Up at 7am. Went downstairs to make my coffee and broke my toe on one of the big chairs in the dining room – it appeared to leap out at me from the shadows. At first I thought I’d just stubbed it until it turned black and swollen to twice its original size. I hobbled down to Tescos at 8:30, discovered it didn’t open until 10 on a Sunday so hobbled slower back. Repeated the trip later for supplies. Toe NOT impressed.
Dawn arrived at 3 and after filling her car with my chattels, we left for Alfriston, enjoying a glorious drive towards the South Downs. As we neared the site, we had a frantic text from Bev warning us to hurry as all the spots were rapidly going in the camp site. As Dawn normally drives at about 100, going faster was not really an option.
We managed to find the camping site at the end of a dirt and rutted path. It’s actually a corner of a field (European set-aside) well away from the farmhouse and with the most incredible views. I managed to find a lovely little spot for my tiny little tent, with my door opening on to the wide open spaces, dominated by a hill. I managed to erect my home in about 10 minutes then joined the others for a few beers.
Dawn, who managed to forget everything, borrowed Bev’s old tent and, with help from Matt and Tom, they gave us a demonstration on how to erect it. It finally stood, erect, solid and overshadowed by the palace next to it, which is Bev’s NEW 6 bedroom, with sunroof, Jacuzzi and diving pool, tent.
At 6:30-ish we, at Tom’s insistence, walked a mile and a half for dinner at the Sussex Ox. A splendid pre-dinner tramp along country lanes and through sunlit fields, saw us all work up a healthy appetite. I found a pair of sunglasses which from this time on and to my continuing annoyance, kept appearing every time I thought I’d managed to get rid of them.
We sat outside and enjoyed a good hearty steak and ale pie…except for Matt and John who enjoyed a curry. The beer was strong, the company merry and, in an effort to set the bar as high as possible at our opening foray, the company was soon VERY merry. Gabs arrived just as I was relating to everyone the details of my job, which they all claimed was a joke. Why does no-one realise that there ARE people who watch TV for a living?
We left Lorna (who didn’t fancy a night walk) with Gabs and staggered back in the dark, trying not to be the first to use a torch. A bit of bully boy bravado I reckon! Eventually, when we couldn’t actually see anything, not even our own hands (at least I THINK it was MY hand), I caved in and shone a light, to be met with hoots of derision for being such a wimp. I don’t think the others then walked with their eyes closed so have to assume they found it useful as well.
Back at the camp we sat round and, naturally, drank some more as the walk had sobered us up a bit. When Lorna made it back (in Gabs’ car) she was decidedly well pissed and much fun was had at her expense when she didn’t realise that the portaloo walls become transparent when you have a light on in them. For some obscure reason, having sat down, she figured it was a good time to text someone. From this time on, we dubbed this the portaloo puppet show. Eventually Darren telephoned her and the torch snapped off very quickly. She will never forget this as no-one is likely to let her.
I have no idea what time we all staggered off to bed but the young ‘uns were still going strong in the mess tent. I woke up sometime later in the pitch and it was pissing down. Of course, I had to go to the loo. I waited and waited and eventually just went outside. By the time I crawled back in, the rain stopped. Unfortunately I’d not closed my flap and so spent half an hour bailing out before going back to sleep.