Thursday, 30 March 2017

Jetlag?

There have been no updates from Bag End for a few days because there's been a little holiday and although I have been back since Sunday night it has taken me until today (Thursday) to get my act together sufficiently to face the keyboard and photos!

We have had a trip to the frozen north which combined stargazing in sub-zero temperatures and sun-bathing with a serious risk of getting burnt, all in the same day.

I went off early last Tuesday to Kielder Forest intending to have a quiet couple of days before the majority of astronomers arrived but it didn’t quite work out like that.  As is to be expected at the most remote village in England with no mobile signal, virtually no internet, set in the middle of a massive forest which supplies 25% of the country’s timber one has to contend with Weather Gods. Despite much work over the closed period to improve drainage and hardstandings the ground was completely saturated and a lot of care was needed to ensure no car or caravan wheels inadvertently went onto the grass.  There is good potential to get stuck if you don't pay attention:



But I got set up on a pitch and after walking Daisy, a drink and a bite to eat decided to put the awning up. Least said about that the better. Our new awning absolutely refused to co-operate with the caravan despite much help from a friend who was pitched nearby; every time I thought we had it pegged out a gust of wind flattened the dratted thing.  After two miserable hours I called a halt - amazing how quickly you can get an awning down . . . Not only had this pushed my stress level way beyond where it should be on a caravan trip but highlighted how narrow the hardstanding was and that the surrounding grass area had been shipped in from Glastonbury.

So I moved the caravan to a different pitch, and the Amazing Knight in Shining Subaru (known as Management) drove over after work that night to bring me the regular awning which I knew I could pitch. It still took until late Wednesday afternoon to finish setting up thanks to monsoon-like precipitation. At that point I was grimly muttering about wooden boats and animals in pairs . . .  Around this time I planned to move my car away from the pitch so that it wasn’t in the way of people arriving later in the week. That was when we found the battery was totally flat, the engine wouldn’t even turn over. More stress but our friends helped out again; 12 hours with a proper battery conditioning charger sorted my car and eventually I could relax.



The Weather Gods really were “having a laugh” with us - wind and rain all day on Tuesday but at 8.00pm the skies cleared and there were so many stars visible it was almost impossible to make out familiar constellations.  By Thursday the rain had gone but left much muck underfoot which Daisy did not approve of when we went for a walk in the forest.  She approved even less when I used a nearby hose to GENTLY rinse off her legs before we got back to the caravan.



Management came over on Friday by which time the sun had come out and it almost felt as if I had made up stories about the appalling conditions of a couple of days earlier. We had some brilliant observing both by day and night, much wandering around chatting to friends, and on Saturday spent nearly all day outside the van sharing views of the sun with others.  I had intended on going to a couple of the talks that afternoon but Daisy was ‘not quite right’ and we decided it would have added to whatever was stressing her if I’d buggered off for a few hours.  So instead we hung around, and chatted to folk, watched a massive prominence on the edge of the sun and had endless mugs of tea.  It was very, very relaxing and thoroughly lovely.











The big problem with an intense astronomy weekend is the hours - we managed to keep going until a bit after midnight each night but more dedicated folk were still out and about at 3.00 or 4.00am, and on Saturday night a couple of them lasted until 5.00am! That is serious dedication, especially when you factor in temps of at least minus 3 every night, possibly even colder. Once you’ve done that a couple of times something akin to jetlag sets in, it’s really not very pleasant. So we decided to quit whilst we were ahead, so to speak, and at the end of a lazy Sunday with more solar observing, packed up and were home by 8.00pm.   A fabulous trip, the best Starcamp yet.









Once we had overcome the awning issues I was so relaxed that I took very few photos and certainly didn't bother with astrophotography this time. **  There are, however, a great number of pictures of Daisy!









Oh, I forgot to tell Management - one day when I took Daisy out I was extremely brave and I made myself go through part of the Minotaur Maze.  Which might not sound like much to normal people but my claustrophobia extends to structures like this where I cannot see how to get out.  Did it, pleased with myself, won't do it again . . .




