Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Camping capers.........

What a glorious weekend.

Despite the gloomy weather forecasts we mostly had the most wonderfully warm spring weather over our four days of rest and relaxation, far from the madding crowd.

All except for the day of our arrival on the site.

To say it was a bit blowy is putting it mildly.

However, undaunted we decided to erect the awning in the teeth of a gale, much to the amusement of the other campers. Our awning quickly became a 3 cubic metre windsock, and I half expected to take flight, clinging onto it, Dorothy-like, wailing "I guess I'm not in Kansas anymore............."
Finally, good sense prevailed and we abandoned the attempt, quickly re-packing it and trying to look as if we hadn't really wanted to put it up all along.

And so to small dog's favourite part........her first walk to see the baby animals. This necessitates us all 'trip, trap, tripping' over the 'troll bridge' right next to the billy goat gruff paddock.
Small dog is ecstatic...there are such good sniffings and things to investigate.

Back at the van she is on 'duckwatch', a task which keeps her fully engaged while we make dinner. As we do, I get the strangest sensation that we are slowly sinking. This sensation is confirmed when we investigate further to find that our levelling blocks are level with the grass, having sunk right into the damp ground. This created a problem mainly because the van fridge is rather temperamental, and refuses to work properly unless it is level, front to back and side to side. This, unfortunately, was not the case and we had developed a distinct list to starboard.

So off to the warden to beg for a few boards, which were duly delivered, along with the observation that we'd made quite a dent in the pitch. By this stage, windswept and bedraggled, I was in no mood to commiserate.
There followed a difficult half hour during which we resolutely tried to level the van on boards and blocks. It slowly dawned on us that we were top billing for site entertainment, as people near and far stopped what they were doing to take in the scene.

Trying to maintain a cheery and unconcerned demeanour, we smiled through gritted teeth, calling "to me, to me.........right a bit. NO! MY right not yours........back a bit, to me, to me. Oh bugger.........." the latter as the boards both split down the middle, upending, and being driven by the force of the wheels straight down into the ground, gouging deep troughs and sending the levelling blocks spinning off dangerously in all directions.

This, though uneniably dramatic, and great spectator sport, had achieved precisely nothing.
The van was not level
The fridge was not working.
And I had two enormous splinters from trying to reposition the wooden boards.

Call me paranoid, but I was beginning to wonder if I might suffer the fate of Lord Carnarvon, discoverer of the Tutankhamun tomb, who was bitten by a mosquito, cut the blister while shaving, contracted an infection, which led to pneumonia and died all within a few weeks.

Happily, minor surgery with mole grips removed the splinter and relative peace was achieved, despite small dog's jihad on a group of itinerant guinea fowl and the resultant tumult as she tried to chase them.

I did try to lighten the mood over dinner, by folding the napkins into miniature representations of the Titanic, which seemed appropriate considering the rate at which we were sinking. Some people have no sense of humour.

We finally got the fridge working at 8.10pm, a triumph which was slightly marred by the discovery that our runny honey had gone solid and could only be extracted from its squeezy bottle with the aid of a stick.

These are the joys of camping.

The remainder of our stay was uneventful. The wind dropped and we were able to put the awning up the following morning. The sun shone and we basked outdoors......... taking walks, reading, cooking al fresco and generally enjoying the bucolic splendour of the great outdoors.

Here's small dog's best bits................

Small dog on duckwatch. Although she looks relaxed, she is in fact doing complicated mental calculations based on range, acceleration, speed etc.

The view of the duckpond from our van on the first morning

Small dog in utter ecstasy, while rolling in something disgusting.

Her favourite three little pigs, all snuggled up together for a snooze.

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