the luxury of sitting in a rather comfortable seat and listening to the radio as the pasta cooks. Life is good.

A splash of Encona Hot Sauce livens up the pasta and I sit swinging whilst I eat feeling as though life is about as good as it gets. For some reason I get lulled into a false sense of security by the fact that the hammock is pretty comfortable as seat. I decided that it would make a nice change to sleep in it. Bit softer than the ground I thought – there’s that Ditch Monkey deductive reasoning again, on a roll I go again with the reasoning; red sky at night shepherd’s delight therefore it isn’t going to rain. So there is no need to put the hammock’s waterproof sheet up over the hammock. Excellent, the only place in the area that I could tie the hammock up would preclude the possibility of tying the sheet on anyway. Soon enough the hammock is in place and I realise that if it does start to rain I can always go and take shelter under the tarp under which I usually sleep and which is already up.

After spending the usual five minutes trying to wriggle into the sleeping bag whist in the hammock and getting rather annoyed with the whole procedure I am finally comfortable then I realise that my alarm clock is in my rucksack. Ten minutes later I’m back in bed and comfortable although a little out of breath from all the effort of getting into bed. I wake numerous times in the night, sometimes because it is so cold sleeping in the hammock and other times because I’m uncomfortable. For some reason lying in the hammock for any period of time leaves me feeling as though I have dislocated my hip. Every time I need to roll over I need to wake up as the process of rolling over is more than a little tricky if it is to be done without wrapping the sleeping bag around my neck and cutting off the blood to my brain. After a night of not sleeping very much I was woken up by rain on my face. Where is that Shepherd now, he won’t be so delighted when I get my hands on him. I manage to get out of the hammock whilst still in the sleeping bag and start hopping to the shelter with both legs still in the sleeping bag. Then I have to go back and take the hammock down (still in the sleeping bag) I’m very pleased to have used quick release knots. Finally I get to crash out on the forest floor beneath my gore tex sheet. Comfortable at last. Ten minutes later.

Saturday, 29 October 2005



I feel guilty about taking this flight; what about the carbon emissions? It's generally agreed that carbon emissions cause global warming and here is me jetting off in a massive great lump of metal burning huge amounts of fuel in the process, some might argue that this flies in the face of raising money for the Woodland Trust. There is however a solution BA, who I am flying with, can work out how many trees need to be planted to neutralise the carbon and can plant that many trees for me if I give them some money. I will investigate this and let you know, I could be wrong.

Hopefully I will be able to go to the Caribbean and not cause any harm thus having my cake and eating it. The only problem is that I would rather spend the money on Rum and hiring Windsurf kit - stupid conscience.

I had a meeting at 7.45 this morning in London so had to stay in town last night, I had to turn the heating off opened the window before I could even be in my room it was so warm. Even so I still could not sleep for ages. I don't know how you all manage to sleep in houses (those of you who do that is), it's hard work.

Friday, 28 October 2005

A Tree is for Life

A couple of Bruce’s lower leaves have started to die off it seems even this hardy soul is accepting the oncoming winter and is starting to prepare for it. His first winter, how will he survive? It’s a worrying time. I have to say that Bruce is turning out to be the perfect pet, he is independent, requires very little attention and he is always there to greet me. Not once has he run off and dug up the neighbour’s garden or attacked the vicar. These got me to thinking, why not write a little bit on the old blog and try to encourage others to adopt / plant trees, they are the perfect low maintenance pet. Best of all at this time of year tree ownership can be had for free! Better still you don’t even need a garden.

Step one Go out and gather seeds of the sort of tree you want as a pet
For a Conker tree collect Conkers – leave the green spiky bit on.
For an Acorn tree collect Acorns.

Step two Find somewhere to plant them, such as :-
Your garden.
Your neighbours garden late at night
In the park
Jam jar / bucket / flowerpot filled with dirt and left outside.

Step three Plant them – be sure and plant a few to better the chances of something growing.

Step four Wait

Step five Wait

Step six Wait

Step seven SPRING! Tree grows – life time friend, happy days.

It strikes me that if you don’t have a garden or anywhere out side to grow your own tree you could always do it inside as the size a tree will grow to depends on the amount of earth it has to grow roots in. It could be pretty cool to have a twenty year old three foot tall oak tree in the corner of the room.



I have some photos, I have got them on to a Kodak account on the web. Does anyone know how to get them from there on to the blog? I need to get them a URL address.


I have not used aftershave since I moved to the woods, it isn't a necessity and so wasn't going to be carried around with me. Anyway, this morning I found my aftershave in my desk draw so thought I would wack some on. GRIM! Stupid cloying sickly stench is following me about. Sure it's more socially acceptable a smell than that of my coat (mildew) rucksack (feted yoghurt, damp and miscellaneous food spills) or even sleeping bag (bit like football kit left for a week in a plastic bag) but it still seems horrible. I guess I'm much more used to the smells of the woods - trees, fresh air, autumn leaves and all that kind of thing. Sticky sickly chemical spray on nonsense just seems pretty horrible now.

My sleeping bag has been washed so it smells good again now so that's not a problem. The rucksack might smell bad but it does serve to clear me a bit of space on the tube. I will attempt to wash the mildew off my coat my by leaving it out in the rain - genius.

Thursday, 27 October 2005

Fun and games

The plan was to get up early and get into work early so I could have a relaxed morning and a good long shower. I’m getting a bit fed up with always being in a rush. I woke early as intended and was pleased to discover that I was not drenched; I quickly concluded that this was because it had not rained in the night, another piece of stunning bit of deductive reasoning from yours truly. It was dark, really dark, about as dark as Quintin Tarantino’s pyjamas which isn’t that dark but certainly shadowy. Seeing as it was dark I played a game of find the trousers for about ten minutes, this was a good game. Black jeans, normally they would be in my pack or being used as a pillow – today no where to be seen, actually I couldn’t see anything so it would be a better description to say no where to be felt whilst scrabbling about in the undergrowth. This was becoming an issue. All my other trousers were in the wash, my money and bus ticket were in the jeans pocket. Maybe a badger had dragged my jeans off to use in its set. I had visions of my having to find a way to London penniless and naked from the waist down. Which reminds me, I’m going to be a best man in July. Eventually I decided that the best way to find the jeans was to stop looking for them and carry on as usual until they turned up, it worked! I had to run to make it to the bus that I wanted to catch but got there just in time. I was hot and out of breath from the run but at least there would be plenty of time for a long shower when I got to work. There was a crash on the M40 so we were forced to make a diversion, time ticked by. By the time I had got to London, dropped my sleeping bag (drenched from Monday night and beginning to smell really bad) at the laundry and then got to work it was 9am. There was a small sense of humour failure and a bit of muttering under the breath. Fortunately it wasn’t busy so I had a shower anyway claiming it was part of my lunch break.

