Aileen and I don’t watch the TV much and if we do it tends to be on catch up. Autumn and winter, snuggled up on our very uncomfortable couch – that’s another story – are the two seasons that we are more likely to watch the gogglebox and during this period we stumbled across a TV show called The Forest. It follows the lives of people working in the Galloway Forest. One of these people was James, the owner of Balloch O’ Dee campsite. The campsite is a quirky and eccentric work in progress that caught our eye immediately. So we added it to our ever-increasing list of places we want to visit and we couldn’t resist heading there at the end of September this year. As an added incentive it was hosting a music weekend.
Thursday 20th September.
We set off for Balloch O’ Dee. Our trusty trailer, containing all our camping needs, hooked up to our car. The weather forecast, post-storm Ali, wasn’t great and it was a bit of a gamble. We’re fair-weather campers.
We finally arrived around 1 pm after relying on Google maps, which for some reason wants to take you on a grand tour of every single track road known to man. On arrival, we were met by James’ wife who told us all we needed to know and left us to choose a pitch near the duck pond.
Shortly afterward a motorhome parked close by. The driver and his wife were from Lancashire and were friendly. The husband sat down with a guitar and began to play it and sing. Inviting us to a sing-along by the fire pit later that night. Unfortunately, the weather got worse and it began to pour done so that put an end to that potential good wee night.
Instead, it got wetter and wetter. Aileen and I headed to the shower block, lantern in hand. This was an interesting experience. The block, which was art deco shabby chic in appearance, was dimly light by small solar fairy lights. All adding to the experience but did nothing to help you see. Luckily we had our trusty lantern and the water was piping hot.
Back to the tent by 9 pm. Into our ‘special’ bed and snuggled under our duvet with Sam our dog at our feet. When I say ‘special’ bed, let’s just say we have been around the block a few times when it comes to finding that comfortable camping bed! Finally, we have it perfect and comprises of a simple combination of – 4 large self-inflating mattresses (2 side by side with another 2 on top) all wrapped in a fleece sheet to stop the movement. Then topped by a duvet which is then covered by a mattress topper. We then sleep under a king-size duvet with two comfy pillows each! Like I said – ‘special’!
Omg! What a night. Never slept a wink. The rain never let up. The battering of the roof of the tent and gusts of wind made us think the tent was going to take off.
Anyway, we survived and decided to go on a road trip as it was forecast to rain until late afternoon and hopefully by the time we returned the campsite would be busy with preparation for the music weekend.
So first stop was Whithorn which turned out to be an interesting coffee stop as it has a lot of history and photo opportunities.
Then onto Luce bay, a large bay in Wigtownshire in southern Scotland. The bay is 20 miles wide at its mouth and is bounded by the Rhins of Galloway to the west and the Machars to the east. From the 1930s to the 1990s it was a bombing range used for training purposes by RAF aircraft based at West Freugh
Finally, we restocked with wine and headed back for lunch.
Back at the campsite, it was still wet and windy though the owner was noted to be heroically putting up bunting and preparing the ‘stage’. He was being confidently supported by an older gentleman sporting a blue boiler suit, swagger and an air of authority, as befits this look in these situations.
Our friends in the motorhome have been joined by a friend who is excitedly playing her drum – boombox.
It’s finally stopped raining but still very windy.
Soooo needless to say that due to barking dogs, DIY, boombox, high winds and excitable children, there was no way we were getting an afternoon nap to catch up on our sleep before the night kicked off.
Friday night and we headed over to the stage, which I think had something to do with the horses he kept as we were standing in a paddock. We got talking to the owner, James, who informed us that we should have been standing in a marquee but it blew away the week before during storm Ali. James talked about how this weekend has evolved over the years with casual invitations to play music and the word spread. And the rain came down again.
We go for a 7-mile walk to the Three Lochs Holiday Park and back. This passed away the morning and by the time we got back to the campsite, the sun came out. People starting to sit outside in time to watch the owner continue to build his empire. This time it was an outdoor cooking area but he ran out of wood and was stopped by the returning rain.
Finally, the sun came out and stayed out and like all true Scots, we took full advantage of it! Out came the BBQ, beer and the campsite started to come to life.
The stage was prepared and the first band was on – an amalgamation of various local bands doing some improvisation.
By the time The Barr Stools came on, the moon was sitting behind the stage and 3 pit fires were helping to keep the chill away. By now it was close to freezing so everyone was wrapped up apart from one nutter still only wearing a t-shirt. It wasn’t a large crowd but we were all getting into the music – A six-piece band from South Ayrshire playing a unique blend of Celtic and American folk music with an eclectic mix of the accordion, guitar, banjo, double bass, pipes, whistle and vocals.
With James bouncing about, the band played till 1 am.
It was an absolutely freezing night in our tent – Think it’s time for a campervan!
The campsite was very quiet in the morning but we were woken up by the rain crashing down on the tent.
Sam, our dog was struggling to keep in last night’s BBQ.
TIME TO GO HOME!