Sunday, 7 September 2014

I don't care what the weather man says When the weatherman says it's raining!

" I don't care what the weather man says.When the weatherman says it's raining". Well that's not exactly true, especially when the weatherman or lady says it's only going to rain intermittently maybe for an hour or so and it turns out that it actually persistently continues to persist to piss down non stop.

I'm a Firestarter


 So this little adventure I am telling you about I almost didn't write, really the only reason I'm writing it is for my friends as they requested I do so as they apparently enjoy blogs about what we get up to,be that  good or bad.

The afternoon started well, John arriving at my house first, shortly followed by Lee and then Al. This was to be both my son Kyle and Al's first biving experience (well Al had bivied before but that was years ago)

All gear packed and stowed on our bikes. John, Kyle and myself sharing out rations, which consisted of tins of BBQ flavoured hot dogs, stewing steak and a tin of Irish stew. Ooh I also had to carry the 12 long fingered bread buns, which actually weighed more than I thought, good job I had my extra large Camelbak and Bike Bag Dude Frame bag to pack everything in.

Before we left Lee asked "you bringing your tarp" to which I replied "nah I don't think we will need it", meaning Kyle and I. John was taking his tent and Al was of the same opinion as me "what's a little rain". Anyhoo Lee asked again so I thought I had better stick it in my bag just in case. I've never experimented with my new Alpkit tarp so wasn't exactly sure how I would put it up and like I said the weatherman said it was only going to be like showers.

Leading up to our adventure we couldn't quite figure out a destination and as we discussed it, it became more and more stressful, trying to keep everyone happy. In the end after a chat with everyone it was agreed, it doesn't really matter where we end up as long as we get out, have fun and are all in it together. I'm not really a born leader, however took it upon myself to try and lead the way as I knew an area that although wasn't too far from home I figured we could set up camp and have a small open fire.

The ride wasn't too bad, only doing around 8 to 10 miles or so before I took the lads to the place I had in mind. Once there we had a scout around in the secluded wood and chose our camp site. It was off the beaten track, nice and flat and the area provided plenty of fallen branches for fire wood and bracken to make soft areas to lie on.

Al, Kyle and myself started preparing the fire, me digging a shallow pit in the ground and then helping Al and Kyle to carry some small rocks and a couple of bricks to contain the fire. We agreed that we wouldn't be making a huge bonty, just a nice small camp fire, something we could heat our grub upon. John set about pitching his tent and Lee commenced figuring out how to put up his tarp.



Cooking Kyle
Al entertaining us all
 I had watched a Youtube video on how to start a fire. I didn't want to use matches as felt it was cheating a bit. I know, I know, I just wanted to pretend I was a proper outdoors man and see if I could light the fire using a Firesteel. I had already prepared some cotton wool balls, having rubbed petroleum jelly (Vaseline) on them and was chuffed to bits when after 4 goes I got the cotton wool ball to light and the beginning of our fire took shape. Soon we had a roaring fire, nothing too big so as to get out of hand, just big enough so that we could make our meals.


Sandman all Bike Bag Dude'd up
Al about to break out his song and dance routine by the looks of it
 Firstly we had Hot Dogs, then Al heated up some sort of pasta in Garlic sauce. I managed to get the tin of Irish Stew open no problem as it had a ring pull, the tin of stewing steak however proved to be a nightmare,as the cheap plastic tin opener that I had pilfered from ours was about as much use a one legged man in an arse kicking contest. This meant I had to resort to plan B and whip out my knife and butcher the can open. I'm not good at tasks like this so was expecting a trip to A & E, however I managed to gain entry to the contents and mix it in with the stew. It was then we figured there wouldn't be enough for everyone so Al suggested mixing the pasta he had prepared in with the stew. Yeah I know it sounds disgusting, but you know what it was absolutely lush. I polished my share off in a flash and could have quite easily gone back for seconds.


