Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The dreams that haunt.

Avid fans.

Its predictable.
I can go to bed and know Whats coming, unable to avoid it, that makes it worse. In waking hours its quite manageable and usually due to a set of innocuous and peaceful circumstances that trigger a darker dejavue.
At night It can be due to something stressful happening during my day, It can be due to being worried about something that's happening in my life at the time, and sometimes It just happens for no apparent reason.
I wake up, sometimes shouting, nearly always soaked in sweat.

There are Three and they always play the same way, like a DVD that skips back to the start of the scene each time it happens, Groundhog nights.
Tonight was my least favorite.

I'm at the bottom of whats known as the Anvil in central Bosnia. My patrol is approached by one of the locals who is quite distressed, she jabbers to our female interpreter at a hundred mile an hour and I don't have a clue whats being said as I had not learnt any serbocroat at that time, something I soon remedied.
The interpreter briefly told me there is a problem with a Serb officer in a house who is armed and drunk. We made haste to the house only to find a crowd of nine or ten shouting people out side stood around a guy in a Serb officers uniform who was fairly well cut and swaying from side to side.
I had already sized up the location on approach and took note of the Russian made Tokarev pistol in its holster on a wast belt slung low on his hip like some kind of John Wayne wannabe.
I also noted The flap of the holster was unfastened and his hands wer waving all over as he gesticulated with the crowd.
OK I thought to myself, so we got a pissed off pissed up armed flipflop surrounded by a bunch of men women and kids and this guy looks like hes loosing the plot, the areas secure, I got four of my lads stood behind me and orders to disarm any non NATO troops in the demilitarized zone who don't have a weapons card.
I ask the interpreter to tell him I want to see his weapons card and as its relayed to him I step forward through the crowd with a disarming smile on my face.
The guy says something to the interpreter who turns to me and politely repeats in English "he say to fuck off".
The crowd went quiet.
I ask her to tell him again that I need to see his weapons card or he will have to hand over his side arm, she tells him again but this time I'm not smiling at him.
He looks me in the eye then without loosing eye contact with me he gives the interpreter a mouthful, she turns to me and looks worried now, "go on then what did he say" I ask her. "He say you can fuck your mother, this is his country, his village and he can do what he like".
The crowd start to shout at him again, not really helping things, I'm not impressed by this reply and decide Mr nice guy has left the building.
Taking the interpreter out of the loop I take another step forward closing to a distance of four or five feet and say in plain English to the twat "give me your weapon now" and point to his side arm knowing full well he probably understood English if not spoke it. He looked at me with utter contempt and said in slurd English "fuck you", one of the women stood next to him in the crowd started poking and pushing him as she jabberd on, and it was at this point that things got ugly.
He drew his Tokarev and waved it about as he shouted back at the crowd.
In a split second I ran through the options here, drunk, armed, lost the plot, safety of civilians, my own lads safety, Good safe backstop if,,,,,,,
I bellow at the top of my voice "Stan eele putsam, ya sam voinik britanski" and draw the 9mm Browning HiPower service automatic from my vest holster,dropping my armed hand to my side but pushing the weapon down against my hip to cock it as I lower it.
The 9mm a better choice as to unsling my 5.56mm sa80 assault rifle would take longer and the backstop was breezbloc house wall, the 5.56 rounds although smaller calibre wer of far higher power and would go through the wall like a red hot poker through butter hitting anyone inside the house.
The guy was in a rage and ignoring me. One of the civvy blokes in the crowd tried to grab his Tok off him and failed, he pointed it in the air and let off a round then pointed it back at the crowd, amazingly they all started grabbing for it. I shouted my warning again, raising the nine mill slipping the safety off and placing the pad of my finger on the trigger.
The Tokarev fired again and I squeezed.
A neat hole appeared in the Serb officers forehead, just between the eyebrows and about an inch up. The wall behind him turned red and lumpy and he fell face down at my feet.
Dead silence from every one now. I looked down and wondered where the back of this guys head had gone, there was a lot missing and I was sure more than was now on the wall, it must have vaporised as there was red mist spread all over the wall and the ground, people too.

We distanced ourselves a little and called in the contact on the radio, and as we waited for instructions the woman who had started to poke and shove the Serb officer causing things to spiral wouldn't stop screaming at me hysterically. I asked the interpreter what the woman was saying, She replied "that was her husband you shoot and she want to know how she will look after children now".

I don't care what the drama started over and never wanted to try and find out. The twat with the Tok! I don't give a shit, he left me no choice. But that woman's face screaming at me, full of pain anger and hate, that will never go away.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Being responsable.

Dear avid fans.

First let me apologise for the length of time between posts. Lots of stuff been going on lately and I have been a little preoccupied with other things.