Go figure

Over the past few days I have been accused of being a ‘New Puritan’, if there is one thing that I dislike more than being categorised it is being categorised as being something I have never heard of. I did a bit of research to find out what a ‘New Puritan’ is and have spent the last day formulating a response.

On Thursday afternoon next week I am going to go to the airport (hopefully the right one this time), from there I am going to fly to Barbados, once there I am going to go surfing, get drunk, chase girls, dance like an idiot, eat too much, hire a motorbike, drink cocktails in a Hammock (I believe this is the proper use for a Hammock) and generally have a really good time. On Sunday I’m going to go to the airport in Barbados, stock up on duty frees and then fly back in time for work on Monday morning.

Wednesday, 26 October 2005

Jeremy Clarkson

Last night it didn't rain, the bivi bag worked fine.

Before I went to bed I had a take away curry in Oxford and whilst I was waiting to be served I read one of the two papers left out for the entertainment of the customers; the one I picked up was a couple of weeks old and had a story in it about Jeremy Clarkson. Apparently he was awarded an honouree degree by Oxford Brookes University and after the ceremony some environmentalist student threw a custard pie in his face. What confused me was the paper was carrying on as though this was some kind of insult to Mr Clarkson. I was fortunate enough to study at Oxford, jolly good fun it was too. Oxford is a place like no other a city of 'dreaming spires', a place steeped in traditions; some silly, some purposeful. Anyone who has witnessed the after exam celebrations in Oxford will have been made aware of one of the better traditions which is to douse any friend who has just finished exams in all manner of food stuffs. Oxford, come mid June is awash with students covered in Champagne, flour, eggs, treacle, feather (on one occasion an entire bucket of fish entrails) and who knows what else. What then is the big hoo ha about J.C. getting one custard pie in the face? It’s just a sign of respect round Oxford way.

Tuesday, 25 October 2005

it's raining it's pouring


Woke up early and thought that I would go for a bit of a walk and have an explore of the local area. Got a bit carried away.


Woke up in the woods walked into the closest habitation to find out where I was. As far as I know I have never been to Hertfordshire before; very pretty it is too.

I got back to Chez Monkey quite late in the day and realised that I had a lot to sort out and not a lot of light left to do it in. I decide to light a fire and empty my pockets of assorted bits of dry kindling I have found on my walk and soon get a blaze going. Well I soon get a lot of smoke going as everything is wet and it takes about an hour before the fire is burning hot enough not to be smoking anymore. I have a Swedish Army mess tin and I dangle this from a stick across the fire and start to make a stew, there is nothing like a stew on an autumn day after a long walk. The problem I quickly realise is that I don’t have a suitable implement to stir it with so I have to quickly fashion a stirrer from a piece of Yew. Then I have to turn my attentions to the challenges I have been set, make some cordage out of nettles and carve a spoon.

Part of the process of making cord from nettles is soaking them in water for a day, by Sunday afternoon I only had two litres of water left and no suitable container for soaking nettles in. On to the spoon carving then, I had found a suitable piece of wood on my walk and started to whittle it as I sat by the fire. I will show it to Yolanda on Friday and get her to write an assessment of my progress – if she is amenable that is – I am sure she will be suitably scathing of my efforts.

The stew was great; I was going to eat a few Rose Hip seeds afterwards as they are full of vitamin C. They are also fiddly and tasteless so I had a Mars Bar instead. I might make some Rose Hip Syrup next weekend.


I mentioned the other day that I had bought a bivi bag, I did not read the instructions as in my experience they are fairly straight forward to use. For those of you who don’t know the principal of a bivi bag goes like this; put sleeping bag in bivi bag, put self in bivi bag, stay dry. Simple. I should have gone to an army surplus store and bought one there rather than go to a shop and buy one, quite frankly it is the worst bit of kit I have ever bought and unfortunately I lost the receipt so now I’m £75 down. It works fine in the dry; it works ok in a light shower. On Monday I thought I would give it a proper test run and not put the tarp up over me and find out how well the thing works in a proper down pour. It would, I imagined be brilliant, you see unlike traditional bivi bags which are no more than glorified sacks this one has been redesigned and is all funky and looks great in the shop. It only comes up to neck height on the top but it has a hood that you can pull down over your head and zip across the neck fantastic, completely enclosed in Gore Tex! Oh no wait a minute, it’s nylon! Why would anyone make a bivi bag out of nylon rather than Gore Tex? Gore Tex is breathable whereas nylon, well nylon just isn’t breathable. I foresaw a problem with condensation, what I did not realise was that there are two settings for this bivi bad in a heavy down pour; suffocated or drowned.

The rain came down so I diligently, and perhaps a little smugly, pulled the hood over and zipped it in place a few minutes later I found myself short of breath so opened the zip to let some air in, having let plenty of air and water in I zipped it back up to try again. Sure enough short of breath again. Whoever designed the bivi bag had neglected to put in sufficient breathing holes! This is, if you think about it, a very serious error. Most people carry their bivi bag for emergency use only and really you don’t want to be in the middle of an emergency and then be finding out about kit defects. Two scenarios spring to mind.


An unconscious person is put into a bivi bag to keep them warm and dry and the zip is closed on them. This is very bad, if someone is unconscious one of the most important things to do is to ensure they have enough oxygen – suffocating them would probably spoil your day.


You are lost cold and miserable and you have to resort to staying out in the wilds in your bivi bag, at least you can look forward to being warm and dry. When you find out that you are not going to be warm and dry because you have to leave the zip open and thus water is pouring in (it does pour in believe me) you are then faced with two problems. One, your going to have to put up with a cold wet sleeping bag – pretty miserable and, two, it’s going to come as a blow to your morale. I have not been in a survival situation but from what I read it is morale that is the key to staying alive, having your hopes of a dry place to sleep dashed on top of everything else could conceivably be the last straw.

Ultimately though I’m no expert and I could be doing it all wrong so I’m not going to name the product in case I’m talking out of turn and I end up getting sued or something. What I will do though is give it another go some time and see if I have better luck with it, it probably works fine in laboratory conditions. I have a feeling that the problem with the rain coming in was in part due to my sleeping on a slope and this was pulling the lower part of the bivi bag away from the higher, even if this is the case though surely kit designed for use out side must factor in the fact that the countryside is mostly anything but flat.

Seeing as my sleeping bag was already wet I slept without the bivi bag last night and I have to say that for all it’s faults it’s a 1000 times better than nothing. I could have thrown my sleeping bag in a bath this morning and it would have probably come out drier.

I sneezed a few times today

Other news

My gore tex jacket has mildew and smells really bad

My rucksack is soaked through and smells of a combination of mud, acrid wood smoke, and spilt yoghurt. Greek Yoghurt is neither delicious nor nutritious when it has been forgotten about in a side pouch for three days during which time the pot has burst and it has then been placed next to a radiator everyday. Fortunately I have no running water and no scrubbing brush.

This, I believe is where it gets interesting, will my resolve last? Will I come to love getting up in the dark to a cold wet world, putting on cold wet clothes and trudging to work?

Not long till April

Friday, 21 October 2005


This weekend

As well as making some cordage and making a start on carving a spoon I have a few other tasks to do. Next Saturday some friends are coming over for Halloween dinner so I want to get some preparations done this weekend, I’m going to experiment with cooking, puff balls. I don’t know how they taste so it’s probably best if I experiment on myself rather than serve up something “interesting” next week. I’m going to make a stew tomorrow; it makes sense in this weather. I found a big Damson bush last weekend (like a smaller more flavoursome plumb) and I hope that there will still be some left this weekend. I might try to make an oven to cook in for next weekend but I don’t think I will be able to find suitable stones, I’ll have a look.

A friend of mine is, allegedly, coming out to visit on Monday night so I’m going to have do the vacuuming and all that sort of thing to make the place look nice. At least the Hammock will get used.

I went shopping for food at lunch time today and realised that I have become acutely aware of how much packaging comes on products, I was even choosing what to buy on the basis of what had the least packaging. I guess this in part comes down to my having to cart around what ever rubbish I take with me until the next time I find a bin, the other part of it is seeing a pile of plastic waste stacked up against the backdrop of the woodland really does bring home the nature of the stuff. I ended up getting Covent Garden soup for tonight; it comes in cardboard containers and is therefore biodegradable. I have bought food in plastic containers before but only when I have needed them to store other things. Old jars are currently being utilised as candle holders, they keep them out of the wind and thus they last longer. I quite often eat the Wayfarer boil in the bag camping meals, they come in silver coloured packets inside their outer wrapping, I have discovered that putting these over tent pegs that are stuck in the ground is the perfect way of reflecting the light from the candles.

I’m also going to go for a long walk and find out a bit more about my local neighbourhood, have fun in your houses.


Photo update

Got the photos uploaded onto a friends PC last night. They will be emailed to me this evening (fingers crossed) so I will get them on Monday and will have them up on the site as soon as I get a free moment on Monday.


Woke up with a start the night before last, the Owl was back and this ment that I was late for work got up in a rush and was half dressed before I checked the time on my alarm clock. 5am, not late for work at all.

I'm going to have to send the Owl back to the shop to get it fixed.

Thursday, 20 October 2005


In the past few days I have discovered

I can fit one sleeping bag inside the other thus solving the winter issue.

Having a goose down sleeping bag dry cleaned will undo all the damage that getting it repeatedly wet will do to it.

The Hennesey Hammock can be tied to a branch in such a way as to make it into a chair. This was not so much a discovery but more a 'doing what it says on the packet'.

The last few days have been really good fun, I had imagined that when it got to the point that it was raining a lot and dark all the time that things would get miserable. In fact I'm enjoying it more than ever now.

As for the challenges
On Saturday I will be making some cord out of nettles - this is a good thing to be doing at this time of year, nettles tend to be at their most vicious at the end of their lives. This challenge I rashly said I would do without gloves - if my hands still work I will let you know how it went on Monday.

At the behest of those helpful types at BCUK I will also be attempting to carve a spoon. I imagine this could prove tricky - I foresee swearing.

There has been a few murmerings about my making a shelter using nothing but that which occurs naturally in my location. An interesting idea. I had been planning to make something out of branches and the gore tex poncho, the idea being to use the poncho to collect rain water which would then be stored and then filtered before use.

Tuesday, 18 October 2005

Sunrise II (This Time its Personal)

I may have mentioned before that I am using a jetboil to do my ‘cooking’ on, I have been nothing other than impressed with it, there is only one draw back to it and that is that it is only really good for heating stuff up rather than proper cooking. However, if what you are after is something to heat up food quickly and with minimum fuss this is the bit of kit for you. This morning for example I was in my sleeping bag and not wanting to get up and all I had to do was reach out with one arm (I had cunningly left it with water in last night) switch it on and wait for it to boil, then I just added a tea bag and waited for it to brew. The cooking pot is also an insulated mug with a lid, waking up to a cup of tea on a cold morning without having to mess about priming is the business. Sure once it gets cold I will probably have to sleep with the gas canister and the water in my sleeping bag to stop them from freezing but other than that it’s all pretty civilised.

One of the things I really like about the jet boil, I only discovered this last night and I’m fairly sure that this did not come up in one of the design briefs, is it’s hands free climbing application. The cup has a wide nylon handle and last night discovered it is possible to grip the handle between my teeth and climb without spilling any (much) of the contents. This discovery allowed me to take in the full brilliance of last night’s full moon from a vantage point in the top of a tree whilst drinking Hot Chocolate.

