Don’t Let The Bed Blogs Bite (Part II)

Last week, I started telling you about our recent glamping weekend in the New Forest, which my wife had won as a runners-up prize in a Kinder egg competition she had entered several months earlier (the main prize was a family holiday to Disneyland, if that helps explain her momentary lapse of sanity).

At the end of Part I, we had just retired to bed on our first night, sleeping in a dirty looking canvas lodge deep into the woods, where no one would hear our screams if we happened to be butchered in our sleep by our rather unusual hosts.

98ba4045d4375b2889e43667647104eb_xl

No, wait, that’s slightly unfair. They actually seemed quite pleasant, it’s just that they clearly viewed us as nothing more than city folk (despite the fact we live in a market town in Cheshire), who were only glamping because we had won the weekend in a competition, and would never normally consider a rural retreat for a weekend away.

How dare they accurately sum us up within five minutes of our arrival…..

***

Saturday 27th July 2019

If truth be told, I actually slept quite well last night – possibly fueled by the bottle of red wine I consumed before going to bed – although I did have a dream about being trapped in a forest during the zombie apocalypse (which doesn’t exactly require a sleep expert to decipher), so I evidently still have reservations about our surroundings – and our hosts.

The boys, however, should be more worried about me attacking them, since – despite sleeping soundly enough – they have apparently woken up with the intention of clawing the living shit out of each other, and if their behaviour doesn’t improve soon, it will be Daddy who loses it with something sharp.

Actually, thinking about it, there are definite parallels to The Shining here. An aspiring writer gets isolated from civilisation, with only his family for company, and slowly loses his mind… before chasing them around with an axe. Hmmm, food for thought.

Image result for jack nicholson the shining gif

Speaking of food, I thought I had come prepared for this trip, by bringing two multi-packs of Kellogg’s Variety Cereal (to cover our three breakfasts here), but since Isaac has apparently made it his mission to devour at least half the boxes on the first day, I suspect we’ll run out well before then. Assuming we survive long enough.

My wife is pissed off, too, as she was bitten on her leg during the night and, in fairness, it does look very sore and itchy. I seem to have avoided any bites, touch wood (hmmm, I wonder if there’s any wood nearby….?), so I have had to disguise my smugness/relief in favour of appearing sympathetic instead. I think I’m getting away with it.

Over breakfast, during a brief respite from attacking Ollie, Isaac started screaming because he had heard us talk about being bitten (and particularly about the blood-sucking arachnids we have been warned are in the area), and had decided there was a bug feasting on his leg. Thankfully, upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a Coco Pop.

Time to get out and about.

***

We had no real plans today, other than our organised archery session at the activity centre adjacent to the farm; and, since Meghan at the travel company had not booked this until 4pm, we decided to make the most of the sunshine by heading to the beach at Bournemouth.

When we arrived, at the slightly less crowded ‘Alum Chine’ (about ten minutes to the East of the main promenade), I immediately set up camp on an empty bench just before the beach. I argued that this was purely to keep our belongings safely away from the sand, but my wife knew that the real reason was to keep me safely away from the sand. I hate sand.

So, having bought myself a cup of tea from the nearby kiosk, I settled in to enjoy the sunshine – and some quality people watching. It was around this point that I realised I had turned into my Nan, but that was a price I was willing to pay, if it meant avoiding getting my feet and legs (and, heaven forbid, anywhere more ‘intimate’) caked in sand *shudders*. Still, it certainly looked like a nice beach, from the relative safety of my bench:

The first people I noticed, were a couple a little younger than us, who looked very much like ‘beach types’, which meant I instantly disliked them. They were athletic, tanned, and thoroughly fucking smug with themselves. Unfortunately, just as I was glaring at them, willing either (or both) to trip and fall on their face, the lady bent over to take her shorts off – revealing a skimpy bikini underneath – and I had to immediately avert my eyes, before I was accused of being some kind of beach pervert. Again.

