Strange Campsite (OS026)

Previously: We set off on our ill-considered road trip and had just pulled into a campsite ‘Camp Horated’ to be confronted by a menacing figure.

The huge shape of a man (or man like beast) stood menacingly in the doorway of a ramshackle hut; its bulky frame backlit by a blazing fire with ferocious sounding dogs (or dog sounding beasts) barking in the background. We were, to say the least, a little apprehensive, speechless, ready to bolt to the relative safety of the campervan. However, the figure spoke:

“Hello, sorry about the dogs. They just want to come and greet you. Friendly and completely harmless. Now, how can I help you? Are you lost? I can direct you.”

It didn’t sound too threatening and so I plucked up courage to speak.

“Well no, we just want somewhere to camp for the night.”

“What, Oh! right. Let’s see now. Where’s that registration book?”

He looked quite surprised as he turned to go back in the hut and shuffled through amassed papers on the desk.

“I have it here somewhere.” he said apologetically.

Having calmed from utter panic to being merely quite stressed, we walked tentatively into the office, “I’m Warden ‘Den’, by the way and this is my Assistant ‘Ant’.”

Pam Chuckled more in relief that amusement, I guess.

“Oh don’t mind her. She’s in a funny mood today.” I explained. “Too much sun I think.”

“What lovely dogs. What are they?” asked Pam.

Well that’s a cross between a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle, a ‘Cockerpoo’ called Neil and that’s a cross between a Bulldog and a Shih Tzu, which doesn’t have an official breed name but we call her a ‘Bush’. She’s called ‘Dawn’.

Pam creased up laughing in the corner. After composing herself, Pam said “So it’s Neil, Dawn.” confirming the names, pointing to each in turn. The dogs instantly went down on their front legs bottoms in the air.

“Stand” said warden Den. “No, Neil, Dawn”. He corrected Pam pointing to the dogs in the correct order. The dogs instantly went down on their front legs again, bottoms in the air.

“Lie down.” said Warden Den to both dogs.

Neil continued kneeling but Dawn laid down.

“Let’s go.” said warden Den a little exasperated. Feeling more calm about Warden Den, Pam plucked up courage to ask about the moth ball smell.

“Wardrobes” replied Warden Den, “We’re burning an old wardrobe from the local tip. Don’t burn the trees. Let them rot down. Return to the soil, if you know what I mean….Need any clothes rails or handles for your camper?”

“Think were OK thanks” I replied walking outside.

“Will you be wanting hard standing?” he quizzed.

Pam looked incapable of speaking at the moment so I said,

“Not necessarily, anything will do as long as it has power.”

“OK. Right, powers extra. awnings are extra. TV signal’s not so good, no ball games, no BBQ, no noise after ten, toilet blocks over there and chemical disposal is over there”

“Oh good”, said Pam “we can get rid of that leaking bottle of kitchen cleaner.”

“I’ll explain later Pam.” I added.

Warden Den jumped in a golf buggy and took us; through some trees, over a rickerty old bridge with a sign ‘Barry’s Bridge’, through a gate, by a wheat field, straight on at the scare crow, round a barn, past a water wheel, through some bulls in a field and to a gate. He got out and opened the gate. We then continued down a muddy road, by a dove cote, under another bridge which didn’t appear to have any purpose and to a river.

It was all too much for Pam and she was creased up laughing in the footwell.

“Are we still in Scotland?” she quipped.

“Why are you laughing.” I asked but no reply.

At Warden Den’s insistance, we parked next to the only other van in sight.

“This is the overflow field, for when we get busy.”

Our neighbouring van was a large static van glowing with solar LED lights, a complex bird feeding stand with; nuts, seeds, water bath and fat balls. The van had a neat wooden extension with smart wooden decking. This was festooned with plants and concrete statues of animals and a variety of gnomes. The van had an air conditioning unit and satellite dish on the roof. No one was home.

“No one has used the van for years, so it’ll be quiet for you” explained Warden Den.

We took a little while to unpack and settle in.

“That’s good value.” commented Pam, “£15 for the night. Still, ‘many a mickle mak’s a muckle’ as they say in Scotland.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Scottish proverb. It means of you make lots of small amounts it all adds up to a large amount.”

“It’s like, ‘Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves’.” I interrupted,


“I’ve got another one for you ‘It’s black over Bill’s mothers.”

“You’ve just made that one up.”

“No, it’s a Yorkshire proverb meaning it’s stormy looking, over there.”

“Whose Bill?”

“It’s just a saying. I guess Bill is just made up.” I explained “and his mother.”

At that moment, the golf buggy came back with Assistant Ant at the wheel and Neil the dog in the passenger seat.

He shouted over.

“Warden Den’s dog Dawn’s dunna runna.”

“What’s he saying?” asked Pam.

“Warden Den’s dog Dawn’s dunna runna.” I replied.

Both Ant and Neil were now by the camper.

“Which dog’s gone?” Pam asked.

“Dawn” Assistant Ant replied.

“Neil, stand” he said to Neil.

“So are you too on honeymoon or something?” asked Ant.

“No we’re not….” replied Pam.

“Married” I added fearing Pam’s choice of words.

“We don’t….”

“Normally holiday together” I added.

“Well in that case, I can show you both the area tomorrow if you like” clearly talking to Pam.

“Oh, unfortunately we have to move on tomorrow first thing” I said. “Thanks. That would have been great. We’re just off for a walk now and will look out for Dawn.”

Ant and Neil sloped back to the buggy and drove off.

“Oliver Sudden, you got rid of Assistant Ant pretty quickly. What if I wanted a tour?”

“He clearly wanted to give you a tour. Me, not so much.”

“I didn’t want to go either. I’m going to like camping, I think.”

We wandered out of the field towards Ben Evolent. Pam was unusually quiet admiring the scenery. By the time we returned, it was getting dusk and we could barely see that there was a scrappy, handwritten note stuck under the campervan handle.

It would be great to hear from you. Drop me a comment (at the bottom of the page). Just some thoughts on possible subjects but feel free:

  • Have you ever camped? How was it for you?
  • Where’s the wierdest place you’ve ever been?

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