Up north you will hear this phrase, there’s nowt so queer as folk. Well I put it to you that there is, and it’s campers and caravanners.
One of the joys of camping is watching other people on the site. There can be few more entertaining spectator sports than watching an otherwise loving couple fall out over the erection of a multi-pole mega dome tent. It’s mostly a macho dominated affair where the man becomes construction manager and his partner is reduced to pole feeding assistant. That’s when it all goes wrong. “That’s the wrong pole”, he cries in frustration only to be fixed with a steely stare and the reply, “well it’s the pole you gave me so you must have given me the wrong one.” The performance can go on for up to an hour and only the lack of a hostess with an ice cream tray renders it second to the best theatre experience available.
Once the tent is finally up there comes the business of setting up the kitchen and lounge and all the while the dog, which has been cruely tethered to a spike in the ground is going demented trying to catch the pigeons flying overhead. “Did you pack the washing up bowl?” cries the poor harrassed pole attendant, “no, you did all the kitchen stuff, I was in charge of the tent and sleeping stuff, which you will notice, is all here by the way.” Oh dear, it’s going to be a difficult weekend isn’t it? It usually ends with a truce over a bottle of wine and suddenly they remember how much they love camping and the curtain comes down on our entertainment for the evening. Occassionally there is an encore in the form of late arrivals but that is more a case of irritation than entertainment.
Then there are the camp characters. There are two types that stick in my mind; the nice, sociable and generally interesting ones and the ones that just know better. Better about everything that is. They usually have a better tent, a better stove, a better multi function Swiss Army, air bed inflater cum wind generator device or something and whatever you have bought, brought or used for years without issue, theirs is better. Like the friendly chap tonight who bypassed the usual social graces to explain that his teenage children were noisy but his stove was even noisier. I beg to differ actually. I heard him cooking dinner and now I am listening to his children and believe me, his stove is not that noisy. I know teenage siblings argue all the time but actually arguing about what the time is? That’s just ridiculous. He latched onto us as a fellow cyclist so I should really cut him some slack but riding up and down the road with four empty panniers on the bike and ‘tweeking’ his brakes and gears while his exceptionally loud stove boils the water for the green tea is just a bit over the top isn’t it?
The sociable ones are the likes of John and Denise who turned up on big loud motorbikes and turned out to be the best of close neighbours and Chris and Margaret who kept Gill talking for so long I nearly reported her missing. It wasn’t their fault to be fair, Gill was telling them of our adventure and they were genuinly interested, I think.
We have stayed on our current site for two nights and I’m pleased to say that most of our immediate fellow campers have moved on today. I don’t know what the problem was but we didn’t seem to able to get any social interaction with any of them. It’s kind of normal on camp sites to smile and say hello to other residents but the bunch we have been surrounded by seemed to be too busy sucking on lemons and gazing intently at the ground to engage in any kind of greeting. We both managed to squeeze a mumbled good morning out of most of them eventually but boy it was hard work. They certainly weren’t the kind of folks that you would want to end up stuck in a lift with. I really don’t understand why anyone would choose to set up a temporary home in very close proximity to lots of other people if they don’t actually like people. Surely two weeks trekking across the wastelands of Mongolia would suit them much better. It’s a mystery to me.
Anyway it’s all quiet now and it looks as if we should be in for a peaceful night’s sleep. That is assuming that that wood pigeon and it’s lady friend go to bed any time soon.
P.S. Strictly speaking this morning’s encounter doesn’t fit this blog as the chap concerned probably wasn’t a camper but I’m going to tell you about him anyway. There was a path going out of the back of the campsite that connected with a lane into the village of East Runton and having walked it three times during our stay we had noted that it was easily rideable and would save us a long slog up the stony pot holed track we had arrived down. So we are rolling down this path at eight in the morning when we spot a man and his dog walking towards us. Gill slows down to a stop to give him room to pass and he greets us with a cheery “are you lost?”. At least I thought it was cheery. Gill explained that we weren’t lost but just taking a short cut down to the village. His reply was delivered with all the venom and hatred of a thoroughly ticked off snake as he said, “well this is a path and you have no business cycling on it.” His dog then joined in snarling and snapping at us as I played the innocent and said I thought it was a bridle path. “Well it isn’t”, he replied, “it’s a footpath and you shouldn’t be cycling on it.” I turned to him and said, “you know you are a miserable little man spreading spite and bile all around you and the world will a better place once you expire and I doubt very much anyone will mourn your passing! Oh and your dog’s not much better either.” Actually that’s not true. That’s what I thought of saying about ten minutes later as we cycled through the village. What I actually said was, “oh well I’m terribly sorry and you have a nice day too.” Really, some people.