Two kids, one couple and a tent: Eevee’s Rebecca Sowray-Dixon discusses the pros and cons of camping with the family…
“Are we nearly there yet? I’m b…” Yes. You’ve guessed it. The b word comes next. Bane of parents, basic vocabulary for any child in any car, anywhere.
But my response; with no counting to ten or breathing exercises involved.
“Yes. Just five more minutes.”
And on this trip, and others like it, I am not indulging in a parental fiction. Our promise to each other when camping is that this isn’t a competition; we stay local and if it gets too awful we’ll go home. As it is, the kids haven’t even finished spreading their breakfast around the car before the rear wheel drive begins to glide across the wet grass.
1. On site entertainment
My two children have vanished. We’ve done the safety rules and they are off to enjoy the on-site entertainment. Grass…a climbing frame…each other’s company…puddles.
Now, I’m not about to go all ‘Kids-Guide’ on you and pretend that the two of them are angels – they’re not. However, they’ll only see the tent three times whilst we’re fighting canvas, cold and the downpour. In our moment of victory against the wind, the youngest returns to complain that; “she won’t play with me,” and comes to help. So they’re back and knocking tent pegs in (to the ground) not each other. We get to play house together for real; airbeds and camping stoves, folding chairs and lanterns. Time out is chocolate digestives with tea for us and squash for them.
“What’s down there?” It’s a simple enough question, and we never did answer it. However, we did see the Monsal Trail and talked about the changing countryside. How trains sculpt our landscapes and the necessity of industry. We discussed why there are sheep here and cows at home.
At the end of our path, when our legs will go no further, there’s a tiny pool. It’s stone block lined in concentric circles. There’s probably less than a foot of water surrounded by straggly, early aquatic plants. A sign that tells us about the newts that live there and the volunteers who maintain the site.
As we walk back our youngest shares wisdom. “It’s just like Minecraft.”
I’m fast reaching the point where I realise I don’t cook; I re-heat, so it’s not much of a hand-over if my long-suffering other half cooks when we camp. Or failed to cook, as it turned out.
Okay it was windy. In fact, the weather got colder and wilder as the weekend went on. Still, it wasn’t raining when they fired up the camping stove. But maybe our planning had gone a bit awry when ten minutes into frying tea the inside of the pan was still cold to the touch.
Our plan C turned out to be take-away in the car: the second best pizza I’ve ever had. The best one I ate on the chapel steps in 1989, from the same cardboard box, after working out if my teenage wallet would stretch to both half a Guinness and toppings
“Daddy. The tent is leaning on me.”
My eldest is stoic at the best of times, she is the child who admits to nothing often, always calm in the face of adversity.
It’s been raining most of the night and it’s not surprising that the weather has torn up the tent pegs, welded the tent poles to the canvas and dropped them on her. That she then got in bed with me, whilst my (again long-suffering) other-half fought with the tent, probably isn’t much of an advert for camping. I don’t think there was a single hour of that last night where we were all asleep at the same time.
But the best advice anyone ever gave me (that I have most often regretted taking:)
“Stay up late. Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you’re separated from the rest of the world.”
Do you think maybe it’s a little other worldly to lie on a hillside, listening to wind and water on canvas, with the people you love most by you and know that it’s all okay?
After sliced bread I’d vote for waterproof trousers as one of humanity’s great triumphs. We’ve four pairs, all in varying sizes of way-too-big, all of them scarecrow-stylish.
There is nothing Cath Kidston about our camping; we need lamps and chairs because it gets cold and dark at night, we have spare clothes in case what we are wearing gets too wet. We have books and music for when the kids have, eventually, gone to sleep.
I took my waterproof trousers off as we paid for our 53p worth of electricity on Monday.
We returned to civilization then – with dishwashers and Minecraft apps, early bedtimes and complaints about my cooking
I’ve washed the waterproof trousers because, on the plus side, there’s only one thing that improves camping and that’s adding music.
And it’s getting close to festival season.