This is a story that for us will never become boring. It does however seem like we are stuck in our own little micro-adventure routine:
- Find somewhere beautiful and remote.
- Cook some food.
- Go snorkeling.
- Watch the sun go down.
- Watch the stars.
- Go to sleep (or try to).
- Wake up & have breakfast.
- Swim or snorkel again.
- Collect litter.
- Go home.
Maybe we should apologise to you for these posts being too predictable, but the fact is there is no feeling quite like lying in a sleeping bag at night, within splashing distance of the sea, drifting in and out of sleep, sandwiched and exposed between the earth and the stars. As we lie here though, on the cusp of the autumnal equinox, we realise that there won’t be many more nights this year when the weather, and our inclination, will allow us to sleep somewhere quite so exposed to the elements. It won’t be long from now before the serene turquoise sea, which laps gently against the rocks at our feet, will become ferocious and un-welcoming as it transforms into a chaotic whirling cauldron, antagonised by the procession of Atlantic storms that will soon herald the approach of winter.
For today though, the weather is calm and any thoughts of winter are beyond our worries. We have come to a spot that is one of my favorite places in Guernsey, possibly one of my favorite places in the entire world. A tiny harbour, a safe-haven for a single solitary fishing boat, at the bottom of a cliff, almost as far as we can go from home without leaving this island. We headed out after work, with a couple of hours left before the sun would be setting, on a 45 minute cycle ride to the south coast. The granite mooring platforms where we decided to spend the night are at the end of a small winding lane, then 5 minutes walk along a dusty track to where we would leave our bikes, and another few minutes down some steep steps. Surrounded by cliffs and deep gullies; this is somewhere that I love to come to swim or snorkel during summer, especially in the middle of the day before the sun disappears behind the rocky outcrop that creates a wall to the west and provides shelter from the prevailing breeze.
By the time we had gathered twigs for the stove and cooked our (almost) pad thai (recipe to follow), the light was starting to fade and the plans that we had for an evening swim were becoming increasingly unappealing. Instead, we sat on the rocks and played music while watching the beautiful display of bioluminescence that made each wave sparkle and dance; illuminating with glowing green flecks, for small moments in time, tiny patches of the inky-black depths. On a few evenings over the past month we have been taking part in our end-of-summer ritual of swimming late, on nights when there is no moon in the sky, within this mesmerising lightshow. There aren’t any words that can easily describe how magical this experience can be, and while it is beyond our skills to capture it on camera (despite many, many hours of trying!) I can only recommend that you give it a go yourself if ever you get the opportunity – the fear of what might be lurking in water that is blacker than the night itself is quickly forgotten once you become immersed by this captivating natural spectacle.
Our plan for the night was to sleep inside bivvy bags, however Lucy didn’t have one, and the second-hand one that she had ordered online hadn’t arrived in time (it was waiting on our doorstop when we got home the next day). As well as helping to protect you from the elements, if you have the right type of bivvy bag, you can zip yourself inside and it will also help to defend you from creepy-crawlies, rats, and other nocturnal beasts that your mind tries to convince you are going to crawl in and devour you while you sleep. As these things don’t bother me too much, Lucy borrowed mine and I slept in just my sleeping bag.
Lying there, looking at the sky, we had a spectacular view, even more so than usual, with a display of meteors that seemed to be trying its hardest to rival the planktonic bioluminescence whose spell we had been under for most of the evening. Before long though we had both disappeared inside the cocoon of our bags and were ready to fall asleep.
I awoke in the night to the rumbling and booming of waves rolling into the entrances of caves across the water from us. As I opened my eyes I was just able to make out a hazy veil of mist surrounding the tops of the tall cliffs. Before long this had expanded to fill the entire sky; obscuring the stars and turning to drizzle. I was slightly regretting giving away my bivvy bag as my sleeping bag became covered in dampness and I prepared for a cold and soggy dawn. This turned out to be a good test for my sleeping bag however, and one that it coped with well, when I woke up again a few hours later I was still warm and dry.
As always, Lucy was up first and by the time I surfaced the stove was alight and breakfast was ready. The sky was grey but the drizzle had almost stopped. We ventured out for the snorkeling that we had passed-up on last night and then headed back up the steps to our bicycles, along the dusty path, and, reluctantly, back to civilization.