Friday, 18 November 2005


Last night was stunning. It was a hugely bright night, there was a full moon a couple of nights ago and so the moon was still really full and this combined with a cloudless night meant that the world was bright. There was also a hard frost so the ground was covered with a sheen of white that reflected the moonlight even more, occasionally a piece of ice would catch the moonlight and sparkle in the moonlight. The overall effect was stunning. Once I had got away from the light pollution of the road I paused a while just to marvel at the scene, the pure spectacle of the route home put me into a fine mood and by the time I was nearly home I was singing to myself. It’s usually best if I sing to myself as singing to other people just results in them going pale. The owl passed comment by screeching in return and somewhere in the distance a pheasant shot into the air, clearly spooked by something. I stopped singing and walked on passed the fluttery bush.

Have I told you about the fluttery bush? I don’t think so. There is a bush that lots of small birds roost in, I have never seen them but I assume that they are sparrows, and if I make a nose as I walk past at night the bush comes alive with the sound of dozens of pairs of wings – a fluttery bush. I went home, said hi to Bruce as I went past and noticed that something has been having a bit of a nibble at him and he is looking a bit smaller than previously. As I was getting my meal ready I kept hearing the sound of nibbling coming from just behind the log pile. I had left a corn on the cob out a couple of days ago to see what if anything it would attract, I was hoping for it not to be rats. The gnawing was quite loud so the worrying thought was that it might be a rat. I shone a light and discovered to my relief a small grey mouse was eating the corn, well more to the truth there was a small grey mouse that was running away from the beam of light but I think I had my culprit. It seemed appropriate to name the mouse so I did, Dave, Dave Gorman and to celebrate the fact I left him some chocolate as well.

The owl Screeched again, probably just seen one of Dave’s cousins. It seemed odd to have named a mouse that I had only know for a couple of minutes but not to have named an owl that I had been living next door to for months. I toyed with the idea of calling it Dave but eschewed this option on the basis that it could soon get confusing. What then? Sadly my copy of Great Owls from History is in storage so I would have to use memory to come up with a name. The only owl that I could think of was the owl from Winnie the Poo and that owl was called Owl which is just a little too generic for my tastes so I settled on Eeyore. Flushed with success of naming things I decided to come up with a name for the spooky thing that does things in the night, sitting there eating beans and frankfurters the name Arthur seemed appropriate.

It was cold, very cold, so I got into bed with all my clothes on. I have a scarf that I have used for the last couple of nights to wrap over my nose and mouth so that I can breath warm air. I looked everywhere but could not find it. It was cold last night even with a big fluffy shirt, a jumper, a fleece and two hats on inside my sleeping bags. One of the great things about sleeping in your clothes is the fact that it saves having to get dressed in the morning, this is hugely handy when you wake at 6.57 and you have to catch a bus a mile away at 7.15. After running with a rucksack for five minutes wearing a big fluffy shirt, a jumper, a fleece, two hats and a scarf that you have just discovered was around your neck all along things get a little warm, so I broke into a fast walk instead and tried to shed a few layers as I went. The morning as I glimpsed it from between the layers I was casting off was beautiful, the sun was just coming up and throwing a staw coloured glow onto the clear blue sky. Frost covered the ground leaving it white and it was only the tufts of dead grass that rose above the sea of white the brown colour perfectly complementing the straw glow from the sunrise at the bottom of this hill two trees with russet leaves finish off the scene perfectly.


Pandiotic said...

Have you heard the new street slang verb - "to ditchmonkey"?

It means to be so out of your tree that you fall asleep in a ditch.

Having awoken in the street youngsters have been heard to exclaim "I was ditchmonkeyed last night", or when they simply to refer to a heavy night out: "That was total ditchmonkey." In bravado and anticipation: "Let's get ditchmonkeyed."

I wonder where these phrases came from, and how they come about?

Whoever thinks of these things must be a right pandiotic.

Penny Munn said...

Hi there,
I just wanted to tell you how much you have inspired me over the last couple of months. I'm having my house refitted to use less power and the bullding schedule has gone awry, leaving me with no hot water or central heating - probably for the duration of the winter. This accident has been a useful lesson in how little heat I really need, and your good example has kept me cheerful through it. Whenever I get despondent (or a bit cold) I think of you living in the woods and remind myself that we heat ourselves far too much nowadays. Thirty years ago I lived in a flat heated with one small paraffin stove and pulled on wellies at night to go downstairs and through the snow to the unlit loo at the end of the garden path. We thought nothing of this, and didn't complain about it. Twenty five years ago I lived in an attic flat heated with one two-bar electric fire (that I switched off at night). I'd sometimes wake up to find ice on the inside of the windows. In those days, we didn't usually heat bedrooms or bathrooms - only on exceptionally cold nights would you put a heater in the bedroom for an hour or so. If you were cold in the morning, you put your clothes on quickly or dressed by the fire in the living room. I'm sure this kind of lifestyle is a lot healthier (for us and the planet) as we burn calories keeping warm, and our bodies get to know the difference between cold and warm. I find that in the space of two months without my gas boiler I've adapted back to the heating pattern that I was used to in younger days. I now enjoy chopping firewood for the stove that keeps the whole house warm, and sitting in its warmth at night. I've bought some thick wolly jumpers for the winter and wear them in the house before the stove is lit. This is Scotland and the temperature is beginning to dip below freezing - soon it will drop well below freezing every night, and I shall think of you in your bivvy bag. Some of the most delightful nights of my life were spent camping without a tent and there is something very clean about sleeping out in the fresh air, even if you do get muddy.
Please get better at keeping dry, and wear lots of thin layers. Silk underwear is really warm, it is light, takes up very little space and it dries fast as well. I shall be giving some money to The Woodland Trust in honour of your camp-out, and could send you some silk underwear as well if you find it hard to buy such things.

Hugh Sawyer said...

Hi Penny

Thanks for the suggestions, so far I have been going for lots of thick layers but will investigate the thin layer theory. I have been thinking of getting a sleeping bag liner made of either silk or fleece. The only probelem being that getting into a sleeping bag liner inside a sleeping bab inside a sleeping bag inside a bivi bag could be a little tricky.

D to the M

hollyann said...

hey, i'm currently studyin design at sheffield uni and as part of an online discussion we have to look at how design should respond to 'new puritanism'. On a link it mentions yourself as your 'lifestyle statement about over-consumption and waste has made [you] a New Puritan poster boy'. After reading your blog this isn't too clear as it seems that was not your original purpose and it also seems that you enjoy drinking etc and have some kind of branded headtorch?! Are you a New Puritan? Or is it just an accident that people have percieved you in this way?