In 1974, in the guise of Robin Hood, I gathered together a merry band of one other American Servicewoman (Friar Tuck – she didn’t talk a lot) and two British young women and sallied forth to introduce my British allies to tent camping (rather than the more common caravanning) and archery. We loaded our tiny vehicle with our tent, sleeping bags, camp stove, and food, along with four bows and quivers, finger guards, arm guards, and a supply of arrows. Then we performed the exemplary act of squishing our entire merry band into the same small British vehicle.
As we rode across the English countryside towards our planned battlefield, I regaled my small band with war stories of camping and archery and high tales of fun. Laughter floated from our car and out towards the unsuspecting countryside.
The campground was beautiful. We drove up to the little farmhouse where we met the owner who seemed a little surprised at the size of our car and the lack of a caravan. We explained that we were tent camping and while he thought it was way too cold to be sleeping in a tent, we assured him we had camped many times before and were prepared for it. He rented us a space and told us we could get fresh eggs and milk from him in the morning. That certainly warmed me up to British camping.
The space was just a wide open area in the middle of a field. There were no fire pits, no tables, nothing to break up the field at all, except several caravans. There we pitched our tent, much to the amusement of several onlookers. Finally my band settled in for a good night’s rest before an early morning lesson in archery.
I was accustomed at this time to rising at 0500 so my band had an early morning breakfast (without the fresh eggs and milk as no one seemed awake yet), struck camp, and met on the field where I began putting their archery equipment on them. Friar Tuck in the meantime was relaxing and shooting at anything that didn’t move. I continued showing my new band how to string their bows, how to aim, how to NOT get a huge bruise on their forearm, how to….
There was a sudden, loud, metallic, thunk that drew all our attention. Friar Tuck was walking very quickly toward us. (Friar Tuck never ran.) Her last shot had gone astray and hit one of the sleeping caravans. Luckily our equipment was in our hands. Our last sight was a curtain being jerked aside and a startled innocent bystander wondering if the Americans had started a new Revolutionary War. It was a sad day, as Robin Hood’s Merry Women jumped into the car and ran like Thieves.