It is not possible to update this blog by sending email from my phone. However, I have am starting a new blog here http://bethejam.squarespace.com/new-blog/ which I will be able to to update directly from my phone. I am off to the woods tomorrow for a couple of nights so the technology will be put to the test then.
In which I find myself slowly adapting back to city life and am pleased to discover that there are a lot of advantages to not living in the woods.
So hear I am in my new flat, clean, not smelling of smoke, washing hanging up to dry, the first instalment of my much diminished collection of possessions having been delivered and unpacked, kettle on, chicken roasted and eaten and a general contented air about the place. Oh and it's light, it's twenty one minutes past ten in the evening and yet I can see as clearly as if it were day light thanks to the wonders of electric lighting. Life has suddenly become very comfortable, it would be very easy to sit back, go soft, get fat and watch the years drift by in the comforting embrace of a western liberal democracy. This is of course a rather tempting option for life here in what people far more widely travelled than myself have described as the most exciting city in the world has the potential to be most pleasing.
The thing that I am enjoying the most about this move into town is the sudden close proximity of a great number of friends, only this afternoon the girl I keep seeing in the supermarket who looks just like Hermione turned out to be Hermione, we quickly established that; we are now neighbours, I wasn't buying enough vegetables and that no I hadn't brought carrier bags with me to re-use - some environmentalist I am. I'm sharing a flat with a very good mate, the guys in the two other flats in the house are very civilised, they had a fancy dress party last night which was lots of fun and the house rule is that music can be played at any time at any volume so my social life promises to be a bit more exciting than it has been whilst living in the woods.
I do miss the outdoor life though so I'm quite pleased to be going back to the woods on Tuesday to do a little bit of filming and some foraging. I've not been back to the woods since I went to work at Glade about six weeks ago so it will be great to go back home, for the time being at least I still consider the place home and I can't wait to see what's happened while I have been away. I think it should be puff ball season by now and there will be blackberries aplenty and hopefully the hazelnuts will be ripe. The wild raspberries and cherries will be over by now but hopefully the damsons will be out and I will search around to find what new treats I can find.
I now not only have a mobile phone I have one with the internet on it, I figured that if I'm going to be in contact with the world I may as well be really in contact with it rather than just a little bit. This does mean that I can access the internet from pretty much anywhere, sadly I can't get into this site to edit it but I should be able to post blog entries here via email. This will mean that I can post from the woods or wherever I am, I tend to find that more interesting things happen in the woods so I should soon be able to keep you abreast of any exciting developments as and when they happen, and I will still be spending as much time as I can out and about training for the jungle mission. There are two draw backs, typing is painfully slow on a phone so II expect whatever I write will be lightly stilted. and the phone will only let me send about a paragraph at a time, still it's better than nothing and it is a step in the right direction.
Bye for now
Living in a flat does seem alien and I'm not entirely comfortable with this development. However, leaving the flat or doing anything other than sleeping or drinking tea appears to be quite beyond my capabilities right now. I think I have been caught by the comfort trap, I'm not putting in a huge amount of effort to escape, perhaps a few days of spoiling myself are in order.
Little things make all the difference, like washing clothes in a washing machine - it's the easiest thing in the world to put them in a machine, press a button and then forget about them until they need to be hung up. Previously I had to walk to fetch water, heat it over a fire, wash things by hand, fetch more water to rinse them off and then having to construct a roof to hang them under if it was raining. Washing clothes is no longer a chore, it's easy. As is everything else. I even have access to a freezer, you can put ice cream in a freezer, I have eaten a lot of ice cream in the past few day.
Now I have to leave the flat and head to Oxford and I really don't want to leave the comfort behind, I have been saying this all day. Really must go now.
Today I woke up to find myself not under a canopy of trees or breathing fresh country air, my morning wash didn't take place in a stream and the water for my tea wasn't carried home then heated over a fire. Today I woke in my new flat in London encased in bricks and sleeping on a bed. To celebrate this turn of events I filled the cupboards with food and stayed in drinking tea, eating toast and watching Ray Mears on You Tube.
I think it might take a little while to get back into the swing of writing the blog, I have tried writing but everything came out all stilted and dull so I have deleted everything and will try again later.
Perhaps I could get away with making a list of good things and bad things.
Waterproof living space.
Having more than a pan and a knife to cook with.
Constant access to the internet.
Walls closing in.
Everything is grey not green.
Constant access to the internet.