I am working for the British Red Cross and quite enjoying it, well it keeps me occupied and has introduced me to a new circle of friends.
I feel like I'm on the way back up the slippery slope I was pushed down nearly two years ago. This time I'm reserving trust for my own abilities and no one else, end of.

I am also fighting the urge to go on another shoestring adventure.
Yea yea, I hear you, but before I go on a jolly I would like to be responsable and raise some much needed cash, so you will all have to wait a little for the next tale of the wild.

Well that's all for now, more soon.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Peak district trip, part two,,,,,,,,,,,

Hi again avid fans,
mission report continues;

The dawn was preceded by a chorus from the birds in the trees, that's what woke me. I found a heavy frost covering everything, including my bangers, (that's my mustache).
The fire had not long burned out and the last of the embers were glowing gently in the half light of dawn. I had slept really well an not felt cold at all in the night but crawling out of my cocoon was A bit of an effort, I fought off the urge to snuggle up an sleep some more and I put on some layers an my boots.
The fire took a little bit of coaxing but eventually I got the embers to take some fresh fuel and I had a small fire going again.

Breakfast was a tin of smart price sausage an beans and two mugs of sweet black coffee, then I packed away my sleeping bag Bivvy bag an roll mat.
I walked down to the waters edge through the trees an had a very fast strip wash, that woke me up proper! then I went back to my camp an warmed by the small fire.
The Basha was taken down an folded carefully so it would go up in the dark again with out any dramas and I put what was left of the fire out.
By now the sun was up and it was warming a little. I checked over the camp area making sure I had packed away every thing, then put the empty tin and the dead snap light into the bag containing last nights tins an put it next to my Bergen.

I dug a whole where the seat of the fire was, took a dump in it then covered it with the dead ashen remains of the fire, just to make sure I finally pissed on it an covered it over with the dug earth tramping it down with my boots.
I scattered the dead leaf litter about an stood back to check my handy work, It looked like no one had been here, no fire, no camp site, no rubbish left behind, no trace of my visit and that was the way I wanted it. I was after all wild camping in the national trust park and only about a hundred meters from a main pathway.
I slung my Bergen on, picked up the rubbish bag and started walking.

After walking back to the dam and putting my rubbish bag in the bin I took out my camera screwed on the mini tripod an walked to a spot where I thought would be good for a few photos. The dam has some history to it and I switched on the camera. Nothing. I switched it off then back on again. Still nothing. I thought back to when I had used it last, it was a long time ago and I hadn't made sure it was charged up before I set off on this jolly. My heart sank and I was pissed off with myself for not being more methodical in my planning but that's life, I had dropped a bolock and that was that. I unscrewed the tripod and put it and the camera away quietly.

The dam, as I mentioned it has some history to it, most notably for me it was used by the dam busters during the second world war to practice using there distance measuring bomb sight.
For those of you who don't know the story they used the towers of the dam along with the special V shaped sight to get the distance from the dam wall just right so when the Bouncing bomb was released it would take a few skips then hit the wall and sink blowing the dam from the base under water, it was a simple V shape hand held device and when the hole at the base of the V lined up with the pins at the ends of the V and the dams towers they knew they were the correct distance, also used was a clever but simple height gauge consisting of two spot lights on the fuselage of the Lancaster bombers turned slightly towards each other, when the two spots of light met they knew they were at the correct height to get the bomb to skip. OK so I'm boring you now, but its interesting stuff to me honest. Anyway the dam busters mission was a success and although they took heavy casualties they blew the Ruer valley dams in Germany causing massive damage to the German war effort by flooding the factories and causing widespread power failures. Barns Wallace at first thought mad for his plan of a bouncing bomb was hailed a genius, by the way he tested the bombs bouncing ability in the Wash not far from me and the actual dam busters were also stationed in Lincolnshire not far from Woodhall Spa, also not far from me. so there you go, that's my history lesson over.

I walked the base of the dam wishing my camera was working, wondering what it would be like to see a couple of Lanc's blasting up the valley, I bet it would have been an impressive sight.
Then I started off up the east side of Derwent reservoir taking my time and enjoying myself. By lunch time i had walked all the way round the top through the woods and back down to the dam on the west side. It was a relly nice walk but I felt like a change so I set off to the south west through the woods. It was relly steep in places but eventually I cleared the woods an got a great view of the area to the south an west and down the pass to the north, the A57 winding down the pass and out of sight like a snake giving this road its name (snake pass).
I pushed on cross country heading downhill now and eventually got to the A57 just north of the Snake pass inn, I crossed the road and on the south side picked up the stream that feeds the Ladybower reservoir. I followed it on the south side till it opened up into the res, then followed the south shore of the res for a while.
After about three an a half K I decided to set up camp for the day and headed uphill south through the trees and after bimbling around for a while in the woods found a nice spot not to far from the water but well out of site and secluded enough to set up camp in daylight.

