20 Jan 23 – Camping
I’ve camped a lot over the years but there’s only one time I thought I was really going to die.
I wasn’t caught in an ice storm in the Himalayas or bitten by a Jararaca snake on the southern slopes of Mount Aconaguas, because I took precautions and never ever went to either of those places.
This near-fatal encounter took place at a family campsite in the Lake District.
It was with my friend Martin. Our wives foolishly let us take our kids for a night under the stars. They were probably going to a Take That tribute band and drinking prosecco and just wanted to get shot of us, so they agreed to anything.
After we got the tents up, we did what fathers are good at, we set about trying to injure our children. Firstly a black eye.
It was an underarm lob.
‘Hands together, hands together, eye on the ball, eye on the ball…
‘Well done Sweetheart, get your swimming stuff kids we’re going to the river.’
Me: Hey Martin, bet you can’t put your head under that waterfall.
Martin: Ian, bet you can’t jump in from that rock over there.
Me: Couldn’t be simpler.
Me: Bet you can’t…
Man on the side of the river: ‘Are those your children swimming unattended in Spiky Rocks and Crocodile Gulch?’
It was a very strange name for a section of river in the Lake District but incredibly accurate.
Me and Martin looked at each other: That’s right, we did bring children?
‘Come on kids, let’s play on that Tarzan swing that looks nice and safe ‘
Anyway, I don’t know why I’m confessing to all this, because this wasn’t the dangerous part.
In the evening the campsite was quiet-ish. There were some good old boys drinking whisky and rye over by the levee, which was dry, hoping for some reason that this would be the day that they died. They had a guitar, but I can’t remember which song they were singing.
After the 60th repeat, I wished it really was the day the music died.
During our second helping of burnt sausages and blackened bean scrapings, I heard a distant rumble. And like all distant rumbles it got louder and louder and closer and closer. The rumble was the sound of 8 Ford Fiestas with customized dual exhaust and extra gunshot muffler rumble box technology, pulling into the campsite.
I noticed there was space for 8 tents, either way over on the other end of the field where we wouldn’t be able to hear them or right next to us.
I know what you’re thinking: knowing my luck they’ll park right next to us. Well, you know what, as I watched 8 gunshot mufflers handbrake turn next to our guy ropes, I thought to myself, you’re right. Teenager boys immediately flooded the area, cracked open the beers and started shouting swear words while punching each other’s faces.
I love a few beers while camping. Me and Martin had already had a few (while still remaining completely and utterly in full control of the children). And, after several hours, the children got to enhance their vocabulary with some premier league swear words.
In the next few sentences when you see @@@@ insert your favourite swear word.
So we went to bed. Children can sleep through anything but I lay awake listening to how a guy called Lowca was an absolute @@@@, no wait it wasn’t Lowca who was the absolute @@@@ it was Pica, no it wasn’t, it was Parton who was the @@@@. This continued for about two more hours until Lowca lost the plot.
‘Right, that’s @@@@ it,’ screamed Lowca.
I heard a car door slam and an engine start-up. Then a car took off down the track. Bearing in mind he’d been drinking for 5 hours.
‘Lowca’s gone mental?’
‘He nearly hit that tent’ Laughter.
‘He’s just missed the wall’
‘What’s he doing now?’
‘He’s turning round.’
‘He’s coming back.’
This was my expression at the time.
I couldn’t see what the hell was going on. All I heard was the sound of a customized dual exhaust and extra gunshot muffler rumble box technology coming back towards us, very fast, with a drunk, insanely angry, teenager at the wheel.
I booted Martin, grabbed my kids and we both dived out of the tent.
Lowca came hammering passed our tent, knocking out a few tent pegs, and skidded at the bottom end of the campsite.
Then the coolest man I will ever meet appeared out of the shadows.
He looked nothing like Clint, but I don’t care.
‘Pack your stuff and @@@@ off.’ That’s all he said. It was probably said in a serious Cumbrian accent but in my mind he plucked out a cheroot and said it slow and easy.
‘Who says Granddad?’
‘Yeah, are you going to make us, old man?’
‘You and who’s army, codger?’
Clint moved his right arm a fraction and I just caught the glimpse of a 20 gauge shotgun with teenager splatter technology and a subwoofer (he had a little dog with him). Then I heard 8 ford fiestas disappearing down the lane as 8 teenage drunk drivers headed onto the roads, nothing new there.
The farmer nodded in our direction and disappeared into the night.
I love that bloke.
Have a great weekend.
Take care and all the best,
(If you want to leave a comment below, that would be great)