May 28th 2018

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Well Friday didn’t start off too well, this was the scene from my car seat as I forged my way through the storms towards the Herefordshire, Shropshire border, for work which was in no way pleasurable. At work I ended up standing next to a very tall man in a very low typical rural workers cottage dating back over a hundred and twenty years I’d imagine. He stood inside, the top half of his head obscured by the top of the door frame, like he’d been scalped (I think we have touched on that in the Ministry in a previous post but I could be mistaken), I was standing outside, in the pissing rain looking pleadingly at him too let me in and make me a cup of coffee. But what was I thinking? The family of D (me) was going on a camping weekend with the family of C, and a couple more families who I’ll call the X’s and the Y’s to be joined on the Saturday by the Z’s (that is almost poem like, its top quality prose that is). Anyway, standing on the doorstep, wishing I was not in the rain, and the very tall man was not going to make me a coffee, but he did beckon me closer so the old house deflected some of the falling rain onto the back of my jacket and down into the back of my jacket. I’m used to rain on my back in this job and in this country. So I’m very close to the Shropshire border which is where we are camping, in a tiny village called Rattlinghope, just the other side of the Long Mynd (google it my International friends). Rain will be there I thought to myself, it’s going to be a wet weekend.

I set off about 3:30pm, way after I was planning on leaving but that comes of being disorganised and forgetting to get my bag packed, plus I have to look like I’m working, so logging off at lunch on a Friday is probably no longer an option. There were a few panics with the most old fashioned company in the world which I managed to overcome with minimum fuss and a fair few telephone calls. But at 3:30 set off, the car absolutely packed to the rafters (were it a house) with camping shit and 3 children. Thank god we don’t have a dog at the moment, this will mean a substantial change in lifestyle for the future.

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We thought we had enough fuel and wood for the weekend, 2 dustbins full of dry as you like ex bathroom detritus; floorboards, wall batons and ceiling struts, all chopped and ready for the winter or a camping trip with mates who have spare room in their works van; Thanks Mr C (like the bloke from the Shamen). We arrived and it was raining, but this was not before an hour and a half panic over the appalling weather we were expecting over the Long Mynd (we call it the Minge, it makes us chuckle, similar to an inappropriate fart). According to the 4 different weather apps we were all using the weather was from slightly to wildly different over the next few hours/ days, the further East, apparently the better it was to be. So after phoning around about 15 camping sites and being told in no uncertain terms, there was no room, Mrs X found one in a little village, in Leicestershire or Warwickshire, the details if unclear really don’t matter, but the site would have us and would prove cheaper for most if not all. Fine news indeed and so after a lot of Whats app discussions it was decided to change tack and head East where the weather is so much better, allegedly. Just before setting off we noticed a small “Important” tab on the sites web pages, the small really not that important fact of the day about this site was that there were no showers and 1 portaloo. Theres 23 of us, 9 adults and 14 of the enemy, and maybe a few years ago this wouldn’t have bothered me, but I knew that there was no way after, many beers and curry (I’d made quite a bit before hand) Plus pulled pork and sticky beef on Saturday and then a very meaty meat BBQ for food on Sunday, I just had an inkling we may need more than 1 Portaloo. My daughter was not at all impressed with the lack of showers too. This fact, this unassuming fact led us to change all plans and resume the previous long term plan from weeks before and get over the Minge to Rattlinghope.

Thus the weather, whilst important proved to be not as important or influential as a good place to do ones business and to wash away the muddy tears of a wet camping weekend! The fuel was crucial for the expedition too, and after the last one of us turning in at a messy 2am on Saturday morning, we realised one dustin down and reaching into the second one didn’t bode well for the longevity of the fuel.

The campsite is over the Minge, as I’ve previously mentioned but what I didn’t say was how steep the road over the Minge is and how awful it is for anyone with a fear of heights to drive a car over the top, especially if in the wet (tick) in the mist (tick) and in low light and generally squally conditions (double tick). The kids didn’t like it really apart from my youngest who was kneeling on his seat over to me and trying to see down the steep valley immediately to my right, which didn’t help at all in any way. Once over the 3 or 4 mile thin pot holed poorly looked after road, round blind bends with sheep and wild ponies roaming free, you arrive at the site, which is a massive 7 acre field, sloping gently down to a stream and a thick wood shrouding it. Its wonderful, to walk to the bottom of the site, over the stream and walk through the woods for 15 minutes to the Bridges pub, a very fine place indeed, on a tiny road  with a ford out the front as the little stream cradles the rear garden before going on its way. Its idyllic and there really is only the stream and woods and the field to play in for the kids, but the loved it and we loved it too, its how it should be. I did not with some displeasure the people camping by the stream had a TV screen they were able to watch the Champions league final on, I don’t know how they managed that.

Christ is that the time? I will continue tomorrow, and will catch up on Ministry goings on too. Just as an aside I found this on the web tonight and thought it really rather pleasing, hope you do too.

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