Monday 5 August 2013

King of the Pringles

King of the Pringles might have been an epithet for a top Casual in the 1980s, given that particular brand of hooligan's preference for what was then considered designer gear, but Angus wore the title with ease on Saturday evening as he sat back in his camping chair, a tube of the savoury snacks clutched between his powerful thighs as a mighty paw fed his chomping mouth with regular refills. He was very much lord of all he surveyed, which, by that time, comprised six families and their assorted tents, cars, windbreaks, chairs and other detritus, all in varying states of windblown disrepair (including the families) as the barbecues sizzled, the smoke rose and the sun descended through shower clouds, casting rainbows over the East Neuk.

Our annual camping trip began on the Friday, with Sharon and the boys heading up to Elie after Rowan's eye appointment (he got a slightly stronger prescription, but they think his squint has improved and feel he is less likely to need surgery, as a child at least). I drove car number two, as the list of stuff we require for camping is long and I was thinking of playing golf on the way up. As it happened, I didn't, taking instead a circuitous route through Fife, enjoying the drive while listening to the Ashes cricket on the radio. I arrived at Elie where the boys were happily getting filthy in the sand. Rowan was looking a bit spare, so I headed up with him to Nydie Farm, near Strathkinness, to the campsite.

Nydie afforded little shelter, especially as we, as part of a group booking, had been alloted a pitch at the far end of the field, a long way from anywhere and rather exposed to the freshening wind. This was evident as I tried to erect the 2-man tent and soon found myself with a broken pole. As the others hadn't arrived, I drove into St. Andrews with Rowan for a short wander and dinner at Nando's. It was nice to have time with just him and me. Once back at the site, the others were present and the mass tent pitching began, with all hands required to battle against the breeze. We got our big tent up and elected to use the 2-man tent as a store. With windbreaks encircling the seating area, everyone settled into their fish and chips from Guardbridge as the sun, and wind, dipped. Eventually we got the children off to bed and followed suit, six of us crammed into the 4-man tent.

I slept OK, as did the boys, although the wind picked up in the night and various flappnig flysheets disturbed Sharon and Finn. There was a good shower block (albeit a long hike from the bottom end of the field) of which I made good use, then Sharon fired up the stove and began the production line of bacon and sausage rolls. It was dry and everyone was in fair spirits. Late in the morning we all headed to Craigtoun Park, which has recently had a bit of an overhaul. It was free to get in, with payment only if you made use of the activities.

The men kicked a ball about while the kids played in the playpark and the women sat in the sun. We had our picnic lunch then had a wander. Sharon took Sean, Angus and Rowan out rowing, with Sean having his first taste of being on the water (he's been on the rowing machine two or three times). Sharon was delighted to have her biggest boy pulling on the oars. He did well, managing a half circuit of the pond around the dilapidated Dutch village. After ice-creams, I took Angus and Rowan round the crazy golf (twice), they all had a good bounce on the bouncy castle, Rowan and Angus played on the tractors and then we headed back to the camp.

Disaster! In our absence, the wind had picked up (Craigtoun was relatively sheltered by the trees and so we hadn't really noticed) and on arrival back at Nydie we were greeted by a number of damaged tents. Ours had to be taken down and two of the poles repaired in makeshit fashion with the help of spare sections from the camp owner, gaffer tape and patience, with Charlie Barr especially helpful. Eventually we got the poles in a working state and re-pitched the tent.

To the Barrs, McLeods and Valentines, we had added Vincent Hanlon and and Trevor Power and their families earlier in the day. A big game of rounders was organised as dark shower clounds threatened (and occasionally struck) and a double rainbow spanned the East Neuk. The barbecues and fire-pit were lit too and soon everyone was tucking into burgers and sausages and all manner of unhealthy food options. It wasn't a weekend for a balanced diet!

Whereas the night before had cleared to reveal a sparkling starry sky above, Saturday remained cloudy as we sat on into the night, getting ever closer to the fire once we had got the children to bed. We had a good laugh and eventually crept into the tents after midnight. Sleeping in a camp bed this time, Sharon slept more soundly, and the tent lasted the night with its running repairs. On Sunday we cleaned out the last of the food and started to pack up, but there was more damage done to the poles as we struck the tent. Finn, unfortunately, was sick a couple of times, so, once we were all packed, Sharon headed straight home with him and the wee two while Sean and I drove into St. Andrews.

We had a lovely stroll round the town, from the Kinness Burn through St. Mary's Quad, up to the Cathedral, by the Castle and back to South Street for baked potatoes in a cafe called Zest. It was great to have a chat with Sean about stuff, with him showing an interest in my past. The town looked well too, with the final day of the Women's British Open being played out on the Old Course. We drove back down later in the afternoon, with me then repacking all the tent gear under the quieter conditions of Swanston Terrace, in preparation for out next trip, whenever that may be. We really enjoyed it this time, despite the hiccups. It was a good team-building exercise for Family Wallace!

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