Despite the hiccups experienced while practising putting up the tent we were not put off of camping and set off on Wednesday for our first ever two nights of actual, real, not-a-practice camping at a campsite! Admittedly we didn’t plan to venture too far from home, just 15 minutes away to be precise but despite being relatively local we really felt as though we were setting off on an exciting adventure. Our two night stay wasn’t completely incident free but for me a holiday without incident is hardly a holiday at all! (I have to tell myself this otherwise I would never go on holiday with my family again.)
Departure day was a bit fraught as time was quite tight. I had an appointment with the physiotherapist in the morning which was due to finish at 11.30am and then I had to cycle back home as fast as I could against a very strong wind that threatened to blow me back to where I had come from should I be bold enough to stop pedalling for even a moment. I eventually arrived home at midday in a particularly unattractive state of redness, sweatiness and breathlessness, had to clean myself up, have breakfast, finish packing, make a picnic and audit our ‘camping essentials’ boxes to ensure we had everything we needed. This all had to be done before 12.45pm as that was the very latest time that we could leave home in order to drop the dog off at the kennels which were due to close at 1pm. At 12.43pm our house was ringing with increasingly desperate shouts of “Put your shoes on!”, “Can you please go to the toilet before we go?”, “Put your shoes on!”, “No, you can’t take that with you!”, “Put your shoes on!”, “Who has done a wee on the floor?”, “PUT YOUR SHOES ON!” The boys, the dog and I raced down to the garage and squeezed ourselves into the car that has rarely been stuffed so full and all of this for a mere two nights away from home. We caught our breath, sat and waited and waited and waited until eventually daddy joined us at 12.53pm. We had 7 minutes. We did manage to drop the dog off (at exactly 1pm) but our rushing turned out to be for nothing as we had to go back home anyway because I had forgotten to pack the iPad charger.
Our second departure was less frantic and we arrived at the campsite soon after where we checked in and located our site. It was finally time to put up the tent! The boys were momentarily distracted by the picnic I had made earlier with this very same intention but they soon became more interested in asking a variety of never ending questions and in trying to ‘help’, neither of which is particularly helpful. Nevertheless we worked together and got the tent up quickly. Our practise run had definitely been beneficial! We put out the deck chairs and sat down for a moment to experience the joy of sitting outside our very own tent.
Having set up and sat down for almost one minute we jumped back up as we had one last thing to do before we could go and have a swim in the pool in order to cool down and reward ourselves for our good work, we had to move the car out of the road and onto our pitch. Ahh, one slight problem. The car wouldn’t start. How embarrassing and in front of all our new camping neighbours too! They looked on from their comfortable deck chairs, drinking from their cool beers and enjoying the unexpected entertainment we were providing. It turned out that our new electric cool box had run down the car battery very quickly, especially as the car engine hadn’t been running. So our cooling swim was delayed by some considerable time as we located the owner of the campsite who had jump leads and a big four wheel drive and got the car started which actually took quite a long time.
Lesson learned – don’t run the cool box off the car when it’s not running.
Having overcome that little mishap the next two days passed very pleasantly indeed. We swam in the pool, we walked along the beach, we played games, we cooked on our camping stove, we washed up under the stars and because we were so close to home we had the added excitement of visitors! We had so many visitors in fact, we could have done with a doorbell for our tent! It really was a very lovely and almost relaxing time. I say almost because the boys experienced acute ‘first time sleeping in a tent’ excitement and were up until very late that first night. Sam went to sleep at about midnight and Henry didn’t go to sleep until 1.25am yet they both still woke up at 8am. This was where the relaxation became a bit thin on the ground because both boys were very tired that day. Tired and tetchy and irritable and grumpy and uncooperative and intolerant and… in fact you could choose just about any negative emotion and it would apply. The only redeeming feature of this over tiredness was that they both fell asleep very quickly the second night!
By the time Friday morning came around we didn’t want to leave. We had enjoyed our short but fun filled stay and we were definitely camping converts! Despite our shaky start we felt that we had found our feet and had become competent campers. We even managed to get the tent down and back into the bag easily. We were packed up and ready to leave with 15 minutes to go before our check out time! Where would all this competence and fabulousness end? Well, it ended quite promptly in fact.
Having double checked we had everything packed up and having got the children in the car we were ready to go. Ahh, one slight problem. The car wouldn’t start. I may be paranoid but I’m sure I noticed our camping neighbours quickly grabbing beers and settling into their deck chairs ready to be entertained once more by the amateur campers. Unfortunately the campsite owner wasn’t on site and we didn’t like to disturb our neighbours from their entertainment by asking them for help and so we called our breakdown service. Eventually we were rescued by the tow truck man with his car battery reviving equipment and then, only 45 minutes past our official check out time we were ready to depart.
Lessons learned –
1. Run the car for at least 30 minutes after a jump start!
2. We LOVE camping!