So today, the fourth day of my stay in the Chilling Fields at Dovedale I can't believe it is mid-day and since five o'clock I have been reading (still on "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists" which is reaching an even more polemic stage with Owen's lecture - it may well be his first of many), thinking about getting up, washing and pampering myself with a shave, preparing and eating breakfast and looking for my spectacles. Despite moving pretty much everything in the van I couldn't find them, so I'm using an older, less powerful pair I keep in the van for emergencies to write this in Pages on my iPad - I am using a large font though. Because I have 34% battery left I'm saving whatever power I can apart from using an external keyboard.
For the first time since I've been here, the sun has shone all morning and looks set to stay for a while longer. Maybe I'll get some things dry. Towels and over-clothes are hanging over the back of my chair and over the sides of the van. By the sound of it another van has pulled up. I have no idea who it could be yet. There are young voices ... Very loud and shouty young voices. They are very close ... I am considering ways of being anti-social - maybe it is time to deploy the Hozelock Porta Shower that P. bought me as a gift and which has proven so useful on the boat ... Dammit, they are not only playing on the rope swing over the river, they are setting out a tent next to me, very close to me. In the distance, people are throwing themselves from from the top of the hill and gliding for short distances attached to hang-gliding parachutes. Earlier, a microlight and a helicopter buzzed noisily overhead and two emergency vehicles have charged by. The structure being erected before my eyes seems to have been born from a trailer. Bits are being unfolded and locked together. It looks like they are staying. Maybe we shall become new best friends ... My view of the hill is being obscured.
Yesterday it was still only Shorny, Fire Tree and me here. We didn't know for sure that we were going to stay in this field following incomplete and inconclusive conversations Shorny had held with the farmer. It seemed likely that we could use the field across the road. The downside of that was that, while somewhat less in the public gaze, it was lower-lying and more of it was prone to becoming waterlogged. Although I had already spent two nights here I had still not set-up properly in my spot. There had been little point if we were going to have to move to establish UKH camp Dovedale 2016 somewhere else. By afternoon, hopefully before I had bored Shorny and Fire Tree to death with my limited topics of conversation (and following another confusing consultation with the farmer) we decided we were going to stay in this field. I set up my outdoor pavilion and my kitchen. At least now I could make some food other than the hunks of bread I had been tearing off since I arrived. Shorny moved so we could commandeer more of the field and he began the intricate work of setting up his awning too.
Trap arrived in his splendid van. He really has done a good job on both the inside and the outside. By the end of the day Wandering Gypsy, Moon Cheese and Rachel, Zendaze, Man From Manchester and Two Wheels Good were here too. Fire Tree mentioned that she was expecting Raffi and Darrren. She had been instructed to save them places on either side of her van. They haven't shown up yet and those places have gone. (Unfortunately neither arrived during the time I was there. I hope they are both okay.) I do know that others have said they will arrive today. Alice's Wonderland still isn't here and I think it may be time for concern. Given that it takes him days to set up camp from the contents of his TARDIS he will have to use time travel capability to re-arrive so he can set up before he leaves. The bubbling stream, the shouting of children at play and Shorny's music player are being punctuated by occasional traffic sounds, bird calls, cattle and sheep. This is a beautiful place. The new arrivals have a dog and it is pissing right by my shelter.
Last night we sat round a fire and mardled. I stayed till about 2am. Only Shorny and Zendaze were left after me. Conversation drifted and wound around many of the usual petty importances that open fires tend to inspire, but I made the mistake of comparing something to the referendum result. Clearly there are differences amongst us too. At that point the conversation took a deeper, more intense and philosophical turn. Despite some alcohol-aided diversions we discussed a new world that could be better ... maybe.
There were two highlights yesterday. The first was Fire Tree's unexpected ascent of the hill over the road. It is certainly higher than anything we have in the Fens, but obviously not comparable with the Alps of recent memory. Congratulations to her. She didn't expect to attempt it and was surprised when she achieved it. My personal highlight was a ride on the back of the hand-built motor-tricycle Wandering Gypsy had towed in behind his lorry. He used bits of a 1970 Reliant, bits of a Polo and all sorts of other stuff he had lying around. It passed an MoT test too. My admiration knows no bounds for such skill and imagination.
The iPad is now showing 8% battery. Time to finish this essay.