This morning’s sunrise was intense, if yesterday’s had been a water colour of pastel shades then today’s was a dramatic oil painting of rich reds and intense oranges blasting through boiling clouds. Red sky at night shepherds delight, red sky in the morning shepherds warning so they say, any shepherd seeing the sunrise this morning would have been well advised to go home and hide in the cupboard under the stairs with a blanket over his head.

Monday, 17 October 2005


I have heard of people getting so hungry they have eaten toothpaste, I’m not sure of its nutritional value but I do know it’s delicious. When I bought the last tube I forgot that I had been buying small tubes for a reason and went and got a big one – better value and less packaging. Problem is big tube of toothpaste into small wash bag don’t go, well it does but only just and not for long. So I end up shaving this morning by the light of a torch held between my knees using what remains of my shaving mirror which is covered in toothpaste. I stopped and took a look out over Oxfordshire on my walk to the bus, leaning on a fence, drinking tea and watching the car lights on the motorway snake away into the distance as first light came up and really appreciated how lucky I am. I have seen the sunrise virtually everyday for the last four months and it has invariable been a fantastic sight. It is with no little regret that I make my way off to the bus stop, the weekend has been relaxed and fun and I was not looking forward to rejoining civilisation. Sure it’s nice to see everyone but I would rather be sat in the upper branches of a tree and enjoying the autumn leaves than sat in an office.


Friday Night

At last. I made the decision to get a bivi bag, the weather has turned and it is getting to the point where spending night after night sleeping in a wet sleeping bag could start to have an adverse effect on health. A hugely good buy I have to say, it fits over both sleeping bag and thermarest self inflating mattress (punctured). I ended up getting the best nights sleep yet. I did wake up in the middle of the night coughing from the damp air so I ended up pulling the hood up, zipping it half shut thus cocconing myself in a pocket of warm air. Best of all my sleeping bag was dry when I awoke. On of the sleeping bags is at the dry cleaners at the moment (I recently discovered putting one inside the other to keep warm) so soon enough I'm going to have a dry clean warm comfortable bed. What more do I need? I'm looking forward to getting the sleeping bag out of the cleaners, the smell of damp coming off the one I'm using at the moment is getting a bit much.

I had also bought a new padlock and an alarm clock. I set the alarm for 5am intending to get up and meet friends in London for a bit of a run. For some reason I chose to stay in bed and appreciate this new found warmth and dryness and have a lie-in.

I lazed about quite comfortably oncle I had woken properly at about 8 quite content to drift in and out of slumber and come to a natural state of alertness over time. What really got my attention was the leaves on the Beech tree next to me. I had never really analised the the changing of the leaves that closely before but had imagined it to be a fairly uniform proccess with all the leaves on any given tree changing colour in unison. Not a bit of it. The colours change seemingly at random, sometimes just one or two leaves will turn yellow, occasionaly an entire branch will change but none of the branches immedietly around it, the efect is stunning. After a time spent appretiating the colours I turned my head and caught sight of a Red Kite circling above, after a minute or two of circling it broke off and flew directly overhead at the height of no more than 20 feet. The closest I have seen one to date, it is a magnificent creature, very graceful and with enormous power.


One of wonders of modern technology is that it is possible to work from home. It has just occurred to my erstwhile colleague (Mark) and I that it must therefore be possible to slack from work.

Sunday, 16 October 2005

Happy days

This weekend has been great, I got until Sunday evening without leaving the woods and the only reason I left at all was because I had eaten all the food including all the emergency back up food hidden cunningly in a hollow tree in squirrel proof containers. A lot of the weekend was spent writing and hopefully I will write it up sometime soon and you'll be able to read it. Basically I really thoroughly enjoyed spending a bit of time in the woods without having to rush away. Also some fairly big things are happening in my life away from this whole wild living escapade and being in the woods really is the prefect location in which to be able to assess that which is important. If you have anything that requires a bit of serious thought going on I really would recommend ditching the phone and getting out into nature for a bit. This weekend has been the most fulfilling couple of days I can remember spending for a very long time and mostly all I did was sit about and eat, occasionally I lay down and listened to the radio.

One of the things that I thought that I should do, just to spice things up a little was throw the gates open to a little interaction, a gauntlet thrown down to the folks at BCUK, gimme a challenge guys - some form of camp craft or woodland skill you want me to learn; you know the kind of thing, light a fire by rubbing two boy scouts together; that sort of thing.

Back to the woods then, from the position here with the central heating on and the Doors blasing out on the stereo I'm inclined to see why people consider this project to be somewhat daft. On the other hand all that central heating does for me nowadays is make me feel ill. I'd be more cheerful about leaving if it wasn't raining.

Thursday, 13 October 2005


It was wet last night, not good wet but bad wet. Good wet, I just decided, is when the water comes at you from one direction and can thus be avoided. Rain is the perfect example of this, it tends to come from either above or, if it’s windy, from the side. Avoiding good wet is quite easy, it’s simply a matter of tying the poncho between me and the direction the wet is coming from. Bad wet is everywhere, mist is another name for it last night everything was soaking, by the time I had got a short distance into the woods my clothes were wet and there was no naturally dry area, the ground everywhere was wet. It was a simple decision to sleep in the hammock rather than on the ground. Putting the thing up was less simple, and keeping it from falling on the ground as I adjusted and readjusted all four ropes that had to be tied was a mission in itself, but I really did not want to get the hammock wet if it could be avoided.

A little known fact about Aristotle is that he was the proud owner of a Hammock. Sir Isaac Newton got hit on the head by an apple and deduced a force he called “Gravity” exits, as I have set out bellow “Gravity” does not exist, the Earth sucks. We can’t blame Sir Isaac for this, he’d just had a nasty knock to the head, bless. Aristotle on the other hand was far more fortunate, he was lying in a hammock he had just put up, eating a Gyros Pita and drinking Ouzo when the thing collapsed on him! Lying on the floor covered in Ouzo and hammock (the Gyros survived intact) he quickly assessed the situation and said "For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them." So it is, the only way to learn the ways of this disceptively complicated device is by trial and error.

