“How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”
– William Faulkner
It’s still vivid in my mind, although it’s one of my more faded travel memories. I was lying beneath a fan in a soft white room, listening to the gentle whop of the blades as they cut through the unctuous, salted air. I had read until my head ached – the black words buzzing against the confining page – then, when I could not continue, stared at the ceiling for hours more. All I could think about was home.
Places recede and patterns remain: the rustle of another fan, thousands of miles away, in a sweltering black den; the restless rain, skittering its fingers on my tent as we slept by the coast.
These far-flung sounds coalesce as I move farther from them, their details fusing as the features of a landscape blur when the train leaves the station. What persists of these memories is the feeling of being a stranger in a foreign land: a mixture of excitement and trepidation that was enhanced, I think, by the endless time that stretched ahead of me. Home was months and miles away.
Home is here now, and will be for a while. I am enjoying putting down roots, although sometimes those roots become restless, want to “up sticks” and explore. It’s charming to imagine taking a one-way ticket anywhere, but an adventure in miniature is perhaps a more realistic romance.
I discovered Alastair Humphreys and microadventures two years ago, while struggling through the final year of my undergraduate degree. Despite living ten minutes’ walk away from Primrose Hill, I missed the thrill of nearby wilderness that the Pacific Northwest had previously afforded me. A big, wide, walled city like London made me claustrophobic. I got as far as sending out a mass text suggesting a sleep-out in the Regent’s Park – not an exciting prospect in February – before giving up.
Three years of dedicated study in one place requires tenacity, and the academic rope-ladder unfurls before me. I’m ready and able to explore. Because now I live not in London, but in Bristol, where nature lives on my doorstep and, indeed, frequently crosses the threshold (I live near the hippy community of St. Werburgh’s). This city is easy to escape. Therefore, one of my 2017 resolutions was to do a microadventure each month – in the hopes that travelling in time, but not in time zones, could be moving. Below is a brief account, in photos, of January.
I set aside the weekend of the 21st – 22nd for my first microadventure, and was lucky to have the company of my friend Jack, who is both a cheerful soul in all situations, and an experienced camper and biker (as illustrated by the uneven bike loads).
We initially planned to bike out towards the coast beyond Weston-Super-Mare, and camp by the shore. However, Saturday dawned beautiful and frosty, with reports of 0 degrees for the coming night. It wouldn’t be fun to weather a cyclone. So we opted for a wee jaunt along the Bristol to Bath Railway Path, hoping to find a camping spot along the way.
Despite stiff competition from listings at Lakota, a frosty night in the countryside appealed. Waking up to a proper sunrise and the train passing in the valley below made for a memorable Sunday morning!
If you are looking for a two-man tent, I would highly recommend mine: the Salewa Micra II. It’s lightweight, spacious, waterproof, and an attractive shade of Kermit-the-Frog green. Find it here!
Stay tuned for the next post, which will hopefully be from Guatemala!