A CAMPING COMPOSITION (Excerpt from 'Ballads by Ben')

REPOST: With Man Camp 2.0 this weekend we thought we would remind you of last year...

Note: This is a compostion about our 'Man Camp' weekend by Ben Parker (find out more about Ben in our 'Introducing' series here). See photos by clicking HERE.


On the evening of Friday, men began to arrive, 

One car contained three; one with one; one with five.

By the time I got there, the tent stood - grand and tall,

A tent that could quite comfortably sleep us all.


First event, a nice cuppa to start our night away,

Just one small problem there though - il n’y a pas de lait!

So Matt and Al sought some milk: fresh from cow, bought, or pillaged.

Any method was game, as they toured each nearby village.


Despite Jaguar dealers aplenty, sadly no shops were found,

And the gallant duo turned back, campsite-bound.

So, still in need of a brew, Hugh thought of a secondary plan,

Which seemed to involve a lot of time at the Ice Cream van...


‘What comes next?’, ‘The fire!’, kids’ faces were lit,

Like the blaze we established after finding the pit.

But bellies were rumbling, food was what we were needing,

So we got sausages going and the men started feeding.


Meat a-plenty, we sat whilst Matt, Isaac and Hugh were

Seeing how a sausage best fits on a skewer.

As we drank our black coffee and cooked meat on sticks,

We all got our camping and manliness fix.


Jack’s sausage escaped into the fire once or twice;

But, once rinsed under water, found it still tasted nice.

Helps digestion, I’ve heard, all that ash from the logs -

That’s why charcoal’s a key part of biscuits for dogs.


Post-sausages, hungry eyes turned to marshmallows,

New skewers were required, but all the same fellows.

So after meat marshmallows completed the buffet,

Making sure men and boys got their full five-a-day.


Not long till the famous ‘mallow topic was debated

Should each be carefully toasted or fully incinerated??

The pink and white fluff is clearly more flammable

Than pulped and sausage-packed scraps of an animal.


Whilst the incorrect side brandished pink flames on sticks,

Both kids and ‘grown-ups began to feel the need for a kip.

The last to turn in were - I think - me and James,

After watching the last of the wood turn to flames.


Now replete, we sat cosy in the light of the fire;

Talked, joked, sang and laughed till we started to tire.

Surrounded by such a good bunch, it was easy believing

That future fun and community will blossom from this evening.


After a long night’s hour’s sleep, we began to arise,

To a fresh dewy grass smell and large clear blue skies.

Even the teenager, bucking stereotypes, saw most of the morn;

Although not without one or two mighty big yawns...


Wide awake now, and remembering a manly weekend was the mission,

It was clear we all needed a good competition.

Let’s play hockey! Then I’m certain to get a nice win!!

But we chose Kubb instead, where no man is king.


Like a battlefield, we established our lines at each side,

Whilst snacking on bacon that was still being fried.

Projectiles of wood soared past shins and lodged in the hedge,

As Cal, Isaac and Jack asked, “Can we please eat some veg?”*


[*Just kidding, of course.]


Blocks flew whilst blokes grew increasingly tense;

For such a simple game there’s considerable suspense.

After several rounds with some shots splendid, some alarming,

The idea of a stroll in the sun seemed quite charming.


So off we set, outward bound, following paths;

Played some catch, looked at trees and just had a few laughs.

All seemed rosy - the route so far seemed quite nice,

But we wouldn’t be seeing that same trail twice...


Halfway through our walk, a church came into view,

And inside we saw stone, stained glass and just a few pews.

Then, one-upping our songs round the previous night’s fire,

Started an impromptu meeting of the RCC Male Voice Choir. (Boyband photo, below)


A suitably saintly song soon sounded round the room,

10000 reasons, bellowed boldy, was our chosen tune.

Stone wall acoustics gave something for our techie to admire,

Plus inspecting the church’s rather small set up of old wires. (3 in total??)


So on turning we began our leisurely lollop back,

But chose for some reason to avoid the previous track.

After trudging through nettles we were in a slightly sticky stitch,

As we encountered the stinking, wide, boggy, mud-filled ditch.


The campsite beckoned just over the other side,

We discussed whether the gulf could be taken in our stride.

After searching for a crossing for a moment or two,

A straight leap right across came from no-nonsense Hugh.

(Though not without collecting some bog in his shoe…)


Al and Cal leapt with ease, being God-gifted long-limbers,

Compared to one or two who fancied being bog-swimmers.

James’ front foot planted comfortably on solid ground, being noticeably higher

Than the rear foot’s flip flop now buried deep in the mire.


Nor did James quite manage to avoid further scandal,

Beyond the initial sadness of misplacing his dear sandal.

After spectacularly losing and regaining his glass slipper,

It was, in short, a rip roaring time for James the Ripper.


On returning from the hike, we all were quite bothered and hot,

So it seemed quite handy that our campsite was a spot

Right next to a river, with cool flowing water.

“Seems a shame not to use it”, we thought - “really ought to…”




Al and James took no time at all to jump in,

And Hugh dodged canoes to have a full on swim.

“It’s rather refreshing!” said our resident Scot -

Refreshing, maybe… but warm it was not!


Our feet brushed the carpet of green plant-based slime,

And the mud between our toes was just like treading wine.

Running Tom swam well too, and though he’s trying to be discreet,

I reckon he’s secretly becoming a professional triathlete...


First sensibly questioning the sanity of his dad,

Isaac soon leapt right in, from the wooden launch pad.

On returning to the bank he declared “That was fun!!”

And only after three big splashes decided he was done.


Calum plucked up courage for an enormous jump in,

And instantly declared to us all: “IT’S FREEZING!”

So we clambered from the water and plucked off a few leeches,

Before sitting in the warm sun to begin drying our breeches.


Sadly next was when we began to pack down,

But not without a little more clowning around.

The tent needed rolling, which meant we could roll too,

Thought it was less from the kids, and more Tom and Hugh!


So off we set, after much fun was had,

A great bunch of men, some dads with lads.

It wasn’t far but very few were those

Who managed the drive home without a doze!