Unfortunately, my instinctive reaction was to look in the opposite direction, but this meant my gaze was instantly fixed on two elderly women to my right, who were also in bikinis – and rubbing sun lotion onto each other. Since this view was equally inappropriate (albeit for different reasons), I found myself not knowing which way to look, and briefly panicked – like I was watching a high-speed tennis match – before fumbling for my phone to give me something else to focus on. And, before you think I could/should have been watching my family playing in the sand, they were positioned directly behind the attractive lady’s bottom.

Soon after, I encountered the only person at Alum Chine who was ‘enjoying’ the beach even less than me, as a family arrived next to my bench with a teenage daughter in full ‘goth’ attire – complete with torn black jeans, black jumper, and black trench coat. By this point it was nearly midday, and glorious weather, so you can imagine how sweaty and miserable she looked (even though goths often look miserable anyway). I nearly introduced myself, so we could bond over loud angry music, and our mutual dislike of beaches, but I thought that might seem a bit weird, so I went back to watching the two pensioners rubbing sun lotion onto each other instead.

After a nice day in Bournemouth (I was going to say ‘lovely’, but I’ve downgraded it as a result of being forced to scrape wet sand off Ollie’s feet and legs), we returned back to the farm in time for our archery session.

Having followed the signs even deeper into the forest, to the ‘outdoor activity centre’ (which was, in reality, just a dreadlocked man in a gazebo), we encountered a dozen other people, who were also there for an early-evening of fun with dangerously sharp stuff – since there was not only archery on offer, but also crossbows and axe-throwing. Fortunately, Isaac was too young to partake in the latter two activities, because I have no doubt someone (most likely me) would have lost a limb.

After a brief introduction, and some safety tips (‘don’t point the bow at your Daddy’s face, Isaac’), it would be fair to say I was the finest archer in our family – no surprises there, I’m a natural athlete, just look at me – but Isaac was undoubtedly next in line. In fairness, that was mostly because my wife was stood helping him load his bow each time, rather than taking part herself, but also because Ollie was relatively shite at it, and ended up crying as a result.

The situation wasn’t helped by ‘Dreadlock Dave’ (I think his actual name might have been Josh, but that doesn’t work as well), deciding to spice it up a bit for our boys, by adding some small balloons to the bullseye to see if either of them could pop one. Unsurprisingly, Isaac popped both, and Ollie sulked for the next hour.

After our archery session, we were told that the owners of the farm would be lighting the outdoor ‘pizza oven’ next to our lodge, and anyone could use it to make their own pizza from the ingredients on offer in the ‘honesty shop’ on site (for those unaccustomed with the concept of an ‘honesty shop’, you essentially take whatever you want, then settle up at the end of your stay).

Now, the last thing I wanted to do while on holiday was cook, let alone stand next to a hot kiln with other (proper) glampers, making polite conversation about how lovely it is to be sleeping outdoors with every insect known to man (spoiler: it’s not); but it was the only thing guaranteed to stop Ollie sulking, so I reluctantly agreed. Sadly, the limited supplies in the honesty shop restricted the boys to margherita pizza, and even though Isaac set about making ‘the cheesiest pizza ever seen’, he later complained that it was ‘too cheesy’. Twat.

Meanwhile, Ollie was either delighted with his dinner, or he knew full well I would push it into his stupid sulky face if he didn’t eat it all, because he kept saying how delicious it was.

“Daddy, did you know, when Italian people really enjoy their food, they put their fingers to their lips like this…..

Image result for bellissimo gif

…. and say Bravissimo!”

“No, they don’t.”

“Yes, they do, I’ve seen it on TV.”

“Then you’ve been watching ladies underwear commercials, pal, because ‘Bravissimo’ make bras. The word you’re after is Bellissimo.”

Since neither my wife nor I fancied cremated pizza for dinner, once the boys were in bed I drove into Fordingbridge to pick up a Chinese takeaway, and although I couldn’t quite manage all the crispy chilli beef I ordered, it went particularly well with the beers – followed by more red wine – I had purchased to accompany the meal.

Then, once dinner was finished, and I felt too tired / inebriated to wash up, I left the takeaway containers by the side of the sink, and headed to bed.

Little did I know, that decision would come back to haunt me…..

