Monday, 8 May 2006

The Old Man is Snoring

Whilst it is much warmer now than it has been for a very long time I was surprised to discover that it is still to cold to sleep out comfortably without a sleeping bag; if one were to do so next to a river, the Thames perhaps, one would get rather damp and miserable during the course of the night.

On Sundays there is no where to go for breakfast in Oxford before 8 O’clock unless you count MacDonald’s; I don’t.

The march towards summer moves relentlessly on and it continues to get greener and hotter, I’m still using my winter sleeping bag and it is getting to be a bit uncomfortably warm on occasion, last night was just such an occasion. Regular readers, gawd bless em, will be aware that I am prone to the odd flash of genius; there was a flash of realisation. I would be less warm without the bivi bag, the bivi bag is a vaguely waterproof bit of nylon with holes in from being too close to the fire that goes over the sleeping bag to keep the rain out. When I started off I had no bivi bag and I did just fine without it. Well I got wet quite a lot but when I put the poncho up I would keep dry if it rained. It seemed sensible then, what with it being warm and everything now to remove the bivi bag, after all it had not rained, not properly anyway, for a couple of weeks, I had a shelter and no reason to suspect that should there be a thunderstorm water would flow uphill. So keen was I to have a comfortable night after the previous night’s debacle by the river that I even went and un-stashed the emergency sleeping bag for use as a pillow.

There was a thunder storm; it started just before dawn this morning. There was only one peel of thunder but the amount of rain more than compensated for the lack of flashes and bangs. This shouldn’t have been a problem after all I have an army poncho thing that can be put up and made into a shelter called a Basha, this is Hindi for hasty shelter I believe. Only for the last few months I have not been using the poncho, I have been using a small bit of tarp that is slightly the wrong size for what I want it to do. My head sticks out of one end and my feet the other, it’s not much but I call it home. When the first and only peel of thunder woke me I cunningly curled up so that all of me was under the shelter of the tarp, after about half an hour or so I tired of this game and needed to stretch out. Not wanting to get too hot I just put the bivi bag over the section of the sleeping bag that would be sticking out into the rain. The head end, could just get rained on, for some reason I don’t mind my head getting rained on but it really bothers me when my legs get wet. The emergency sleeping bag that I had was using as a pillow had been left out in the rain, fortunately it has a waterproof layer on one side, unfortunately that wasn’t the side that was left exposed to the elements. I found a dry patch to lie on stretched out and went back to sleep.

Half an hour later I rolled over, I wasn’t very keen on the way my sleeping bag went squelch and I got wet, I woke up again and investigated. My self inflating (although it no longer does) Thermarest Mattress (punctured) was doing a very fine job of collecting all the water that fell on it at the foot end and gathering in a big puddle at my knees and then filtering down into the bivi bag and soaking my sleeping bag. This shouldn’t have happened, I sleep on a slight slope with my head raised and the water should have run off. I guess it ran to the indentation caused by the weight of my body on the vaguely inflated mattress rather than to the ground. Unperturbed I pulled the bivi bag up to my waist and went back to sleep. Occasionally I was woken by a drip of water, anyone who has tried to sleep in a room with a dripping tap will know how annoying this is, it is even more annoying if the drip lands squarely on the tear duct of your right eye. On the forth occasion this happened I pulled the rapidly dampening hood of my sleeping bag over my head.
It was not long before I was again woken by the squelch of sleeping bag and the sudden application of cold water to my middle. The puddle was now firmly in residence all the way to the middle of the Thermarest, my sleeping bag was soaking, I ignored it and went back to sleep reasoning that I would dry the sleeping bag at work.

Eventually it got light, the rain was still pouring down and there was a light mist in the air, this is what the woods should look like in spring, much more natural than this drought that we have been having of late. I lay on my side and took in the world, a dark circle above me marked out the perimeter of the Yew tree that has sheltered me so well all winter, the green needles that are it’s leaves reflected in the circle of dead ground beneath the tree, nothing grows beneath the tree, I know not if this is due to the lack of light that penetrates it’s cover or the fact that Yews are toxic. Between the darkness of the branches and that of the dead ground there lives a stripe of brilliant green, the new life of Hazel and Beech leaves.

The walk to the bus was amazing, it was as though I could feel the forest drinking in the rain that it needs so desperately. Out in the field a few Dandelion Clocks stood soggily against the rain, the fluffy seed heads bunched together like hair on a wet cat. The Dandelions themselves, like the Buttercups and Daises, closed, protecting themselves against the vicious downpour or because the clouds had covered enough of the light to make them react as though it was night time I don’t know although I suspect the former. Waiting for the bus I occupied myself with finding a book to read and sneezing. The bus came and with its momentum sucked me from my rural idyl to the grey of the motorway, wipers squeaking the rain drumming on the windscreen stopping momentarily every now and again to mark the passing of a bridge. So to London, grey and miserable Monday morning off to work, I would rather be in the woods, anywhere but here. There was a queue at the drycleaners and so I decide to come back at lunch time. Maybe they could dry my sleeping bag as well. Maybe they could have, but I got called to another office and so now after work I have to go back across London, pick up my dry cleaning, take it to the office pick up my rucksack and grab enough clothes, including work shirts, for the next three days and head off to the woods. Looks like I will not be back until about eight o’clock tonight then. I rather suspect that my shirts might have got a little creased by tomorrow, probably less creased than they get when I stick them in the internal post.

1 comment:

The Review Gal said...

i ran into your site while i was researching for my snoring site and i couldn't pass without saying a word... great blog! congratulations!..:)
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