My December Microadventure was by far the least glamorous. It was nearing the end of the year, and rather than walking to a nearby field or wood, I, for some reason chose to sleep in the back garden of my family home. I guess all great adventures start with your friend’s in your garden when you’re a child, where you spend hours putting up your Dad’s mould encrusted tent, filling it with duvets and eventually falling asleep to ghost stories and gurgles from bellyfulls of sugary snacks you’d spent the previous week hording.
This time I had no tent, no friend and no sweets. I could have just stayed in my bed, but where is the fun in that? My mattress was replaced with a couple of patio furniture pillows on top of a roll mat, my duvet was replaced with a sleeping bag, my tent with a bivvy bag. But, even though slightly mad, I was looking forward to it.
“If You Know Where To Look You Can Go With A Penny Around The World”
I graduated as a Wilderness Guide in Finland around June 2015, and instead of getting a flight home, I decided to hitch-hike. Why? Not sure really, just fancied it. The thought scared me but also sounded like fun.
I felt a real sense of freedom and tranquillity during this trip, which I think was due to the simplicity of my routine. I got up, had breakfast, packed my things, stood by the side of the road, stuck my thumb out, got some lifts, admired the changing landscapes, the changing faces, conversed in English / broken English / extremely broken German / hand gestures / sat in silence, thanked people for their time, looked at my map, ate some food, stuck my thumb out, philosophised about my situation at that present moment, then repeated this until I felt like it was time to find somewhere to sleep.
My sister gave me a call and asked whether I was free the following Monday and Tuesday, and strangely I was. I was working the weekend so had the time off in lieu. We originally planned to drive up to Scotland and do some camping up there, but as we only had one night, we settled for Wales, and revisited an area we used to go as kids.
We were not exactly sure where we were driving, but once we spotted the Gower Inn we knew we were in the right area. The outdoor playground had gone, but the pub looked largely the same as far as I could tell – the last time we had been here was over 15 years ago. We parked in the car park and had a quick pint before getting our things together and setting off.
For the first time in 3 months I actually managed to sleep wild before the last day of the month. This time I was accompanied by my friend Joose, a course mate from our Wilderness Guide training in Finland. We spent the day walking a relaxed 13 miles in the Surrey hills near to me. We walked slowly and took long breaks, looking at the views and sipping on beers. The pace was a surprise to me, as the Joose was renowned for an almost super human speed – earning him the nickname T1000, as we were unsure whether he was even human!
A work colleague also joined us for the night, losing his wild camping virginity. It was great to be sleeping outdoors again, especially with some friends. We sat around the campfire chatting, the conversation periodically fading as our gazes were persuaded into the flickering embers of the campfire.
Following suit from the previous month’s night sleeping wild, I slept out on the last day of the month. I hastily stashed my things in my bag, grabbed some warm clothes and headed to the woods. I borrowed the infra-red camera from work – which we use for taking photos of wildlife – in the hope something might walk straight past me whilst I was sleeping – it didn’t. It was a clear night so I didn’t bother with a bivvi bag, and just took the sleeping bag, which I regret, as although calm, the slight breeze went straight through the side of the bag. Ignore the temperature it says on the photo, I am not sure what it was, but it certainly wasn’t 23 degrees!
After missing out on a July Microadventure, I almost did the same for August. Realising my mistake I took to the woods on the night of the 31st. Me and a couple of friends went for a walk, and after a while of chatting they retreated home. At this point I quickly got my sleeping bag and liner into my bivvy bag, as by now it was chucking it down. I have only got a summer sleeping bag at the moment, so knew it could potentially be a chilly one. To combat this I was wearing a lot of clothes, including thermals and a fleece or two.
In short, I somehow didn’t go on a microadventure in July. I feel like I did, but I cannot find any photo evidence of it, or have any memory of any kind of it. So, I conlcue that infact i didnt go on one. Dammit! Well I failed this yearly challenge somewhat. I have since been on ones in August and September… Both on the last day of the months.
In June and previous months I went on a couple of overnighters but didn’t post about them. So, shamelessly I will tell you about one of them on this post (to make me feel better about forgetting to go on one in July).
My June Microadventure was spent with friends from the UK on an Island that from a bird’s eye view looked like a penis. It was actually a few days before midsummers in Finland, but the night was so beautiful, long and otherwordly that it felt like the true midsummers this year for me. (The actual midsummers was spent at a laavu in Seitseminen National Park with 2 random Finnish guys who were out-of-their-minds drunk).
Midsummer is exactly what it sounds like, the halfway point of the year, where the days are long and the nights are short. The further north you head the longer the days, and here the sun rose at roughly 03:42 and set at 23:09, meaning throughout the night it felt like twilight.
We borrowed two of the schools kayaks, loaded them up with our gear, carried them to the lake and set off with the intention of commandeering an island. The British and German navy teaming up for a small weekend adventure. The air was moist and damp, a threatening array of clouds circled in all directions and the wind spontaneously slapped you every now and then – the weather felt more British then Finnish.
Armed with only the clothes on my back, a puuko knife, some matches, and a compass and map, I was sent off into the wilderness for a night. No sleeping bag or roll mat, no food or water. Why would you do that I hear you ask? This challenge was part of the course I am currently on, and was done to give a first hand feeling of being in a survival situation. Hopefully allowing us to dip into the emotions you may feel and the challenges you might face when you are stranded, dehydrated, hungry and cold.