I do like to be beside the seaside
Wild camping in Hastings with friends made for a cracking microadventure this week.
Once you've been on a microadventure there comes the inevitable question of what's next?
Karan Chadda and I headed to West London at the end of September last year to climb a hill and sleep out in the wild. At least as hilly and as wild as is possible in the suburbs of our City.
I should explain. Microadventures are a phenomenon created by Alastair Humphreys. It's a book and a movement.
Alastair is a full blown adventurer. He's won awards from National Geographic for adventuring. He created the movement after being asked how regular people working 9 to 5 could experience a sense of adventure.
It turns out working 9 to 5 leaves 16 hours in which you can do amazing things.
After the West London trip I had several attempts to persuade the Posh Geordie to have a go. She was having none of it.
“I’m not sleeping outside in any climate less than tropical, Stephen.”
"I guess St Mary's or Whitley Bay is a no go then?"
I got the withering look.
But I wanted more. I wanted another adventure, or at least a micro sized one. Spring seemed like a good time, after the clocks changed. And so it was that Karan and I persuaded two friends to join us on a trip to the seaside.
We met after work on Platform 8 of London Bridge station, around 5pm. Our destination was Hastings. It's a tortuous trip by Southern Rail that takes around 90 minutes.
We stood all the way. It was an adventure in itself of sorts.
When we landed in Hastings we headed for an area of open moorland above the cliffs. It was the only part of the trip that we'd planned ahead.
Camping isn't strictly allowed but we were adventurers that planned to bed down in bivouacs after the pubs closed; rise before sunset; and leave no trace of our visit.
We found a spot with incredible views over the shipping fleet and old town of Hastings.
We headed to the sea for a dip. Strictly speaking it was more of a paddle. It was March after all.
Next was dinner in a pub in the old town. We talked over pies and pints about work, relationships, children, family and ambition.
Inevitably talk turned to Brexit, and the challenge facing the UK as it leaves the European Union and forms a new relationship with Europe.
I spent the evening of Brexit day with three friends on a microadventure. What did you do?
Many beers were consumed. No sensible conclusions were reached. At least none that I can remember.
We headed back up the hill after paying our bar bill.
Sleeping out was uneventful, apart from the snoring. The sky was full of stars. The shipping fleet headed out to sea before we woke.
We retraced our way back to the train station for 6am to return to London. Breakfast was a sausage and egg sandwich at Smiths in Canon Street. It cost almost as much as dinner the night before.
I was back at my desk for 830am thanks to a shaver and change of clothes in my locker.
Microadventures challenge you to go beyond your comfort zone. They force you to think differently and do something new. They shift your perspective. It's a holiday of sorts.
My thanks to my fellow adventurers: Karan Chadda, Neil Gadhok and Scott Guthrie.
Next time we're going wild swimming.
Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes by Alastair Humphreys costs £10 on the Kindle and £11 in print.