Friday, 26 May 2006

you can get it if you really want

Having an emergency sleeping bag is a really good idea for those nights when I end up in the woods without any of my stuff, like last night. I had a bit of a debate with myself as to whether to take it out on the pull with me. There is an argument to the effect that milk is both nutritious and delicious and I would have to agree, the only problem is when two pints of the stuff explode in one of the side pouches of my rucksack. Not having running / any water at the time it proved a bit of a bind trying to clean all the milk out. By the time I was next near water I had completely forgotten that the imperative was to wash the rucksack and set about showering and drinking tea. That was a couple of weeks ago, now there is a smell emanating from my rucksack that could best be described as that of septic goat. I’m no expert on quite what scents ladies find attractive in the perfumed man about town but I’m willing to take a punt on it not being septic goat. I could be wrong; Punk is back in after all. After some reflection I decided against taking the rucksack, as it might have proved to be a hinderance. Precident having been set I left my coat in the office also, it smells of mildew.

Shunning the suit option I hit Oxford looking as smart as it possible to do with worn out boots, wet jeans with mud walked half way up the calves and a reasonably clean fleece over my hoodie. That's bound to impress my chosen victim. Unfortunately rather than just taking money out of the bank I take a look at the balance. Before you can say “arrrrggggghhh no, no no no no no” I’m on the bus back home and taking a solemn oath only to eat bread from now on. This gave way to a worry that I was hungry and that it might be difficult to light a fire to cook on with no dry stuff in the dark, my head torch was in my rucksack obviously. Fortunately it had stopped raining sometime during the day so it was possible to gather an arm load of dead nettles which, together with the complimentary copy of the Evening Standard the Oxford Tube supplies I figured would be enough to get a fire started, surely it must be possible to light a bit of a fire and use the light from burning a few sheets of paper to find twigs with before burning my fingers.

It was dark by the time I got home, darker still in the woods and really very dark under the thick cover of the yew tree, finding dry twigs to burn in amongst the soggy world that I currently inhabit and then lighting a fire would provide ample entertainment. First though I used the last of the rapidly dying light to gather a couple of squirrel proof boxes that contained a stash of food and the emergency sleeping bag. The emergency sleeping bag has a waterproof base and hood, it rolls up into the hood in such a way to be both cartable and waterproof. Cunning huh? Amazing what those army chaps will come up with really. Just to make sure it stays dry I stash it under a particular tree in a spot that I had noticed doesn’t get wet when it rains. Not usually anyway, a week of rain had managed to penetrate its shelter but not to worry as the sleeping bag itself is done up all waterproof. Only it did seem a lot heavier than the last time I held it, surely that can’t be possible as the thing is waterproof. It is waterproof but if one were to put it on the ground the wrong way up then water would get down through the gaps between the sleeping bag and it’s waterproof casing and then not get out, over the course of a few days this would result in the sleeping bag being completely soaking wet and unusable.

It became rather important to get the fire lit. Using the paper, dead nettle stalk, a stash of home made charcoal and whatever twigs I could find in the dark and the wet remains of yesterday’s fire it was properly blazing and able to be left unattended within an hour. It might not have been an hour; I had no means of telling the time but I had cooked and eaten so it was probably an hour. I slept by the warmth of the fire, waking every so often to build it up by pushing the logs in further when it started to die. Occasionally turning over to warm my back / front / side depending on which was cold, sometimes waking with a start as a log rolled out of the fire and once burning my thumb as I threw one back on to the fire. Each time I woke I would take a look at how light it was to see if it was time to get up. Eventually it became light but the sky was so overcast it was not possible to see where in the sky the sun was and so not possible to tell what time it was. I went back to sleep, and woke built the fire up stretched in its warmth and slept again, this I did a few times. It started to rain, ignored it as long as I could but soon it was really pouring down, time to go to work I figured taking the burning logs from the fire and placing them separately so that they would go out and under shelter so that I could use them tonight. The walk to the bus stop was damp, made more so by the lack of a coat but entertaining as I played guess how late I’m going to be bizarrely I felt fantastic, you know that feeling you have when you have had enough sleep? That feeling that I had, I had just had the best night’s sleep for ages, this could mean only one thing; I had overslept. I was going to be late for work. Curiously though the bus stop was inhabited by people I recognised people who take the 6:15 bus. I was going to get to work on time! On a Friday of all days. I strutted into work, went to the shower and had the moment slightly deflated when I discovered that I had melted parts of the back of my fleece; that’s my best pulling top.


Elchie said...

I don't get it are the best blog in the woods...doing your darnedest for a good cause, why haven't you reached your donation target?
Maybe some readers hands might not have delved into their pockets.
Here is ODM living outside, getting rained on apparently EVERY night AND trying to pick up pretty waitresses. What pluck!
Come on now chaps, you haven't got long and you know you'll regret if you don't.
Do you think a prize, ODM, one of your famous wittlings perhaps, might stimulate more response.

poppy said...

hello, its me...poppy...gosh i have been away so long from blogger and also from home.

i travelled for 2 and a half months to Scotland .England and Ireland..and totally forgot you was in a ditch..sheeesh sorry..didnt know u wanted to marry me either...have i lost a chance lol.
Where are you?..had a feeling you was where i was born ..berkshire in switzerland now but thinking of coming back, hence the journey.
i love tree's and nature year hopefully will work for Tree's for i am broke..but will send when can to woodlands trust.

ODM (Original Ditch Monkey) said...

Hi Poppy welcome back

I might go on strike