Well what a mixed weekend, a mixture of highs and lows. The highs; picking the winner of the Grand National and meeting some nice people. The lows; hearing that two horses had died in the Grand National and encountering some not so nice people
Firstly though let me tell you about the site. A clean tidy site with good sized pitches and excellent facilitie......... blar blar, yes we were at a Caravan Club Site. As I've said before I could start every review about a caravan club site with the same sentence. There are a few things that differentiate one CC site from another however.
The 'Get A' Life of Brian
I've also said previously that 50% of the wardens are good and 50% not so good and at Castleton this proved correct again.
The couple we met when we arrived, who also sold and explained site wifi access to me and who were always polite and friendly when you saw them around the site were the 50% good.
The prat who was going around the site at five to twelve on Sunday morning and radioing back to reception must have been one half of the 50% bad though to be fair we never saw his other half if he had one.
As you may be aware at a Caravan Club site you must vacate your pitch by 12 noon on the day of departure and new arrivals are not allowed on before this time.
At 11.55 this prat, who we'll refer to as Brian because that's his name, was springing John Cleese silly-walk like from one empty pitch to another and radioing into reception "No. 55 has gone OVER" "No.57 has left OVER" "No. 59 has vacated their pitch, roger that OVER". But then Brian stopped dead in his tracks and bolt upright like a meerkat on sentry duty. He looked at clipboard, he looked at Myrtle, again he looked at the list fastened to his clipboard and again at Myrtle. Brian's exaggerated movements were a very conscious and deliberate method of signaling to us that something was not right
To one side of us pitch No.59 was vacant, to the other side pitch No.61. A cautious walk to the rear of our van confirmed we were still on No.60. SACRE BLEU!
I must point out at this stage that everything Myrtle was packed away, Helen was in the passenger seat, I was in the drivers seat, the keys were in the ignition and we both had our seat belts on. I'd just stuck Tom-tom to the window screen and I was just checking the route in the road atlas ready for that moment when Tom-tom had it's inevitable brain fart mid journey.
Brian knocked on the drivers side window and gestured with his thumb like a demented hitchhiker, but to suggest clear off and said are you ready. I wound the window down, or whatever the equivalent saying is for an electric window and gave him my friendliest smile "yes we're just off, we're not late are we?" Brian's disapproving response was "You will be by the time you get to the exit." Now I know there's a 5mph speed limit on site but it wasn't going to take more than 30 seconds to drive to the exit.
I couldn't help it and I know it didn't help but a laugh slipped out as I said, don't be daft and anyway would it matter if we were a few seconds late leaving.
Brian wasn't happy, "there are people waiting to come on at 12" proclaimed Brian, "well its only five to" I replied.
Brian was even less happy, he got onto his radio to Alpha One or whoever was on the other end and as he walk away from our van said "No. 60 isn't leaving until 12 o'clock OVER"
Bed knobs and broomsticks I thought to myself, but in the singular and minus the bed and broomstick.
Brian set off John Cleese silly-walk like once more and I set off in pursuit, which isn't easy when there's a 5mph, stay in first gear speed restriction in force and frankly Brian's John Cleese long strides averaged just over the speed limit but a hesitation over which direction to take allowed me the opportunity to catch Brian up.
"Excuse me, what's your name?" I said still very polite as we hadn't known it up to this point and I wanted to address this person correctly.
Brian confirmed his name, "that was totally unnecessary Brian don't you think?" I enquired.
"No, there are people waiting to come on" said Brian.
"But it's not 12 o'clock yet Brian, They're not allowed on before 12 and I don't have to be off until 12 and it's not yet 12". To add insult to injury there were numerous empty pitches, half the site was empty.
You could see that Brian was disappointed that someone had undermined his little moment of importance but in a last ditched attempt to rescue it Brian said "I didn't know that you had got all your things packed away and I merely asked if you were ready." Brian had obviously and very conveniently forgotten about his thumb gesturing and very exaggerated movements.
