It was back in the summer of 2000 and we had just arrived at our campsite near Grosseto, Italy after a week in a central Tuscany. I say campsite, but we haven't stayed in a tent since one very wet fortnight in Brittany, when the tent leaked from both above and below! No, we were staying in a two bedroomed mobile home and looking forward to mornings on the beach, afternoons in the pool and nights in proper (bunk) beds. We always found holiday catering for ourselves was fun - fresh bread, salads, barbecued meats, some fries from the campsite take-away, followed by ice-creams from the bar - what's not to like? (Especially with three fussy kids in tow) Trouble was, we'd only just arrived and the campsite shop had already closed and both the cook and the pot washer were tired. So we decided to treat ourselves to an evening meal in the open air restaurant and leave the supply shopping until the next morning. While we relaxed afterwards with the remains of the carafe of vino rosso, the small people began to get restless and wanted to do something - the playground was right next to the restaurant, within sight of our table and all three went to swing or slide or climb. After 5 minutes or so, while Hubby was settling the bill I went to fetch them to choose ice-creams before bed.
But the play area was now deserted. No children at all, neither ours nor anyone else's! And it was no longer dusk - it was really quite dark.
Retracing my steps I found that No.1 & No.2 Sons had established themselves by the arcade games opposite the play area (in fairness they had already been without computers & TV for a week which is a long time when you're 8 & 10), but that left Child No.3 ... they'd left her happily messing in the sand pit apparently. This was when the doubts began to creep in, hearts began to race, stomachs began to churn ... it was dark everywhere except the bar/restaurant/arcade area where it was brightly lit and she was neither back at our table, nor ogling the ice-creams, nor watching the boys. For a moment I wondered if I was looking for her in the wrong coloured clothes - was she wearing blue not pink? Was that why I hadn't spotted her? No - she simply wasn't there!
It was a complicated walk to our mobile home but Hubby checked it in case she'd somehow wandered back there. Meanwhile I had started asking at nearby tables if people had seen her, checked and re-checked the playground half a dozen times and was really beginning to worry. Was she lost? How could she ask for help in a foreign country? Had she been taken? There were too many places to hide a small child on a campsite this big! How would we find her? Hubby and I took turns to
Of course this story does have a happy ending - on Hubby's way to the reception building he spotted her ahead of him - slightly teary, hand-in-hand with a kind soul who had found her wandering about between the nearby tents. She'd taken a roundabout route back from the play area to our table to find it empty and then gone off into the dark to find us! She was probably missing for about ten minutes, but they were, without a doubt, some of the worst minutes of my life. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.
Now as you can imagine, we do NOT have photos of this unhappy event. In fact the holiday photos are all pretty poor, coming from a pre-digital time, but the story needed scrapping and so I picked a photo of Child No.3 from earlier that very day to use with this story.
|August Counterfeit Kit, used plus the UKS August Week 5 Challenge criteria|