Trying to live in a tipi for a month, in UK, in October. And hold down a PhD.

Tuesday, October 11

Day 5 – Hot Rain

My one fear, heavy rain, is about to transpire. The grey clouds outside my office window are filled with doom. The tipi canvas is completely waterproof but the basic tipi design suffers from one flaw: the ends of the poles which stick out of the top of the tipi catch rain. This then dribbles down the pole into the tipi. If the poles are perfectly smooth the dribble will make it all the way to the base of the pole without falling off, but if there’s a notch (ours have plenty) the dribble drips inside. I have no idea how she’ll fare.

I finish work at 8. It is dark and raining. A lot. I don’t even have waterproofs, and the biggest rule of survival is not to get wet. I am at natures mercy - I look out through the office window and think maybe this is the end. Abby, thank god, lends me some waterproofs and I run home and with my heart in my mouth, fling the door open, peer through and survey the damage to the floor with my torch. Not good. Puddles of water everywhere. And worryingly, a drip disappearing into the firewood pile.

“BOLLOCKS!!” I shout. I feel better, and as the poor tipi drips drops around my ears, I scavenge with my head torch like a mad man through the wood pile to find any dry bits. I hastily split a log and slice my finger open with the axe. I don’t have time to do anything about the blood, and just build the fire in the damp hearth as fast as I can. It starts! Somehow, god knows, I don’t care, and shove more and more wood on. I’d completely forgotten that the flaps are shut and the entire tipi suddenly fills with acrid smoke. I crawl to the kit box, find a poncho, and bare footed run outside in the rain to adjust the poles. I stand outside and shiver while the smoke billows out only to re-enter and find that I have created a raging inferno. But maybe this will drive out the wet.

I sit in nothing but boxer shorts, sweating my balls off trying to cook Past’n’Sauce again – it should happen a bit quicker over this afterburner. The tripod collapses sending a red hot pan flying and a wave of boiling water and milk over the floor. I instinctively made a grab for the pan, but remembered just in time and narrowly avoided some tasty third degree burns.

Oddly, all this is amazingly good fun, and the food tastes delicious. I also got the cooking time down to about an hour and a half, so I reckon I’m improving.

The tipi is now dry, and I fall asleep next to the embers. I’ve shut the smoke flaps this time as an experiment – this should keep a bit of warmth in, but there’s a risk the embers might fume me out. We shall see.


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