I found myself wandering to the shops on Friday wearing a pair of Crocs. The main issue is that I felt no shame in doing so. This clearly demonstrates that at least half of my life is now behind me. The first sign of this was late last year when I purchased a membership to the Camping and Caravan Club. This is the preserve of pensioners and people who put lamps and bunches of flowers on the table at the back of their caravans. Those not in caravans tow small cars behind large mobile homes (this is really just backwards caravan behaviour). I now walk amongst them, although quietly as the sites can resemble something from the Stepford Wives and I might get told off. The loos are nice and clean though.
Obviously manicured lawns, measured pitches and having Julia Bradbury as club president are all very well. The most alluring thing about membership is the Certified Sites. There are literally hundreds dotted around the country, tucked away in fields and farms. A maximum of five campervans or caravans and members only mean that they are nice and quiet. It’s proper old fashioned camping with the toilet in a barn and a big spider on the wall. You are also unlikely to have a kid called Tyson kicking their football at your tent.
There is a superb one just below Chrome Hill in the Peak District, which I visited with Reuben and Bona-fide pensioners Geoff and Chrissie a few weeks ago. Three dogs was no problem for the farmer and she put us in a field away from the cows. Free to roam Reuben still thought it best practise to avoid the labraloony and grumpy boxer (they are actual real dogs and not my nickname for Chrissie and Geoff).
A day walk was sandwiched between a couple of nights being fed by Geoff and drinking whisky in their van which has mod cons like heating. I had to drag myself away each night to the small and rather cold Bongo which felt like slumming it after being in their palace on wheels.
The walk was planned and led by Chrissie, selected from a guidebook called ‘The most neglected and overgrown paths in the Peak District’. The initial climb up Chrome Hill as always was a cracker. There then followed a succession of ‘paths’ that have not been walked this century and perhaps the last. We emerged back at the vans stung and bleeding but somehow still talking to each other.
To round off the day nicely Reuben found a large and very wet pile of fox poo to roll in. He was actually dripping in the stuff. I got the last laugh though with a bucket of cold water and loads of washing up liquid.
It then rained. The end.