It's Halloween weekend which means it's Scarefest at Gilwell Park.
We were in two minds whether to come or not this year. The last 2 years, Scarefest has fallen on the last weekend of the Welsh half term meaning we could leave early on the Friday and have an easy drive up. This year it's at the beginning of half term so we couldn't get away until much later.
We mulled it over and decided that we would send an advance party to get the tents up etc with the Scouts arriving by minibus later on. Well, that was the plan, anyway.
Since the only leader with a tow bar was working nights and needed at least some sleep before heading off on camp, the advance party couldn't leave until lunchtime. No problem. Sat Nav says 4 hours, we'll be there by 5pm. Plenty of time.
The motorway network had different ideas. Jam after jam saw the eta drifting later and later. Then, at well after 6pm and only 30 miles away from camp, there's a bang. A tyre blown on the trailer. No drama. On to the hard shoulder, change the wheel and we're away. Not!
Turns out, the nut securing the spare wheel to its bracket is not the same size as the wheel nuts. Not one single tool in the car fits it. Call for assistance then. Nope. "We can't change the tyre safely on the motorway. We will have to recover you off and fix it somewhere safer. Oh by the way, because of the size of the trailer, it will be 2 hours before we can get a vehicle there to get you off."
A quick check on Google maps shows a nice safe layby just off the motorway. Only half a mile from where we are. Since the tyre is dead anyway, we'll limp to that layby and call again. Luckily though, there's houses by the layby and one good Samaritan has a spanner the right size. 10 minutes later, the wheel is changed and we're on the way. Finally on camp after a 7 hour epic.
Things are no better on the minibus. 90 minutes gets them from Cowbridge to Newport!
The advance party heads for Chubbys for dinner (can't beat Chubbys 1/2lb bacon burger with cheese - proper grated cheddar, none of this processed burger cheese rubbish) before getting on with the job of pitching 3 patrol tents and a mess tent. A blatant Facebook appeal rustles up some help in the form of a few Sea Scouts, Explorers and a leader from a local (ish) group and the tents are up in no time. Just in time for the minibus to arrive after their own 5 and a half hour battle with the motorway network. They don't even have the joy of a Chubbys meal and have to settle for motorway services fast food - not that that ever seems to bother Scouts.
Personal kit is all stowed away and the Scouts are asleep relatively quickly and looking forward to a long day and night if fun tomorrow.
Massive thanks to the unnamed helper in the layby and to 1st North Fambridge Sea Scouts.