‘I think it’s my turn to ask a question, have any of you boys been camping?’ there was a chorus of ‘no! What’s camping?’ ‘It is where you stay away from home at night in a tent in the open forest and make your own meals and wash in a stream’
‘It would be great, and we could boast about it to the others in the dorm, they’ll be purple with jealousy, it will make us king of the castle’. ‘We could climb trees and fish in the stream and follow animals’ it was difficult to say who was saying what, with all the excitement. Five miles away from the town we turned left off the main road the forest entrance was another mile on the right. When we pulled into the clearing there was one car and a tractor and trailer with tents and things. As soon as we stopped the boys ran to cuddle their mothers and fathers, ‘Is it ok to go camping, Please Mum please.’ Rupert just looked down at his shoes. ‘Come on’ said May ‘you can give me a cuddle’ which brought a smile back to his face.
The washing transferred to the other car and their rough old clothes to the trailer. Ned the game keeper said all of you get on to the trailer. This included Rupert who did not know Ned. The two cars left the clearing, then Ned started the tractor saying, hold on tight boys we are on our way, there was plenty of clanking of chains as the trailer bounced over rough ground. Deeper and deeper they went into the forest. Pine cones were everywhere. As we went down a hill we could see a stream and a flat grassy area at the bottom. On the other side of the stream we could see a high stone cliff.
We turned left though the stream onto the grass clearing; then Ned parked the tractor and trailer. Jump down boys it’s time to put the tents up. There are three tents in the trailer you have twenty minutes to put them up.’
‘We are all hungry Mr Ned’
‘Good then the sooner you put the tents up the sooner we can eat, the tents are at the back of the trailer.’ Lifting the tents off the trailer he said ‘You two, that is your tent,’ and then passed the next two their tent and then lifted his own out. ‘There is a flat area up there sheltered from the wind; it also catches the late sun. Take the tents up there and I will show you how to put them up,’
Taking two tents up to the flat area they waited for him ‘Just leave them there and come back down now two of you can take my tent’ there was no volunteers, then he said ‘the other two can take the food holdalls’. The idea of food reminded them that they were hungry, so scurried up the path placing them with the other two tents, then ran back down to carry anything more. ‘I’ll come up and show you how to put up the tents and bring fuel for the fire. Three of you take these buckets and collect pinecones for the fire, and Maurice take the last bucket and fill it with water from the stream.’ They started collecting pinecones from the forest just behind their campsite.
Ned walked down to the water’s edge. Maurice was struggling to collect enough water in the bucket.
‘Here this will help’ as he past him a cooking pan, soon the bucket was full. ‘I’ll carry it up to our camp you can bring the pan full of water’. The other three boys had collected three buckets of pine cones.
‘Firstly Rupert and Maurice pick up your tent and empty the bag out here, and Harry and you Peter pick up your tent and empty your tent bag out here; there are
continued on Monday