A Few Sparks
By now it was getting dark and it was only roughly 8:30PM, it felt much later. We were all in our various sleeping spots, having collected bracken a little earlier to make soft areas to lie. A few more logs on the fire and all of a sudden the fire cracked spitting hot sparks both Kyle's and my way. I had my pyjama shorts on and a bloody spark went right up my leg, yes my good one. I patted furiously as it burnt the back of my thigh. I wouldn't care but we were a good 10 to 12 feet from the fire. At around 9:00PM the sky was looking particularly dark and the first pitter patter of gentle rain started falling. Everyone was tucked up for the night by now and about an hour later (roughly as I didn't have a watch on) the gentle rain became increasingly heavier. "Ahh it's only going to be for an hour" I thought as I hunkered down in my sleeping and bivi bags.

Now I don't know about other amputees, but me I used to really struggle to keep my balance in bed, let alone on a sleep mat. In the early days of becoming an amputee I used to fall out of bed regularly as I rolled over on my left side I would simply forget my leg wasn't there, fall out of bed half asleep and then become trapped between my bed and the wardrobe. You just don't realise how much you use your legs to balance yourself whilst in bed. Well lying outside on a flat sleep mat is definitely something I'm going to have to learn to get used to. My new sleep mat has to be over 6 feet tall, yet I find I'm maybe lying on 2 feet of it as I wiggle trying to get comfortable and inevitably fall off it. That and of course not having a pillow made for a very uncomfortable night. I don't think I got one wink of sleep. There was the rain which had gone from a gentle relaxing pitter patter as it struck my bivi bag, to the sound of a torrential downpour which continued throughout the night. Oh and Al had left his Billy Can near the now extinct fire and every now and again it made a sound like a cow or goat bell. All night I couldn't quite figure out where the hell a cow or goat could be, it was a weird symphony of sploosh, sploosh, ting, as well as Al's snoring.

By 3:30AM as I was lying there totally miserable I heard wor Kyle stir and I asked him "are you wet?", "yeah a bit" he said, "Ok, are you warm enough?", to which he replied "No not really I'm feeling a bit cold". That was enough for me. So in the middle of the pouring rain we both got up and the hardest part of our adventure began, getting changed into our riding gear, packing all our stuff away and doing it by using just one small head torch to see by. It seemed to take us ages to pack everything up and as we said "bye" to the lads as they were ok we started trying to find our way in the pitch black through the woods. This is something that is pretty difficult to do in daylight with just one leg, but on a night time becomes very tricky. Eventually after a slightly dodgy scramble through the woods we found what once used to be a nice dry trail. Now it was just a huge mass of mud and a washed out mess. It was impossible to ride this section we just couldn't see and the bank was very steep, so we had to push our bikes.

It's a good job Kyle had rang my dad, his granddad whilst we were packing up, to ask him to come and collect us,as there was no way we could have rode home the way we had come, and to go onto the road with no lights would have been a bit dangerous, plus going that way would have taken us hours and by now we were really cold and wet through.

Luckily enough a little further down the trail we were able to ride certain parts  which helped get us to the road where my dad was going to meet us, though it was very sketchy in places due to all the rain fall.

It didn't take Ern all that long to get to us and the ride home was quite quick. It was lovely and warm in the car, Ern having the temperature set at around 20 degrees and the outside temp being at around 12. When we got home and got out of the car to take the bikes off and put our gear away, bloody hell it felt freezing lol. Straight in and a nice hot shower then straight to a proper bed, which I have practised not falling out of.

It wasn't until the next day when Lee and Al arrived at our door to say they were back and checking through my gear which I had left in our shed to dry that I discovered Kyle's brand new bivi bag had burn holes in it. Yep that crack in the fire had sent bit's of embers all over and one had burnt through his bag. Dammit I wasn't best pleased. More money. Oh and it was now that I got to find out that annoying Cow bell sound was Al's Billy can when I said "did you lot hear that cow bell sound last night" and Al said "ahh yeah that would have been my Billy Can I heard that" I don't know when as all I heard from Al was snoring he, was well away.

So plan is I will buy yet another bivi bag and give Kyle mine as we want to continue our adventures.

I was looking at this adventure as a fail, however my friends have tried to convince me it is just feedback, learn from your mistakes. A bit like life really...

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