After the busiest few months of our lives, my mate Harry and I had some free time. Three years of university came to a halt last Friday at 3pm as we handed in our final piece of work and stepped into the world as graduates. The following Monday evening we were in a borrowed car heading west out of the city in search of a place to sleep.

Ten miles from my doorstep we pulled off the road and put on our boots. It was then we realized how heavy our packs were—as we were celebrating we’d brought some extra bottles—so we pressed on as planned. It would’ve been rude to leave them in the car.

After a few hours zigzagging upwards through natural woodland and planted pine forests we reached the top of our hill. With the sun an inch above the horizon we were glad we had taken so long getting out the house—we’d timed it perfectly.

After descending a hundred meters or so back into the forest we reached a large clearing that had a dozen trees left standing in the centre. (We reckoned the loggers spared them because they were standing above a large—but now deserted—badger sett.) We found a spot between two scots pines and a sycamore tree and slung our hammocks low to the ground, shielded from view by fresh shoots and last years' bracken. A mushroom stroganoff later, we were drinking a few beers and talking about our newly empty schedules. A long way past midnight we rolled into our hammocks and watched satellites cross a cloudless sky. 

Not long later the sun burst over the neighboring hill and woke me from the comfiest nights sleep I’ve had outdoors—even if it was only four hours long. The hillside was painted gold for a few beautiful minutes and the sound of cuckoos, woodpeckers, and the other birds that I should learn to recognize filled the clearing. Our hammocks swayed in the breeze and we dozed until our stomachs persuaded us to pack up.

We walked slowly back to the road away from our little piece of bliss, a little ruffled and sleepy eyed, in search of a cafe and a fried breakfast. That was the first night we’d spent in our hammocks and it was long overdue, which only made us appreciate it more. Heading back to the city we passed people on their way to work, politely hiding our smug little smiles and feeling like we’d stolen a few hours of adventure right from under their noses.