The alarm sounds and I push an arm out, slapping with my hand repeatedly until it finds the phone and can depress the button to bring silence. It will sound again in nine minutes. For now, though, I nestle deeper enjoying the stolen time.
‘It’s madness,’ Dave tries to reason with me, fed up of intermittent doorbell or alien encounter sounds (whichever ring tone I think will most likely coax me from beneath the duvet) while he is determinedly trying to sleep, ‘why don’t you set your alarm for the time you actually intend to get up? You do this every morning!’ He rolls and shrugs the duvet over his shoulder.
He’s right. It is madness. But it seems I am trapped in it. Each night when I set my alarm for six or seven hour’s time I believe tomorrow morning will be different. I will get up early. I will rise in the shadows and write or research or do that maintenance on my bike that has been playing on my mind or meditate and clear my mind completely. But then it is ‘this morning’ and I am stung by the cold air outside my duvet. I pull the covers around me in one great hug and let time trickle away. Part of me luxuriates in the delicious half-slumber and part of me is weak with the sadness of lost opportunity. This reluctance to meet the day, I see as a form of hiding.
This last week I have been unable to sleep. I toss relentlessly, trapping cold pockets beneath the duvet as I shrug and pull and roll. I cling to the covers even more when daylight comes. Because I know this weekend I won’t have a bed at all. This will be my first bivi.
I don’t even like to camp. So the idea of sleeping in a bag on the forest floor is particularly disagreeable. More so combined with the February wind, rain and cold temperatures. The idea leaves me sick, breathless and on the verge of panic. What will I do without my nest? I can feel the cold kneading its way into my bones already. Only I’m still ready to go, listening to the wind stirring the eaves and watching the droplets of rain on the Velux window with baleful eyes. My liner, sleeping bag and bivi bag are all rolled into a dry bag. I have down jacket, thermals, waterproofs, sleeping mat, head torch, the list goes on. In just a few hours I will be pushing my bike out of the door, handlebars heavy with two stuffed dry sacks, on my way to sleep in the wild.
My instinct says I must go, ever since the first time bivying was suggested to me. But I still cannot quite comprehend the vulnerable and boundary-less state of sleeping outdoors, it seems to go against everything I have learnt since birth. And that is why I must go. By midnight, I should be cocooned in my kelp-coloured bag amongst the mud and the pine needles and by dawn I might even be one step closer to coming out of hiding.