Last night I was lying on the wet floor covered in hammock my quotation was less illuminating but certainly more colourful, I believe donkeys were involved. The hammock comes complete with a cunning device to stop the main rope of the hammock from cutting into the bark of any trees that the Hammock is supported by. The device looks just like a length of seat belt and it works fine if the trunk of the tree is exactly the right girth, if it less than the right girth it succeeds in doing it’s job of protecting the bark of the tree but is less good at holding the hammock up, it is very good at sliding down to the bottom of the tree trunk. I ended up tying the rope directly to the tree, in the morning I could find no damage to the bark of the tree, maybe some trees are more sensitive that others – beech trees seem to cope just fine.

Trying to get comfortable in the hammock is a struggle, especially when you have just put it back up again with one end higher than the other and are too lazy to do anything more than lie in a tangled heap down at the bottom end. It is still possible to get comfortable the big problem is trying to get fully into the sleeping bag without it twisting around you like ivy and ending up with the hood pulling up over your face. Trying to get into a sleeping bag in a hammock is about as annoying as trying to get your socks off using only your feet, it’s possible but the fact that it is possible does little more than increase the frustration at not being able to do it. Trying to take your socks off using only your feet in a sleeping bag that you have just managed to get comfortable in and are thus wary of sitting up to take your socks off in case you can’t get comfortable again was a highly amusing game that I played last night. This morning I could only find one of them.

The tarpaulin that I had put up over the hammock last night was dappled with fallen leaves this morning and even more trees are showing tints of yellows.

Wednesday, 12 October 2005

Park Life

I'm lucky, I now live surrounded by countryside it's great. Sure life is a bit harder now but I'm getting a lot more out of the experience than it is costing my in terms of expenditure of energy. I am now realising how cut off the majority of city dwellers, and particularly Londoners, are from being able to experience nature. Sure there are some good parks dotted about the place but when you divide the amount of space there is in the parks by the number of people there are in the city you soon realise that there is not a lot to go around. Being out in nature is important, we are animals after all and the further we get from nature the more we forget the simple pleasures of life. There is nothing like going to a park to get away from it all with a good book or maybe a bunch of friends for a bit of a kick around or a game of frisby.

You can imagine my suprise when I heard that moves are afoot to build a fence (2m high) around the whole green grassy area of Bishops Park and cover it in astro turf. Now you might think that this is a crazy thing to do but them folks at Fulham FC think that it’s a great idea. There is, to my simple mind at least, a huge lack of green areas in London and it’s very strange in this day and age that anyone proposing to destroy one of the remaining green areas is even given the time of day. It seems though that the proposal is being given full consideration even in face of the fact that there are brown field sites in the neighbourhood that could be developed.

One of my colleagues lives close to the park and is obviously rather concerned about this, she wrote the following.

The beauty of our park is that it is this big open space that is lined on all but one side by large bushes and trees, it is a total escape from the city – you can use this place how you see fit with no restriction on time or group size, the proposal for the sports pitches will totally destroy this. We had a meeting last night with the Football Club and the Environmental Councillor (who by the way seem to be in cahoots) and they totally ignored our questions and skirted around the issues of developing brown field sites. A mother stood up with her two kids 2 and 4 and asked did they not think it was important that these city children be able to embrace nature and learn about it on their doorstep, did they not know how invaluable being able to run around an open space and get muddy was? The mother was told that the football club would allow her access at specific times to the astro turf courts! Wow what a pleasure that will be for he children, everybody loves a bit of plastic. The environmental officer is quoted as saying in a private meeting; I can’t see what all the fuss is about it’s only covering some bit of grass with plastic!
I have a black wallet, I woke up this morning and it was dark and the black wallet fell out of the pocket of the black jeans I was using as a pillow and landed on the floor. Fortunately the floor isn’t black or it would have been hard to see the wallet and it would have been left behind, unfortunately it was so dark that the floor might have well been black. I packed up my stuff and made my way to the nearest path just as the Owl got back from its night of hunting. By the time I got to the bus stop it was light, and by the time I realised that I had indeed left my wallet with all my money and my bus ticket in it and got back to where I had slept it was very light. I was surprised at just how much has changed over the last week. All the leaves on some trees have gone yellow and some are even turning brown. On other trees it is just the occasional branch that has changed whilst others (Bruce included) are still green. The overall effect is quite stunning, especially in the early morning sunlight, cobwebs glistening with the nights dew, their dense covering of a couple of fir trees lighting them up like Christmas trees. The rosehips have mostly gone, eaten by birds no doubt the ones that remain have gone a deep red, seeing them reminded me of the rosehip syrup Mum made when I was little; it was gorgeous and went especially well with ice cream, she only made it the once and I was about 6 at the time but it was so good I can remember it now. At primary school we used to use the middle of rosehips for itching powder – Mother Nature is a great provider.

There are lots more species of mushroom about now but I have seen none that look especially edible, going to have to get a book and find out what’s what.

Tuesday, 11 October 2005

Thank You

Hey y'all.

Thanks to everyone who has sponsored this hair-brained scheme, the original target of £1500 has now been passed, I will have to find out how much woodland this would purchase and let you know. I think it is about an acre so you lot deserve a big thumbs up.

The target has now been put up to £8000, fingers crossed.

A flying alarm clock.

Bruce has grown! Even in the dark I could tell, there is more of him now you see.

It was good to get back to the woods, it really felt like home. You know the feeling you get when you have been away for a week or two and you get back to the familiar surroundings of home, well it was like that as soon as I got off the bus. There was a wind blowing and soon as the cool air heavy with the smell of trees hit me I felt more comfortable and happy than in any hotel bed. Walking the familiar paths back to my patch of woods was fantastic. Half the moon hung just above the horizon, a deep straw colour silhouetting the trees in the distance black against the blue of the sky. The further I got from the motorway the quieter it became and the greater the feeling of being in the wilds became, there is something spectacular about windy nights in the woods, it feels wild your senses heighten everything is on edge and full of energy.

