Everything went well until I was about to put the last pole in, then it happened. I'd just got the tent standing up nicely on three poles when a breeze came out of nowhere and pushed it over, so to stop it from collapsing completely I grabbed the bottom corner and pulled it back up. Now I've done that before and never had any problems but this time was different; as I pulled there was a loud tearing sound and a big ninety degree rip appeared in the side wall - it was about 12 inches across and a good 18 inches down. Disaster!
Now although I've only had the tent for just over four years it's obviously been long enough for the material to degrade in the weather over that time and it had become brittle in places, hence the rip. There was no point crying about it though; although I was actually sleeping in the van I still needed the tent for somewhere to wash and dress in comfort and make a brew, so I put the fourth pole in, pegged it down all round then got out my roll of insulating tape to try and mend the tear. With the side wall being on a slope and the tape only being narrow it wasn't easy, especially as I really needed to be both inside and outside at the same time, but I managed it after a fashion and keeping my fingers crossed that it would hold for the weekend I set off to get some breakfast over on the show ground.
There was a new catering wagon not far from the entrance and it had proper solid wooden tables/bench seats outside so at least there was somewhere decent to anchor the dogs to while I got served. Breakfast came in the form of a cheeseburger and coffee; the coffee was actually quite good and the cheeseburger so large and filling that I couldn't eat it all so Sophie and Poppie got the last bit between them. A walk round the stalls followed, although I didn't buy anything, then I made my way back to van to chill out for a while.
Passing the stewards' tent I got chatting to one of them and when I mentioned the tear in my tent he said he would come and have a look at it for me. He brought with him a roll of Gorilla tape and stuck some on both sides over the tape I'd put on, and though it wasn't the most elegant repair it would probably last reasonably well and would hopefully keep the tent weather-proof.
After a couple of hours relaxing with my book I went back over to the show ground to watch the camel racing. There were four camels all dressed up with brightly coloured blankets, tassels and pompoms, and with their riders in 'Arabian' costumes; the races went from one side of the main arena to the other and back again several times but there was a lot of messing about by the camels and their riders between races so I found the whole thing a bit boring. It was fun for kids though as they all had to shout for number three as it was always last.
A performance by the dancing diggers followed, though I didn't get any photos of them this time as I've taken loads in previous years. After another look round the stalls I went back to get the van and drove to the supermarket in the nearby village to get some batteries for my lamp, then the rest of the afternoon and evening were spent in the company of various camping friends, ending with a very pleasant couple of hours chat with John from Norwich who I often meet up with while camping down in Norfolk.
The daylight was fading by the time I made my way back to the tent, and though I could have gone back to the show ground for the evening entertainment I decided against it. It had been a long day, and even though it was much earlier than I would usually go to bed it was time to settle down for the night - and I didn't read much of my book before I was well and truly in the land of nod.