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  • Writer's pictureDandelion

Ten down,

Updated: Nov 26, 2018

Wild camping

Wild camping with Foo the five year old

4 mile cycle to school with Foo

Vegan Week

Buy a van

20s head stand on a paddleboard

Start a blog

Wild camp on PednV

Cycle to school

California solo

So, the wild camping kicked it all off, and it was great. Fears soon disappeared and all I was left with was joy of nature (and a crick in my neck). I was so delighted that I was able to plan straight into camping with the critter the following weekend which was even more incredible. He was so intrepid and enthusiastic, we talked about the stars and the animals, physics and photography, we talked and talked until the sky was black and he was fast asleep. The full moon was glorious. I wild camped fairly soon again this time with a friend, a beer and others who had thought the Summer Solstice a good night the sleep on a beautiful hill.

Then it was on to cycling with Foo to school, a bigger bike with gears had thrown his confidence so an expedition was arranged. I did reconnaissance of the route and we drew and labelled a map, we talked about stopping locations and discussed what snack would be eaten at each location. Chocolate was carefully repacked into special wrappers aimed at maximum incentive for a small boy with little legs and some big hills. We did several training exercises to see that we could do the first big hill and once that was in the bag his confidence soared and a date was chosen. It took an hour total and he was so determined even on the last hill he pedalled just like Edward the Blue Engine "I know I can, I know I can"

Vegan week... easy. Can't believe it. 10 years ago it just wouldn't have been possible for this human, or even 5, but that is a positive sign of how rapidly we can change when we want to. The only chore was not being able to eat left overs from critters plates. I do hate waste, so overcoming this inability to stop great food from being binned was the only problem... that and when I wasn't allowed the mint buttered potatoes as the using of olive oil had been forgotten.

Buying a van. We could theoretically get all our paraphernalia (bikes, surfboard, paddle board, kayak, dog, 5 humans) on/in the estate, but, we were wider on top than down below, the boot wouldn't open because of the kayak, the dog would have been allowed a space the size of a piece of A4, and would've been trapped in the boot and the bikes would have been tangled on the tow bar fitting. I wrote an almost exhaustive list of advantages of van over volvo and once the sheer logic of my suggestion hit home the Snail was duly found and the Slug was dispatched.

The headstand... I thought of paddling the Yealm or some river in Sussex, but with the rowing etc I thought this instead was significantly different and difficult, turns out it was easy. I told someone else, they thought it was crazy, the next day they had done it too. It's amazing that our abilities are sometimes much more than we think. I said to Bear that annoyingly I have to do them close as the waves are calmer in the bay, but it means that more people can see. He thought the reason I did it was exactly that, so I could show off! Paf.

Starting a blog... a whole blog post has been dedicated to blogging, (and a mini follow up).

Wild Camp on PednVounder. My fourth wild camp of the year, it was awesome, an evening stroll down to the BEST beach in the world. Sublime, serene and mild. I reread notes from courses I'd taken in the US, did handstands, drank coffee from my flask, listened to bird singing, the full moon came up and I watched waves whilst eating dark chocolate. It was brilliant. I snuggled into my bivvy bag and congratulated myself on the marvellosity of it all. I woke up. It was about 3:30am and it was raining, I ignored the rain. It got louder, as did the waves. I checked the waterproofness of my bivvy, it was holding. I must have slipped in and out of sleep, but by 5 it was pretty persistent. Serenity had gone, raging seas roared. The waves were massive, my normal route out was not an option and I'd agreed to be back by 6:30, so waiting out for a dropping tide was not an option. I packed up and in the early dawn managed to locate the emergency escape route that I knew existed, but in the previous 9 years had never needed, and returned to base camp a bedraggled but triumphant camper.

I reckoned the only time I could feasibly cycle to my new school was in INSET week, when I had no marking to carry, no lunches, no extra faff. I'd looked at the routes, worked out the ration of road to trail and figured that day 2 was optimum. Day 1 I got my new desk, met my colleagues and my new head of Physics strode in in bycra, I picked his brain. He said something like 'well naturally you'll do the Downs'. I had not really considered this thoroughly... in fact that option had been discarded immediately. But I checked the route, thought why not and on morning 2 I set off. So I did get lost, and took some incredible detours through proper mountain biking terrain, but I loved it. 9 miles of utter fun amongst glorious scenery and some wild animals. Job done, tickety tick, move on... actually no, I enjoyed it too much. So, I did it again in week 2, and then did it twice in week 3, and twice every week thereon. Each time, changing and perfecting the route, meeting other bikemuters, learning about punctures and CO2 cylinders, getting day-glo kit and eventually finding Strava and beginning to really try and get significantly stronger. I have just had to give it up as it is pitch black, and off road in the slippery wet is just not a safe choice right now. I might need to write a short book about the mayhem encountered in just one 1/2 term of cycling...

California Solo. The opportunity was just too good. I'm on half term but the boys are not, would I just sit about the house folding, tidying, faffing? Friends made in there are too fabulous not to visit; find cheap flights, just hand luggage, intricate childcare sorted, everything prepared, cupboards bursting with clean stuff, but my boys on a different continent, an extraordinary proposition, excitement and anxiety. It takes time to sort my thoughts, once I untangle the feelings I realise that words will help, so I write a love letter to my boys explaining how much I love them, but this is not a letter for them to read, it would be a letter for them should one of my ridiculously unlikely catastrophe situations actually happen. To know that everything carries a risk and sometimes ignoring your dreams and wishes and staying home is more dangerous. That statistically the A273 is more likely to hurt me than a transatlantic flight, although I am attempting to get a pedestrian crossing there. It was an amazing week and I had so much quality time, and all my detailed childcare plans went so smoothly that I am still unable to believe it all happened, luckily I did take the odd photo from over there which remind me it was reality.

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