Sure enough there were a couple of beady red eyes staring at us.
We would often camp out in the summer; mainly just around the doors, but now and again we would go further afield. This particular time, we decided on a trip to Collingwood’s Monument in Tynemouth for a change of scenery. We selected a place at the back where there was a built up ridge and pitched our tent. Your first job was to build a small fire inside then cover it with either leaves or grass, which made it smoke like mad. You then came out of the tent and tied the entrance shut. This kept all the smoke inside the tent, the idea being that creepy crawlies would stay away because of the smell of the smoke.
The next job was to lay your blankets out on your spot, ready for when it came to sleeping time. As it was always pretty late when you turned in, you more or less dropped straight off to sleep. This night, having settled down for the night, the next thing we heard was an almighty scream. “Look at the tent entrance” someone was screaming and sure enough there were a couple of beady red eyes staring at us. As we leapt up the eyes disappeared into the night. On scouting around we spotted a hole not too far away, which turned out to be the entrance to a rat’s nest. That was it! We packed the gear up, back onto the bikes we’d used to carry it down and off home we went.
As we marched along we saw a policeman who called us over to see why we were walking the streets at 4 o’clock in the morning. Of course we told him the story and by this time the rats were the size of small ponies and we’d had to fight them off before running for our lives. After our little story we were sent on our way and told to be careful but as we walked away, we could hear him having a little laugh to himself.
It is funny but you never worried about being attacked or anything like that during these times. Of course, once you got home it was like heaven getting back into your own bed. At most places where we camped it was like sleeping on rocks and on waking up in the morning you always had a thousand bug bites, but it was all part of the game and you took it in your stride.
When you tell the kids of today they think you were nuts, but we saw it as adventure time with loads of laughs.