With the pressures of work and balancing family commitments against my other interests – not to mention a weekend away in Snowdonia – April’s microadventure was always going to be a squeeze. It also didn’t help that we’d had a sudden shift in our weather patterns as arctic air and heavy rain replaced what had been, up until last week, a beautiful settled period of sunny and warm weather.
So with the prospect of largely a settled night, yesterday saw us squeeze in a trip to the woods. Arguably we spent more hours on the trip in May than we did seeing out April, but let’s not split hairs here – we set off in April! Aiming for a 5 to 9 Microadventure we actually managed something nearer to 7 to 7 thanks to it being year-end at work but it was the manner in which it all unfolded that was the greatest joy – it just had a feeling of being how these things should be; effortless and enjoyable.
For convenience and ease our destination was the same as March, a small clearing in woods not far from where we both live. Whilst some things are all about location, for me these trips are primarily about reconnecting with nature and relaxing for a few hours with my good friend, Andy. That said we did then roll off a list of other places we need to sleep on, by or inside – a beach, a river, a cave….!
This being our fourth adventure, and the third on our bikes, I’ve got what I take pretty honed (and in one place at home which helps massively) and I’m settling on a good, if fairly standard, approach to laying the gear out on the bike. Last night was the first time I’d used my new Stooge on a trip so I also had the advantage of a Wildcat Gear frame bag for the first time to complement my Alpkit bags. The extra few litres from the frame bag was a great help in lightening the load on my back. I could still definitely cut back, but it’s hard to shake the ‘prepare for the worst, hope for the best’ mentality I’ve always had, particularly with the weather we’ve had of late.
On arrival it’s a great feeling to know that once you’ve thrown down your sleeping mat and stuffed your bag inside your bivvy bay you’re pretty set to just sit and unwind. We cooked our dinners (mine was Red Thai Chicken Curry and rice just for the record) to the sounds of Tawny Owls and territorial Blackbirds and, later, some frisky foxes. Proving a small degree of refinement can be brought to even the most basic of overnight camps, we chilled around our small fire with an egg custard tart and a Jack Daniels Honey (with ginger beer – after all it was a school night!).
With the shorter nights, we didn’t need the fire for long so once it was a safe pile of glowing embers we retired to our bags. Just as I was drifting off Mr Fox realised how fantastic he must have been feeling and thought he’d make another move. I hope for her sake it was worth it!
The night was comfortable and, more importantly, dry. Sadly the beautiful sunrise I saw with one eye at 5.30am had all but gone when the alarm went off at 6am so rather than hang about we packed up our stuff and pushed our way back to the main track for home. Andy joked that we had our ‘adventure’ on Snowdon, so this was the ‘micro’. Whatever it was, it felt right. It was just what I had wanted when I first read about microadventures. It was a few hours away from it all to unwind and relax.