We are back from camping in the rugged terrain of the
I suppose the trip was a big success in that the children avoided contracting e coli, and I have only a mild case of trench foot. In fact, the weather wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be, but that could just have been the combined effects of copious wine consumption and lack of sleep. I also know that if you go on holiday in this country, then there is really no point in complaining about the weather. If the Home Office is short of questions for its ‘Britishness Test’ for citizenship, then they could do a lot worse than include the following:
Where is the best place for a picnic?
a) a shady and sheltered spot to avoid the harmful rays of the sun
b) an area where no wild animal habitats will be disturbed, or fragile eco-systems damaged
c) the car
If you answer c) then you will have captured the very essence of what it means to be British, and should instantly be issued with a passport (which means you can also go on holiday to a country with better weather).
The old-fashioned trailer tent proved to be excellent, and cut our usual tent-pitching time from over two hours to less than one, which matters a lot in the
I had forgotten what sheer hard work camping is. People talk about the ‘slower pace of life’ that camping encourages, but I’m convinced that this is a rather skewed perception. It takes longer to do everything, so you are actually much busier. When we first took the kids camping a couple of years ago, I was surprised to see so many people on camp sites just sitting in foldaway chairs outside their tents, doing nothing. It wasn’t long before I realised that they were relishing a few precious moments of inactivity before yet another round of meal preparation or tidying up the limited floor space.
Of course, the kids loved every minute, because for them it was one long session of playing with mud and sticks, frightening the wildlife, or damaging their retinas by shining a torch directly at each other’s eyeballs.
We did do a lot of cycling, which was great fun, apart from the discovery that my waterproofs aren’t as waterproof as I thought. As with all this outdoor kit, we seem to have spent a fortune on good quality items for the kids, while H and I make do with ancient gear from the days when nylon was considered a high performance material. Being a bit of a softie, the one thing I have invested in is a gel-filled saddle cover for my bike, despite the obvious invitation for ribald commentary that my seat is already more than adequately upholstered. Frankly, neither my under-carriage nor the saddle cover proved to be well-cushioned enough, and I am still walking like a cowboy. I’m not sure how you are supposed to prevent this – it’s not as if you can apply surgical spirit to the area to toughen it up in advance.
Despite the Spartan conditions, H and I did have some quiet, relaxing evenings huddled under the awning, in the romantic glow of the citronella insect-repellant candle. As five sets of waterproofs dripped onto our heads, he would sit cradling his warming glass of Irish whisky, while I would sit cradling my warming 3 litre box of Hardy’s Stamp Shiraz-Cabernet (Sainsbury’s £14.99 down from £19.99, and definitely one of the better wine box reds).
Preparations for bed would start with me slipping (rather hurriedly) into my thermal underwear, laughably called a Superwoman set (I don’t recall Lynda Carter ever looking like this, unless she moonlighted as a mime artist on her days off from saving the world). With just the three additional layers of socks, track suit and fleece, I would be all ready for a snuggle in the double sleeping bag. However, since H was similarly dressed, the only crackle of passion we managed was the static from the bobbly brushed nylon sleeping bag. Any romantic inclinations had to be weighed up against the combustion hazard of electricity and the large quantities of methane gas issuing from the boys.
Back in the cosy confines of the kitchen, I am knocking back a couple of glasses of spicy Lindeman’s Cawarra Shiraz Cabernet (Sainsburys £4.99) in memory of our camping trip. The only problem is that a mere 750 ml wine bottle looks rather tame in comparison with a mighty 3 litre wine box. Maybe there are some benefits to camping after all.