Sometimes things just don’t work out. Every now and again we seem to need two nights in the same place to recharge our batteries (and those of various gadgets too) and just unwind from the physical effort of the cycling. We thought we had the current break sussed and had even considered extending it to three nights in one spot but it wasn’t to be.
We are camped at a site called Moretonhall which is just four miles from the centre of Edinburgh, set in beautiful parkland away from main roads and mainline railways and there are buses every ten minutes into the city. Sounds perfect doesn’t it? Well maybe I’m turning into a grumpier, older man than I thought but I don’t like it. There was a very long hard hill to get to the campsite from the city and navigating out of such a busy place is always stressful so perhaps I wasn’t in the best of moods when we arrived. The first warning of a bad experience came when we were told it was eighteen pounds per night for our tiny little tent. Through gritted teeth I asked optimistically if this included free WiFi and I was told that not only was the internet access chargeable on top of the camping fee but that it wasn’t working anyway. Great, all the time in the world to catch up on things via the web and no access to it.
Things got worse. The young man behind the counter, who was perfectly nice by the way, produced what looked like the proposal for a new out of town housing development but in fact it turned out to be a plan of the park. There were literally hundreds of little numbered symbols representing mobile homes, caravans, wooden tents, (I kid you not) several washrooms, a small village complex including a restaurant and pub and many small triangles indicating where tents could be pitched. He allocated us pitch number 142 which was not a good sign in itself, smiled in a corporate sort of way and fed our personal details into the computer. My hopes rose briefly when he pointed to a computer across the room and said that we could access the internet from there. He then crushed me before I could utter my gratitude by explaining that this too was chargeable.
We wheeled our bikes to camping area C and began the futile search for pitch 142. We failed to find it for the blazingly obvious reason that the pitches weren’t actually numbered! Another camper setting up her tent explained that she had had the same problem and had returned to reception only to be told, “oh you can just pitch anywhere”. Once pitched and over a quiet mug of tea things didn’t seem too bad until I became aware of what sounded like the kind of mindless music that accompanied cheap computer games back in the seventies. I traced it to the radio of an elderly Belgian gentleman pitched next door to us. We are still listening to it some twenty four hours later. It isn’t growing on me.
We did have a very pleasant evening with Gillian and Judith who we have kind of known through the internet for years but never actually met before. They joined us in town and great conversation, laughter and beer cheered me up no end. We have also spent a nice afternoon strolling around the city and taking in the sights which was part of our plan to relax and to give our derrieres a chance of recovery. On returning to the campsite things went down hill a bit.
The irritating music was now accompanied by the sounds of a football match going on just yards from our tent and a bunch of very excited little girls taking part in an impromptu gymnastics competition involving a double airbed and an over enthusiastic judge in the form of Grandad. Maybe a pre dinner snooze wasn’t an option after all.
On the plus side, the showers appear to have been cleaned and are now marginally less muddy and full of grass cuttings than they were this morning. The brief thundery rain has gone away and the birds are trying gallantly to sing loud enough to be heard over all the other noise we are surrounded by.
There is a notice in the shower block inviting us to review the campsite on the web for a chance to win a big prize. Fortunately for Moretonhall that isn’t an option right now. Luckily for them I may have calmed down a bit by the time I next get access the internet so they may never have the pleasure of reading my review.
We have decided not to stay for a third night. Neither the budget nor the nerves are up to it.
P.S. If you really want to camp close to Edinburgh there is probably nowhere better. They probably just caught me on an off day.