Today started badly, with a half crushed earwig in the spout of my breakfast bidon. The earwig and the day never recovered. Insects are a fact of camping life, and spiders and slugs invariably find their way into our tent each night, which probably explains the toads too. I can’t bear earwigs though, and they are not welcome here, creeping as they do into tight crevices such as the tent pole sleeves, tumbling out when I pack up, with their ridiculous rear claws and flat slinking around. Ugh.
This one today must have climbed through the hole in the top of the spout in the night and then got crushed in the crude plastic valve inside when I closed it after a drink. Since I didn’t discover its presence, head squashed into the valve whilst the rear still wiggled, until I went to refill it, I must have drunk the entire bottle’s worth through an earwiggy filter.
Raisin then started hopping and sitting plaintively before me with her front foot lifted, until she was satisfied that I understood it hurt. The plan was to ride to Alcester and try to see the vet there tomorrow. I hoped she could last another day but I thought I had better bathe the dew claw area in warm salty water before we left. I didn’t begrudge Raisin the fuel for the stove to heat the water or the time it would take, nor the salt from my small rations, but the prospect of doing the actual bathing in my plastic mug – the only suitable receptacle available – did not appeal.
However, we did the deed and she settled down in the trailer whilst I packed up the tent and all our stuff, and made up some rolls for lunch. It was already hot, and we would be climbing for most of the way, so I was careful to load up plenty of water, and cover the trailer with a shade so Raisin would be as cool as possible for the hours to come. It took ages.
At last we were ready, and set off with a cheery wave goodbye to the other campers on site. Then I noticed the front wheel on the bike was flat. Annoying. I replaced it with a spare, packed up the tools and stowed them in their awkward-to-fasten place under the trailer roof, and saw the tyre was flat again.
By now it was past noon and baking hot. The first tube was leaking air from the valve collar, the second from a join in the rubber. I’d need to mend at least one. I dreaded now attempting all the climbing ahead in the hottest part of the day, and decided to wimp out and stay put.
So we are still in the middle of nowhere, with the rhubarb and jay feathers and fishing pool and views of the Malverns. I fixed both punctures thanks to my rubber vulcanising solution and washed some clothes in the outside cold water sink here. I know a washing machine would be better, but the water turned murky brown in no time once I put the clothes in, so they must be a bit cleaner now.
The sun was too mighty to do much else but a 4 mile walk over the fields with no hopping, to a petrol station shop for a tin of dog food. The farm here has a threadbare feel to it as the owners wind down to retirement. An ex army Austin lorry decaying gently on the track to camping field retired long ago by the looks of it.
So, smashing weather for the August Bank Holiday, less good for cycle touring with a dog.