I explained to our Brian that we tended to pack everything away before we got into the front seats and put our seatbelts on and I told him his attitude was terrible. Although I do say so myself, at that instance I was superbly patronising (moment of self praise over).
Obviously thinking I'd asked him for his name so I could complain a very annoyed and flustered Brians' final words were "get in touch with head office then, see where that gets you!".
I drove onto the exit and saw the friendly man we'd dealt with earlier who smiled and gave a friendly wave. I wound down, sent down or what ever it is, my window .
Before I could say anything, friendly man was wishing us farewell, safe journey and smiling. No watch tapping, tutting, shaking of the head or any other exaggerated movements were observed.
I said to him "your mate Brains' attitude is terrible" and he enquired why. I said about his radio message and how he'd knock on our window at 5 to 12. Friendly man didn't say anything and nor did I but our joint spontaneous laughter said it all.
Oh Brian, glad they're not all like you.
I spent far too long on that, so the rest of the weekend in brief:
386.25 when Neptune Collonges won the Grand National.
Met nice people from Portsmouth on Friday night in the bar of the Peak Hotel and had a no frills good value meal. Met some nice people from Sheffield, Tyneside and France in The Cheddar Cheese pub on Saturday night and enjoyed several pints of Farmers Brown Cow bitter.
We were on pitch No.60, the people on pitch No.63 which was behind us, were already there on the Friday evening and I'm pleased to say left on Saturday morning. They could have come straight from the set of Shameless, the only blessing was when the lady of the party screamed at her respective other half that she had never wanted to come eff-ing caravanning and she wouldn't be coming eff-ing caravanning again. Thank heavens for small mercies.
Across from us on pitch No.45 two couples with two dogs arrived on Saturday. The lead lady of this party reminded me of Lizzie Bardsley who you may recall as the vulgar benefit sponging loud mouth from Channel Fours Wife Swap. I was already up and sat outside at about 7.30am on Sunday enjoying a coffee and the morning peace when our Lizzie got up and shattered it for everyone. Screeching where's me ciggies repeatedly until these were found and then coughing, retching and gargling with copious amounts of phlegm, Lizzie enjoyed her first ciggie of the day from inside what she must of thought was a sound proof awning.
It was then screamed that their Dalmatian puppy needed to get out and it wasn't just a pee she needed. The awning door was unzipped enough to allow said puppy out to do it's biz wherever it wanted but instead the puppy made an attempt for freedom grasping this opportunity to escape to a happier, smoke free, quieter life and frankly who could blame it.
Lizzie however screamed at the top of her fag haggered voice so loud that all the birds in the neighboring trees took to flight and cattle stampeded in three adjoining counties until the sad puppy was re-captured.
Such consideration for her fellow campers, if Lizzies up, everyone's up!
Someone asked the question recently on the Caravan Club forum "Are we snobs?".
Given that anyone can join the club, it's not an exclusive members and membership by invite only club, what I witnesses over the weekend can not, by any stretch of the imagination, be described as snobbery.
After leaving the site a 12 o'clock, or just before, we headed for Bakewell and parked, as we have many times before, in the show ground carpark.
We picked a good spot next to a gate on to the rugby ground marked off with a traffic cone to stop people blocking the gate. This would mean no one would park next to us!
We had a couple of hours in Bakewell and then returned to Myrtle for a lunch of sandwiches and Bakewell pudding, tart & fruit cake.
Mid sandwich however two transit vans pulled in at high speed narrowly missing Myrtle and the cone. The cone was then thrown to one side while the vehicles straightened up at equally high speed. The cast of Big Fat Gypsy Wedding then decanted from the two vans and walked off in the direction of Bakewell. I kid you not, of all the carparks to choose from and the spaces available two van loads of gypsies decided to park up within inches of Myrtle! (see photo's)
We packed up and went home, like I said at the beginning, if you can remember that far back, a mixed weekend.
My reviews are definitely going to have to get shorter.