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Monday, 4 June 2012

The 2012 Challenge, Day 12: Is there a bed at Tarfside? (8)

We arrived at Tarfside just after 3.30 and went in for a chat and some refreshment - at which point it became clear that there was plenty of space at the hostel, and the "no beds" comment had been a practical joke on Big John. Well, it certainly worked, as both John and I were completely taken in by it. In reality, we had the pick of the rooms, because we were the first two Challengers to book beds that night (Jim having decided that as it was such a lovely evening, he would rather save his money and sleep under canvas on the camping field).

Alvar advised me that there was no need to phone Challenge Control, as Challenge Control always phones the Tarfside Hostel at some point in the evening to find out who is there; so having settled in I took a quick look round the kirk and then took a short pre-dinner stroll. I met a large group of school kids and their teacher, coming in off a Duke of Edinburgh Bronze practice expedition, and heading to the camping field for the night. So it looked as though Jim was going to have plenty of company!

Two other Challengers arrived at Tarfside after us. One was Dave Collins, a first time Challenger from Rushden. Rushden is a little town just across the Bedfordshire / Northamptonshire border, and I think he is probably my most local fellow challenger. We exchanged e-mails before the Challenge and tried to meet for a chat, but it never quite worked out. The most promising weekend, he e-mailed me on the Friday and said "I can meet you in Bedford any time this weekend"; but I was already driving north in the camper van for my two days of walking in March! It was nice to meet up at last! The other Challenger was a lady whose name I did not catch, who arrived just in time for dinner.

Dinner was a wonderfully relaxed affair. There were five Challengers and six hostel staff, and extra portions for anyone who wanted as it was the last evening meal they would be serving, and any spare food would like as not go to waste. This was in marked contrast to the previous day when, apparently, no fewer than 70 Challengers had passed through Tarfside! Challenge Control duly phoned, took details of who was in Tarfside, and imparted the news that there had been 53 withdrawals but that all other Challengers were accounted for. And after dinner, Big John's flask of Aberlour came out and we all had a nice wee dram before turning in for the night.

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