I took a detour to see Bruce and climbed to the top of the Ridgeway, looking out over Oxfordshire I felt detached from modern life, free from its shackles and very very glad to be back. Being my usual organised self I discovered that I had no alarm clock and no way of telling the time. When I had packed my sleeping bag away in it’s waterproof bag I had forgotten that it was wet, one week on and it did not smell too good, smelt pretty bad actually, better than this though was the fact that it was still wet. There is nothing like getting into a wet stinking sleeping bag to raise your mood. However, by the time it had dried out from my body heat I had also got used to the smell and then had a very good night’s sleep. To spoil myself I took out a Thermarest self inflating mattress (punctured) and I had the best night’s sleep I have had since I left. Strange that, maybe it was the fresh air, natural light and familiar surroundings.

Back to telling when it is time to get up by how light it is then. I had forgotten about the other way of telling the time, I don’t think I have mentioned it before but there is an Owl that lives near me, at dusk every night it screeches a few times before flying away. Every morning when the Owl returns it screeches it’s presence before turning in for the day. I way lying in bed this morning trying to convince my self that I could stay in bed a bit longer, then the Owl returned and I realised it was time to get up pretty quick. When packing away my stuff I found a time piece and realised that I was ten minutes out with what time it was, the Owl was ten minutes late I guess it gets light ten minutes later than it did last week. I was a little bit late for work, only a few minutes late but I resisted the urge to blame it on my Owl being late.

Walking to the bus I could not believe how much the landscape had changed since I left. The first leaves have started turning yellow, great swathes of them sometimes. Shoots have started coming up in the ploughed fields giving them a hazy green appearance, the cover is so slight that which ever bit of the field you look at appears brown whilst the bits not being focused on in the peripheral vision appear green.

Monday, 10 October 2005


Ok, maybe Hotels don't suck maybe it was just the one I was in for most of the week. We all moved Hotels on my last night and the new one was absolutely excellent; white linen sheets, a decent weight of duvet, pillow of just the right firmness and, best of all, a mattress that had just enough give in it to mold to the shape of my body. I was in Heaven. Come mid day when it was time to leave to get my flight back I really did not want to leave. Suddenly the idea of waking about with a heavy rucksack and sleeping in the woods was less appealing.

On the other hand though I have missed this woods, sure I have been able to go for a couple of walks and a bit of a run through the woods in Germany but it's not the same. My patch of woodland has the definite feel of home to it now and I am really looking forward to getting back to it, living in a damp dirty environment might take a while to get used to again but overall I think that it is worth it. The combined senses of freedom and self reliance more than make up for any physical discomforts and there is something deeply fulfilling about sleeping under the stars.

Saturday, 8 October 2005

Got back to the Hotel full of good intentions re sleeping on the floor, I went to open the window – you know the one that opened to the floor perhaps it would have been better describes as a door. Anyway curtains opened and window (door) open letting as much of nature in as possible I decided to have a shower. My room is on the first floor, outside by window there is a narrow road leading to the hotel car park, it is hardly ever used and I had never even noticed it until a family walked past, I waved and they looked away and walked on quickly. I thought this a little rude. It was only when I looked in the mirror and noticed I was naked I understood. So I drew the curtain got changed and went out for a run.

I had not run for a couple of months and was a bit apprehensive, it would hurt and I did not want to go I had been putting it off for days. It was not as bad as I thought it would be it was dark and there was a low mist hanging in the air the cold air started to burn my lungs as I picked up the pace. Not sure of where I was going I chose a path through the woods trusting my instincts more than my eyes on whether obstacles lay in my path, I only nearly tripped once. Out on to the road and up a hill staring to feel really hot now and my skin starts to prickle in the cold air. By the time I get back to warm toffee glow spilling out from the Hotel windows I am fighting for breath and my legs have gone wobbly from the exertion but I feel great. I’m buzzing; alert even. By the time I shower it is time for bed but by now I’m buzzing too much to be able to sleep. Comfortable though this bed, soft too, bit chilly though, so the window is closed.

The TV goes on and I watch the news fully intending to just chill out there for a bit before going to sleep on the floor by the window/door. The intention was to sleep in front of the open window / door on the floor, it was a good plan, it would help stop me from getting too acclimatized to comfort. The Bed was very comfortable and I certainly did not want to get up. It seems like I have gone soft again. Brilliant! Going back to sleeping in the woods might be a bit of a shock to the system after a week in a four stat hotel.

Friday, 7 October 2005

Hotels suck

Takes a bit of getting used to this sleeping indoors business. I am used to waking up and being able to judge what time it is from the amount of light there is and thus asses whether or not it is time to get up. At the moment I am waking up and finding myself in a uniformly dark room and becoming convinced that it is still the middle of the night and forcing myself to go back to sleep. Ten minutes later the alarm call comes and I have to get up in the dark and completely disoriented, when I then turn the light on it's as thought it is instantly day time and I am completely spun out at as a result. I feel sorry for pet birds who are given false day and night at the whims of their owners when their cages are covered with a cloth, as if I didn't feel sorry enough for caged birds anyway.

Not a big fan of pillows, dashed uncomfortable if you ask me - would rather use rolled up jeans. Bed is too soft and room too warm. There is a window in my room that opens to the floor and has railing to stop the inept (me) from falling out. Tonight I'm going to leave the curtains and window open and sleep on the floor by the window and use my jeans as a pillow (might keep a real pillow to hand just in case) and see if that gets me a better nights sleep.

Ironically I have a cold, I blame central heating.


Natural rhythms are good for you.
I am odd because I would rather sleep on the floor in the cold, I will be watching MTV though.

Thursday, 6 October 2005


Odd stuff, got recognised today. Someone came up to me and said that they had seem me in the German papers. Bit surreal really, walking about a castle on top of hill looking for more fax paper and then some one comes up and says I saw you in the paper.

Gotta go still busy

Wednesday, 5 October 2005

Tear down the wall

So there has been an amount of sleeping in a hotel lately, nice enough.

Do I miss the woods? The cold and the dark, am I longing for the open air above me? Right now the answer is yes, I do feel slightly constricted by the boundaries around me. I would really rather be in the woods right now, boiling up a brew on the trusty jet boil and settling back to listen to the radio for a bit. Actually I would rather be anywhere that still in the office nearly 12 hours and one short break after I got here but it is more than my just wanting to be anywhere than here. I do miss being outside; the annoying thing is that there are woods all around the hotel - maybe I should have brought the Hammock and a sleeping bag with me. Mind you it is a lot colder here. The distinctive smell of winter spikes through the air on the edge of the wind, some mulled wine and a fire would deal with that.

