Anecdotes from the Blueberry Hotel, Part 1

Posted on: 05/08/2011

thanks to for the imageFor some reason, I just can’t bear the thought of arriving somewhere on holiday and have no food immediately available.  It preys on my mind.  The concept of foraging for food after you’ve got somewhere, spent two hours setting up and are utterly ravenous (and did I mention grumpy kids?), is abhorrent.  I generally order online and arrange for the food to be delivered to our destination soon after our arrival, or pick it up (ready packed) en route.  It makes me feel much better.

On the day of departure, having packed the bulk of the car the night before, having deposited the cats at the cattery, and having cleaned the house thoroughly as soon as the kids were packed (literally) into the car – you never know when you might get a viewing – and then gone back in for the piece of paper that told us where we were supposed to be going, we headed off.  Only an hour and a half later than planned.

Up to the Lincolnshire Fens we drove.  As is traditional on one of our family holidays, we listened to a Harry Potter audiobook.  Annoyingly, it wasn’t the Order of the Phoenix, the next instalment, since nobody seems to stock it any more (has the film franchise bombed the audiobook market??) and I hadn’t got around to ordering it online.  So Prisoner of Azkaban it was.  Kids happy in the back, in spite of barely being able to see/breathe/move under all the paraphernalia they were sitting in/under/amongst, listening to the story. Smallest one gets the biggest seat and nothing on top of her, so she’s particularly happy and snoozles contentedly for most of the journey.

Lunch break and food pickup in Peterborough, roughly halfway to the fens. Wanted to stop and SHOP! since I don’t get much occasion to venture into a shopping centre these days. But we settled for an extremely nice, if rather pricey, John Lewis meal at a table overlooking all the shoppers. Great for making up little stories about the people we see for kiddie entertainment purposes. Sorry, Peterborough.

We wheel the trolley with the best part of a week’s groceries to the car. We then play food tetris.  Loved one, though not a fan of the original computer game, is particularly talented in this area.  Somehow, I’m not sure how, he gets all the cold stuff into the cool box.  Then he gets all of the ambient stuff to stay in various nooks and crannies of the car boot and kiddie laps, without anything falling out.  Respect.

We head on. We are now about two hours late. Lunch was too nice to rush.

I drive along increasingly narrow roads as we pass through Spalding, then Boston. Finally just five miles from our destination, having noticed several ‘High Casualty Route’ signs over the last hour of driving, we see blue flashing lights in the distance and a prominent ROAD CLOSED sign.

I’m sure you can add two and two together.  Our diversion was lengthy; those fens don’t have quite so many roads as I am accustomed to.  At least it was all very pretty, and we hurtled past a beautifully maintained old windmill in the process.

Two and a half hours late, we arrive at the campsite.  ‘Bijou’ is not a word I would usually use when it comes to the joys of camping, but it fits this beautiful bit of land, dotted with caravans and tents, with a picturesque little fishing lake in the middle.  Mark comes out to greet us.  A mop of curly hair, a friendly smile and laid-back attitude. Exactly what we needed. He guides us to our pitch, brings over a fire pit and firewood, and leaves us to set up.

We open the car boot. Amazingly, nothing falls out.  Out comes the Blueberry Hotel, in its two bags, plus the poles we couldn’t quite squeeze in after the last trip.  We lay the groundsheet.  It fills the entire pitch.

Smallest one is keen to leave the car.  Oldest one, having frolicked briefly, kindly agrees to go on anti-drowning duty.  You see, the charm of this place is that all the pitches are set around a lovely little fishing lake. It’s exquisite.  It’s also a death trap, if you don’t watch your non-swimming offspring.   From tent door to lake is a swift ten seconds for smallest one, given the inclination and the opportunity.  We decided we didn’t mind one, but both didn’t bear thinking about.

In spite of a broken pole, the tent goes up in one hour flat.  We pat ourselves on the back.  Last time it took two hours, with no broken poles. The porch takes another twenty minutes, and then smallest one declares vehemently that it’s time for dinner, and can everyone please stop fussing about with that big blue thing over there.

So we cook.   In twenty minutes flat we have a hearty meal, and we huddle round our surprisingly unwobbly camping table and eat, eat eat.  Yum.

Then we wrap smallest one up like a Michelin man, followed swiftly by the other two.  I strum a few lullabies, and then loved one and I grab a couple of beers and stroll outside.

We soak in the sunset.  And we are glad to be here.


2 Responses to "Anecdotes from the Blueberry Hotel, Part 1"

Very evocative. And I like the concept of ‘food tetris’ too.

Thanks! I hope you find a comfortable compromise later in the month 🙂

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