13 June 2009 (Saturday) – A Busy Day

I got to bed at 2am last night. At 3.30am I awoke for a call of nature, and at 4am one of the camper’s babies started howling. Then at 5.30am there was a racket not unlike one that “My Boy(TM)” made when he was two years old, and was playing the drums on his mother’s saucepans. Once the clanging had subsided and I’d had another tiddle, I gave up and got up at 7am. I pootled about quietly, clearing up the carnage of the night before. I could understand there being beer bottles and plastic wine mugs everywhere, but there was rice pudding over and in everything. We only had two tins of the stuff. How could it have made such a mess?

Batty & Martin soon arrived, and breakfast was enjoyed by all. There was talk of bikinis as the sun shone. There was also talk of elastic bands being wrapped around elephants, which didn’t go down too well. Godchildren arrived, and were left with us for the day. I took them over to the kite stall to buy kites, and we spent a pleasant half an hour totally failing to fly them.

And then I suddenly found myself on my own. Those that hadn’t gone off for a sail down the river were on the kite field. I took down one of the banners and repaired it over a bottle of beer. It was one of those truly peaceful moments when God was in his heaven, and all really was well with the world.

Terry & Irene arrived to join us for the weekend, followed soon by Lisa, and then after a quick sandwich I settled down to untangle a kite line. Last August I’d got a line into a right tangle, and stuffed the thing in my kite bag. Today I thought I’d better do something about it. First of all I had to separate the broken reel of line from the broken line winder, which was a job requiring brute force rather than finesse, and then the line had to be rolled onto a separate reel, untangling as I went. I had planned to do this to quietly occupy myself for the afternoon, but before long I had attracted a crowd of helpers, so I sat back and watched people doing it for me.

Having sorted the line, I helped Terry fly a kite. I say “helped” – there are those who might feel a more appropriate term might be “put the kite in a tree for him”. Flushed with success at helping my fellow man, I then decided to help my goddaughter. She’d asked if I could supervise her practicing doing rowing in the rubber dingy. It wasn’t until she was in the middle of the river, spinning in circles, screaming for help and heading towards the weir that “Daddies Little Angel (TM)” together with a gaggle of assorted cousins and friends came charging up the tow-path, shouting in panic, demanding to know which idiot had let Thea loose in the boat, because even the most feeble minded simpleton would know that Thea didn’t have the faintest idea about oar control. Still, all was well that ended well. She crashed the boat into the side of Teston Lock, and one of the passing normal people pulled her to safety. We sent the boat back to camp, and I took her paddling in one of the shallower bits of the river, amusing myself by shouting “Look Out!!! Crocodiles!!!” at regular intervals.

And so, back to camp where I had a bit of a kip – my nerves needed it. After half an hour I was woken by shouts of derision aimed at nearby campers who had brought along a wine cooler (oh lah-di-dah!). Chip & Sam had also appeared whilst I was resting me eyes – it’s amazing what happens when you’re not paying attention.
It was then time for me to perform one of the less pleasant tasks of the camp. Having set up our camp as far as was possible from the toilets, the ladies felt it was a long way to troll up and down the field every time nature called. I didn’t have a problem with tiddling into a hedge, but apparently it’s different if you are a girly-type. So last year I’d invested in a camp toilet on the strict understanding that it was a “dreadnaught-free zone” – tiddle only. However someone needs to empty it, and that someone was me. As I took the bucket out of the tent, I found a lolly stick. Would you believe it – someone had been sitting on the thing scoffing an ice cream.

After this, the subsequent erudite conversation came as a blessed relief. I say “erudite conversation” because that is what I am reliably informed was happening. I’m glad that this fact was pointed out to me, because I may well have missed it otherwise. And then tea time – nearly twenty of us for tea. Great fun, but that certainly generated some washing up.
Bat-hunting. Over the years it has become a Teston tradition that at twilight we go down to the lock to see the bats. There weren’t any. I saw half a dozen on the walk to the river, but none at the river. Over the last few years there have been less and less bats at the loch at night. Global warming?

A few more beers, and then over to the in-laws for cake & custard, and then back to base for more beer. And then disaster struck. My nephew came wandering over. He looked as white as a sheet. He’d been sick all over his sleeping bag. Or so he claimed. His mum wasn’t well herself and was having an early night and I didn’t want to disturb her, so I went to inspect the carnage. I couldn’t find any trace of his having “blown”, and whilst we were all having a good laugh about the “Vom Hunter”, he blew again. Right in the middle of the communal tent. I can’t help but think that he fact that he’d been up since 5am in a very hot day, stuffing all sorts of food and drink down his neck might have had something to do with it.

And just as we’d settled him down for the night, had a few more beers and were pleasantly settled ourselves, so the didgeree- flipping – doo started. The didgeridoo is a traditional Australian music form which is dwindling in popularity these days on account of when you play it at 1am, anyone who might be fool enough to try to be sleeping is sorely tempted to ram said didgeridoo up the musician’s bottom. Sideways.

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