"An’ then, once I’ve got that Irish group
to pitch 14 I’ll check that the bottom field have plenty of water still
an’ then, oh wait -" John Roberts stopped. "Can you see t’the
lower field Sheila?" he asked his wife. "There’s another party
booking due to arrive in ten minutes. I can’t believe how busy it is!"
"Or how strange some of them are," muttered
his wife. "Did you see that old codger walking around in a nightdress?
A nightdress! In the middle of the day and he is most definitely
a man! Only a man would walk around scratching his – "
"Now, Sheila," her husband interrupted
peaceably, "it’s a free country, and if the paying campers want to
wear, umm, ladies underclothes, then that’s their business. I’m not going
to complain when the fields’re full t’ bursting with tents, even if they
are a bit unusual."
"Unusual!" Sheila was incredulous. "A
bit of an understatement, surely, to say that an emerald green tent completely
covered with shamrock – living shamrock, mind you – with a chimney,
is ‘a bit unusual’! And that’s not even mentioning that strange family
down by the stream, nor the group of very suspicious looking Bulgarians
over by the fence. I mean Bulgarians? What on earth are they doing here
in Yorkshire? I know they’re Bulgarian, I asked them when they checked
in, I also asked what they were doing here and do you know what they said?"
She didn’t leave time for her husband to guess what they had said, even
if he had wanted to. "They said they were here to watch the cricket!
Hmmph! When did you ever hear of Bulgarians playing cricket? It just seems
odd," she concluded.
"Yes, love," John said calmly. He had
had many years experience with his wife’s excited tirades. He let them
wash over him, rather like the clear stream that appeared to have sprung
up next to a particularly sturdy looking tent that for all the world looked
like a log cabin, complete with veranda and horse. Although when he’d
looked again the horse seemed to have vanished. Wings and all.
He shook his head to clear it. They had been so
busy for the last week or so that the Roberts’ had had little chance to
sleep, and John was sure that was why he kept imagining these odd peculiarities.
That had to be the reason; there was no other explanation after all. People
only appeared out of thin air, or flew on broomsticks in fairy tales,
not in real life. He looked out the window at the wood at the top of the
campsite. Yet more people were wandering out of it, gazing around them
and shouting at the campers in the surrounding fields. They all seemed
to know each other, hundreds and hundreds of them, and though he wouldn’t
admit it to his wife he had to agree with her, some of the holiday makers
were definitely a bit….odd. He just couldn’t put his finger on what was
wrong…..every time he seemed close to understanding something about these
people something happened and he lost his train of thought.
"Anyway, I’ve got to get that booking sorted.
I can see them coming down the hill now." With that John Roberts
moved to stand in the doorway of the cottage and wait for the next group
of campers. This lot at least looked fairly normal. Admittedly you didn’t
often see such red hair, or so much of it at one time, but that was nothing
compared to some of the folk he’d seen this week. Those two up on the
hill for instance - what was that man wearing thigh boots for? And the
man in the kilt was wearing some sort of cape thing. Mexicans wore them
he thought. His friends, the Payne’s, had sent a postcard showing a man
wearing such a garment when they’d been on holiday last year. The man
in the picture hadn’t finished the outfit off with a kilt though.
"Morning!" John’s thoughts were interrupted
by a tall, skinny man who must be the father of several of the children
surrounding him, if his thinning but flaming red hair was anything to
"Morning," Mr. Roberts replied carefully.
He didn’t know why, but each time he talked with a group of campers he
seemed to leave the conversation feeling slightly dazed. He was going
to pay careful attention this time to see if he could get to the bottom
of the strangeness that seemed to be enveloping his campsite.
"Would you be Mr. Roberts?" The man smiled
happily at him. Behind him four equally red headed and two darker haired
children all smiled enthusiastically. This lot seemed all right he thought
to himself, although he wouldn’t trust those two identical boys to stay
out of trouble for long. There was something about the way they were grinning
at one another that left him just a little uneasy.
