There is a colour of sky that I think often gets described as 'cerulean blue'. Its the
sort of colour you really don't want to see at 06:00 having had about three hours
sleep and too much to drink. No- one really noticed the fine patina of high cloud in
We hydrate. This is achieved by mixing salt- and- glucose tablets in water bottles,
glugging the result and standing well back.
Breakfast is very dodgy bacon and even dodgier eggs, scorched by totally dodgy
J on a roaring dodgy open gas stove. We swallow in great dodgy lumps afraid that
if we break concentration for a moment we will witness its sudden (dodgy) re-
appearance. Mark prods his with his penknife and for once displays a sense of
"Is this actually dead?" he enquires innocently, "Only I thought I saw it move..."
He's lucky : mine actually waved.
By 08:00 it is seriously hot and so are we. I cannot for the life of me figure out how
everything fitted in my rucksack. I sit on everything and massage till it all fits. I fold
the stove in half and iron it flat.
I told you it wouldn't all fit.....
We set off. Most people are still waking up. Some aren't even bothering. Wonder
By the campsite exit there is a huge camo tent from the voluminous interior of
which peal colossal snores. There is a pause for a deep breath. We watch in awe
as the tent sides bow inwards and then expand, vibrating, as the full resonant
frequency is reached and the tent leaves the ground. This, then, was our first
introduction to the almost sentient tent of Clive the squaddie. A man of simple
tastes - mostly beer, women and jam sandwiches in any order or all at the same
time, who was to become an honorary member of our marching crew a mere
three hours hence.
But more of that later.
We check provisions. Water! Heavy to carry but vital - 2 Litres of the stuff. Salt
and electrolyte tablets. Sandwiches. Hmmmm...... Mark has made some 'very nice'
sandwiches, cut in triangles with the crusts off...... J and I have hacked up a loaf
of bread and scrounged cheese.
"Oh I do do so like your sahndwhiches" drawles J in a 'posh' accent "whaat filling
do you have?"
"Salmon" says Mark shortly.
"Oh with cucumber perchance?" I add, feeling the humour.
"Yes" Mark eyes J with some distaste. J already resembles a dusty heap of
assorted, mismatched goretex pieces (usually called "grot-ex"); walking sticks,
maps, lunch and so on project at various angles.
We fold up in hysterics but as usual Mark doesn't get the joke.
"You may mock, but they're better than the crud you blokes have." HA! he
doesn't know that yesterday I procured a brace of pork pies and some nice beer
in cans! Ha! Check mate I think!