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Donkin's World: The Pirates Of Camp Pete

Author and journalist Richard Donkin tells of a wet, windy and fun time in Cumbria.

Do please visit Richard's well-stocked Web site

Details of his book Blood, Sweat and Tears which is acclaimed world-wide can be found here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Sweat-Tears-Evolution-Work/dp/1587990768/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1214554429&sr=1-2

As Kate Quinn said: "When blokes organise things....."

In the wake of last year's Camp Dick, http://www.richarddonkin.com/blog/2007/06/camp-dick-2007.html Peter Allen, one of our rugby-watching group, decided it was time he had a "Camp Pete."

Peter has a farm at Bampton Grange in Cumbria. He timed the event to coincide with the annual River Lowther raft race and thought it would be a good idea if we entered a team.

My problem was fishing. We didn't get away from the River Dee until the Sunday morning and the raft race was some time on Sunday afternoon. I didn't know the start time, nor whether my presence was required. It was.

Seamus, Simon (aka The Philanderer) http://witherspoons.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/Blogger.html and Stuart had formed a team but they were one down.

The lads are all getting older and they needed a master paddler. Short of that, they decided I would do. But we dawdled too much on the motorway and came off the wrong exit. By the time we arrived in Bampton Grange the race had started.

The raft was fine: four plastic drums held together expertly with rope and Japanese lashings, set off with a large pirate flag. But it was a little bit underpowered as its motley crew puffed and wheezed down the course.

I was there, on the bridge, to cheer them on and record the finish on my camera. But the cheers fell on stony ground, or rather the stony bottom of the river, as the pirates made me walk the plank. "Good sport Dick," said Simon, as if I had any choice.

Cinema buffs may know that Bampton was the location for the film, Withnail and I http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Withnail_and_I responsible for such classic lines as this one: "We want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here, and we want them now." The place has atmosphere.

Later we chewed the fat around a camp fire with a few beers and Cumberland sausages, then settled down in our tents as the wind whipped up in to a howling gale. British summer time. Don't you just love it.


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