… and Weirder (OS028)

Previously: It looks like we are stranded in ‘Camp Horated’ due to the apparent damage to ‘Barry’s Bridge’, a bridge we had driven over a few hours before. There was something odd about the place and to add to our concerns Pam was awakened, in the middle of the night, by someone outside. She woke me, already armed with a self defence kit comprising of a torch, nail clippers and Mr Muscle oven cleaner as I whisked back the curtains.

The shadowy figure was now well illuminated by Pam’s military, super bright, led, zoomable torch. It was Assistant Ant, wearing a head torch, filling up a bird feeder with nuts. We were speechless, it being around three in the morning. Assistant Ant nodded, like it was the most normal thing in the world to be doing. We raised our hands slowly in incredulous acknowledgement, pondering what on earth would make this task vital middle of the night.

We closed the curtains. It’s fair to say that Pam and myself were quite unnerved by the evenings events and decided to get up at first light and check out the bridge for ourselves. At this point, things got really weird. The bridge had a strand of weathered tape which read ‘Police Line – Do not cross’ blowing in the wind and the wooden beams, from which the bridge was constructed, seemed soft when touched. I rationalised;

“This can’t be the bridge we came over. I don’t believe it would support the campervan and we would have spotted the police tape, wouldn’t we?”

All the time I was thinking, it must be the one as there are no other bridges in sight.

“I don’t like it, Oliver.”

Underneath I spotted, debris of a vehicle, a wheel trim and fibreglass bodywork. That looks like a golf buggy, like the warden’s one but it’s been there years.

“Oliver, I really don’t like this. “

Things were certainly getting weirder.

Clearly, Assistant Ant wasn’t going to repair it today or anytime soon judging by its dilapidated state. We set off to look for an alternative route back to reality (or the road at least).

We followed a rough track through a forest. It got more and more dense and I thought I should say something to break the nervous silence.

“Pam, have you ever been in the woods, not entirely sure where you are and the trees seem to be closing in on you and you’re beginning to …not panic but feel a bit uneasy?”

“No? ….” Pam replied cautiously.

“Me neither.”

“Is that your idea of small talk Oliver? You need to practice.”


“You’re right. A bit unfair. ‘A’ for effort. Keep practising…. but not on me.”

“Still rude.”

We found a gate leading to a muddy track, even more rotten than the bridge. It fell apart as I opened it. The track stretched for a hundred yards or so and in the distance was a figure. It seemed to be beckoning us.

“Pam, It’s ‘Officer Sir’, in his more appropriate uniform.”

“I really, really don’t like it, Oliver.”

“It seems like our best shot Pam. Let’s go for it and get out of here.”

Walking rapidly back to the campervan, we did go for it. The mud was so thick that it felt more like driving a boat than a campervan and then we ground to a halt, churning mud in the process.

“I don’t suppose you have a shovel in your bag do you?”

“Don’t be silly, I’m not Mary Poppins. However, I do have an militiary folding spade. She leapt out of the camper and started furiously digging aggregate, throwing it under the wheels like a person possessed. Eventually, it worked and we slithered forwards.”

We left the mud and bumped and scraped along the pot holed track. At the end we drove straight through another rotten gate.

“I’ve always wanted to do that, ever since watching the Starsky and Hutch re-runs.”

“You mean, the originals.” Pam mumbled to herself.

“What was that?”


I performed an excellent (Starsky) handbrake turn onto a tarmac road.

Hedges lining the impossibly narrow road brushed against both sides of the campervan.

Neither of us were convinced that this route was getting us anywhere. We scraped round a corner to see two walkers. We were anxious to leave the area and I was unwilling to stop. The walkers appreciated this judging by their rapid acceleration; one performed a perfect high jump (a Fosbury Flop, I believe) over the hedge which would have been a spectacular achievement, had his rucksack not snagged on the topmost branch.

The second walker (runner by this time) on seeing the downfall of his colleague pressed himself firmly into the hedge.  A decent strategy I thought, unlike his decision to adjust the protruding wing mirror with his face. Pam stared straight ahead in silence. Following this bad choice, the squeaking of his right cheek along the side window must have come as a light relief. Pam continued to stare ahead in silence. Things went quiet for a short time until a muffled scream a few seconds later. I couldn’t see the cause, with the revised position of the wing mirror bur I suspect he foolishly left his feet in the path of the rear wheels. Despite all this I could see he was waving a bon voyage to us. Nice chap, maybe both are but one was still embedded in the hawthorn hedge, from which waving would be a challenge.

“Oliver, that was bad. We should check they are OK” Pam suggested.

“They’re good. Look, both moving…..a bit.” I replied.

Pam couldn’t look, not until she adjusted the wing mirror, by which time they were just stumbling shapes in the distance.

Finally, the narrow road joined a slightly wider road and the Satnav was now indicating right to Manchester rather than the ‘Your guess is as good as mine message’. Before long, to our great relief we passed the entrance to Camp Horated. A huge rusty chain was now blocking the entrance we had driven through just a few hours earlier.

“I really, really, really don’t like it, Oliver.”

I was in agreement. After a few more miles we approached Loch Smith. The car park was open and we pulled in to calm our nerves.

After examining the green stripes down both sides of the camper resulting from the bushes trying to swallow the camper, we spotted a snack van. We purchased two, very welcome, hot drinks. The owner who appeared very friendly struck up a conversation.

“Have you come far?”

“No just stayed at Camp Horated for the night.”

“Oh, I think you’re mistaken there. It’s been moth balled for years, totally derelict. There was a bad accident by the bridge there and it never re-opened.”

“Barry’s Bridge?”

“How did you know that?”

“Golf buggy?”

“You must have read about it.”

“I guess we must have.”  

I whispered to Pam “Let’s get out of here!”

“I really, (x 4) don’t like this, Oliver but I’m still not going back to your house. I’ll take whatever just happened to us over Mal Evolent (your dodgy tenant) any day.”

I thought this was a bit unreasonable but then I already had an alternative plan in mind and so I announced this to Pam. “Don’t stress Pam, I already have an alternative plan in mind.”

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