Camping late in the season always has its risks but not wanting to give in to the blatantly obvious signs of autumn nor the televised flood warnings, we continued to squeeze every last piece of equipment into the car.
With every orifice filled, our two children plus our eldest daughter’s friend were now concealed in the back by a wall of pillows, duvets and sleeping bags.
Two hours later and we were the first family in our group to arrive at the site which was on a farm. We set about unloading and the kids went off to explore, closely followed by the owner’s dog. As my husband and I battled through gritted teeth to put the tent up in the rain, our friends arrived in their campervan, smugly reversing into the bay beside us; unleashed their children and dog, plugged in the electric and produced two perfect cuppas for us.
The call of nature came soon after so the children and I went off to check out the facilities. On opening the toilet cubicle the children let out a collective scream, not only was a large live spider spread-eagle in the toilet bowl but the floor was awash with bugs, moths and beetles. To add to our lack of privacy we had now been joined by the farmers’ two dogs, who seemed to take a delight in watching a middle aged women grapple with an unsinkable spider.
Last to arrive was my friend and her son, who quickly threw up their pop up tent and went on to bond with a black kitten.
The torrential rain arrived shortly after midnight so we sought refuge under canvas and soon drifted off into a fresh air induced sleep. Some hours later I was aware of squeals and giggles coming from my daughter and friends sleeping area but thought nothing of it until 15 minutes later when my youngest and I sat bolt upright. We were not alone, outside something stirred; a dark shadowy figure was stalking us. Suddenly there was a mighty meow and the black kitten clawed its way up the canvas in between the inner and outer tent, its face peering in at us through the air vent like something possessed. I tried pushing it off but each time it returned - the meows getting louder and louder - until it gave up and slept outside the tent.
Leaving my red eyed husband in peace the next morning to deal with his extreme cat allergy, we set off for a healthy country walk stopping to pat the farm horses but within five minutes my youngest appeared tearful. In her mind she had been kicked in the back by a horse when really she had made contact with an electric fence and 5,000 volts had just gone through her body.
Our second night was thankfully uneventful and the children were keen the following morning to say farewell to all the animals but as I pulled back the large barn door we were met with a scene of carnage; seven dead chicks, one surviving chick about to fly the roost, three barking pups and two disgruntled pigs agitated by an escaped guinea pig in their sty. So much for a quiet weekend in the country!