I started by collecting dead wood from the ground setting it in a big pile, then started on the shelter, it was a bit more elaborate than the night before using the dead wood to make an a frame shelter bound together with withys an then covered with the Basha sheet to waterproof it. the floor was covered with leaf litter to a depth of about six inches giving plenty of insulation. then I took my sleeping bag out of the bivvy bag an spread it an the ridge rest in the shelter, looking good so far I thought it was time for a little RnR so after lighting a small fire and making sure it was safe to leave I went down through the trees to the water an striped off naked.
The water was freezing cold but I wasn't bothered as I had left the fire going to warm up with after my swim. I messed about in the water for a little while and then got out shivering, gathered my clothes and went back up through the woods to my camp.
I stoked up the fire to a fair old blaze and felt so good with myself I actually danced around it naked till I was exhausted.
After putting on my clothes an boots I started tea, It was boil in the bag rice and a tin of smart price chili con carnet made in my mug on the fire with the last of the water from my water bottles. after tea I went back down to the waters edge an washed my mug and racing spoon properly with a scotch pad and filled my water bottles up with res water filtering the particles out of the water with a bit of stocking over the mouth of the bottles as they filled, this keeps the chunks out of the water but to make it truly drinkable I put water puritabs in the bottles for the stuff you cant see that makes you sick.

I spent the evening watching the fire while sipping at a pocket size bottle of dark rum, the shelter was warm an dry my heart was happy and I was at home in the middle of nowhere. At some stage I must have fallen asleep tucked up in my sleeping bag watching the fire cos when I woke the fire was long dead and the birds were just starting, it was still pitch black and I turned over snuggled down an went back to sleep.
When I woke again it was about ten in the morning.
I crawled out of my pit an looked at the dead fire, it wasn't worth lighting up from scratch just for breakfast so I cheated an got my sigg fire jet stove out and within minutes I was eating tined beans n sausage (smart price of course) and drinking sweet black coffee.
I packed up camp in the usual way an gave the area the once over, again no trace I had stayed the night so Slinging my Bergen on my back and bag of rubbish in hand I set off by half eleven.

Continuing round the south of the res heading east I crossed below the southern most dam of Ladybower on the footpath and walked into Ashopton dumping my rubbish in a bin on the road near the boats moored up. It was just a short walk up to the 57 again from here and after a while I got a lift into Sheffield and from there another to Lincoln and one from lincoln back to Boston. It was late in the evening and I was worn out but really pleased with myself.

The whole trip cost in total five tins of smart price best, a bag of rice, some coffee and sugar, two cotton wool balls, Maybe half a cup of petrol for the sigg fire jet, a couple of puritabs and a small bottle of rum. Oh yea and a sense of adventure. Cost in £s maybe £12. Pleasure value, priceless.

I had A great time and would like to thank the five people that kindly gave me lifts to get there an back, they know who they are.
And I'm looking forward to doing something like it again soon.

Note to self, must charge camera next time :(

Peak district trip, part one,,,,,,,,,,,

Hi avid fans,

Well, I feel so refreshed.
The trip I been wanting to go on for so long now was great.
I got a lift to Sheffield, then another to the snake pass (A 57 far side of Sheffield)an got dropped of at Ashopton. That took best part of the day.
It was getting near sunset so I tabbed it to the Ladybower dam up the west side of the reservoir just before dark.
I had kind of planned to be there earlier but as usual no plan survives first contact so flexiplan kicked in an i crossed just below the dam from west to east in the gloom.
I could have went up the east side of Ladybower res from Ashopton but the terrain is a bit tougher that side until you get half way up so I had chose the west side as its tarmac all the way up an faster going even though slightly further.
I had wanted to find a mine entrance I knew of before dark and make it first camp but the sun succumbed to gravity faster than my legs could carry me an I knew I would never find it in the dark.
I walked north up the east side of Derwent res, the sun had gone completely and I had the area to myself until maybe six or seven in the morning when the first mountain bikers an the bobble hat brigade start to venture out of there warm beds an go explore. After about 750m the map shows the woods spread back from the waters edge in a triangle shape an spread up the hillside a ways an I decided this would make a good spot to make camp as I could get further from the path here.
It was dark but I set off through the woods for the tip of the triangle, I had paced it out from the dam an using my map and a quick calculation I had hit my target dead on with a big grin on my face.
I dumped my Bergen on the ground an sat on it for a few minutes just tuning into my surroundings, total silence fell on me, the birds had settled down for the night in the trees, there was no wind to speak of and the road was a long way off. I felt at home in my surroundings and could have sat for ages but for the cold starting to seep into my bones. I had been careful to not break into a sweat on the way from the road as sweat and cold mixed together can be a death sentence, but I could still freeze if I just sat there.
I stood up and reached into the lid pocket of my Bergen an pulled out a green snap light, I snapped it an gave it a shake, the green light glowing like a beacon in the dark.
The last thing I needed was to lose my Bergen in the dark but with the snap light sitting on it glowing away I felt happy leaving it while I went on a wood reccy so off I went into the darkness with a petzl tika head light on red filter, there was plenty of dead wood on the ground but most of it was damp.
After about five minutes I had a big armful of damp ish fuel so I made my way back to my glowing Bergen beacon in the darkness.
I scraped away the leaf litter on the ground with my boot then dug with my heel a shallow trough, I got my knife out an made some feather sticks with the driest of the wood, then chopped up some kindling, next I got out my film tub containing cotton wool balls soaked in petroleum jelly. I built the fire base up over the shallow trough in the usual manner then with two good strikes of my fire steel on the back of the knife blade The cotton ball was lit an added to the driest of the leaf litter, it smoldered then with a little coaxing it too was lit an put in the trough, a little more coaxing an the feather sticks above caught, then the kindling, an the fire was established.