"Aye, I would," John agreed cautiously;
he wasn’t going to let anything get past him this time. "And who’re
"Weasley – two tents, booked a couple of days
ago?" The camper looked round at the children as if to make sure
they were all still behaving. It seemed he shared John’s misgivings about
the twin boys. Still that wasn’t a crime. The Roberts’ own children had
been known to get into their own fair share of trouble; mischievous kids
were common enough. Everything seemed okay so far, but still there was
something he couldn’t quite put his finger on…
John turned and looked at his list of bookings.
"Aye," He found the name among the pages and pages of names.
Some of the names were a bit odd too, now he came to think about it. The
names Cornelius and Malfada just weren’t that common these days. And he
was sure he’d heard a haughty blonde woman snap at a pale faced boy called
Drake earlier – who’d call their son after a male duck? He recollected
himself. "You’ve got a space up by the wood there. Just the one night?"
"That’s it," the man called Mr. Weasley
replied looking at him interestedly. As if he was the strange one.
He must pull himself together, he’d be acting as
loony as the rest of them if he wasn’t careful.
"You’ll be paying now, then?"
"Ah – right – certainly –" The Weasley
man suddenly seemed flustered. He turned round to the small dark haired
boy. Mr. Roberts listened carefully. "Help me, Harry," he could
just make out. "This ……. a ten? …. yes, ……. little number…….now…so
………. a five?" The boy was saying something now, "… twenty."
Mr. Roberts didn’t understand. The man had sounded as if he came from
the south of England, Cornwall perhaps, or Dorset, and yet he didn’t know
the currency of the country.
What was going on?
"Ah yes, so it is…I don’t know, these little
bits of paper…" How could this man not know a ten pound note from
a twenty? Perhaps he was so rich it didn’t matter to him, and yet by the
state of his baggy jeans and slightly moth eaten golfing jumper that didn’t
seem right. Maybe he came from a country with a similar accent?
Ah, that must be it John decided. "You foreign?"
"Foreign?" No, it seemed that wasn’t
"You’re not the first one who’s had trouble
with money," John thought he’d just be open about his suspicions,
lay his cards on the table, so to speak. "I had two try and pay me
with great gold coins the size of hubcaps ten minutes ago." Perhaps
if he confronted some of these people with their oddities they’d let him
know what was going on.
"Did you really?" The children drew closer
to Mr. Weasley, seemingly interested in how he would handle these comments.
"Never been this crowded," John pressed
on. "Hundreds of pre-bookings. People usually just turn up…"
He was interrupted by Mr. Weasley. "Is that
"Aye," once started there was no stopping
John. "People from all over. Loads of foreigners. And not just foreigners.
Weirdos, you know? There’s a bloke walking round in a kilt and a poncho."
"Shouldn’t he?" Well of course he shouldn’t.
Mr. Roberts decided he was definitely on to something here. This one might
crack if he kept on at him for long enough. "It’s like some sort
of … I dunno … like some sort of rally," the Weasley man had his
mouth open. Yes! He was finally going to learn what exactly was going
"They all seem to know each other. Like a
big party." Mr. Weasley was looking decidedly nervous now, and looking
round rather desperately, as if for divine intervention. Suddenly, with
a sharp crack, an intervention did occur, dressed in plus fours.
What a strange thing to say thought Mr. Roberts
dreamily, obliviate what? What had he been thinking about – it had seemed
very important to him. Strange he should have forgotten. Anyway he must
get back to work, he and Mrs. Roberts were so busy at the campsite, they
really couldn’t understand it. Some of the tents were very strange. And
the people were so odd……..
"A map of the campsite for you," he said.
"And your change."
A/N So, did anybody like this? Please let me know,
yay or nay. I was going to continue to the end of the world cup, but found
I didn't want to put poor Mr. Roberts through the trauma of being tortured
in front of the entire campsite. I may in the future though. Also, thanks
to Moey for her excellent beta reading – it’s been far too long since
I was taught grammar in any shape or form!