I was visiting my friend who lives in a beautiful place in the countryside called New Mills in Derbyshire and we decided to make the most of the sunshine and take the kids and my dog for a walk in a nearby meadow known locally as ‘The Picker’.
This is a walk that she has done many, many times with her own children.
She had her three children with her who are 11, 7 and 5 and I had my two who are 10 and 8.
We were all spaced out, the boys were running about together a little behind us, we were wandering and chatting idly and the girls were happy a bit ahead of us. We were very much enjoying the freedom that an open meadow can give you when suddenly I heard my son scream.
It was ‘THE’ scream, the one you know without turning around means something is very, very wrong.
I ran towards him to find out what was going on and saw that he was stood basically batting at himself and screaming, as I got nearer to him I saw why. He was covered in wasps.
Sheer panic set in and I ran to him and grabbed him and pulled him away from what I assume was the nest and tried to get them off him but by this point they swarmed and there were just thousands of them flying all around us, attacking us, landing on us and stinging us continually, and they were not going to give up. We did the only thing that we could and just ran for our lives.
I was half carrying, half dragging my son, my daughter and my friend’s daughter were to the side of me screaming and running and ripping clothes off because they had got caught inside them and were just stinging them relentlessly.
My friend had been running with her two younger children and her young daughter stopped running, she turned and saw that was stood with her arms over her face and was being swarmed. My friend had no choice obviously but to go back into the swarm and go and get her. My friend by doing this suffered the most amount of stings. We stopped counting them at 50 odd.
They continued to swarm, chase and attack us as we ran and this was not over quickly. It was nightmare of running, panicking not knowing when or if this was going to end and at what point any of us or the kids would be stung enough for it to have some real bad effect on us. It took over 10 minutes to get out of the meadow, still being stung by ones that had continued to chase and any that were still on us or trapped in our clothing.
It is by amazing luck that non of us turned out to be allergic to them because the length of time it took us to get out of the meadow and the sheer number of stings we all had would have been disastrous.
There was a point where the ground got very muddy and wet and I basically went face first into a huge, and I mean huge muddy puddle and struggled to get out of it. I heard my son giggle slightly and that grounded me because I knew then that despite what we had gone through and were still going through that he was ok.
It was only once we were out and that my son started to scream again, I of course immediately thought they were back but he was shouting the dog’s name, at some point I must have simply let him go. I don’t remember letting go of the lead in the panic but he was gone. The kids immediately went hysterical again. Jack is a sight hound so alone in a meadow full of things that moved I knew that he would not have followed us and to be honest, dog lover or not nothing would have got me back in there so we just started to shout him.
I did hear him bark so we carried on calling out to him and we heard a woman shouting ‘Hello?’ and after she followed our voices until she appeared with the dog who had run back the way we had originally came.
We went straight to the doctors, it was only really at the point of getting out of the situation that my friend and I started to feel our wasp sting pain and with so many to go at once one batch had died down on one area of our bodies another batch would start to sting, god only knows how the kids must have been feeling but they were all so, so brave it was untrue.
We were checked over and nobody was showing signs of any bad reactions to armed with anti histamines, pain relief (and alcohol for later for the adults once the kids were in bed for our ordeal!) we headed home.
I can honestly say it was probably the most terrifying and surreal experience that I have known and not something that I ever, ever expected to happen to us.
All I can say is if you are walking in meadows please be watchful of where you or your children walk at this time of the year. As for us, we will be giving them a wide berth from hereon in!
(image courtesy of Google as I promise you I never want to see another wasp for as long as I live and will not be going out of my way to photograph them!!)