So, I was camping in Wales.[1. Details of where we stayed for those who want to follow in our footsteps: We went to The Brecon Beacons, a national park of astounding natural beauty. We stayed in two campsites, both of which I strongly recommend – Priory Mill Farm, just outside the town of Brecon, and Ynysfaen a mile and a half outside of Trecastle] It wasn’t a survivalism retreat and to my mind it was far from roughing it. Experienced survivalists would sneer at it and pampered hotel-dwellers would shudder. But you’d better believe it taught me a few things about my survivability rate post-apocalypse… both good and bad. It also taught me about how unpleasant a panic attack is when you’re having it in a field surrounded by woodland, water and no other people, but that’s an entirely different post for an entirely different blog.
First, the bad. Read on after the cut.
- Hills are harder than they look in video games
I mean, in Skyrim and Fallout I can basically jump up mountains wearing armour and carrying 350 pounds of stuff. In my home county I can easily walk 8 miles with no trouble. I assumed that ability would translate here. However, my home county is astonishingly flat. It turns out an 8 mile walking ability on flat ground translates to about 2 up a hill. I kept having to stop for breath. Also, video game characters have exaggerrating abilities. I was only carrying water, a map, some food and a coat. Skyrim lied to me.
- I don’t deal well with change
I can cope, sure, but if the journey up there and the sudden change from sleeping in a proper bed to sleeping in a tent proved anything to me, it’s that change makes me a bit… disorientated. And this was a change I was prepared for, planning for. Post apocalypse I won’t really get that chance.
- My muscles don’t heal very fast.
On saturday my hips were still aching from the waterfall walk on thursday. This muscle stiffness and pain would most definitely put me in a position where walking for a long time – or worse RUNNING – would be difficult though not outright impossible. Meaning I would be more likely to die.
- I can’t go without food
You know how most people can skip a meal or two an only feel a bit wobbly? I used to think I could do that, till Wales. Then I realised I only think I can do that because I replace those skipped meals with picking at snacks. I cannot go without food. I cannot go without enough food. You see, what happens is even missing one meal leaves me… gribbly… emotional and faint. Likely to throw a tantrum and storm off. Missing two means I lie there staring at the sky moping. Miss three, and I seriously consider cannabalism.
So, those are the ways I suck at survivalism. But here are the things I’m good at!
- I’m a really good navigator
It doesn’t matter what sort of map we use, whether Atlas, ordinance survey map or shitty one printed from a website, I can find my way with very few mistakes. I can read maps, use a compass and if we get lost find an alternate route in seconds.
- I can keep my temper under stressful circumstances
Wales got… pretty stressful at times. We got lost, wet, and hurt. Our tent leaked. The spare tent leaked. The airbed kept deflating. We ran out of money. Despite all this I kept on the positive side, my temper intact (I had a brief moment where, trying to escape the hellhole that is Swansea, I expressed a desire to murder every Welsh sign maker there had ever been.)
- I know when to admit I’m wrong
Sometimes, despite my good navigator status (offically bestowed by my husband, the driver, who has driven with dozens of navigators in his tim, and after his time in the OTC firmly believes that the greatest weapon your enemy has is one of your men with a map and compass) I took the wrong path. A proud person would perhaps have refused to accept they did this, and compound the msitake by keeping going, ending up with your survival group lost in the wilds as the light leaves the sky. Not me! I would accept that I had fucked up and figure out a way to fix the situation.
So, there we go, as I said in my last article a camping trip to somewhere you don’t know well can be excellent beginenr level practice for a post apocalypse.