In this weeks edition of the Stories Of A Dad Weekly, I bring you tales of wild camping, festival vibes and moo cows!
Over a year ago we received a ‘save the date’ for a birthday bash. At first details were very sketchy. But soon an epic plan was revealed. As you should know by now, I adore a bit of an adventure and am always on the look out for something outdoorsy to get stuck into. So when the announcement was made that this birthday gathering would be taking place on a farm, in the middle of nowhere, with very limited facilities, I was all over it! “Now, that’s a bit of me!” I think I exclaimed.
A couple of days before the event, I put my responsible Dad head on and cleared my car of all unwanted crap that I’d been collecting in the boot. 3 dust pans, 1 brush, enough bags for life to carry an elephant, and several footballs were removed. My initial intention was to fit a roof box that my dad had procured. Then load up and head off up north, to the farm.
Alas, this was not to be, some plonker, my father, incorrectly assumed the roof bars were universal for all types of car, boat, and space ship. This however was not the case. As a result, we ended up loading our entire collection of camping ‘essentials’ into my parents car and taking that instead. Not ideal but needs must. Thanks Mum and Dad, it’s quite fast for a seven seater!
The farm, is a dairy farm owned by the family of Chelsea’s, cousin’s husband, Alec, the birthday boy. It’s a whopping 1000 acres. Which is huge! Now, In case you don’t know what an acre looks like, a football pitch is 1.3 acres, so this farm was about 900 football pitches!
After setting off bright and early at 8:15, and after encountering the inevitable bank holiday traffic, we eventually made it to a small field in amongst the sprawling landscape around 2pm. Directed by some novelty hay bale signage, over a stream and into our field. Once we found a nice level patch to anchor our nylon holiday home to, I got to work erecting it.
Now the fun begins. After completing our tent set up, I wandered over to the group, sit down to relax, but then a phone rings, it was Chelsea’s Aunty, her car had broken down a few miles from where we were. I sprang into rescue mode and headed off to help them out.
On our return, we could all finally settle into bank holiday mode, and let the festival vibes commence.
As the sun slowly began to set around us, the tantalising aroma of hog roast filled the air, dinner was being served. Once our bellies were sufficiently filled a full scale kids vs Dads football match began, I couldn’t tell you the score all I remember is that at half time, lolly pops were devoured!
With Saturday night drawing to a close, we were greeted with some live music, from the 60s all the way through to now. The musician, was great. It must be a tough gig, turning up to the middle of nowhere to play in a field under a canvas stretch tent. I hear they do something similar in Glastonbury. By now, spirits were high and everyone was smiling, laughing, or dancing. The crackle of fire wood, and mesmerising orange glow of the flames gave us a great opportunity for some late night marsh mallows.
BOOM! 3am, another flash, BOOM! Wow! As I lay on my inflatable bed. Looking up, I realised we had a massive thunder storm right above us. There’s something about being in a storm, rain clattering down, in the outdoors that is really quite exciting! Chels and Bobby clearly didn’t think so though, they slept peaceful through the whole thing!
Waking up to the endearing sound of the birds tweeting, and cows yawning. I found myself the first one up, dreary eyed I made my way over to assess the damage and try to dry off all the chairs that got soaked, I was joined by my good buddy Gary, and we sat for a couple of hours around a stove heating his cup of tea, deliberating on what time would be appropriate to fire up the generators. Quietly watching the rest of the campers slowly emerge from shelter.
On Sunday we enjoyed a trip to the dairy farm, to see real life cows making real life milk! We even got to sample some of the freshly made milk! We loved it, with Chelsea’s new found love for cows, she was skipping her way through the fields. Fields that were like mine fields in a war zone, only instead of mines, cow pack was our only threat. So who other than our very own Bobby, decided his legs and shoes were better covered in it! I asked so many questions to the farmers about the process, I think I am ready to start my own dairy farm.
That afternoon brought with it a surprisingly competitive farm yard assault course, complete with streams, tyres, hay bale hopping, net crawls, and some really brain teasing plumbing puzzles! Finishing off with a sack race and egg ‘n spoon race.
After finishing our dinner early, and with some more food arriving, I thought it’d be a gentlemanly gesture to take a hungry Labrador for a walk, joined by Chels and Bobby. No sooner had we left camp, the heavens above had opened. Too far to turn back, we headed for the tree line to take shelter from the wash out. We were soaked through, we may as well have lay down in the stream! Funniest part, Chels had an umbrella. We then sorrily made our way back to camp, to see everyone else nice a dry under the stretch tent. For the rest of the evening, the Labrador, Marlie, Just looked at me with disgust, as he tried to warm up.
All in all, we had a phenomenal weekend, we barely saw Bobby as he was off making memories with the great group of kids. A weekend of back to basics fun, a weekend to let your self go, and most importantly a weekend full of laughter and memories. The joy of having access to a piece of land so vast, is that you can fill safe with no walls around you, very little technology and not a care in the world.
Thanks for a great weekend Alec & Emma, Happy 40th!