“Never mind”, I said blithely, walking away from the array of wellies, none of which were suitable, at the garden centre, “The old ones have splits but will be fine unless the water is ankle deep…which is fairly unlikely”. Talk about tempting fate!
I should have perhaps heeded the omens – a delayed departure, followed by two false starts where I had to return home to pick up things that I had forgotten and then on the M25 a warning light came on in the car, which was totally out of oil in the engine (I was going to put it in for annual service when I got back!).
Saturday morning woke us early…very early… and none too bright. “Bloody re-enactors”, I cursed, “they just come to these things to get pissed and bugger about. It’s alright for them playing at soldiers, but some of us have to work.” I was not in the best of moods. Between torrential rain drumming on the tent roof, carousing and shouting that didn’t seem to stop, a Viking horn being blown repeatedly in the wee small hours and people walking by at 5am and earlier, talking loudly, this was not entirely surprising. However, as my tired brain dragged itself into a greater semblance of wakefulness, I realised that people were not so much walking as sloshing past.
All appeared to be well as I struggled out of my bedding, having decided to head for the loos, now that I was more awake than I wanted to be, but as I emerged from behind the curtain that separates out the sleeping area from the trading area, this was what met my eye:
Fortunately, most of my stuff was on the tables or chairs so only the open crate that houses my “kitchen” released a small waterfall when I picked it up. OK, I thought, this is not too bad. We had a flood at Colchester a couple of years ago, where the ducks swam into the tent and it had all drained away in an hour or two, we can cope with this. So, I yanked on my somewhat perished wellies and squelched out to see this:
An actual river was running through the site with quite an impressive current. It took us some time to get across to the other side and make our way over the the beer tent, where there was free tea and coffee (though we took our own) and more importantly, a caterer selling bacon and egg rolls. I could now understand what all the shouting had been about as we wandered past tents standing in a foot of water, not to mention where the “marsh” part of Kelmarsh came into it. Apparently, the river had burst its banks and so there was nowhere for a night of torrential rain water to drain away.
Needless to say, the event was cancelled, initially, it was “cancelled for the morning” then it was “cancelled for today”, but before 9am, the word was that the whole weekend was off. There seemed nothing for it but to pack up as best we could and head for home before trench foot set in. Given that people in short wellies were getting wet feet wading through the river as it splashed over the top, mine were totally inadequate and I had to periodically pour the water out of them. Still, with a field full of re-enactors at a loose end, those traders who had set out their wares the night before seemed to be doing a roaring trade – we hadn’t and there seemed little point doing so. By press-ganging various passers-by, including some very tall Dutch lads in assorted period uniforms and a group of enterprising English people, we even managed to get the tent down without having to lie the canvas down in the muddy swamp! Fitting it into the car was something of a challenge though.
The car is still very unhappy and now, not only is there still a warning light flashing but it won’t lock electronically either, though I am grateful that the 4WD capability enabled me to leave the field fully laden and negotiate the river without having to be towed off. The water-logged wellies stayed behind.