Having to wash up more than a pan and a knife.
I suspect that it might take a little time to get used to living indoors again and I imagine that most of my time will be spent earning money so that I can do so, it all seems to be a bit of a waste of time really.
Not partying, working.
Lack of electricity, computers and internet connection conspire to make updating the blog quite challenging.
Will update asap.
Just got back from The Glade yesterday, it was a rather jolly affair although admittedly rather damp during the actual festival. Knee deep in mud in places, river running through one of the main stages, that sort of thing.
I stayed in a tent for a bit, didn't turn into a girl.
I have figured out how to raise the money to get to South America.
Have got a job working at Glastonbury next year.
I'm moving into a flat in London quite soon.
Having a meeting with a documentary maker on Tuesday.
Will be spending a couple of months in Spain this winter to get used to heat and speaking Spanish.
They speak Catalan not Spanish where I am going.
Nearly got Trench Foot.
Going to another festival (Shambala) on Wednesday - I may be sometime.
I'm off to work at the Glade Festival for a week so I won't be logging in until at least next Wednesday.
About a year ago I took the morning off work, claiming to have an appointment at the dentist's, and went off to be interviewed by Fern and Phil on that there television like what you house dwelling types live in. Not only did they send a Mercedes to pick me up from the woods, give me breakfast and a massage but they also gave me a 10 litre solar shower. For all you uninitiated types a solar shower is a big plastic bag that you fill up with water, leave out in the sun to get warm before tying to a tree or some such thing that is taller than yourself and showering using the appropriately attached shower head. I had had a five litre version years ago that I took to a festival only to discover that when the sun was hot it was too hot to want a warm shower and when there was no sun the water was too cold to want to go anywhere near, I remained a member of the great unwashed. The other day I was rummaging around in a friends garage where I keep all my possessions when I discovered the shower, "aha" I thought. Did I think "aha", does anyone actually think "aha"? Anyway, I'm not sure what my precise thoughts where on discovering the shower, "aha" will suffice. Having thought "aha" I put the solar shower into the ever growing pile of things that I had just realised I couldn't possibly live without and continued with my rummaging.
On Saturday night I decided that I had had enough of sponge baths and it was time to go up in the world, it was time to install a shower into my abode. I walked the mile or so to fetch about 20 litres of water stoked up the fire, got out my largest saucepan and sat back and waited for the water to heat. Sitting back and waiting didn't last long, not when I had a wind up torch, lent by a friend, to play with. A few winds of the torch and an instant of bright light later I was presented with a problem; the water I was heating was full of little bits of leaf, nothing too big but big enough to block the shower head attachment. I tried in vain to scoop the trespassing material out of the pan but succeeded only in stirring things about. So now instead of sitting about waiting in the dark as I had intended I found myself pacing up and down puzzling with a torch. Eventually I hit upon a solution; once the water was heated I would scoop it out with my mug which I would then poor into a milk bottle via a filter (sock) that was stuffed into the end, when the bottle was full I could then safely poor the water into the shower and start again. The whole operation only took about five minutes.
Then I tied the shower to a handy branch, placed some clean waterproof tarp on the floor beneath it (no point having a shower if your feet are going to get muddy), got a bit undressed, looked about the place to make sure no one was lurking, got a bit more undressed, looked around again, got completely undressed and feeling very self conscious started to shower. It soon became apparent that I had tied the shower to far too low a branch as I had to kneel down to wash any bit of me that was above a meter from the ground, apart from that though it was absolutely luxurious. Absolutely brilliant.
I'm slowly getting fitter, I have been for six runs now and have knocked about two minutes off the time it takes me to cover the first mile and a half. I find a cold shower when I get back really brings me to life.
The Jungle is Neutral
F Spencer Chapman.
Things are moving on.
Yesterday I had a chat with Nick from Off-grid and it was decided that Off-grid would host this blog as of sometime in the not too distant future, I suppose it is a bit of a merger / buy out by Off-grid. The really good thing about this is that this move is going to generate some income for the expedition and will at least cover the costs of connecting to the internet via a satellite phone from the middle of the jungle, it might also cover the purchase of some equipment as well. This is a great leap forwards. The purpose of setting up the travel guide was to generate income to cover communications costs, but so far it has just been using up my time and not paying off to any meaningful extent. So whilst things may not work out exactly as planned (and when do they?) one of the major components of the trip is now in place. This now means that I can use my time more productively, training, getting a full time job and hopefully writing some much improved blog entries.
