At last – a week at the beach. Sun, surf, and sand; and when I feel energetic a bit of fishing. After the Christmas rush I need a break. Just me, Adele, the kids, and the great outdoors. Pity about the panic we had trying to get here. Still I apologised for losing it –
Marching up and down like the Gestapo.
“Which one of you kids left on the lights in the van last time we went out.”
Looks of astonished innocence.
“Well the battery”s flat, and the van won’t start, and its someone’s fault.”
Using jumper leads to start a diesel van in the rain is harder than you think.
“What’s that vibration Footie.”
Just the left front tyre disintegrating.
Still changing a tyre is child’s play.
“I can’t seem to loosen these wheel nuts.”
“Be careful Footie, you’ll give yourself a hernia.”
Brute force won the day and I was deposited suddenly onto the gravel with the liberated wheel nut still attached to half its stud.
“Hey Dad, What does reverse thread on left wheels mean?” said Jason reading a plaque hidden on the inside of the door.
Put the tent up in the dark.
Woke to the sound of rain on the tent roof and the discovery that the bottom of my sleeping bag is saturated.
Contingency plans are an essential part of camping.
“Adele what did you do what my carton of books?” I always bring about twenty novels. Nothing beats the printed page.
“You mean the one on your dressing table?”
“Yeah, where did you put it?”
“I didn’t put YOUR carton anywhere Footie.”
Taught the kids how to play Poker instead while we waited for the sun to appear.
Still raining. Things are a little strained with five of us in the same tent and my books still on the dressing table. Read the newspaper three times and had started on “Harry Potter” when Jason kicked up a stink about me flogging his books. Solved the problem by sending them out for a walk in the rain. Took the opportunity to rummage through the girls reading material but I’m not into Georgette Heyer and nothing else looks promising.
Still raining. Stayed in bed until a bursting bladder forced me out into the wind and rain on a long hike to the ablution block. I had forgotten how jandals flick the mud up the back of the legs.
Too late for the morning paper, and the camp shop had never heard of giant jaffas.
Work and Gretchen seem more attractive by the moment. Tried to tempt the kids into another poker school but they were content to read and eat the time away.
The rows of tents and caravans have thinned out as the less intrepid depart for private bathrooms, libraries, and other trappings of civilisation. Considered a quick trip home myself, but Adele wouldn”t have it on.
Perfect weather. Toasted gently in the sun all morning.
“Do you want some sunscreen Footie?”
“No need Adele, you know I tan easily. But don’t forget to put it on the kids.”
Even caught some fish during the afternoon. Happily kneeling in the sand examining various stomach contents with Jason when from behind I heard the stuff of nightmares.
“Dr Foote! You’re sunburnt!”
I’d know that voice anywhere. Gretchen! Looked around guiltily to see Adele and Marie holding a tape recorder and giggling.
Tried to hide the relief.
Very uncomfortable this morning, a bit too much UV yesterday, Minimised my symptoms in case Adele replayed the tape. Opted for a quiet day under a hat, shirt, and sun umbrella.
“Hello Dr Foote. Lovely day isn’t it?”
No tape this time worse luck. Mrs C, a too frequent sojourner in my consulting room.
“Beautiful,” I replied in my best I’m to busy to stop and talk right now voice.”
“You look like you got a bit burnt Doctor.”
“Ran out of sun screen,” I lied trying not to make eye contact.
“Let me loan you some,” she said rummaging in a bag. “I’ve got a spare tube.”
Paralysed for just a moment until the brilliant lateral thinking Foote computer gave me the escape plan.
“Thank you Mrs C that’s very kind. I’ll go and put some on immediately.”
A touch edgy this morning, Thought about wearing a false moustache. After all I go on holiday to escape from the Mrs Cs of my world. Planning an invisible man strategy when there was a bang on the tent pole and the broken glass voice.
“Dr Foote are you in?”
Only because there’s no back door.
“I thought you might like to read this,” she said and passed over the latest Lee Child.
God works in mysterious ways.