Only son is a big fan of I’m a celebrity. Mainly last year’s I’m a celebrity, but still a big fan. Daughter three watches this year’s series religiously so it was appropriate that on Sunday she and I came face to face with our own bushtucker trial.
Daughter three decided we needed a real Christmas tree this year. We found a place nearby that did them. “You can just buy one outside the farm or you can do pay to roam,” I said after ringing the place. That meant you could choose your tree from a forest. This appealed to daughter three’s sense of adventure.
So we found ourselves driving up a winding road to a farm on Sunday. There was no forest in sight, but lots of cut-down trees. “Ask them about the forest, mum,” said daughter three who is not easily put off a mission. We were given a map and told to watch out for the mud. “Two vans have just got stuck, but you should be alright,” said the man. It didn’t sound good.
We headed up past stables and a dog show and hit mud. Oh dear. “Turn around,” said a passing farmer who was giving a lift to a family and two Christmas trees. “If you want to get to the forest, you’ll have to walk.” Daughter three was up for it, though not entirely appropriately dressed. She had a summer outfit on and white trainers. I had some boots my mum lent me which she had said at the time were not waterproof. We started walking.
It was a bit further than we expected. Daughter three started moaning about her shoes. Eventually, though, she spotted a few Christmas trees and perked up. Eventually we arrived at the forest. My feet were fairly damp by this point. “Have you got a saw?” asked the passing farmer who had returned to pick up another family. I thought he was joking, but he produced one and said I could borrow it. Apparently you had to cut your own tree down. Daughter three thought this was tremendous fun, mainly because she was not going to do any of the sawing.
She ran through the forest, pronouncing all trees not up to standard. We got to near the end of the forest before she settled on a smallish tree. I started sawing. Twenty minutes later I was still sawing. At this point daughter three offered to have a go, but got as far as bending down before she gave up. I was about to suggest going back to the farm when the tree bent to one side. Eureka. We had our tree. We then had to escort it up the hill past all the other very closely packed trees to the top. We made it.
There was no tractor in sight to escort us back to the farm. “We’re going to have to carry this through the mud,” I said to a disconsolate daughter three. At that moment the farmer drove up in a huge tractor towing a Citroen that had got stuck in the mud. “Do you want me to take your tree?” he said. He added that we could squeeze into the cockpit. Daughter three got in. There was no space for me so I put one foot in the cockpit, one foot on the step and clung onto the open door. There were a lot of potholes full of water on the way up and lots of twists and turns on the country lane. My leg went numb at one point and I had to kneel on the step. The door flew open, my bag slipped off my shoulder, but we got back to the farm with our Christmas tree intact. The countdown to the big day starts here.