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The Tale of Ruth and Joe's
first (and last) Camping Holiday
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I wrote this piece back in 1998. Although not a great piece of writing, the situation described is typical of the kind of situations that we'd get ourselves into: it was all part of a desperate bid to be successful and to escape from the eternal financial doldrums that our lives revolved around.

The Tale Of Ruth & Joe's Camping Trip

It started off reasonably well. Joe had been winding Ruth up "Something Chronic" prior to their departure, and so by the time they got onto the bus Ruth was refusing to sit next to him. With them they had their large Rucksacks, each one packed to the brim with all the essentials for the one night away from home. These included sleeping bags, a camping stove, malt loaf and a Paddington Bear duvet, which Ruth was to use instead of a Thermarest, the expensive inflatable lightweight mattress that Joe had for his use. In fact the duvet took up most of Ruth's Rucksack, and weighed a tonne too.

On the bus they took great pleasure in observing the many strange locals; people with ghastly ankles and stilettos, single mums much to young to be any good at it and hairstyles straight out of the last scene of E.T.

At Newton Abbot it was time to change buses, and once Joe had managed to fall off the first bus they found their connection. As Joe made his way up the central aisle to his seat, his rucksack belt strap which was sticking out quite a bit touched an old lady on the leg. He apologised before continuing on his way, this time accidentally catching her skirt so that her knickers were revealed to all on the small, intimate bus. Both he & Ruth cracked up, but managed to contain themselves until they reached the back seat, whereupon they burst into fits of giggles, the stress of their first holiday together beginning to show.

They soon reached the small town of Ashburton, and using Joe's unique sense of navigation they proceeded to walk in the opposite direction to that in which their campsite lay. At this point it hadn't started to rain. Passing through the town centre Joe decided that it was absolutely vital that they buy a map of the area, setting them back a precious twelve pounds (on their return home he found another map which also covered the area).

Having walked a mile or two, they found their campsite, situated in the heart of a beautiful valley on the edge of Dartmoor. The field was empty, so they had every pitch to choose from.

They eventually decided upon a sloping site under the shelter of some trees, although it turned out that the trees provided virtually no protection from the torrential downpour which began a couple of minutes after they'd put the tent up, and still showed no signs of abating when they departed the following morning. Also, the slope prevented them from getting any sleep as they kept on waking up to find that they'd slid down to the narrow end of the tent.

They decided to spend their first holiday afternoon away from the centre of Ashburton, and so Joe thought that it would be a nice idea to take a track there instead of the road that they'd walked along before. This proved to be a mistake, as the torrential rain had turned it into a mud bath.

Once in town they discovered that being a Wednesday, it was half day closing. Eventually they decided to give up on all ideas of authentic camping (cooking on a portable meths stove etc.), and so went into a cafe to wait for the Chinese Takeaway to open.

Back at camp a little after they'd eaten their Chow Meins, Ruth said that she didn't feel too well... and had really bad diarrhoea!

Later that evening, when the rain had abated a little, they decided to venture out of the tent for a stroll up the hill. Unfortunately, their walk took them along a well-used bridleway, which at one point was impassable due to about six inches of squishy mud. Alas, they only realised that it was impassable once they were halfway through it with wet socks.

The following morning they were woken from their restless sleepy states by water dripping on their heads. It was raining so hard that water was flowing freely through both the outer and inner tents. Ruth & Joe rapidly packed everything up, walked (along the road) back into Ashburton and got the next bus home.

They couldn't wait until their next day off for which they had a very appealing action plan: stay at home and watch TV all day!

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