wishing I’d listened to the drunk man

The drunk was muttering something about the wind.

His gaunt, creased face was blowing fumes before my nostrils as we waited for Rachel to return from the supermarket; imitating, in his own way, the force of nature.

Nodding profusely at his ‘sagely’ advice I shepherded the kids and pushed our bikes to another location. Having just arrived back from alcohol free Morocco he was our first encounter with a European, in Spain.



The evening was tranquil. The sun was setting. And any chance of foul weather surely wouldn’t come tonight.

Before long, we’d cycled out of town and located a free camping spot just outside Tarifa – the kite surfing mecca of Europe- where, quickly we adopted our roles of setting up home, gorging on the tour cyclists’ staple diet of bread and pasta, and settling down to a good night’s kip – zonked after a big day.

Drifting off to sleep we mused at the drunk man’s counsel – poor bugger, must have been on another planet… sometimes that happens after too many beers..

11pm – Woke to the tent porch flapping, whereupon I remind myself that I didn’t peg out the guy lines… A quick fumble around the entrance locates spare pegs and soon enough our little home is fastened securely to the earth. Return to bed feeling relaxed at the prospect of more sleep.

1am – More flapping. This time the pegs have been ripped out by increasing gusts. In the following minutes the tent is re-fastened down, and Rachel raises the champion idea of adding rocks on top of the windward pegs. On returning to bed my mind reflects on whether I should have listened more to the man outside the supermarket….

4am – Our house is blown almost flat. The kids are woken and an escape plan is hatched; a low lying basin offers protection against the elements, and, after moving panniers across to our new location the tent is collapsed, carried over, and re-erected.

4:40am -Pile into the tent relieved at the prospect of a couple more hours kip. Close eyes just as the snap of fibreglass poles briefly overrides the howl of the wind. Spend the next minutes feeling around for torches before making our way to the flattened zip exit.

4:42am – (Lying under Orion’s belt, watching the bellies of whipping clouds race overhead). Reassure our two boys that one day they’ll look back at this night and laugh. Not that anything is funny at the moment. Just then, a meteorite ignites the darkness and we muse about how lucky we are to see it. The kids yawn, seem vaguely interested and drop back off to sleep.

4:45am – I lie awake. Wishing I’d listened to the drunk man..

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