Yes, I brought bunting.
I’m not sure if it’s a mid-life crisis, proving a point or a genuine swing in attitude but last week the impossible happened. I went camping.
While you scrape yourselves back off the floor, let me reassure you that it was only for one night and by God, that was enough.
The spot was ideal, a little personal copse in nearby Wilderness Wood where there was a hut, picnic tables and a fire pit with logs around it. And chemical toilet in a wooden hut 200yds away. Thankfully out of sight and smell. And all of it was ours for 24 hours.
We went with my sister and her family and my two best friends & co joined us for the evening. My friend J is an uber-camper and even happily worked and camped at a Jamboree for weeks. My other friend H is the complete opposite of that. For example, she kindly brought some food for the evening camp out which included olives and sushi. More on that later…
The day and evening were brilliant. The dogs behaved and loved roaming around our ‘patch’ sniffing and seeing off the more macho squirrels who dared to enter. The kids did similar…but with den-building in-between. Sticks were assigned to each child and ceremoniously charred in the fire for good measure. It all got a bit ‘Lord of the Flies’ at one point when two boys ventured near our camp and my nephew yelled something along the lines of ‘kill the intruders’ and ran at them, face commandoed up and stick at the ready. He was half their age but they scarpered nonetheless.
We cooked a successful lunch of sausages (of course) and pitched our tents. The evening meal was to be baked potatoes in the fire and in case of failure to cook, fresh pasta and sauce (easy and filling according to the wisdom of my friend, J) and sloshed down with a bottle or 3 of wine. This was our first hiccup. Whilst out on an afternoon ‘venture’ something had been at our bread and eaten half of it. (My brother-in-law remains convinced it was our dog, Fergus but I reckon it was the bloody squirrels). We also discovered the bread was mouldy despite only having been bought the day before from a major, Jamie Oliver loving supermarket.
I then discovered that we had not packed the pasta or the potatoes. They remained safely in my fridge drawer. Looking at the half-gnawed bread I texted my pals who were on their way and we humbly requested they bring food and (erk – only one bottle of wine left!) some more wine. J turned up with supplies as requested and H went via Waitrose and turned up with two carrier bags of goodies including crisps and dip, olives and some very nice sushi.
Appetites sated we sat around the campfire laughing and singing. Well J and I were singing and reminiscing about our schooldays when we camped for our Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. Back then, J and I shared a tent and sang ourselves to sleep harmonising to Simon and Garfunkel songs. Alas, as H pointed out at the time, we were both in different keys. This time wasn’t a lot better it has to be said. It scared off any wild beasts though.
So, merriment and comradery abound we did the cursory toasting of marshmallows before we finally bade farewell to our friends and the two remaining families called it a night.
Oh, what a night.
Let me rephrase that. Oh, what a bloody awful night. Everything I had ever feared about camping manifested itself in a night spent coping with deflated airbeds, a son with night terrors, thick, moist air, and a flippin’ loud owl. My aged labrador snored so loudly from the outside compartment that my sis thought there was a wild boar outside (she also has the breath of doom. The dog, not my sis). I was freeeezing cold and the sleeping bag I had bought made it feel like I was kipping in a plastic bag. Just when I thought I could take no more I looked at my phone and it was only half past one. I nearly cried. There were hours of this misery to go. I can testify to this as it did, indeed, last all night until finally dawn broke and I crawled out of bed to re-stoke the fire and thaw out, my aching bones seized up and rebelling against fluid movement.
walking on broken glass(es)
Breakfast helped and then it took ages to pack up. You need a hell of a lot of stuff for one night and nine people camping. We had been given two wheelbarrows to wheel our stuff the 10 min journey through the woods to the car park. Try as we might, this still involved two journeys and a fair bit of swearing as things fell out along the way. Our major casualty was my daughter’s new glasses. Dutifully popped in the side pocket of the tent when she went to sleep and completely mullered the next morning as her father rolled up the tent with them still in it.
Before we went I was all set to take on Camp Bestival next year. Now I am seriously re-thinking. The whole camping bit was absolutely brilliant. The sanitation grim but bearable. It’s the sleeping bit. I can’t go through one more night like that, let alone three.
Sniffing the breeze
walking on broken glass(es)
One Man’s mountain is another Man’s marshmallow
My sister sets the new trend for Glasto next year…
Lord of the Flies
Yes, I brought bunting.
Nigella doesn’t have to deal with this…
For more photos of our adventure click around the gallery above. Otherwise why not link up a blog post with the Monday Club? Link up below and my co-host Tom and I will read, comment and re-tweet your posts and then (hopefully) so will a load of other people too! Share the bloggy love…go on, go on, go on…
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