On the subject of blog entries I guess I should try to fill you in on the latest developments in training and preparation for the jungle.
I appear to be taking a crash course in how to sleep despite all the weird and disturbing noises of the jungle. My lecturers are, to my best guess, three young tawny owls who are fighting a territorial battle by screeching at each other all night long, silent killers my arse. Either that or three very loud mice are stuck in a tree and require someone to call the fire brigade. Last night, as every night recently I didn't get to sleep until about three am and then it was the result of sheer exhaustion rather than a cessation in noise from the neighbours.
I am though, becoming increasingly reliant on those things that are to be found naturally occurring in woodlands; wild raspberries, wild strawberries, birch bark, goose grass and of course, fire wood. I have cast a covetous eye over the increasingly tasty looking rabbits and deer with whom I share my eye and have considered renewing my acquaintance with some of the fungi and roots that are found in abundance about the place. At the risk of sounding a bit of a tosser I feel myself becoming more attuned with the environment around me and I'm starting to live with it rather than struggle against it. STARTED is all, there is a long way to go before I would consider myself to be in anyway competent at what I'm doing and I'm going to need to be competent to survive in the jungle. That's why I'm still living in the woods.
It's been raining, you may have noticed, it was on the news, floods - bridges swept away - damn almost bursting - motorway closed. Not really the time to be outside, without a tent. It has been particularly miserable. To make things all the more fun I ran out of money quite a while ago and found myself sat huddled from the rain in the one dry spot in my shelter with my last fiver burning a hole in my pocket, all my pockets already have holes in them but you get the idea, so as I settled down to yet another meal of lentils the level of despondency I was feeling grew to previously unknown levels. What was there to look forward to? Apart from having some dry clothes to change into before going to bed, not a lot. The idea of going to the jungle seemed further away than ever, how can I consider going away when I'm all out of money, food and work. "It's time to pack it in, start a career and forget about the whole stupid idea" I thought to myself, "this aint going nowhere". It would have been easy in that moment to pack it in, head back to the comfort of the parental home and forget about the whole stupid idea. However, I looked at my muddy sodden trousers, one knee torn open both legs rolled up to avoid the worst of the water held on the undergrowth and I began to grin. I realised that moments like these are character forming and that no self respecting jungle explorer is going to go running home just because of a little bit of rain and some hunger. What better practice can there be for surviving than being cold and wet and hungry and wanting to give up? None. It's best to find out what I'm made of here in the UK where there is at least the option of giving up than out in South America where everything is all a bit more serious.
Which is all very well, but the question still remains of how on earth to get to the jungle and, more importantly, how to raise the necessary funds for the trip. The brief answer to which is," I don't know". It seems that the idea of running an online business from the jungle is a non-starter as I lack the ability to make money from the travel guide when running it from Oxford. So with the help of Ian at Bushmasters I came up with another idea, well it's Ian's idea and I adopted it. It makes sense though, might as well make things harder for myself seeing as they are seemingly impossible anyway. The new idea is to walk across South America from coast to coast through the jungle, across the planes, over the Andes and to the sea. No worrries. This of course presents a challenge even more pressing than the "how to raise the capital" challenge and that is, how on earth am I going to get fit enough to pull that off? Well I went for a run and had to stop in order to catch up on breathing after 15 minutes, then got bored and went home and had a cup of tea. Clearly I'm not going to be much good at pushing myself to get fit. So I signed up with 4 Para (The Territorial Army Parachute Regiment) they should get me fit quick sharp and teach me a few useful things along the way.
In all probability it's going to take a year to get fit enough, tough enough and learn all the things required to have a good chance at making it across South America on the first attempt. A year should be plenty of time to save up the required amount, if only someone would give me a job.
This new found positive attitude is great, I rebuilt my shelter before breakfast on Sunday (admittedly breakfast didn't occur until midday) and now not only is it waterproof but I have space to stand up and walk around!
The plan is to
Find some kind of financially viable employment, for some reason no one will give me a job at the moment, and save lots of money.
Start collecting the equipment I will be taking to the jungle and field test it by using, that way by the time I get to the jungle it will all be second nature and I can get on with learning about the jungle.
Become as good at navigating as it is possible to become.
Pass P Company (entrance test for the parachute regiment - quite taxing).
Work on my bushcraft skills, lighting fire by rubbing sticks together, fishing etc etc.
Find an accomplice.