Thursday, 5 February 2009

Oh no, our little home, what has the evil snow done to you?

Today I worked from my friends flat where we have been holed up for the last few days, primarily because it had snowed and the journey would have been painful but also as it would enable me to go and check out the tent during my lunch break. I had not yet had a daylight opportunity to go to the farm and sort it out and today was a bit of a grizzly chore.

When I arrived the old girl was in a sorry state. Covered in snow and ice, the entrance was the only think that marked it as a tent rather than a pile of snowy lumps. I got out my ice shovel (thank you snowboarding brother who abandoned his kit with me last year) and set about clearing it. Once I had shovelled all of the ice and snow from the top I could lift the sopping wet canvas just enough to be able to get out the things that we knew would not survive. We grabbed bedding, rugs and clothes. Tuff-crates, stoves, air beds and the like would be relatively unharmed by a couple more days in the drink and time was very short.

The pole had bent clean in half. Monica (the farmers wife, I can talk about these things now that I am leaving!) came over and grabbed the pole insisting that it would be fine in 5 minutes and scuttled off with it. True enough, she appeared 5 minutes later with pole in hand. She had been to see Richard my welding buddy who had done a credible repair to the pole, chopping off the top that was bent and inserting a new, tougher bit of iron bar and welding it into place. Grand. We got a chance to quickly put it up to make sure it was strong enough and we then we laid it to rest for fear that it would collapse again under the predicted volume of snow.

When up, we could see that the tent had quite extensively flooded and where one of the rugs had been sat in standing water for some time, it had leached some dye into the water. This made the tent look like the floor was covered in blood. Which was then traipsed across the snow as rugs and the like were removed. It looked like serious violence had been done upon that spot, I tell thee.

So, we have been offered a bed tomorrow night on the farm which we are going to take up. We are going to get up nice and early on the Saturday morning and we are going to take down the tent and pack everything into the trailer, upon whence we shall bid farewell to our home since September last year. The atmosphere has been quite solemn since we got back after lunch. TLB remarked that she was sad and just wanted a few more days in the tent before we head off to Dorset. Life in the tent is just not possible now, bedding is with dry cleaners*, floor is flooded and there are not enough daylight hours available to sort it out whilst we are both working.

It has always struck me as a bit of a vulnerability of tent life. We often considered cleaning the tent but to do so would take at least 2 days. Clear the tent, take it somewhere to hose and scrub, apply waterproofing gubbins, take it home, allow to dry, reinstall stuff. Any major changes to the tent environment hinge around the fact that we have to sleep in it. We couldn't send off bits of the stove for repair as we needed them on a daily basis to cook and stay warm. We are now on our third airbed and each time, we have had to obtain a new one** within a day just to ensure that we did not have a miserable nights sleep.

I think what I am trying to say is thankyou to TLB without whom this whole caper would have been infinitely harder. Her day to day sprucing and stoking, hunting and gathering has given a dimension of domesticity to our little tent. Without her it would have been a great deal harder to maintain a reasonably civilised persona at work and at home. This has been her adventure more than mine and I am hugely looking forward to the adventures that she can take me on in our new home in Dorset.

This all sounds very final. On the upside we have a fantastic but slightly weathered tent and stove, trailer and towbar, loads of memories, new friends and money in the bank. When we get to Dorset I am going to take up Morris dancing. The adventure is far from over.

*It may seem to some that we are the epitome of middle class campers and this is probably not untrue, but we do require a certain degree of comfort in order to make this whole ventureworthwhile. When your £150 goose down duvet is stained and soaked through, I am inclined to give it to an expert to salvage rather than ruin it myself.

**I have fixed many a bike puncture, but trying to get an entire airbed underwater when every drop within a mile is frozen to find the leak is not something I can recommend.


Anonymous said...

Too bad about TLB's sisters being 'fully domesticated' already. Well, I had to ask :-)

Sorry your tent ended up getting half-destroyed. As you pointed out before, it's definitely 'the luck of the non-Irish' to end up spending the winter in a tent during the worst weather we've had in the UK for a generation.

Looking forward to more postings in the future, whatever road life takes you down. All the best to TLB for the new job & for you both in the new place.

Cheers Ben & Bella, from Chris in Norwich - yeah, I know :-(

chris [at]

Anonymous said...

Good luck to you both, and thanks for the enjoyable reads (although I skipped most of your pooey buttocks post). Hope you get the old girl dried out ASAP.

Barraldo said...


I have read your entire blog with delight, I am inspired that there are people like you out there having adventures such as this. Please don't stop writing as I woul dbe intrigued to hearof future antics in Dorset. The very best of luck to you all, you deserve it.

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