In our final bid for actually doing something over the recent snowy period, me and Brian decided to spend the night in a bothy together with a couple of bottles of something warm and comforting – specially distilled at around 40% proof..
We parked prettily just after dark, quite near the George and Dragon in Garrigill and, after a few reviving snifters and a bag of smoky bacon in the pub (its a long drive from Crook through all those snowdrifts), we set off hopefully into the night by the light of a couple of petzls and weighed down by huge supplies of coal, sticks and food. An attempt to reach the Shepherd’s Hut was thwarted by some horrendously deep undrifted snow which at one point threatened to tip us into an icy beck, and a “slight” navigational error, which saw us, instead, approaching the darkened shape of Gregg’s Hut at around 1:00 am. We were never worried, obviously…
Luckily, nobody was in residence, so we lit the fire, warmed up a bit of lamb stew wot I’d brought, and had a few convivial early morning hours beside the glowing stove with Radio 2 on the DAB before turning in for the night. We forgot all about changing our clocks….
And so, ridiculously early in the morning, whilst still filling my sleeping bag with condensation and during a specially rivetting visit from Kylie, the outer door was heard to open and an authoritative and quite “official” voice called out the immortal words “Hello, is there anybody there….?”
And, of course, there was – Us.. Instructions to the callers to go forth and multiply as quietly as possible were met with a rather assertive approach, however… It seems, from the two chaps from Cumbria County Council Finance Department, all dressed in North face and briefcases, that we owed them £3.42 + vat Council tax for our night in Gregg’s Hut, it having been registered, with effect from 1 April 2013 as a “hostel”. We were lucky, apparently, that they didn’t charge us for the room we hadn’t occupied. Had we been on benefits, we’d have had to pay for that as well… but as there were two of us for two rooms,.. the only question was, which one of us was the tenant and which one was the lodger. We decided that I was the tenant.
Brian hadn’t any change, so I paid by debit card, having protested but been informed that I had to pay up since this was now “the law”. The chap from the Finance Department was a little weedy bloke with a Hitlerish moustache and Meindl boots, but his “colleague” was quite large, not very friendly and only appeared to have one ear, which made his balaclava a bit lob-sided. This, however, together with the fact that he spoke not at all, plus the squint, and the sneer, only added to his sinister appearance.
So we coughed up. We did get a receipt.
Has anybody else heard about this before? Its bloody ridiculous… Who do I write to?
No pics for the trip – camera trouble….
Incidentally, how long has Greg’s hut had two “G’s” – not that I’m specially bothered. I am the Pieman after all….