Monday 5 November 2001

Up to the Lakes for the weekend and all was beautiful.

270 miles in four and a half hours on Friday night - one day we'll get busted. I'm so anal that even in my stupid car I normally obey all speed limits (give or take) but there's something weak inside of me that bends like a paper-clip when the 100mph peer group of Gus n Baz are sitting in the same car as me, so I gun the thing and don't drop below 90. I feel so...naughty.

We camped in the Langdales, pitching tents at 1am and instantly dropping off to sleep. It rained gently during the night but was pleasant and dry when we woke. Baz made infinite cups of tea as normal, Carla was slow getting up, as normal, and we talked constantly of kit, costs and buggery, as normal. We blasted off to walk a 10 mile horseshoe, up out of Ambleside, onto Fairfield and back down and the fitness test started. Gus won. He stormed off into the encroaching cloud, his shadow getting vaguer as we rose and he stretched his legs in front. When I'm feeling slow and unfit, each step hurting, calves burning, lungs straining, sweat dripping and condensing all over my body, I hate everyone, especially people who aren't obviously struggling. The hatred burns and spurs me on, but it always dissipates by the time I reach the next stopping spot.

It was a perfect autumnal weekend and the whole of the Lake District was on fire. Every tree consumed by shimmering waves of yellow, brown and green, leaves dropping like consumed ash and swirling around the paths. All the colours were somehow right and so perfect that each change of light - from the occasional blast of bright, cold sun to the warmly enveloping mist - brought out a different set of complementary hues. Even when thrashed by 60mph winds on ridge tops, water blasting into the hillside and any exposed skin, even when the visibility dropped to 20 metres and the world just dropped off into blankness, all the colours were appropriate, crystalline, correct.

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