A Right Royal Shambles

by Sundi

My name is Sundi because I arrived last autumn at Kingsteignton Ferret Welfare on a Sunday. I was only about three months old; the last of an unwanted litter of mainly sandy jills.

I soon settled in and happily lived my life eating, sleeping, being cuddled and playing never knowing hardship, travelling or embarrassment. On Saturday, 25th July 2009 my life changed and in the space of a few hours I suffered all these things including the huge insult of being called 'an afterthought'!

During the week leading up to that awful afternoon my companions and I heard words like tent, camping, Wellington, Chris Potter's Show and dogs. Dogs I thought? Donna only has one dog. My ferret friends and I pondered over what we'd heard and I soon learnt the truth. Donna was taking us to a show being organised by Chris Potter up near Wellington, Somerset. So, you may well ask, what was the problem? CAMPING, that was the problem!

I should mention at this stage that Mum has a ferret friend called Karl who has ten ferrets, three cats, four dogs and lives close-by. He helps out by taking care of Mum's rescue ferrets when she's overloaded. They go to shows together and just occasionally can be found in the pub together. Well, as it turned out Karl was coming with us and bringing the dogs: this, as far as we ferrets were concerned, was not looking good, not good at all!

When the idiot pair were ready to pop we ferrets into our pens and cages, Karl said, "As an afterthought let's take Sundi as well; one more won't matter." Afterthought? Me? I am beautiful! So I was unceremoniously put into a big show pen which was full of hobs; this was truly a nightmare but worse was to come.

At long last we were underway and after a while the map needed to be consulted to find the camp site where the Bristol Ferret Club folks were staying. Surprise, surprise, the pit stop just happened to be a pub on the outskirts of Wellington. Things were not looking up. Pub stop meant Mum would be driving this large 4x4; if we'd been wearing boots we would have shivered in them.

Luckily this was a short stop and we lurched off and soon found where we were staying. Our pitch was a small piece of grass, on a slope right next to the loo and shower block. Bristol Ferret Club were the other side of the camp site so luckily they could not see what we were anticipating to be a 'right royal shambles'. The owner said there was a pitch free with the other ferret people and we could all move; fortunately for us the offer was not taken up.

Dogs, us, tent, food, etc. were all unloaded without a problem. However the idiot pair started bickering over whether the tent should be put up before or after a visit to the 'local'. Donna won so the tent was put up first. The tent was quite large, borrowed from a friend who said it was child's play to erect. Ha, ha. First they spread it out and started waving long plastic rods about. "This should go through here," said Karl "And that bit in there". So in went the rods. That took about 15 minutes during which they both fell over their own feet, argued and made right proper fools of themselves, proving that they had no idea what they were doing. The best bit was when they realised they were doing it all wrong and had to start again. We hid our heads under our blankets whilst people walked past laughing but we ferrets were greatly admired as all ferret should be.

At last all was peace and quiet. We were given supper: they walked the dogs and then went to the pub. Trish from Bristol Ferret Club popped her head in to see if Mum and Karl would go and join them for a drink. We did try to tell her where they were but she knew them I think she'd already guessed! So we settled down for a well-earned snooze. "Oh no," I said, "they're back."

"What in heavens was that? You put that guy rope just where you knew I'd fall over it".

"No, I didn't, that's where it's meant to be".

"Damned daft if you ask me".

"Look I know about putting up tents. I've put them up in Iraq and other places so shut up and start cooking."

Mango was shaking his head, "I think we're in for a bad night!". How right he was!

They managed to cook some steak which, quite frankly, to us was a miracle then we were let out to play. This was the good bit. We discovered something called Baileys but were soon found out after just the tiniest of drops each, huhhhhh. Quite a bit had gone over Perky so we spent the rest of playtime cleaning him up and hiding in the sleeping bags.

Oh, what an awful night. Humans snoring, dogs snoring, how I wished I was back home; I was glad when Karl woke up to take the dogs out which only left Mum and the hobs making a noise (jills are just too ladylike to snore). Our mum would not get out of her sleeping bag. She uttered words like "Go away, ill, Baileys, wine, never again, gallons of coffee NOW!" Get the idea? Not only that but because the silly pair had forgotten to close the food bag, the dogs ate the bread, bacon and sausages, so no breakfast for them except fig biccies and some cheese crackers. Serves them jolly well right was the ferret concensus.

We were all cleaned out, given fresh water and with the jeep loaded up were at last off to the show. It then started to rain. Typical. But we arrived on time and cleaned and preened so as to make the most of ourselves. Well, a girl has to look her best. The same could not be said for THEM. Good thing we were not judged upon the appearance of our keepers. Mum drank lots of orange juice and groaned every now and then. She had a headache. "Serves her right," we said. Karl was just his normal self. Did I say normal?

A few rosettes came our way which surprised them as the competition was good. Then guess who won the sandy jill category? Yes.....me, the afterthought! A few more rosettes and then the championship. By this time it was raining hard and Mum whilst still a bit green, was showing some signs of life but not enough to realise that I, the afterthought had won Reserve Champion. Harley told me that she heard my number keep being called but all she said was "I wonder who that is?" Fortunately Karl had enough presence of mind to pick my number from the dashboard and shove Mum out of the car telling her "It's Sundi, you nit."

The heavens opened and it poured down. I had my picture taken with her looking like a drowned rat then finally at long last it was time to go home. We were all tired, hungry but very proud that even after such an ordeal we had done well for ourselves. As rescue ferrets we really flew the flag and did not let them (our idiot owners) down. Sadly, we could not say the same for them! Of course we had to be shown off at "the local" before being tucked up in our cosy beds.

We're all now getting ready for our next show and luckily for us the word camping has not been mentioned again. Phew!

First Published in NFWS News #85 September 2009

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