John Timpany

Norfolk 2

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The farm dog woke me at 5:00am barking at a strange tent on its territory.
An hour later the farmer's son drove right past me and after that I was just about awake. I had forgotten that country life starts early. Yesterday I had been so tired I was thinking that I was going to Great Yarmouth, where in fact I had written a Norwich club in my diary. When I checked it just before starting out I saw it was a daytime session, not evening, so I checked a club I couldn't get by phone called The Ferryboat and found it was boarded up. What a shame when the pub has so much character. I hope it's restored rather than pulled down. On the way back I stopped for a beer at The Two Friends, mainly because I liked the name when I passed it on the way to town, and in chatting to a local found that they have a club night in about a week and a half. I'll go to that.

Looking out of the tent it's misty, moisty and overcast and the grouse are scolding each other from across the field, so I might wait if I can to dry the tent flysheet out. One thing that bothers me is that there is dew on the grass in the 'porch' area under the flysheet, which I didn't think, happened under cover.

I wondered for a moment just how unusual this little adventure of mine might be, and decided to look on the Internet when I returned. In one respect I could see this as a way of life, but in another I would miss the easier life of being at home. The criteria might be the weather, even though I am well prepared for that. In fact I have brought a little too many creature comforts with me; a memory foam 'mattress', a quality survival sleeping bag, a feather pillow and my duvet. Yes, yes I can hear you laughing at me.

Even at 7:00am there is a persistent thrumming background noise just as I remember from pitching a tent not too far away from the motorway back in the 70's, so I guess that now there is so much more traffic that that's what I can hear driving along the A47? It makes me realise what an unnatural society we all live in moving between closed areas in a closed vehicle. Where did my roots go?

Two short nights have left a feeling of sawdust behind my eyes, but I would love to make my way up to Blakeney since I haven't been there for so long and one of the joys around this time of year was scrabbling around in the marshes up to my knees in mud collecting samphire. I love the stuff. It's so similar to avocado, asparagus and snails in that it has a really subtle flavour and it's the sauce that brings it alive. For me usually just melted butter with garlic. But it's too soon to move yet, since I will get snarled up in the rush hour.

The first time Audrey and I camped together I would have been about 23. We had bought a Blacks 'A' frame tent, and although I had slept in tepee type tents before, I didn't know how to erect this one, and put the 'A' frame poles inside the tent instead of outside. Of course the wind picked up and it chucked it down that night, slapping the tent sides against the poles, which in turn showered us with a fine spray. Audrey murmured something about getting wet but since I had spent the past few years doing training in the forces in a tent that was so leaky that when it rained there was a couple of inches of water in the bottom and I found I was less wet when I threw my sleeping bag on a pile of heather and slept in the open under a dry stone wall on Dartmoor that I said something to the effect: "If you can sleep through this you'll be able to sleep through worse", and she rolled over and went to sleep.

By camping I don't mean sites with showers, proper toilets, and maybe even a TV room, I mean places as far away from people as you can get preferably, where a shave is in cold water.

At the moment I feel very disorganised, and my things have yet to find their 'home' where I can lay my hands on them immediately. I had felt initially that I wanted to keep my journal to myself, but I began to think it would be interesting to blog it. Perhaps some of the people I meet would like to see what I think of them. Oh dear!

Patches of limpid sunlight splinter the clouds and streak slowly across the dew laden grass outside the tent, which lights up like a pale green crystal lake. A wren chatters softly in a hedge a hundred yards away, but the damp clear morning makes it sound like just a few feet away.

Getting out of a tent, and especially putting your boots on before you do, is so much harder at 65! Gee whiz I hope this trip will bring back some condition to my lazy muscles.

Time for coffee and then break camp.

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