Monday, 15 December 2008

Back from Holiday

Sorry for the lack of posts in the last week but we have been on holiday. We made it our mission for the week to take in some of the finest views available to man from around the west country, we spent the first half of the week on Exmoor and were very pleased to be able to upgrade from the tent to a shed in my fathers garden. When I say a shed, it is actually a wood panelled out house full of carpets and paintings with a glorious view of the sea, from which we could stage our various ascents up the hills in the area. The only notable failure was from the top of Dunkery Beacon where we found ourselves shrouded in cloud for our whole visit, other than that it was a most uplifting visit.

The second half of the week was spent visiting our mothers, reassuring them as to our well being and catching up on the gossip. It surprised me how much I have adapted to living in a tent in a relatively short time. Seemingly trivial things like taps and power sockets were amongst the most adored facilities, allowing us to run baths, charge phones and laptops and wash up with surprising ease. I have never been the most disciplined washer up but having spent a few months heating water on top of a wood burning stove, I will never again take for granted the convenience of taps.

By the end of the week both TLB and I were starting to miss the tent and we were very pleased to get back on Saturday to find a pallet of heat logs awaiting us and that nothing had been stolen from the trailer which had been left on the farm. All in all a very satisfying holiday with minimal cost incurred. I have now only a week or two until the Christmas season kicks on in earnest and can enjoy another healthy dose of leisure time.

I must admit that the fire logs feel like a bit of a cop out, they do exactly what they purport to do, but there is something of an artifice in their use. Without considerable facilities it would be nigh on impossible to manufacture them myself, but I can justify this through my lack of storage space to season and process my own wood. During my holiday I bought a fire steel, I have decided that whilst living in a tent it would serve me well to use some of my new found spare time in developing my skills as general wild man.

I have found the best thing to catch the sparks from the steel are those small cotton wool pads. One of these will very quickly take the spark and provide enough flame to catch the kindling. I look forward in due course to finding material that will replace the cotton wool pads with something that I can forage myself so I may spend a little time this week, gathering some different types of bark and seeing which will shred into the best sort of spark catcher. There is no huge shortage of disposable fire making apparatus in Hampshire but it does keep me entertained nonetheless.

In one of the buildings on the farm there is an metal artist's workshop. He installed a wood burning stove a couple of weeks ago and I popped in to say hello and enquire about the possibility of having a fire bowl made. I knew I was in good company when I spotted that he was wearing a Hendrix shirt whilst banging away in his workshop and we started to talk about the merits of US vs UK psychedelic rock and types of wood best suited to stove use. It turns out he is needing some work done to his website and is greeted by a barrage of tuts and um's everytime he seeks professional advice. I had a quick look at his website and he was very pleased to hear that I thought it would be a doddle to fix him up with a system he could easily manage himself. We have in principle agreed to do a skill swop, I will teach him to manage his website, and he will teach me to weld and to make my own fire bowl. No tax, no inflation, just good honest trading and sharing of resources. I very much look forward to starting my apprenticeship.

TLB looks like she may have found a job, which is excellent, but I am a little scared it may bring my tent oddessey to a premature end as it seems to be bundled with a free house but all of these details are to be ironed out in the new year but that is enough for now, I shall post a couple more entries in the next few days between the Christmas barrage of champagne cocktail parties and canapes.

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