Monday, 14 November 2005

First Frost


Having walked most of the day we arrived at a junction in the path a mile or so out of Wattlington. For my walking companions there was a choice between; going to Wattlington, getting something to eat and catching a train to London; or, walking the tree or four miles to Lewknor to sample the much lauded food at the Leathern bottle and then getting the bus back to London. I mentioned how good the food is and they decided to come on to Lewknor, this was not a decision that was made lightly as feet were aching and energy was running low and it was pretty dark. Walking along a muddy track in the dark at the end of the day is a much less appealing prospect than walking through the woods at the beginning of the day with the sun out. Nevertheless on they all came to Lewknor, and the walk was stunning despite the ground being very soggy and there being few occasions on which people nearly slipped into the soggyness. The moon was nearly full and shone so brightly that our shadows walked along side us. The last few miles did drag on a bit, but eventually we got to within a mile of the pub, then half a mile, quarter of a mile, the end was in site. Dreams of a well deserved pint and huge portions of very good food led us to almost sprint the last 200 meters to the pub.

The pub was shut; we were there an hour before it opened. Julie, the landlady, took pity on us and brought us out some drinks. The others headed back to London and I stuck about waiting for opening time and enjoyed a plate heaped with Gammon, Egg, Chips and peas, bread and butter pudding and custard and another pint. Having stopped in the pub the journey home was at a much slower pace. I was glad to be reunited with my ground mat – albeit punctured – and the second sleeping bag. The extra insulation meaning that I did not have to rely on the bivi bag for added warmth, however my sleeping bag was still wet from the condensation from the night before, lovely. I fell into a very deep sleep.


I woke about ten minutes before my alarm went off, I was aching from the exertion of the past couple of days but feeling good about having achieved something. I rolled over and was greeted to the site of the Beech tree I live next to being silhouetted against a brilliant pink and pastel blue sky it truly was a magnificent site. There was something else though, a thin sheen of white coated the grass and the log pile; frost! At last, I had slept through a frost, which means that the sloes will be ready to be picked. I celebrated by staying in bed until half past seven, somehow cold enough for frost was not an inviting temperature.

The walk / rush to the bus was beautiful and I don’t think I have walked through a field of frost since I was at school. It was very much fun and I walked with a double sense of achievement; I had done a bit of exercise and had got through the first cold night. It had not seemed cold at all to me, the night before had been cold. It’s all down to having the right kit, I’m sure there will come a time when the kit I have is not sufficient to keep me warm at night. I prepared for this during the summer, all that time spent without a bivi bag sleeping in a wet sleeping bag and not using the roll mat was intentional. I was doing all this to toughen myself up for the winter. The idea being that it is better to get used to discomfort in the Summer that to suddenly experience it in the winter when my health and safety could be at risk. Will the training have paid off? No idea, I’m unfettered by knowledge.

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