Maybe I'm going to move beyond ferral into the realms of truly wild by the time I have been out for a year.

Tuesday, 4 October 2005

Ye Olde Busy

Very busy

work work work

Temporary office is in a castle though, looks the part too. All carved wood and ornate ceilings, everything has a bit of a medieval feel to it.

Quite missing swinging about in a hammock but if pushed I would admit to being somewhat of a fan of Hotels. The think I like the best is comfort, and the bar; the bar is good.

Monday, 3 October 2005

So what is it like to be sleeping in a nice hotel when the most luxury I have had of a late has been occasioinaly crashing out on a mates sofa? Can you imagine how great it feels after all this time and all the nonsense getting wet, falling out of hammocks, getting wet, being cold, not having any place to call me own to get a room in a Hotel. A room with carpets, central heating, a shower, a kettle with those little biscuits and a big double beds with crisp white linnen sheets. I can imagine it, I imagined it quite a bit last night; last night I spent in Hannover Airport trying to sleep in one of those chairs that they design to be imposible to sleep in to stop homeless people doing just that. I would have slept on the floor but it was cold enough in the chair the stone floor would have just sapped my body heat leaving me feeling even more exhausted than I do right now. Five hours sleep since I got up on Friday. At times my feet itch I'm that tired. I don't know why but whenever I get really tired the soles of my feet start itching, this does nothing to improve my mood.

One good thing is that I gave up drinking coffee about a year ago the reasoning being that it was silly to use it daily just to function when it is possible to function without it, much better to save it for when, like today, I'm properly tired. One coffee and a Mars Bar and I'm flying for ten minutes, then it's back to itchy feet and having to use my fingers to count up to three.

For some reason I keep trying to talk to people in Greek, this is odd as I am in Germany and I dont speak Greek

Saturday, 1 October 2005

Where the monkey man gone?

The next two weeks are going to be the busiest of the year at work so there may not be much in the way of blogging for a bit, could well be doing 12 - 15 hour days you see. Fortunately I enjoy my job so it is no great stress.

There is also a bit of a backlog of emails I have not replied to, sorry. At the moment I just don't have time to do all the things I would like.

Big thanks to Helen.

Normal service will be resumed shortly.


A good night's sleep

The next night, flushed with the success of the previous night I decide to go for the hammock sleeping option again, there had only been two problems the night before, getting in was still a bit tricky and a lot of cold air was coming in through the hood. It occurred to me that there is probably a knack to getting into the hammock and a sleeping bag at the same time and that once that knack is learnt it would be really easy and then it would be fun to lend the hammock to other people and laugh at them trying to get in. I have to make my own entertainment you see. One lesson I have learnt time and time again is that cutting corners is not an option, cutting corners just leads to things going wrong and results in having to put in a whole lot more effort into rectafying the problem than would have been expended if the job had been done properly in the first place. Dad is a stickler for perfection, I used to find it infuriating when helping him out with jobs round the house that everything took so long, everything was done perfectly and his argument that he did this because he was lazy never really made sense. My position was that I was more lazy and was thus quite prepared to botchit and scarper off to the woods to play. His argument was that if it was done properly the first time around then we would not have to come back to the job in six months time and do it again. I am beginning to see his point, what worries me though is that this might well mean that I am turning into him! noooooooooo.

Anyway putting a hammock up is something one obviously puts a bit of effort into, it's something that needs to be got right first time around; obviously. Failure to do it right would involve getting up in the night and putting the problem right and that would not be good. Especially not when hugely tired and in desperate need of a decent amount of sleep having got up at stupid o'clock am and having had to work very hard all day. Tiredness, as the signs say, KILLS! Well it is easy to succumb to it's warm embrace and let standards slip. I was tired and could not be bothered to walk all the way back to the woods, I stopped on route convinced that the land owner of the bit of scrubland I was passing would not mind if I stayed there one night. It was a clear night, deep blue sky stars twinkling, bit of a breeze blowing - invigorating. I scouted around in the light of the moon looking for a spot to put the hammock up. There was only one tree, I don't know how much you know about hammocks but the general consensus is that a minimum of two things is needed to tie them too. Trees are a favorite thing to tie them to as they provide a bit of shelter and there is something rather aesthetically pleasing about a hammock tied between two trees, there being only one tree was thus a bit of an issue. In the area though there where a number of tall shrubs with woody branches, not quite trees but close enough so the decision was made to stay where I was. Sleep was nearing I could feel it encroaching on my thoughts and on my limbs; the hammock needed to be put up quickly so that I could get my head down.

I started to unpack and was greeted by the familiar smell of my rucksack - damp. The good thing though is that it always smells of fresh damp not that old stale damp. There are some advantages to always being wet. The distance between the tree (a beach by the way) and the nearest suitable scrub was just slightly longer than the hammock. There was a big thick branch coming from the tree to the scrub so it would be possible to tie it from the branch to the scrub. Knots tied hammock up tea drunk time for bed. It was only the knowledge that it is possible to get into the hammock and sleeping bag simultaneously and become comfortable that kept me going. About five minutes of wriggling about like a worm on ecstasy later and I was in position, better still after all that exertion I was nice and warm, I settled back a grin crept over my face, this was comfortable I could get used to this. I didn't get the chance, a brief and loud moment, that sounded very like nylon rope sliding over bark, later and I was sat on the ground, still in the hammock. Getting out of the hammock and sleeping bag proved to be as much fun as getting in, I was on a hill facing upwards tightly wrapped in sleeping bag hammock and mosquito net the exit was underneath me, I was soon glad of all the sit-ups I have been doing.

