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Very tempted to let my cat write my blog tonight – she’s certainly been trying to, and might do a better job.
Feeling a bit despondent after a tough week. We’ve all been ill – suffering from a bizarre virus that comprises bad headaches, lethargy and a sore throat – but we weren’t sufficiently efficient to be ill all at the same time, so the family malady has been dragging for weeks.
Definitely need a holiday. Remember how much I like holidays? I think the only thing I like about them is that they make me appreciate term time. Or maybe I’m just a grumpy churl who doesn’t really like anything at all.
I asked my daughter if she had any good holiday suggestions and she immediately piped up, “Camping!”
Ha ha. Talk about the wrong answer! I would really LOVE to be that kind of person – the relaxed mum who chucks a few things in a car, says, “Hey kids! Let’s go camping!” and spends a long weekend wrapped up in a colourful hand-knitted, knee-length cardigan and expensive wellies; happily flying kites, pond-dipping, quite comfortable with not washing for a whole weekend, and eating organic tinned soup from the health food shop.
However, camping is something we have NEVER done as a family. It doesn’t seem like the obvious choice when two of us hate mud, grass and wet; one of us is allergic to fresh air; and three of us hate public toilets with a passion.
When I was a child, we did go camping frequently. We used to team up with our beloved Danish family and just set off – tents and cases tied precariously to the tops of our cars – hanging out of the windows and singing Viking songs. On different occasions, we visited Cornwall, Devon, Wales, Denmark, maybe Germany, and they were (mostly) lovely memories.
The funniest tragi-comic memory I have from camping all those years ago surely has to be the one about the fish. I must have been about 14 years old, so it was definitely one of, if not THE last camping trip of my childhood.
The weather had been pretty miserable – cold, wet and a bit windy. Half way through our trip, we seemed to run out of food. We were camped out in the middle of nowhere. There were no shops nearby.
Thankfully, my real Dad and my Danish Dad had their fishing rods with them, so they planned to catch a basket full of trout which we could then barbecue and eat with boiled new potatoes and salad. We saw them off in the morning, jauntily waving to us from the river path, their fishing rods perched on their shoulders.
The rest of us busily prepared for their return, setting the tables, making a salad, scraping and simmering the potatoes.
We waited for quite a long time.
By the time they finally returned, we were starving, and we ran to mob them and take their basket full of fish.
Sadly, they’d only managed to catch two very small trout. We barbecued them, and shared them between 9 or 10 hungry people – barely a mouthful each. It was like the bible story of the loaves and fishes…except none of us was Jesus.
Even now, I’m not a huge fan of grass. I don’t know why – apart from the fact it makes me sneeze… I remember as a toddler being terrified of slugs, bugs and dog poo; and grass just seemed like a really good place to hide those things. I am, and always have been, a huge fan of creature comforts like running water, flushing toilets, Neff ovens and cold drinks; so camping is a little ‘out there’ for me.
As a child, spending time with my Danish family completely made up for sleeping right near the grass on a sleeping bag, next to my snoring Dad, in a sweaty tent that smelled of sheds and garden centres. But without that carrot, would camping ever appeal to me?
A few years ago, a group of mum-friends arranged a camping trip and asked me if I fancied it. I did, at first. They made it sound hip and chilled and full of community cooking and prosecco… but then I had a THOUGHT. And once I’d had this THOUGHT, I couldn’t dispel it, and it became a deal-breaker. The THOUGHT? Kids waking up in the night, needing the loo.
I have two kids. They never wake up, needing the loo, at the same time. Neither of them would ever consent to wee in a bush or a bottle or anything Neanderthal like that, so basically, every night camping would be filled with torch lit tramps – over wet, slug-infested grass – accompanying sleepy kids to the toilet block, and might even involve spiders on some level.
That’s a big nope from me.
I asked my daughter if she had any other ideas.
“Yeah!” she cried. “Let’s stay in a 5* hotel!”
Yeah. That’s more like it.