I went back to basics this week. Armed with a tent, a naked flame and a tin kettle, I was armed and ready for my first ever family camping trip.
It took no fewer than 8 hours of manpower to get this holiday off the ground.
Choosing the campsite was simple. The criteria: keep it close to home so that, 1. If it poured with rain, we didn’t have far to drive for cover, 2. If we suddenly couldn’t get the tent up, we could stuff it back in the car and be home by tea without further embarrassment.
4 hours were allocated to buying all the paraphernalia including a tent, ground sheet, cooking stove, gas for cooking stove, 4 chairs, 1 table, 4 beds, 4 sleeping bags, 2 torches… the list goes on and on. We then had to buy a car roof box for all the above paraphernalia to go in.
A further 4 hours was spent to squeezing said items into the car using Mensa level logic and judgment.
We arrived at the pitch. Mercifully, we got the tent up without any great disaster, much to the disappointment of our neighbors. We swaggered around the tent poles like a seasoned professional (inside we were in panic mode).
I lined up the cereal boxes on my folding table, straightened the shoes and folded the clothes into neat piles
After literally unpacking the kitchen sink, we sank into our folding camping chairs with a large glass of wine in hand. Sadly, by this time, the boys were ready for action and demanded that we “go swimming, go swimming!!!”. I downed the wine… needs must!
Like feral animals, the boys prowled the area seeking out friends, mud, footballs and fun. Like feral animals, me and The Husband prowled the area for wine, beer and packets of cleaning wipes.
I refused to cook al fresco. I mean, it was meant to be a holiday and I was already exhausted. I did manage to boil a kettle on our tiny stove, toast some marshmallows and fry a few rashers of bacon. My efforts went totally unnoticed but I was proud of myself. The rest of our diet consisted of crisps, chocolate, biscuits and a token bag of apples to make myself feel better.
By day 4, I stuffed clothes into any spare corner, scrapped the mud off the cereal bowls and discarded shoes in favour of bare feet.
It took us a further 4 hours to collapse the tent and cram every last shoe, towel and child into any nook or cranny we could find in the car. Like a coiled spring, the car literally exploded with our camping junk as we opened the doors. Just the six loads of washing and three rolls of duct tape to get everything shipshape.
It was easy to get swept up with the simplicity and joy of it all. The boys played in the fields, getting dirty and disconcertingly sticky. We all stayed up late and slept soundly at night and left feeling pleasantly exhausted but happy. Boy 1 actually cried all the way back because he didn’t want to leave – praise indeed!
We shall definitely be returning. I just need a month or two to recover from this one!