Loved making this piece for Overland Journal Europe Spring edition. My second contribution to the magazine and now working on the third. Always love seeing my work in print. And as usual words at the bottom and here is the gallery especially for these photos as I loved them all. Enjoy. xx
By the time these meanderings are inked onto page, I shall be back home in my own bed creating another dream to ponder on. We all know travel expands the mind, exploring new territories can bring cultures together, inspire brains to collaborate and catalyst a change hopefully for the good. Whilst the world begins to open to expedition once again the roads are fast becoming filled with curious minds desperate to breathe some different air and the sight of campervans, motorbikes and top-boxed cars with cycles attached to the back, are streaming through the countryside, I too had my desire to escape out of my own four walls.
Yet I didn’t fancy being part of the convoy in Applecross, over the scenic Bealach na Ba Pass, on the North Coast 500, the now infamous route around Scotland, where one campsite, four miles south of Britain’s most remote beach at Sandwood Bay, reported this weekend up to 70 camper vans per night crowding on the grass above the white sands, while at Ceannabeinne Beach, just east of Durness, people can spend half the day, looking for space on an official campsite without the “fully booked” sign, forcing people to pick a spot with fabulous views on the wild camping side.
And yet, I did escape, to the field next door. I am lucky enough to live on a farm in the Cotswolds, an area of ‘outstanding national beauty’, with undulating hills that spread as far as the eye can see, dotted with sheep and Galloway Belted cows. I decided if everyone is trying to escape to the rest of the country, I might as well simply relocate to a field nearby and create my own staycation. I asked the farmer if I would be able to pitch my Roebens Klondike Bell tent on a freshly mowed field without livestock and promptly found a good spot, smack bang in the middle.
Farm stays in the UK especially this year, are flourishing, some farms have dedicated fields for camping – often with electric hook-up, and many with the Glampers in mind – but some with a simple field, so quite frankly, my field was perfect.
Loaded with a whole host of outward-bound equipment which I thoroughly enjoyed using, I really didn’t need it, I like being quite minimal on my trips in my 1964 Series IIa Land Rover.
However, I love my luxury and took the new Thermarest Questar Down sleeping bag which allows you sleep in temperatures to minus 6 – hardly required on the three hottest days of the UK summertime, but loved the use of my new Thermarest Neoair Xlite, complete with a bag to blow it up quickly – it was such a firm mattress. Both the sleep bag and mattress rolled up so fantastically small, I can’t wait to get them on the back of a motorbike for a properly long adventure on the road. Accompanied with my super cheap shower bag, which I hung out in the sunshine as soon as I set up camp, along with a bespoke Bushpig BBQ – painted the same colour as my Land Rover in Mid Grey, (which I didn’t use, because the weather was too hot to create any cooked meals – instead I simply used my Primus Express Spider with a weight of only 200g, perfect for backpacking and the simple boiling of water for my coffee), I began my staycation in a field on my own, quite content with the silence engulfing me.
Waking up and deciding how to spend the day visiting local places was as good an expedition as I needed, popping down the road to see the lavender fields at their prime in full blossom, where one week more they would be harvested. A constant buzz of bees collecting their nectar, a delightful aroma wafting by as I spent time amongst the aurora of a purple haze. I could have been in Provence, South of France, instead, I took almost six minutes to drive there and some of that was parking.
Collecting fresh milk from the farm up the road at the North Cotswold Dairy, where they have a milk machine serving fresh cold milk on tap in glass bottles, along with local meet and fresh produce from Old Farm Dorn where the Farrier was at work when I arrived, and then, local cheese from the small town nearby, my local staycation was turning out to be quite the great escape I needed all without the traffic jams and abundance of people.
How sweet to be a Cloud Floating in the Blue! It makes him very proud to be a little cloud.
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Although travelling to appreciate a new culture and meet new people is definitely already part of my dreams, so is resting and smelling the lavender on my doorstep. I took valuable time out. Sitting still and doing absolutely nothing allowing the sun to kiss my skin, watching a fly land on a strand of cut grass then take off in an abstract direction, I contemplated how long it would be for the shower bag to warm. I read a passage from a book, then promptly placed it down and looked up at the clouds. Taking the time to dream with the clouds was just a perfect adventure and all that I needed.
See here for the gallery: