The numbers of interested parties cropping up on the Facebook page [no link for this one - "it's a secret..."] seemed to be climbing, so the bivi spot of choice needed to be fairly accommodating - the spot near Wiggonholt Common that Hoops and I had scoped out several months ago seemed perfect...
The ride out over High Salvington towards the SDW was beautiful as ever, and seemed even more enjoyable with the numerous riders keen to 'tramp it up' for the night!
I think the pictures speak for themselves..
The thing I love about these trips is that we all seem to be 'improving' in our ability to 'manage' out here.
Take fire lighting for example - Initially we were all very keen to get the flames flying, and the big logs burning straight away. This wasn't the best method, and would often result in an overbuilt fire taking an age to get going.
This time around, with the help of my trusty fire knife, I laid open a cotton wool pad, placed a BBQ fire lighter on it, then carefully placed over this a 'teepee' of small sticks. With a single strike of the fire steel, the cotton, then the lighter, then the twigs ignited. We spent the next few minutes topping up the fire with more and more small sticks, slowly building up to the bigger branches and finally moving on to the logs. This was much more 'organised' fire lighting, and worked a treat!
Whilst the flames on the fire were getting really going, I built up the triangle, got some water on the boil, and made myself a cup of fresh filter coffee (It'll soon become apparent that despite sleeping in the woods, good quality food and drink is vitally important to our survival...).
Because the filter won't fit over the ti mug (and if it did, heating the water in the vessel you're wanting to filter said heated water through is likely to end up in a scalded mess), I picked up a cheap plastic mug for coffee duties!
- Fresh filter coffee (some rum probably ended up in there too)
- Homemade pulled pork and mozarella calzone, cooked on the open fire
- Heated Chilli beans (from a tin, but carried in a freezer bag so I didn't need to carry an empty tin back)
- Chocolate snacks
The clazone was actually ehr-may-zing! The dough and filling cooked really well, simply wrapped in a double layer of silver foil, and carefully placed under/near to a burning log and turned occasionally. I think proper pizza would be a challenge, but this worked a treat!
It's good to know I'm not the only one taking 'good eating' this seriously..
Ah yes. The hot cross buns.
Those cruel, soft, hot cross buns who are begging to be stuffed with chocolate fingers and then toasted...
And in order to toast them, you obviously need to get a long stick, sharpen one end, and split the other end to 'sandwich' the bun.
Of course, we all know you never try to split a stick by cutting towards yourself. No. Never.
Least of all with a brand new, uber sharp Mora steel fire knife.
However, we may not all choose to follow that advice...
I immediately clamped my hand against my thigh (without looking at it) and dropped the twig.
I wasn't sure if I'd simply knocked my hand with the handle, lightly sliced my skin, or cut my finger off (seriously). I looked at the knife and saw a tiny drop of blood on it. Clearly, it wasn't 'outcome A'...
I sheathed the knife and wandered to my bag to pick up some tissues, expecting a bad outcome - slowly lifting my hand up in front of me I could see the damage. I could also see the bone and tendons. Oops.
This was really frustrating not only because I was immediately worried I'd have to head up to East Grinstead plastics unit to sew my tendons back together, but also because I'd not only ruined tonight, but also potentially next weekend's trip to Afan and Bike Park Wales [don't worry - I manned up and still went...].
I slowly wandered around the site pondering to myself what to do. Tommo said I looked a bit 'sheepish' and asked if I was alright. "No" I replied. "Have you cut yourself?". "Yes". "Badly?". "Yes".
After showing him the hand, he too looked a bit sheepish, and I managed to put most people off their food too..
I knew that was it for me, but the issue was we were in the middle of (almost) nowhere, miles from A+E, and although I knew I had decent stuff in my first aid kit, this needed proper attention.
The gauze swabs were flooding with blood quicker than I could replace them, so I had to really tighten the bandage around the finger to slow the bleeding.
The tip of my finger was going cold, but hey..I've got 9 more..
Ray, the absolute legend, gave his wife a ring to see if she could come and get me and take me to A+E - wowsers trousers - she could!
Tommo helped me pack up my tarp and kit, and slowly we wandered to the road to meet up with my gratefully received private ambulance! Ray's kids were in the back - not out of force but thankfully by choice! The opportunity to see a bloody great cut finger was too much to miss out on for even a pair of teenage girls, so they got their 'blood fill' for the weekend..
A+E was as expected - full, with a wait for a few hours. I'm not one to flash the "do you know who I am" card, so sat there waiting patiently..
It's a bit frustrating (for me and I'm sure the staff) when they call a person in to be seen, then 80 seconds later that person wanders out and heads home (that wasn't me, BTW - I was in there being 'ring blocked' and sewn up for 40 minutes). I mean, what sort of 'injury' requires you to wait in A+E for 3 hours at 2am, but can be 'safely dealt with' in 80 seconds?! Come on people - never has the adage "what would your granny do" felt more appropriate!
For those of you with a strong stomach, here are the before and after pictures - it took 2 sutures through the bleeding vessels, and 4 to close the gash up...
So, learning points from this trip...
- Take time collecting fire wood and building a fire, before lighting it
- Proper coffee is worth it, and hardly any bother over freeze dried crap
- You can roast a cracking calzone on an open fire
- The trangia triangle IS much better that an old bean can stand!
- And something about "don't play with sharp knives" or something.... :-/
I'm going to be left with a cracking scar as a permanent reminder of my manly bushcraft and survival skills.
And everyone knows chicks dig scars, right...?