The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Week 7 - Routine and MP3

Distance so far: 705 miles

Our tent days have a definite routine to them. It's been pretty much unchanged since day 1 and goes something like this:

The alarm goes off at 6am. Mick groans a bit and asks if we can have an extra half an hour. I leap out of bed, pack away my things and set about making cups of tea and boiling water for porridge.

The porridge cooks itself in the pot cosy whilst we're packing the tent away and then at 7.30 we're away.

It doesn't seem to make much difference how much or how little we need to do before we set off in the morning, it's still invariably within 10 minutes of 7.30 when we get away.

After 2 hours of walking (give or take, depending on views and suitable stopping points) we take five or ten minutes for second breakfast.

After another hour and a half to two hours (give or take) we stop for ten minutes or so for elevenses.

After another couple of hours, if we're not within spitting distance of our destination, we stop for lunch.

Once we're pitched (something we have down to a fine art (did I mention that we switched back from Wendy to the TN Voyager at Hebden Bridge?)) there's the blog to type, notes to write, maps to faff with and the next few days provisions to think about.

The evening meal making process generally starts about 6pm and depending on whether we're using gas or the Bushbuddy can take a while. In line with stereotype, Mick's the hunter-gatherer (or the gatherer at any rate) who goes in search of Bushbuddy fuel; I cook. Mick washes up.

Before we know it it's bed time, which can be anytime after 8.30pm. In we get to our sleeping bags and out come the talking books.

I was worried when we set out that a 1GB MP3 player each wasn't going to be enough and that we would have run out of listening matter in the first couple of weeks.

It didn't take me long to realise that, for me, running out of audio book just wasn't going to be a problem.

Listening to books in other situations works just fine for me. What I've now found is that when snuggled in my sleeping bag, nine nights out of ten I'll be asleep within ten minutes.

Every night I get into my sleeping bag, put an earphone into an ear and set about trying to work out where I'd listened to the night before. Shortly afterwards I fall asleep and half an hour, maybe an hour later I wake for long enough to switch the player off.

One week, quite impressively, I managed to fall asleep on three consecutive nights whilst still in the process of trying to get back to the point where I'd fallen asleep previously. It took me eight days to listen to chapter 14 of Northern Lights (and I'd already been on Chapter 8 when we set off!). They're really not long chapters.

Mick is having more success in listening, but that does mean that he will run out of material way before we run out of country (and we've already swapped books).

For this rest day in Once Brewed we have real books. I bought myself one in a charity shop in Haltwhistle, then we got to the campsite to find that they have their own mini library. It's something that was common in the first few weeks of our walk, but that we haven't encountered for the last month. Every campsite should have one.

As for walking and looking to the week ahead, it's only a few days (touch wood, hoping not to fall down any rabbit holes) now until we reach the Scottish border. Someone said to Mick yesterday "So you've only got a couple of hundred miles to go". I'm not sure that he quite believed the news that Scotland is a wee bit bigger than that.

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