This is the continuation of our camping holiday in Italy (see the previous post).
We were right in the middle of an almighty storm which had brought with it so much rain, the lake and the camp site had merged to become one much larger lake which appeared to have trees and tents growing out of it! Before the storm hit its peak, GAY Cabs and I had been tasked with getting pizzas from the camp site pizzeria, however as the storm took a hold and the conditions worsened, we became stranded there. Earlier during the afternoon rain, we had secured a temporary cover over the hole in Welsh Weeble’s tent and now, as GAY Cabs and I left the tents, the rain was still an annoyance, but nothing more.
Returning with the pizzas, GAY Cabs and I had to wade through the ever rising water, tentatively feeling our way for the walkways which were somewhere under this newly expanded lake. The flow of water coming down the lanes towards the river was so strong it was crashing up our legs like waves breaking on the beach and the rain was so heavy it was not only soaking through our clothes, it was also forcing its way through the flimsy bags the pizzeria chef had put over our pizzas. As we approached our tents in the gloom of the storm, we couldn’t help wondering whether the tents would still be standing and whether our families were still there or had been washed away.
As we reached the tents it was evident that Welsh Weeble had tried, in vain, to dig a trench round them to divert as much water as he could. The gazebo was beginning to buckle under the weight of the water collecting in its folds and Welsh Weeble was desperately trying to push some of it away to relieve the pressure.
I handed the pile of wet, soggy pizza boxes to She Who Must Be Obeyed and rushed to help Welsh Weeble because he was struggling to keep a hold of the gazebo in the wind and to reach the top of it to push the water away at the same time. My timing was awful, because as I got there, the weight of the collected water final won through and buckled the gazebo’s structure unleashing a mass of water onto the two of us.
It didn’t really matter, we were already soaked anyway!
We had no choice but to dismantle what was left of the gazebo to ensure it didn’t get caught in the wind and cause any damage to our tents, or any of those around us.
There was nothing more we could do outside, so we joined the others in the relative dry of the tent to consume our pizzas. Eight of us in various states of dampness snuggled under one canvas all trying to eat the pizzas which were so wet, we couldn’t tell whether we were eating a cold, damp pizza or a soggy cardboard box! At least there was a glass of warming red wine poured ready for me. 😉
The rain eventually eased and gradually people became brave enough to emerge from their tents to survey the damage. One by one they tentatively unzipped the doors, firstly poking their heads out, checking the rain had indeed stopped, then, having satisfied themselves that it was safe, they set foot out into the huge puddle that once was the camp site. One of the camp officials (that’s a member of staff rather than an official whose gender is at question!) decided to survey the site via a motorised buggy. He received a bit of verbal abuse, not because of the state of the camp site, everyone knew this was out of any one person’s control, but because he drove the buggy at a speed rather excessive for the conditions and was causing a large wake which was washing further into the tents on either side of the lanes.
The following day there were bits of camping equipment everywhere as people jostled for the best position to get their tents dry in the sun. Unfortunately for us, as mentioned in a previous post, our pitches were down a very dark, damp lane where the sun never managed to break through the canopy created by the trees. We also had some rather unaccommodating neighbours who claimed all the trees around our tents as theirs, to which they attached washing lines and hung various articles on them to dry out. They flatly refused to allow us access to any of the trees for us to create our own drying area even though everyone on the camp was in the same position – it was simply a case of “I’m alright jack!”.
We managed to find fences and areas of dry ground in the sun where we spread out as best we could and then spent the remainder of the day chasing the sun, making sure the shade never fell on our equipment. By the end of the day, we had dried as much of it as we could and because with the huge ‘puddle’ came a mass of mud, we had also cleaned as much as we could without actually taking the tent down. Our selfish neighbours had not completely dried out because they had not put anything in direct sunlight, and the temperature under the trees was nowhere near as high as it was in the clearings.
This low temperature in the deep, damp, dark, dismal, dense deciduous thicket was to haunt us for the rest of the first week because the ground beneath our tents was unable to dry out, and because the ground was more clay than earth, every time we stepped into the tent you could feel the ground squelch under foot!
Fortunately, the camp site owner took pity on us (probably something to do with the tree sticking through the roof of Welsh Weeble’s tent!) and managed to find two rather nice, large pitches for us to move to out in the sunshine where the temperature was several degrees higher than the forest! This of course meant further upheaval but allowed us to dry out the areas of the tent which would otherwise have remained damp for the remainder of our time in Italy.
So, with another day lost to dismantling the tent and then reassembling it somewhere else, we wondered whether we would ever get to enjoy this Italian holiday or whether we would be uprooting again in a few days. Fortunately, this pitch was to be our home for the next two weeks and we were to only encounter good weather from that moment on with not a hint of rain, although there were a couple of mornings complete with a very heavy dew but that was so minor, we were almost happy to see it!
Find out how the rest of our holiday went … (here)