Twas the weekend before Christmas.
Thanks to me(!) son no.1 has always spent time in the outdoors. So for Christmas I kitted him out a little further with a view to us spending more time out and exploring the joys of MicroAdventures together.
Earlier in 2014 he spent his first nights in a hammock and had enjoyed that but this would be different. With nothing over his head, just out under the stars, the cold of the night on his face, it would feel very different. Me, I’ve spent many a night like it over the years and I don’t think it can be beaten for that “getting back to nature” feeling.
But it is different.
That thin bit of material over your head in the form of a tarp when in a hammock or the two layers of a tents walls and roof change how it feels to be out quite dramatically. Security, privacy, warmth, comfort (to differing degrees), they are taken away and replaced with a rawness of being at one with the world and the environment.
And so, with a reasonable forecast, out we went. I wanted to head somewhere I knew well for his first trip out. Somewhere quiet and safe with shelter available if the exposure unsettled him or if out luck ran out and the remote chance of some rain came to fruition.
I took us to the same area as before. Not as cold as the week before, the ground was heavy with dew rather than crispy with frost. We went to a different spot, not far away on a patch of grass with flat ground by an empty cottage. We set up for the night and settled to watch the stars before sleep.
In the warmth of his sleeping bag encased in a bivvy bag, he slept well through the night, missing the most amazing shooting star I’ve ever seen. Incredibly bright, it lit up the sky as it streaked across the heavens in slow motion brighter than any I’ve ever seen before.
It was me who was restless through the night though. I don’t know why. I know the area and feel comfortable there but I was on edge all night, regularly waking, listening to animals calling and moving. Not helped by the light rain that started at about 05:30, it seems our luck had run out. Too tired to consider moving by then though we simply hunkered down into our bivvy bags.
As we awoke at a more sensible time (I have mixed blessings that he’s always woken early!) we were able to see first light break the blackness of the cloudy night skies.
It’s strange what you see looking back on pictures. A “Boots” carrier bag, protecting his boots from the damp of the night. Emblazoned with “feel good” as the tag line and it sure did feel good to be out there!
A strong breeze was also starting, coming at least partly from the North it was a cold wind. Bitterly cold!
And then, as the rising sun was trying to break through we had a visitor. A guy appeared with his dog, visiting for the day birdwatching. He didn’t mind us being there and was a fountain of useful information about the nature and history of the area.Of particular interest was that the cottage we were by dated from Napoleon times!
Having packed we wandered a little in the early morning light, making the most of being there
With a little luck on my side, I managed to capture a rare image of son no.1 actually looking towards the camera!
Notoriously camera shy, he wasn’t impressed and it was the only one.
With such a cold wind biting we decided to simply wimp out of breakfast there and head for home.
The spirit of the adventure intact after a great night out.
As we returned to the cars, others on a morning walk with their dogs questioned us in surprise at us sleeping out. We knew differently though. We had spent the night free from the confines of urban lights and noise, enjoying the outdoors and being close to nature again.
Until the next time…