So here is the photo you have all been waiting for and while I am in my tent being hostess you can see exactly what the Happy Campers were up to. They have a book with a very carefully timed three day schedule written out which includes things like 'eat now' and all so they wouldn't miss people like Dominic West (this may have been his first encounter with the Happy Campers, he surely won't forget it) and look at that Happy Camper grin... cat-that-got-the-cream or what:-)
The Inaugural Port Eliot Speling (sic) Bee
The tent was full to overflowing with over-excited and highly competitive people of mature age, with a smattering of the younger generation. I got talking to a couple at the dovegreyreader tent the following day who had been co-opted by a team of youngsters to add gravitas to their team and, as it turned out, to shoulder the blame when they didn’t score as highly as they would have liked! No-one co-opted the Happy Campers, so we were a team of two amongst much larger teams of up to ten.
The compere was Gavin Pretor-Pinney from the Cloud Appreciation Society and the question master was Dominic West, Bafta-winning actor, hamming it up and having the time of his life. The first round consisted of 20 words which we had to write down. We successfully negotiated mayonnaise, cirrhosis, cacophony, laryngitis, stumbled over sacrilege/sacrilage and supersede/supercede (picking the wrong option in both cases), and fell over completely at ampullaceous (my spell checker doesn’t like this word, but I copied it down from the screen which later showed the correct spellings), Nietzsche and Solzhenitsyn, accumulating a stunningly average score of 10.
The second round took a representative from the top three scoring teams to go up on stage and spell their words out in front of the audience. There was Louis, a young fogey complete with tweed jacket and brogues, Richard (Gavin Pretor-Pinney’s editor) and Mary, from the two-person team Mary and Roger. Words such as abecedarian and suffrutescent (another word not recognised by my spell checker) appeared. Richard was soon eliminated and Louis and Mary were into sudden death, with Mary finally triumphing with denouement. What fantastic fun and Dominic West is such a lovely person he kindly consented to have his photo taken with me. (I would just like to say in my defence that he put his arm round me first.....)
Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip
We had planned to go on a ghost walk, but it was cancelled – the ghost didn’t turn up, or something. We thought we’d go to see our alternative choice of The Princes in the Tower, but they’d been sprung and had performed the night before instead. Looking for something to do, we wandered into a tent from which much laughter was ensuing – and are we glad we did. Mik Artistik was well into his repertoire of comic songs parodying styles such as Irish folk, rock ballads, seventies glam rock and reggae. We particularly liked:
Yellow, green and red
They’re all pretty colours
Mix them up – you’re dead
And The Secret Cloak of Invisibility
I bought it from a wizard whose name was Joe
He must have seen me coming, but he didn’t see me go
Our cheekbones were aching with laughter as we walked back to the tent for another night of lying on a hard ground trying to sleep while the late night music seeped through our earplugs.
Do we really do this for fun?
Yes, we do, and we wouldn’t miss it for the world!
And my thanks to The Happy Campers for another year of walking the length and breadth of that 6000 acres.. and for my gifts, I love them.