Herefordshire, United Kingdom
First things first – Happy Birthday Liam! I’d like to say I started the day with a rousing rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ but sadly, the song was banned although I did later manage to belt out the Polish version (well, Doyle-Polish) on the grounds that it had a different tune.
Megan headed to work leaving Liam and I to make preparations for the camping expedition. Our first and foremost task was a trial attempt at erecting ‘The Beast’ – an 8 person tent on loan from friends without instructions. We lay out the many and varied components and walked around scratching our heads trying to identify them and guess how they might be interrelated. After some trial and error and a couple of cups of coffee and tea, we finally figured it out.
Next task: supplies. Liam expertly drove us to the supermarket with his shiny new licence to hunt and gather all that we might need to survive the Hertfordshire wilderness. For me this included Sudafed in an attempt to cure what ailed me and prevent my death by murder by fellow campers unable to sleep through the coughing and spluttering (Note to Australian readers: it was strange buying Sudafed over the counter, no questions asked, no ID required – I could’ve bought enough to start my own meth lab!).
Back at the homestead, we packed up ‘The Beast’ in time for the arrival of another happy camper, Alfie, who was also in poor health – now that I was hyped up on amphetamines, I was doubly relieved not to be the sickest party-goer. Megan got home just as it started to rain. Alfie and I were packed in the back seat of the car and then packed around before the four of us set off, fully laden, on our adventure in the hope of out running the weather…
… we didn’t. We arrived at our campground in rain heavier than we had left. We met the rest of our party – Jules and Geoff – donned our wet weather gear (or that which was generously loaned to us) and did what must me done. Grateful for our ‘dry run’ earlier in the day, we were able to get ‘The Beast’ up in record time with the light work of many hands. We were all relieved to take refuge inside the belly of the beast where we spent the remainder of the evening eating, drinking and catching up on old times (most of which I had not personally been present for but enjoyed the telling of and getting to know my fellow campers).
When time came to retire, I was grateful for Liam and Megan’s foresight in bringing a spare 2 person tent. Although there was plenty of room in the mega-tent with its 3 separate sleeping ‘pods’, I was concerned about being sufficiently quarantined in my potentially-contagious state. It was also clear that Alfie was on a downward spiral. Rather than whacking a red cross on the smaller tent and throwing the two of us in there to rot, Liam and Megan kindly gave us the relative comfort of our own sick bay each and took the two person tent for themselves.
I zipped myself up and in and lay down aware that the only thing separating me from the elements was a few thin layers of fabric. As the rain pitter-pattered, I closed my eyes in the hope of sleeping, perchance to dream…