A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Backyard Backpacking Trip Report (You Know It's What You've All Been Waiting For!)

Date: Tuesday 6 July 2010.

Site: Back garden lawn, Trent valley, Nottinghamshire.

Weather: Sunny, occasional cloud, cloudier by late afternoon. Forecasted light rain showers did not materialise.

Temp: Max 23ºC Min 14ºC.

Wind: WSW 7 mph.

Visibility: Clear.

Distance walked: 30 metres.

Test gear: Hilleberg Akto solo backpacking tent, GoLite Quest rucksack, Therm-A-Rest NeoAir mattress.

Other gear: Vango Venom sleeping bag, Petzl headtorch, Silva compass (unused), Coleman F1 Lite stove (unused), first-aid kit (unused), book - The English Path by Kim Taplin (unread), Apple ipod (unlistened-to), pyjamas (well, they were handy, since I was so near the house - but they were quite 'cool' ones, no Paisley pattern, honest), teddy bear (only joking).

Dangerous wild animals seen: none.

19.00: Stride purposefully with near-empty GoLite rucksack to inspect tent already erected earlier that day. Seems OK. Firm, stable, and unruffled by ever-so-slight breeze which had been teasingly playing around garden a couple of hours beforehand.

19.30: Quick dash 30 metres indoors for start of Uruguay v Holland World Cup semi-final. I have £1 on Holland to win!

21.30: Seem to have stayed indoors to watch whole match - instead of preparing 'Wayfarer' dehydrated meal on camping stove! Never mind. I'm really hungry now.

21.31: Seems a shame not to eat in kitchen left-over shepherd's pie and veg from last night's meal. Yum! (Plus a few cans of beer from fridge.) 'Wayfarer' treat will have to wait till another day!

22.00: Dark now. Stumble 30 metres back to tent, entangling feet en route in hosepipe left uncoiled on patio. Damn and blast! Luckily emerge unscathed - so no need for emergency first-aid kit stowed in top flap of new GoLite rucksack.

22.04: Fall headlong into new Hilleberg Akto tent, landing rather heavily on new Therm-A-Rest NeoAir mattress. But all OK. Tent upright, and mattress still full of air, though glowing a lurid, phosphorescent kind of yellow. Or is that my imagination? Who cares. Tired, so strip off, put on extremely 'cool' cotton pyjamas (normally, on proper backpacking trip, would take warm, technical, synthetic, wicking, figure-hugging, skin-moulding, sexy black undie-things, it goes without saying) and burrow into Vango Venom sleeping bag (not new this, but tried and tested many times in past, and now recently washed - the down lofted up brilliantly!)

22.09: Oh, forgot to tell you - Holland won match ... which makes me £0.67 better off!

22.35: Wake with a start after falling asleep almost immediately. Reason becomes clear as toilet flushes once more from within house. Looks like everyone (lovingpartner plus mother-in-law who's staying with us for few months) is up and about and making all kinds of noise. There's also muffled boom of TV. With me out the way, I bet they're all catching up on reruns of Desperate Housewives.

23.55: Wake up again. Regret drinking beer. Clumsily unzip inner tent (my fault not tent's) and stagger outside for pee. Apart from this, only sounds are frog plopping in pond, next-door cat yowling, lorry gearing up from nearby road junction, distant aircraft, and late-night drunk making indecipherable (well suppose could be mystical if I were in better mood) clamour from pub car park. Ah, the peace and quiet of village life! No noise from house, however, and no lights on. I bet they've both finished off case of wine and gone to bed.

00.30: Awake again, dammit! Why does filling toilet cistern sound so incredibly loud from garden? So they must have drunk wine after all. Bastards!

Much later: Why is ground so hard? Who tampered with air valve in mattress? Why do I still feel hungry despite eating left-over shepherd's pie and veg? Why do I need go pee again? Is this normal or prostate-related? (More likely beer-related - yes, I know.) And while we're at it, what is the meaning of life? (Did anyone discover this while I slept?) Even more important - which team shall I back to win World Cup final on Sunday? After all my Caminos, must support Spain, I think ...