I opened the lid of my Bergen an pulled out my issue Basha, it has the cord already attached for setting it up so it only took a few minutes to string it up in the dark between two trees and after another minute I had some pegs fashioned out of sticks using my knife an I pegged down the back edge of the Basha making a nice cosy shelter. The fire was just to the front of it and at a safe distance but close enough to warm the shelter. The Basha also acts to some extent as a heat reflector and if it rained I would stay dry through the night.
Next on the job list after tending the fire a little more was to pile a load of leaf litter in the Basha, spread it out even and unroll my Ridgerest mat onto it, this would insulate me from the ground. Then I pulled out my Bivvy bag with sleeping bag already in side it. I felt quite at home with this setup as I have stayed warm using this arrangement many times while in the forces, the coldest probably being in the Dinaric alps of Bosnia during a winter blizzard, -20c with wind chill -55c, that was cold so a few nights in the Peaks this time of year held no fear for me.

So home was set up.
I decided next was some grub, so I dug out a tin of chicken an veg curry an a tin of new potatoes (asda smart price of course), I raked the fire to one side a bit leaving some hot embers, dented the side of both tins on my knee an sat them on the hot embers an left them to cook. Then I got out my alloy water bottle mug, filled it from one of my 58 patt water bottles an set it on the embers too.
It was getting colder but the fire was keeping me quite warm what with the heat reflecting off my Basha and although the breeze was picking up a little I had the forethought to set up camp so the Basha was acting as a wind break too, the smoke was blowing away from me an all was well in my new home for the night.
I just sat there in silence listening to the crackle of the small but efficient fire, watching the flames lick up into the darkness like man has been doing for thousands of years.

The water boiled in my mug so I put my glove on an pulled it from the fire, made my brew of black sweet coffee an sat some more.
Then the dent in the first can started to ease out so I removed it from the fire before the can could burst along with the second can, I let them stand a few minutes while I finished my brew then I opened them both using my Swiss army knife from my belt, making sure the tops wer facing away from me as I pierced them, A brief jet of hot fluid and then they wer safe to open all the way. I put the contents of both cans into my mug an mashed it all up with my racing spoon and got stuck in.
When I had let my supper (tasty yum yum) settle a little I made another brew and swilled it about the mug to wash it out as I drank, then it was time for bed.

I packed away all the kit I had used an put the two tins in a bag an tied the neck before putting that also back into my Bergen, Leave no trace.
The last thing I did was extend the fire fuel along the ground parallel to my bed area using the dampest of the fuel, the idea is during the night the fire drys out the fuel slowly from one end to the other and hopefully keeps you warm all night.
I checked the distance from my Basha and the amount of fuel spread and was happy I wasn't going to burn my self up in the night.
I took off my boots and striped down to my thermals, putting all my striped clothing into my coat an rolling it into a pillow, my fag tin an lighter went into the inside pocket of my sleeping bag and out of the same pocket came my woolly hat to keep my head warm in the night. Finally my Bergen stashed under the end of the Basha at my head and I crawled into my bed for the night.
As I lay there smoking a roll up I pondered the days events an decided I was happy with them, after all here I was, snugged up warm with a full belly watching a fire burn away slowly and in total control of my life again.
I puffed away at my fag then threw the but into the fire and just lay watching the flames till my eyes slowly fell shut.

TBC.