I waited. More rustling. Then squeaking. I frantically tapped the bottom of the tent, then lay back down again to wait. After a long interval, a much reduced rustling resumed. Content that I was in no imminent danger of mouse attack I pulling the toggles of of my sleeping bag tight around my head to muffle the sound and went back to sleep.
I didn’t wake up until seven the following morning! Twelve hours lying down might sound excessive, but my body definitely needed it. With relief I saw that the clouds had not deposited rain, and had prevented the formation of dew. For once I could put the tent away dry.
There are four ways you can lose heat. You can radiate it out as an energy wave like light (through your windows if you don’t have curtains). Another object could conduct it away from you by direct contact (the ground when you’re camping). A flowing substance like air or water, that you are in, could convect it away by the warm molecules moving away from you and being replaced by colder ones. You can also think that you are cold and your body will believe you. I once chatted to a night security patrol in Canada. He was from Poland, I was compulsively shivering in my many layers and I asked him how he kept from getting cold. “Tell yourself you’re not cold.” he said with a shrug.
At night, the main form of heat loss from the Earth is radiation, straight out into space. This means that if there is cloud cover, it intercepts the radiation and keeps in the heat. The reason that we get dew and frost is because if it is a clear night the heat just keeps radiating out and the atmosphere above becomes so cold that the moisture in it condenses or freezes and falls to the ground. That’s why the ground air temperature could be above freezing but frost still form, and if something is undercover, it doesn’t have frost on it.
The geology had changed to clay and slipped and slid over the wet footpaths. As I left Frampton Cotterll I found a tea room to eat a hot breakfast, and drink that magic elixir, tea.
The tea room was packed with men. In beachwear. Some were in womens beachwear. It is difficult for men to fit everything into beachwear designed for women. Not being familiar with the local customs of Frampton Cotterll I did not want to be quick to pass judgement.
I listened (one could not avoid it) as I ate, until they struck up a conversation with me. My first silent guess of a stag do had been wrong, but my second of rugby players hit the mark. They were on their annual team tour day and, except for the minibus driver, the drinking was well underway. It was going to be a messy weekend for them.
I felt I was getting into my stride now, even if it was a slippery muddy one. The pack was still too heavy and hurt my shoulder but I enjoyed the walking, looking around and thinking. I see people rushing to and from jobs and shopping, in and out of their cars. I feel so grateful not to be going to a job, not to be buying things and to be able to walk.
Walking through Yate, a sterile shopping center full of chain stores, describes itself as ‘The heart of the community. 4 hrs free parking. Open 7 days’. I wondered how the community felt about it’s ‘heart’ being described as such. I don’t know if statements like that are covered by libel. It’s a relief now that most shops have no relevance to me.
Quite a few years back I had to sell a flat and I move into a room in a rented shared house. I’d been saving money since I was sixteen and I put my savings into the mortgage. The thing is, you don’t own a mortgaged house. The bank does. And the flat devalued.
‘Safe as houses’ is a phrase which may change in meaning over the next fifty years. My savings were mostly gone, but I still had a job. At the time I was still largely locked into a way of viewing life as secure or insecure. The concept of resilience had not yet taken root. My best friend told me ‘It’s freedom, and cheap at the price’. Despite the stress, she was right. Truly right. Removing the sword of the mortgage from over my head was a huge relief. But so was the clear out of thirteen bags of stuff. The reduction in stress from removing clutter from my life was enormous. With every bag I got rid of I felt physically lighter and freer. Then when I went travelling for a year I delightedly sold or gave away most of the rest of my possessions, leaving a few boxes with my parents.