I don’t think I could ever get to like sleeping under canvas but I could learn to endure it for the benefit of the children. I had what could at best be described as a reasonable night’s sleep faithfully recorded by my Fitbit as 5 hours 54 minutes long. Although I woke at 5.30am I did manage to get back to sleep for an hour and that’s something I rarely do at home.
So today was Parkrun Day (formerly known as Saturday) and we had a mixture of those who were definitely coming, those who might and those who would rather stick needles in their eyes than run 5k on a Saturday morning (or any morning really!) In the end, ten of the fifteen of us took part, two came to watch and three (one whole family – you know who you are!) stayed in bed.
Some got lost on the way (doing this had become one the holiday’s certainties) but those of us who got there early went to the Parkrun tourists’ and first timers briefing where a volunteer tells those who haven’t run the course before something about the course and the route to take. Today the volunteer doing this briefing had decided to do it as a rap and it was tremendously entertaining. (I will make every effort to get a copy of the video we saw being recorded and upload it to this blog.) The Moors Valley Parkrun is excellent. It’s a lovely course, on gravel and Tarmac, with few hills and the whole thing is extremely well
Modesty prevents me from telling you who came first amongst our runners but I can say it was the oldest member of the team (98th and 4th in age category). Everyone did really well and we returned to camp to cook bacon rolls and butties as reward for our efforts. We very graciously let the non-runners share our treat with us.
The previous day, one of the camp site staff had recommended a place called Mudeford so after a lot of head scratching and Sat Nav consultation we decided that was the place to go. It was suggested that the first person there who found a decent place to park and a nice beach should send the rest of us a message using our Whatsapp group (How high-tech are we?) and we would congregate there.
I got my message, put the postcode into my Sat Nav and it took me to nowhere near a car park or a beach! Thinking I might be at least close to where I should be, I asked my Garmin to take me to the nearest car park and that took me to the meeting place. Others clearly got lost (nothing new there then) as they didn’t turn up for at least 20 minutes so I have no idea where they had been.
Mudeford, now we had got there, appeared to be obsessed with crab catching. There were countless groups along the sea wall casting nets into the sea with fairly revolting bait in them and slowly pulling them out usually to find the bait had gone and the only thing they’d caught was seaweed not a crab. Having said that there were quite a lot of crabs that had been caught in the imaginatively named ‘Crab Buckets’ on sale , of course, like the nets and bait from a nearby shop. We wandered back and forth, it has to be said, fairly aimlessly until four Dads weakened and bought crab-catching gear from the richest man in Mudeford (i.e. the man who thought of selling buckets, nets and bait to unsuspecting tourists for a mark-up of 400%!)
Having agreed that we would have fish and chips later and not having been one of the
Dads who had sponsored the detached luxury villa in the Algarve holiday that the aforementioned business man was saving up for I set off with three non-crab fishing kids to find a suitable fish and chip shop and a location where we could eat said fare.
Before any crab-catching could begin however there was a major incident in Mudeford. Now before you get too excited you have to realise that the traffic lights changing in Mudeford are considered a notable event. A very old man and I mean a VERY old man had crashed his mobility scooter into a concrete bollard. Our group dealt with this situation like a finely oiled machine. First aiders, mechanics and trauma counsellors (I’ll leave you to decide who in the group fulfilled these roles) leapt into action and before the poor victim died of old age, and believe me it was a close call, he was back on the road perilously steering his now decidedly unreliable mobility scooter the four miles to his home.
We soon found the chip shop we’d been told was “the best in Mudeford” but struggled to find a suitable place to eat. Eventually I remembered something I’d seen on my OS map (the only time it had been useful on our break) and we went to Highcliffe, passing the still alive old man on his mobility scooter on route, which turned out to be a real beauty
spot. We soaked up the beauty of the place for a while then returned to the crab-catchers to relay our news.
A cunning plan was formed (not the first of the weekend I have to say) and after we’d admired the huge and tasty looking (okay not huge or edible) crabs that our group had caught they were thrown back. We were just finalising the cunning plan by ordering what we wanted from the fish and chip shop (these things take time for 5 adults and ten kids) when the second major incident of the day broke out in Mudeford.
There had clearly been some sort of dispute in a nearby playground. Adults were shouting obscenities at each other and fisticuffs had broken out. Unlike the movies where fights are choreographed to the last slap, this was a real ‘handbags at dawn’ type fight with, believe or not, an 11 year-old the apparent protagonist. When ever the fight appeared to be calming down and everyone was walking away, the youngster could be seen to be laying into a woman easily twice his age and weight!
The fight having died out one car was dispatched to buy 15 meals in the fish and chip shop and the rest of us went to Highcliffe for more natural beauty admiration. If I had to nominate another high spot of our trip, what happened next was one of them. The fish and chip suppers arrived, we found a spot at the bottom of the cliffs near a beach to eat and we all quickly consumed what was for some of us only our second meal of the day. The
sun came out and the children instinctively gravitated toward the beach. All of them in
varying degrees sampled the delights of a cold Atlantic Ocean. Their trek to the waterfront was easy either. They had huge rocks to climb over and worried fathers to persuade that they weren’t going to be savaged by a basking White Shark!
None of the children being properly dressed for a cross Atlantic swim, all the Dads had to retreated to their cars (up a 1 in 10 slope I might add) to get a change of clothes for their offspring. Now anybody reading this might think that the Dads in question were showing an exceptional degree of preparedness in having a change of clothes for their kids with them. The reality of the situation is that they either had a tent too small to keep their clothes in or they had been too bone idle to unpack their kids’ clothes from the boot of
their car since arriving on Thursday. Whatever the excuse there were plenty of clean
clothes in their boot space.
Eventually the cold water won the day and cold bodies were towelled down and put back into cars. It was a short drive back to camp and once we got there the reality of today being our last day kicked in. The Dads started ominously clearing up: something they hadn’t done before and the kids demanded toasted marshmallows: something they’d wanted all weekend! It must have been 8pm before the first drop of alcohol was consumed (a camp record!)
After marshmallows we all went to the pub. I managed to remember that the International Space Station was passing overhead around 10pm so we all went out to see that. There was a short abortive attempt at a night walk with some of the younger children and a much longer one after the pub closed with the oldest kids.
On returning from their walk one of the children recorded this video outside one of the tents. You might want to turn the volume up on your pc before you play it!