'Tis my late-night habit and custom - though not on wet or foggy nights, nor if it's so very late that it seems creepy, and certainly not if zombies, vampires, werewolves or Mad Axemen have been reported prowling about - to step out out my front door and check that (a) the caravan is locked up, and (b) the car is secure. As any householder might.
I did so last night, around midnight. It wasn't absolutely dark outside, but to get to caravan and car I had to walk across part of my drive that was in deep shadow. So I couldn't see my feet. But it was all smooth, level tarmac and I could assume an unimpeded little walk there and back, at a run if need be, because of course I was ready to be surprised.
For instance, a local zombie might stagger towards me with outstretched, clawing arms and hands - though that wouldn't be any big deal because you can outpace a zombie so easily. But those vampires are quick and cunning, lurking in shadows ready to pounce, and lunging out at you without warning, fangs bared. You have to be nimble to avoid them. It can be done though, especially if you are wearing a garland of garlic around your neck, carrying a holy wafer, and can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. It's just technique.
I worry more about the werewolves - it's their smelly fur and horrible bad breath mainly - and of course the Mad Axemen, who are a flaming nuisance not only in and around my Sussex village but when caravanning in lonely spots around the country. In fact they are one reason why I normally prefer the safety of proper Caravan Club sites. They hang around even there; but if they start swinging their axes menacingly while you are filling a water container at the service point, or try hacking at one's caravan door, then the site wardens can usually sort them out.
Anyway, in carefree mode I walked out into a pool of darkness. Then - oooh! - I kicked something on the ground that shouldn't have been there. And felt a little pain too. What was this?
I could of course easily guess. I mean, what's got spines and trundles around in the dark? Spiky Norman, of course. Here's picture of him from last year:
He does his rounds at midnight. He's grumpy and furtive. I don't mind him eating nocturnal garden pests - he's good at it - but I do mind him making noises, and I especially mind stumbling over him when I don't expect him to be there. No doubt it was a shock to him too. He went into protective-ball mode:
I said to him, 'Don't worry, I'm not going to kick you again. Sorry to disturb your amblings.'
The caravan door was locked. No sign on it of clawings, bites or axe-cuts. Fiona was locked too. Her winking red light told me anyway that she was not only bolted but electronically immobilised. It was a still night, dry and quite warm after a lovely Sussex afternoon. No wonder Spiky Norman had felt inclined to venture out. A pity I gave him more to grumble about.
Back indoors, I attended to my hurts. My foot was a bloody mess. Well, a spine had penetrated the skin and drawn at least a trickle of the red stuff:
I cleaned it up, applied TCP, and felt grateful it wasn't worse. And this morning, there is no sign of tetanus or gangrene, or whatever you might get.
I'll add hedgehogs to the list of night-time hazards to watch out for.