A very good friend on mine I used to hang out with went on to become a physics professor we used to sit about and discuss astro physics, drink Jack Daniels and listen to Led Zeplin late into the night (like you do). My finely tuned analytical brain turned itself to analyzing the problem at hand. The knot was still tied but now the hammock was lying on the ground, something had happened but what? I soon had the possibilities narrowed to one of two events having occurred; either, the end of the rope tied to the branch of the tree had slid down the branch; or, the trees had moved closer together. My money was on the former so I employed myself to the task of re-tieing the rope in such a way that it would not slide down the rope in future. the problem was that I was tired, annoyed, bare footed and there were branches everywhere. Branches grabbing at my clothes, catching at my laces when I did put my boots on and even getting up my nose. The rope was not helping much either seeming more interested in wrapping itself around branches and not being where I put it last than actually assisting in the business of getting itself tied to a tree. When I had finally succeeded I looked around to find that whilst I might well have securely tied the rope to the tree the sleeping bag was still on the ground. Start again. Eventual the Hammock is tied in such a way as it is not possible for it to slide down the rope and the sleeping bag is raised a sufficient height from the ground for me to be able to sleep in it. Result. I remove my boots again, step into the sleeping bag, open the velcro entrance to the hammock (which is in the bottom of the hammock - the top being covered by a mosquito net) and gingerly sit back to test the thing before committing my self to lying down. Now I used to be good at tying knots, I used to windsurf in remote spots on my own so knot tying was a matter of life and death. Imagine my surprise then to discover my self sitting on the ground coated in hammock and mosquito net. I was particularly pleased to find myself rolling down the hill becoming mummified in my bed as I went. After that everything went down hill. For some reason I couldn't remember how to tie the simplest of knots and found myself on the ground a further four time before I eventual had the thing secured.

I can lie back in the hammock and try to relax, bit of an effort to just chill out as all the activity has got my hear going and I need to chill out to slow it down and thus be able to sleep. I'm nearly there when the noise starts, it sounds like a gnawing as though some animal is chewing on something close by. Nice. The noise is getting louder, is it getting closer - what is it? A rat? Sounds like a big one if it is. I begin to think that maybe it's a person. This is worrying, why would someone be wondering about at this time of night and why are they so close to me. The noise comes again, even louder this time, by now the hairs on the back of my neck are on end, I amit a low but loud growl figuring that if it is an animal it will run away. No the noise is back louder still. It must be a person and they are invading my space and behaving very oddly. This is not a good thing, I can't see as I'm encased in hammock and mosquito net and there is a waterproof sheet over the top of the hammock obscuring any hope of being able to see out. I realise that if it comes to a fight I'm in a rather poor situation; I can't see and can hardly move. For some reason I imagine a knife coming through the bottom of the hammock at any moment. It is time to get out of the hammock, and quickly! It is only when I sit up that I recognize the noise for what it is; the sound of a branch breaking. With one final almighty creak the branch on the scrub behind my head finally gives way and I am once more on the floor. This time though it is with a huge sense of relief, I don't have to fight anyone.


The problem with having to rely on internet cafe's is that they are full of distractions, right now the one that I am in is playing something that is no doubt very 'arty'. I don't know if anyone has ever tried to have a coherent thought whilst listening to this music but I don't think it's possible.

Right now there is a discordant squawking that sounds exactly like a goose would sound if it was fighting for it's life in the strings of a piano whilst someone made cappuccino in the back ground. Oh someone is making cappuccino, sorry I thought that was part of the music. I have no idea who made the music but it sounds like a cross between Gong and Hoodlum Priest. The strange thing is that the other people in here seem completely unfazed by it, how do they cope? They seem to be able to function normally, reading papers, ordering drinks, even talking on the phone. How oh how do they resist the urge to curl up in a ball on the floor screaming - no no no make it stop, for the love of God make it stop? Perhaps they are strange zombie types whose brains have been removed. I'm onto them though. The problem I now face is how I get out of here without alerting them to the fact that I am not a Zombie? How did they escape the Zombies in Sean of the dead? Shotgun! As tempting as the shotgun option is I perceive this route to lead to lead to awkward questions from the local constabulary. It is a long time since I studied law so I could have forgotten something but I am fairly convinced that 'Zombies' is not a defence recognised in a court of law. The more immediate problem with the shotgun approach to removing myself from this Zombie encrusted internet cafe is the lack of a shotgun. The only way out of this situation then is to adopt a glazed expression, sway about a bit and if approached claim not to speak English.

The music has stopped! It feels as though someone has removed a big pile of cotton wool from the middle of my brain thus allowing me to think clearly again. Phew.


The other night I attempted sleeping the hammock again. It was good, there where two or three factors involved in this being an improvement on previous experiences. A lot of thanks needs to go then to people who made the suggestions that proved to be key.

I am using a Hennesey Hammock - I'm happy to name it now that I have good stuff to say about it - it has a main supporting rope that takes all the weight but it also has two supporting strings coming out from the sides. The last time I used the hammock I complained that it swung about and that I could not sleep as a consequence. Some crafty sole pointed out that these extra strings where there to stop the hammock from swinging, makes sense and the last time I had used the hammock I had not been bothered to tie off the strings on the side. True enough, those strings stop the thing from swinging. I mentioned a while back that a friend of mine from work gave me an army sleeping bag that he no longer used, well it turned up on Tuesday - I think it was Tuesday. This sleeping bag has a waterproof underside so it can be used on wet ground without the damp seeping through. This waterproof layer also serves as an extra layer of insulation and has proved to help protect against cold when sleeping in the hammock. I have found that sleeping in a hammock I get a lot colder that I do sleeping on the ground. Lying in the hammock the underside of the sleeping bag is compressed thus loosing all of it's insulating layer so the cold air of the night permeated rapidly through the hammock leaving me rather cold. I believe that it was the fact that which ever bit of me was facing downwards was getting cold was the reason why I was rolling about so much, I discovered that rolling about a lot whilst lying in a hammock did not lead to happyville. The other thing with this new sleeping bag is that it has a zip whereas my old one did not, this makes getting in and out of the hammock a whole bunch easier, it is still a complete pain but it is a lot better than it was. I had a good night's sleep, it was great, hugely comfortable and when I awoke the next morning I really didn't want to get up. Strange that, there I am all warm and comfortable at 5.30 in the morning and for some reason I didn't want to get up into the cold wet muddy world in the complete darkness and run to meet the people I had arranged to meet. It took an effort to get up, a huge effort.