To be concluded……

Standard

Don’t Let The Bed Blogs Bite (Part I)

A few months ago, my wife received an e-mail from a travel company, who claimed to be contacting her on behalf of Kinder (those of the toy egg fame), regarding a glamping weekend she had supposedly won in a competition.

Now, my wife and I are not daft when it comes to internet safety, and so our suspicions were immediately raised – but when she vaguely remembered entering a competition last year (via a Kinder egg, as it happens), to win a family holiday to Disneyland, and possibly something about five runners-up ‘glamping’ prizes, this ticked enough boxes to reassure me that it was worth investigating further.

Anyway, long story short (because there is so much more of this story to tell, and the rest is far more interesting/amusing/harrowing), the e-mail and company were genuine, and since April I have been exchanging e-mails with a lady called Meghan, culminating in the following:

  1. We had indeed won a glamping weekend for four in the New Forest;
  2. My initial suspicions that our trip would be restricted to ‘midweek in January’ were unfounded, and Meghan booked us in for last weekend, just after our boys had broken up for the summer;
  3. Because the farm where our experience was due to take place only offer three-night stays throughout the summer, Meghan added an extra night to our trip;
  4. The prize also included an ‘outdoor activity’ whilst on the farm, and since Isaac was apparently too young to try ‘axe-throwing’ (to which my reaction was understandably along the lines of ‘thank fuck for that’), the four of us were booked in for the slightly less daunting ‘archery’ instead;
  5. On top of all of that, Meghan arranged to transfer £200 to my account to cover our fuel expenses in getting there and back (which was, in all fairness, a four-hundred-mile round trip).

Now, I should explain from the outset that camping is not exactly my idea of fun (especially with our two boys, who seem to react badly to confined spaces), and I would have much preferred the trip to Disneyland – on account of the fact I would rather encounter a six foot tall fake mouse, than a real one crawling around my nether regions inside a sleeping bag – but a free weekend away is not to be sniffed at. Much like my nether regions, as it happens.

Plus, this was glamping, and if I could just get over the fact that I detest cringey portmanteau words like ‘hangry’, ‘chillax’, ‘Brangelina’, ‘Brexit’ etc. at least this might be the sort of outdoor living I could get on board with.  If nothing else, it was a chance to re-acquaint Isaac with nature, in preparation for one day releasing him back into the wild.

So, with everything meticulously organised by Meghan prior to our departure, last Friday morning we loaded the car and set off on our glamping weekend in the New Forest.

What follows, is the diary-like account I kept during our three days on a farm – featuring incest (not us), voyeurism, blood-sucking arachnids, sunburn, Peppa Pig, innuendo (obviously) and just about the finest henge you could ever hope to see. Oh, and we foolishly armed Isaac with a real bow and arrows.

And, if all that doesn’t keep you reading, then there’s no hope for any of us.

Enjoy.

Friday 26th July 2019

Ok, our glamping adventure didn’t get off to the best of starts, on the basis it took us over five hours to get down here (we’re just north of Bournemouth), and Isaac was whining/asking if we were ‘nearly there yet’ shortly after we passed Stoke on the M6 (for non-geographers, that was about ten minutes after we left home).

By the time we did finally arrive, we had ditched our plans to continue past the farm where we are staying, in order to spend a few hours in Bournemouth, and instead had a pub tea in Fordingbridge (the nearest village/town) before arriving at the farm shortly after 4pm as agreed with the owners.

To say we had a bit of a shock when we arrived would be an understatement.

Don’t get me wrong, the people we have met on the farm so far have been perfectly pleasant, but it would be fair to say they have all been a little, well, odd.  If you have seen the film Deliverance, for example, then replace the accents for something a little less ‘American Deep South’, and a little more ‘West Country’, and you wouldn’t be too far from my initial impressions of the place. Let’s just say, had the owner of the farm introduced us to his wife and sister, there would in-all-likelihood have only been one woman stood there at the time.

