It was a beautiful Sunday summers day, raining so hard that I could hardly see the road in front of me. I was driving a vauxhall zafira and it had so much camping gear in it the seats where pushed right forward. I was with my partner, who was sitting in the front with our crazy jack russell called scrappy, and my Son Curtis. Curtis was about 17 at the time and nearly six feet tall. He was in the back and looked like he had been vacuum packed in. We were only going thirty miles from our home in Ipswich to our favourite campsite in Dunwich. We had every imaginable piece of camping equipment including our brand new tent complete with fitted carpet. The tent I had bought was massive, I couldn’t wait to get to the site and (there is no other way of putting this) see it fully erect.
We arrived at a slightly waterlogged site and checked in. Our pitch was in a wooded part of the site, so we weren’t getting to wet as we got the tent out of the car. I open the main bag that had the tent in while the others were putting together some of the other bits and pieces. We had a full metal framed kitchen, chairs, metal framed beds etc. I had the tent all laid out and pegged down as per the instructions. I retrieved the bag of poles from the back of the car. This was where the fun began. I tipped the poles out onto the woodland floor and stood back in amazement as around 50 individual carbon fibre poles lay scattered all around me. They were supposed to be attached together with elastic and then fit together so you end up with the six long poles that you then fit into the tent. Where was the elastic?????? JENNY ( My partner at the times name( I’m sure its still her name, but we are not together anymore)), JENNY, “where is the elastic? (as if she would know). Bugger. It was around 2pm by now and we had 2 choices. 1, give up pack up and go home, or 2 drive the seventy mile round trip to go outdoors where I bought the tent from to replace the poles. I’m not one to give up on anything, so choice 2 won.
We had originally packed the car with military precision, although cramped, everything fitted. Now however we were up against the clock as the shop closed at 4pm. We threw in as much as we could as best as we could (still pouring with rain). I decided to leave the pegged down tent where it was, but we took nearly everything else as it was (half assembled). We folded poor Curtis in half and wedged him in what was left of his seat. Loaded the soaked and now slightly smelly dog and drove off. Luckily I had actually remembered to take the poles. We got to the shop and I explained our predicament to the young assistant. When I had finished she looked me straight in the eyes and she said “where is the elastic?”. Now luckily Jenny took over the conversation at this point as she could she the confusion on my face and probably guessed what my reply would have been. After calling for her supervisor who then called for a manager who the called head office who then spoke to the prime minister who contacted the queen, we left and headed back to the campsite with a bag of poles complete with elastic!!!
Was this the end of our troubles? not quite. We finally got back to the site, unfolded Curtis and managed to put the tent up. We assembled all of the equipment and I stood back admiring my grand erection (sorry) with a well earned beer. The only thing left to do was to inflate the air mattresses using the pump that worked from the cigarette lighter in the car. Jenny was quite happy to do this. Finally, beds made, all equipment was assembled, time to enjoy out few days away. Oh no, there was one last job, park the car ( I’d only had one beer). As I said Jenny had used the cigarette lighter socket to inflate the air mattresses, unfortunately she had left the ignition turned on. I turned the key……..click, one dead battery.
I had parked on a slight slope, fairly close to the edge of a cliff, but plenty of room to push start the car ( or so I thought). Jenny, Curtis and scrappy ( she was highly trained) all assembled at the back of the car and pushed as I tried to bump start the car. After trying a couple of times and nearing the top of the cliff, I decided that maybe we should go for plan B before I ended up in the North sea. Fortunately the couple on the pitch next to us saw what was happening and came to my rescue with some jump leads.
Around 6pm we were sitting outside our tent when randomly I recognised a lady the presented the weather on the local news ( BBC look east). As I pointed her out, we then saw one of the news presenters and a camera man too. They came over to us and asked if they could ask us a few questions about camping and use it as a feature they were doing. Why not? fame at last!! The first question they asked was “how easy was it to set everything up?”. They seemed bewildered when I burst out laughing and walked off.