Even later: Dawn breaks. A blackbird sings. All's well with the world. I rub my eyes and sigh sleepily but contentedly in my sleeping bag. Nothing like waking up in the Great Outdoors. Even if that Great Outdoors is your own back garden. And a garden in dire need of some serious gardening. Or so I'm told. But, in the meantime, I'm lying here at peace with the world. I look at my watch. 5 am. A cool, still air. With two blackbirds singing now. All is well. Yes, all's well.

Later that morning: Oh, and to conclude the Backyard Backpacking Trip Report: all items performed magnificently. Oh, yes. Great tent, great rucksack, great mattress. Great everything.


Laura said...

Thanks for sharing - made me smile numerous times!

George said...

I am so envious, Robert, thinking all this time that I had a great adventure on the C2C, when the big adventure was there in my backyard all the time. True, the rocky fell paths were sometimes treacherous, but nothing like walking across a minefield of hosepipe after shepherds pie, a couple of beers, and a soccer match. Needless to say, I laughed all the way through this posting, thinking all the time that you would cave about two in the morning and return to your other abode. The fact that you persevered is a testament to your commitment to the Great Outdoor LIfe. I do, however, hope that you got some rest the following night.

Bonnie said...

All of that just to avoid your visiting mother-in-law? :-) Now if I can just rid myself of the image of your in paisley cotton jamies with your teddy bear ...

am said...


My new/old job is keeping me from traveling, and my backyard is a second-story porch with planters on it (and mosquitoes this time of year) but I am happy to find time for some walking again. I enjoyed looking through your recent travel posts. I didn't know the source for the quote about the two doctors, right foot and left foot. Thanks so much for that! And I've got to get a copy of Rebecca Solnit's book on walking.

Lorenzo said...

As Captain Renault said in Casablanca: "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here"

Anonymous said...

I see that you had to walk and/or run the entire distance of your route several times. You don't seem to mention footware. Are you trying barefoot walking. Did you get blisters? If not, how did you prevent them?


The Weekend Dude said...

I'm just thankfull that we don't come across those pesky hosepipes out in the wild, they could be responsible for a whole host of injuries that no emergency first aid kit could rectify! Sounds like a great trip though (not referring to the hose on that occasion).astabi

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Very reminiscent of more than a few overnighters in various crowded parking lots masquerading as campgrounds. Except for the shepherd's pie.

Prostrate issues aside, I'd say needing only two pee breaks speaks rather well for your beer-holding abilities—of course it may simply reflect considerable practice and a long-suffering liver.

I do, however, worry about your obvious oversight in leaving that wine to the clutches of the wife and mother-in-law. What were you thinking? Must I remind you that a pair of tipsy women are apt to inflict all sorts of mischief on a soused soccer fan sleeping it off in a back-yard tent? You were vulnerable, my friend. Besides, a few more liters of wine on top of the beer would have assuaged those hunger pains and rendered you deaf to those toilet flushes, cat yowls, frog plops, and late-nights drunks barfing and bellowing from the village pub.

(Well, there is the thought that you might have broken the jug during that hose-stumbling episode, fallen on an upturned shard of glass, sliced open an artery, and bled to death in drunken shame in your new tent and sleeping bag, atop that snazzy new mattress…and done unforgivably so when NOT wearing those "warm, technical, synthetic, wicking, figure-hugging, skin-moulding, sexy black undie-things.")

ksam said...

Any commentary from the neighbors?? Not sure what mine would think if one of us started camping in the backyard! (not that I'd especially care mind you!)

All in all, sounds like a grand time was had by all (MIL included!) Between your entry and the responses..one of the best reads I've had in a while!

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks to you all for such amusing and illuminating responses!

Laura - glad it made you smile :)

George - perseverance, or bloody-minded true Brit grit, is the key to endurance on the lonesome, backyard trail, that's for sure ...

Bonnie - can't you think of me in the black undie whatsits instead..?

am - yes, I came across the source of that quotation just recently, I thought you might appreciate it ...
Solnit's book is wonderful, you'll love it, I'm convinced ...

Lorenzo - bet you're not ..!

Andy - it was barefoot all the way - impressive, or what..?

Weekend Dude - it was a great trip, a momentous trip, despite the hosepipe fiasco - less dangerous than snakes, I suppose ...

Grizzled - do you mean long-suffering liver of two months with MIL..?

Karin - one neighbour is deaf, the other we haven't seen for years, so no problem there. Glad you enjoyed the post!