The last of the daylight from the small draughty window was helpful until about 19:00, at which point Matt and Dan spotted the candle chandelier above our heads and set about lighting what short candle stumps were left, stood on the rickety old chairs. Once the natural light faded, the warm candlelight began to highlight all the cookware and food supplies on the table ready and waiting for our evening meal; the flickering glow reflecting in the glass bottles of drink we’d brought with us. If ever there was a better time to crack them open, as we gathered a decent amount of firewood to keep us warm into the night. There was only real chunky long dry sections about, so we found the Bothy bow saw to cut the wood small enough to fit in the stove. Andy’s sawing efforts echoed around the bare stone room as the rest of us supped drinks out of camping mugs and began to prep dinner.
On the menu was a Tallegio cheese and chorizo sharing platter (Titan Kettle lid) followed by veggie-chilli burritos and Jamaica Ginger cake, washed down with Vin Santo, warm port, and single-malt whisky. Matt was saving his sweet potatoes for breakfast, obviously. Paul sat juggling kit-watchman duties with cooking the chilli up in a pan on the hot stove surface, until the Bothy room took on a fragrant mix of wet kit steam, wood smoke, bubbling chilli, and Mat's warming port fumes > bottled and coming to a store near you. At which point, Andy and I started cooking the rice on the gas stoves, placing the wraps over the boiling rice pans to heat them up. It’s these small subtleties that make bike-camping life a bit easier - either because you don’t have anything else for a specific job or because, without the luxury of running water, less stuff means less cleaning. We even used the hot rice water to wash out the used cups, pans and cutlery, which both saved collecting more water and heating it up.
Gathered around the table and hot stove, we dished out the chilli mix, wraps, grated cheese and drinks. The room fell silent but for the rain against the corrugated roof over us, as we all tucked into a well-deserved meal, having fuelled ourselves pretty much just on trail-mix since breakfast. Geez, the Bothy burritos were good!
The rain continued. Slipping wet shoes and stepping out the now warm Bothy room into the cold wet night for loo breaks was a tough ask, and even more disappointing not to see any of the spectacular Dark Skies. Instead we chatted around the table, picking at the last of the food and drink, under our dimmed head-torch beams and fading candlelight, until there was nothing left but breakfast rations and an unopened Ginger cake we held back. A first yawn, one last nightcap and it was time to chuck one last lump of firewood in the stove, push back of any kit that might burn, and move jackets onto the backs of chairs nearer the stove, before all jumping into our sleeping bags…