Why do people go camping? What is it about us that makes us decide to leave our lovely cosy houses, swap comfy beds for lilos, exchange snuggly duvets for scratty sleeping bags? Why do we relish the fact that making a cup of tea now takes half an hour? That, instead of using our nice new bathroom, we have to trudge across a field unashamedly clutching a bog roll?
I’m not too sure myself. Something to do with adventure maybe? Feeling like you’ve constructed your own house and made it homely. Maybe it’s just good for the soul to live simply and frugally for a few days.
This weekend we, along with some friends, went to a ‘child-friendly’ *shudder* festival in North Yorkshire. It was called Deer Shed and it was, despite our obvious reservations, absolutely ace.
It started inauspiciously enough. The long range weather was looking dire. So much so that we ditched The Baby and dispatched her to her granny’s house. The gear needed for a weekend’s camping beggars belief. It took me a few days to amass all of the necessary gubbins – locate camping stove, charge lanterns, wash sleeping bags…
By Friday I was pretty much over it and we hadn’t even set off. It was The Big One’s last day in preschool. I’d offered to make a carrot cake for the farewell party. Why do I do these things?
So I’m packing in a frenzy, attempting to amuse The Fusspot, icing my cake. I do none of these things successfully. FP keeps crying for his dad, my latent-OCD is twitching at the disorder of my cool bag, and I don’t stir the icing enough. When I spread it on it looks like cottage cheese. Bleurgh.
The men set off first with all the gear to ‘make camp’ UGG. I am feeling apoplectic with stress as I head, first to the preschool party (with clotted cake) to collect The Big One, then on to my friend’s house. We set off, me, her and the 5 children … bound for the M62 on a Friday tea time….
When the last child (mine of course!) finally drops off, we high five each other. We love it when a plan comes together! Then we get near to Leeds and the traffic stops. Not so smug now ladies…
One by one the kids wake up. We spend the rest of the journey doling out sausage rolls, crisps and juice to keep them from kicking off. Listening to the Hokey Cokey instead of mood-setting festival anthems. A really tedious and harassed Thelma and Louise, and not a Brad Pitt in sight.
We arrive at last. As if sensing my waning spirits, the drizzle miraculously stops and the sun tentatively gets his hat on. The menfolk are there to greet us and show us to our humble abodes. The kids are practically frothing at the mouth with excitement. There are littlies EVERYWHERE. A giant swing ball field, hula hoops, people in fancy dress. We can hear the music coming from the arena, we can see the Big Top and the Ferris Wheel. They’ve even put three massive googlie eyes in a tree so it looks like a huge green monster. Brilliant.
We pump up our airbeds and make the tent homely. I’d made a ragu and brought some fresh spaghetti so we at least had our first meal sorted. It was the sauce my mother in law made on our Italian holiday. Simply garlic, onion, celery, carrot, minced beef, tin of tomatoes, some white wine and some freshly grated nutmeg. Probably similar to most people’s bolognaise sauce. Her secret was to cook it very slowly for a few hours. Everything in Italy seems to be done very slowly. We decided that this must be the reason everything tastes so gorgeous there.
Once we’ve all eaten (and at last cracked open the boxes of wine) all stress seems to disappear. We spend the rest of the weekend sitting in the sunshine, catching up with friends, watching the children playing air guitar and frolicking. There are music stages, food stalls, comedians, poets, animal shows, a circus, footie coaching, many many craft workshops. Even the Red Arrows do a flyover. A rare thing that a family ranging from 3 to *ahem* 34 are all equally entertained for three days.
I wish I had more to tell you. Maybe a hilarious tale of one of our children getting lost, or falling down one of the composting toilets (both equally likely). But no. We were even clever enough to write His mobile number on their arms with the accompanying message “Please ring daddy”
sucker Unnecessary. One of our most successful jaunts in a long time. We’ll most definitely be back next year. And if that bloody Baby would EVER learn to sleep, she might be invited along too .