I think I slept all of about two hours and they were from six-thirty to eight-thirty a.m. I had put the roll mat in the bivvy bag thinking that that way I wouldn’t slip off it all night. What ensued was that the bivvy bag was stretched tight against the sleeping bag—especially when you sleep on your side like I do—and so it was both claustrophobic and cold. The roll mat worked very well regarding cold though—it was just top and sides that suffered. Marry that with old hips that get sore sleeping on the floor, a beanie that kept moving all over my head, and the magical disappearing Wes, and it was a disaster. I watched the light finally disappear at about eleven-thirty, and reappear like fairy floss on the horizon at two-thirty. What sleep I did get was dotted with bizarre dreams. But, morning comes, you pack up, move on and determine to keep the roll mat on the outside and a B&B as an option tonight.
The walking today was a little more like what I experienced last year—fields, crops, and thistles. I got my first thistle burns yesterday when attempting a sly bathroom stop: one to the hand, which agitated me all day, one to the butt cheek, eek! There are far fewer places to stop along the way though. I had muesli bars for breakfast from my storage cellars, a chicken and bacon sandwich, crisps and (thank god) coffee for morning tea from a service station, and sugarless (eek) coffee and jaffa cakes for lunch at five-thirty at the pub I am staying in tonight—the Major’s Retreat in Tormarton.
I lay down for a lovely lie (no nap or snooze) in a field that turned out to be a wrong turn and which, through traversing and cutting back onto the path, meant I missed the largest nettle forest of the day. My legs are spotty all over though and the giant biting fly things have got me twice. I am totally okay with a fly that bites and sucks out all your blood as long as it anaesthetises first. These have mouths the equivalent of a tiny machete, and machete is the weapon I least fancy being faced with.
I wasn’t taking chances with B&Bs today and so when I caught the proprietor of the Major’s Retreat just before four and found he had a reasonably priced, if old looking and slightly fusty smelling, room available I took it. It meant more lying. I washed some socks and jocks and then took the jaffa cakes, coffee, socks, spotty dress and sequins out to the back yard and tried to get a tan on my toes. Once the sequins were done (thirteen), I lay and listened to the sounds of small English village life: the banging of farm-machinery repairs, the grug-grug-grug of an engine that won’t start, neighbours greeting each other in the street, tyres on gravel, and birdsong—including an amorous blackbird wooing what he thought was four potential mates in the breezy trees, but turned out to be my socks drying.
Result of all that lying: sunburn! I applied. I re-applied. No avail.
I had dinner—most of an enormous plate of roast lamb, roast and new potatoes, peas, carrots, cauliflower and Yorkshire pudding—with a lemonade and a Pig’s Ear local ale, sweet, nice. And now I am ready for a night of actual sleep with the remonstrance that breakfast doesn’t get served early here: fine with me!
Good night Tormarton. Good night you.