98ba4045d4375b2889e43667647104eb_xl

The lady I spoke to yesterday, who we’ll refer to as Tammy (because it wouldn’t be fair to use Sammy’s real name), was the first person we encountered on arrival, and she definitely treated us with an air of suspicion, which wasn’t helped when she discovered we were the ‘competition winners’ from up north. In fact, I’m not sure her reaction could have been more apathetic toward us, had I been wearing an ‘I hate horses’ t-shirt.

Soon after, she handed us over to Becky (real name, Vicky) who, despite also being pleasant enough, seemed equally unsure about us. Becky appeared to be the rough-and-ready outdoor type, who I have no doubt could have snapped me like a twig if she wanted to, and she clearly formed the immediate impression that the ‘competition winners’ were not well suited to life on a farm, and would have been far happier staying somewhere like, well, Disneyland. Naturally, I took offence to this assumption.

“Now look here, Becky (real name Vicky), don’t assume just because we have in-car DVD players for the boys, and I’m wearing my nice trainers, we are snobby city-folk who are unaccustomed to camping and nature. I’ll have you know I spent an entire night in a tent with my eldest son last year, and whilst it may very well have been on his school field, five minutes from home, we still embraced the great outdoors. So, I’d appreciate it if you would refrain from jumping to the conclusion that we are not camping types before you know anything about us. Now, if you could just show me where I can charge my phone, and let me have the wi-fi password, I shall be on my way.”

Of course, I didn’t actually say any of that (you read the part about her snapping me like a twig, right?), and we all simply exchanged awkward pleasantries before she showed us to our canvas lodge for the next three nights.

Initial impressions of the outside of the lodge were, well, disappointment mixed with terror (you need to understand that we were deep into the woods, where no one would hear our screams, and were about the spend three nights in what looked like a large abandoned tent some boy scouts last camped in thirty years ago.

Inside, however, we were pleasantly surprised, as there was a kitchen area, a double bedroom (of sorts), as well as bunk beds for the boys. There was also a proper toilet, which allayed some of my fears (but ultimately, later on in our stay, added some new ones) and a ‘fridge’ which was essentially a wooden box with some frozen hot water bottles inside to keep everything cool.

Once we had unloaded the car and read the guide the owners had left on the table (selected highlight: “Ticks are small blood-sucking arachnids common in these woods. If you think you have been bitten by a tick, inform Sammy (sorry, Tammy) immediately, who will be more than happy to perform rudimentary surgery on the affected body part with her toolbox of rusty screwdrivers” – NB: I may be paraphrasing/exaggerating slightly), we decided to drive back into Fordingbridge to pick up basic supplies like milk, weapons grade insect repellent, and all the alcohol we could feasibly carry.

However, as we got back to our car, and began strapping the boys into their seats, Tammy once again appeared from nowhere (I’m not going to lie, I damn near shit myself) and, with one eye inexplicably closed, she asked ‘Not leaving already, are you?’

Now, had she been smiling when she said this, it might not have seemed so pant-wettingly sinister, but I swear she delivered the line like she was auditioning for ‘The Fordingbridge Chainsaw Massacre’, and so even though we offered forced smiles and said we were just nipping to pick up some groceries, part of me did think about screaming ‘Get away from me, you mentalist’ (ala Alan Partridge) before racing off down the lane leaving dust clouds behind me.

Image result for get away from me you mentalist alan partridge gif

Thankfully, the rest of the evening was relatively uneventful (other than Isaac again confirming our family are not really accustomed to outdoor living, when he tried to turn a candle off by pressing the flame), and even I had to admit our little canvas lodge was quite cosy once the lanterns and candles had been lit. Admittedly, my new affection for glamping may have been fuelled by most of a bottle of red wine, but still, we were actually fucking doing this.

That said, my doubts/fears about our hosts and surroundings had not entirely subsided, and so once my wife and I had worked out a sentry rota, to ensure one of us was awake at all times throughout the night to watch for axe-murderers and any wildlife with fangs, we settled into our beds (wearing as much clothing as possible – I had four pairs of boxer shorts on, to protect against blood-sucking arachnids getting anywhere near my man-junk), and called it a night.

67773158_10156520630313366_3043499849845571584_n

Still, all in all, I think we may end up quite enjoying this glamping malarkey…

To be continued….

Standard