**  If you want to see "real" Starcamp photos, look up Stuart Atkinson on Facebook.










16 comments:

  1. Was starting to worry you'd got lost, but that post has put those thoughts to bed. Glad it turned out OK as the week progressed. Pity about the rain & cold at the start though. Maybe Daisy gets homesick? By the look of those pics, it must be quite a gathering they get there. Thanks for the update & we'll talk soon. Have a relaxing weekend & take care.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Susan, I knew you were looking out for an update, but I've been shattered since we got back, sorry it took so long.

      I think Daisy may have been feeling the heat. At one point I noticed the temperature inside the caravan was over 26 degrees (and that was with windows and door opened). She may also have been hungry as she doesn't eat properly when away. Worry not, there are plenty of biscuits and she's spoiled rotten, and now we are home she is back to her normal self.

      Delete
  2. We also had that torrential rain here at home so I have sympathy, Daisy's legs look like Moss' legs on the majority of our walks, she is a mud monster! Have you been watching Star Gazing Live? We have and really enjoyed it, but I don't think I could do the all nighter with out serious quantities of coffee and a warm duvet wrapped round me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kate, I know you appreciate what it is like having a 'mud monster' in a caravan!
      Yes, I have been watching the Australia Stargazing programmes with huge envy at their skies.
      As for the all-nighters, I think I'm far too old for that now, regardless of the quantities of coffee! BTW, we do the outside stuff wrapped in full thermals and ski gear :)

      Delete
  3. How does Daisy feel about keeping late hours?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sue, I don't think she cares much for it. Maybe she also gets a version of jetlag as her normal schedule is completely disturbed when we go away.

      Delete
  4. I did wonder why you'd gone quiet. I'm pleased the weather finally settled and you got to enjoy your weekend. Daisy looks quite content in the photographs so I hope she soon got over whatever was making her unsettled. The nearest I've got to this kind of thing is CBeebies stargazing! X

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jules. Overall we think Daisy is fairly happy as long as I am in sight :) I'm wondering if her being so unsettled on Saturday was a culmination of late nights. I leave her warm and snug in the caravan when we are wandering around at night, but for an old girl who normally goes to bed at 10.00pm and doesn't surface until 8.00 or 9.00 the following day it's quite an upheaval.

      Delete
  5. Glad you had a good time once the awning issues were sorted Jayne. Totally agree about the foul weather ,,, we cancelled a longer trip over the M62 to Cheshire and went off to Naburn Lock near York last Friday for a couple of days instead. Fantastic weather during the day and yes, like you, could have done with some suncream and fabulous frosty starry nights. Much dedication to be outside on nights like that :-) Glad Daisy is ok now ,,, it does get very hot inside the caravan when the sun decides to shine. Brave of you to go into the maze and also to tow when it's a bit blustery!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jill, lovely to hear from you. Glad you are getting out in your van too :)
      When I was cleaning up the van a couple of days ago what did I find hidden at the bottom of the bathroom locker? A tube of sunscreen of course, which I had completely forgotten about, d'uh?
      Thankfully the weather was kind whilst I was towing.
      If I can brave a maze, when are you going to brave towing your van over here?

      Delete
  6. Glad you enjoyed the weekend, it was extremely warm and sunny here too. Love the photo of Daisy with her head on the table :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Eunice, Daisy seems to like being in the caravan but I think she too felt the effect of our disrupted schedule! She certainly seemed pleased to be home:) Are your two the same?

      Delete
    2. Fortunately my two are very adaptable. When I'm away I do try to stick to the same routine with early morning/late evening walks and feed times but if it ends up being an hour or so out they don't seem to mind - they are such happy little dogs they just take everything in their stride :)

      Delete
    3. I do the same as you and try to keep to a similar walking/feeding routine and on a non-astronomy trip I go to bed at roughly the usual time. I think Daisy was struggling with the stargazing hours, even though she was inside a warm caravan she got disturbed everytime we went in or out, and when we eventually came to bed.

      Delete
  7. So lovely to see Daisy! My Daisy says hello to yours! xxx Matron

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Matron, good to hear from you, it's been ages :) My Daisy would say 'hi' but she's still snuggled under a fleecy blanket, it was very cold here last night.

      Delete

So there I am, chuntering on to myself, but it would be lovely to hear from you. Thanks to all who take the time to comment - it makes my day :)

and I always delete spam - my blog, my rules :-}