My work has finished for the summer. I have 6 weeks before I start my next job in September. Clapham, London this time. My parents gave me money for my birthday and I bought myself a bivvy bag with it. I have a friend, who I admire greatly, who regulary goes off for microadventures. Either by herself or with friends and her family. We had messaged a few times and she advised me on the bivvy bag she had recently purchased. A bivvy bag, in case you don’t know, converts your sleeping bag into a shelter for the evening. It’s a waterproof, breathable bag, that slips over your own sleeping bag, allowing you to sleep out in the open; breathing in fresh air and waking to sunrise. I had made plans to stay, have wine and chats Friday night, with my friend Richie and I mentioned to him about the possibilty of me sleeping in his garden. Baby steps, thought I.
He was quite happy for me to do that, adding that he had done that a few times himself. So I packed up what I need and set off on the hour and half car journey to Bishopsteignton in Devon. It was a dry evening and we sat outside in his garden, eating cottage pie (my favourite; my friends really know me) drinking wine and catching up on the last few months. As the light started to fade the conversation turned to sleeping in the garden. “Are you serious about that?” He asks. “Yup,” I reply. “I have an alternative,” he says and then proceeded to tell me about a friend who owns a wood, within walking distance from his house. He’d actually phoned him earlier, asking permission for us to camp there tonight and we had the go ahead. I was definitely up for it. So, after R had gathered together what was needed (bacon and eggs from his chickens for breakfast, wine, cheese, crisps and lighter) we set off, up the hill to his friends wood.
It was about 9 in the evening by the time we got there. After decideding that the wood itself was too dense to build a fire, we made camp on the edge, with a wonderful view down to the sea. We gathered wood and then R got to work making us a campfire for the night. By the time the sky had gone dark, we had a campfire burning. With goblets of red wine and cheese and crisps to hand, the evening was perfect. We talked long into the night, until R decided that 02:30 was the time to turn in.
The night was overcast, but we were still able to see clearly, even when the fire had gone out. I’m not the best of sleepers, especially that first night in an unknown place, so my night was more dozing and it wasn’t many hours before the dawn chorus would start.
There is something really quite wonderful about sleeping out in the fresh air, with nothing above you but sky. Those that know me, know a lot has gone on in my life recently, and I spent a long while, gazing up into the heavens, just thinking. Every now and again, as the sky got lighter, a warm, soft wind would blow over the top of my head. There was a small spattering of rain, but nothing to be concerned about. And then, after a tentative start from one bird, the whole dawn chorus erupted. I dozed on and off and then glanced at my watch; nearly 6am.
Eventually, just before 7am we started to get up. R suggested that perhaps I’d like to go back to his house for morning coffee and a fry up instead of having it here and I agreed. We packed away, making sure our campfire was definitely out and then walked back a different way to his house. The sun was rising (although it was still overcast) and I had to stop every now and then to drink in the view. Shaldon and Teignmouth was below us as we walked down the hill towards his house and the world was waking up. After a delicious breakfast with freshly brewed coffee, I was then on my way again; heading back to Cornwall.
It was the best introduction to camping under the stars. I now have plans to sleep by the sea. What could be more soothing than listening to the waves as you fall asleep? I came away feeling utterly soothed, so thank you, Richie, for making it possible for me 🙂