As much as I love the idea that we could be a family of campers, last weekend was the first time we have ever spent the night together in a tent. And, it wasn’t even our tent. And, the campsite was 10-minutes from our house. And, we were there for less than 24-hours. So, I am not sure if you could even call our one night sleeping in the great outdoors (in the middle of London) camping, but that’s how it was sold to us so we went with it.
We borrowed a tent and various other bits of equipment from my Dad. We had blow-up beds, sleeping bags, a stove, pots and pans, water bottles, table and chairs, cool boxes and enough food for a week (in case the Tesco 5-minutes away was closed). By the time we had packed for every weather eventuality – wellies, raincoats, fleeces, flip-flops (forever the optimist!), hoodies and a couple of changes of clothes – the car was so full that we could not see out of the back window. Fortunately, we did not have very far to travel.
A few families in our group had already started putting up their tents when we arrived. Zee immediately spotted a friend and a football so off they went, while we found a good spot and unloaded the car. We spread the tent out flat on the ground and, of course, this is when the heavens decided to open. So there we were, having not yet unloaded our wet weather outfits, squinting at the instructions in the pouring rain. The phrase “All the gear, no idea” came to mind…
The instructions looked straightforward enough. Basically, just three poles right? I was charged with allocating the poles to their corresponding sections because, as we all know, the Greek God(zilla) does not like to follow instructions and this was not an occasion to humour him. However, I got confused with the front and the back and the grey and the black and we spent 20-minutes trying to slot a long pole into a short sleeve, before re-reading the instructions and realising I had screwed up the order of the poles, much to the Greek God(zilla)’s satisfaction. Once this was sorted, the tent went up pretty easily.
As if by magic, this was the exact moment my sensible friend chose to appear with a bottle of Prosecco and a big bag of crisps to wait out the rain.
The kids were having a great time playing football in the camping field and running in and out of each other’s tents. The organiser of the trip had the brilliant idea to set up a communal BBQ area where we could all take turns to grill sausages; as well as a campfire to toast marshmallows. Obviously, there was wine so I sent the Greek God(zilla) off to blow up the mattresses before we got too stuck in. There was a bit of a drama when the pump, despite making a lot of noise, refused to blow out any air, leaving us to beg for a foot pump – “all the gear, no idea” etc etc – but we got it sorted in the end and our beds actually looked quite inviting. Or, maybe that was just the atmosphere and Prosecco talking.
We had a great evening chatting with friends and watching the kids have fun. As the sky grew dark, we all gathered up our broods and cuddled up around the fire for a while before tired little eyes began to close. I took Zee to bed and he curled up and was asleep within minutes. I contemplated going back out to join the others, but the lure of an inflatable mattress and sleeping bag was just too strong and I joined Zee to bed.
I awoke a few hours later to find myself lying flat on the floor. The Greek God(zilla) was snoring comfortably beside Zee, who was enjoying an elevated position between us on the only bed with any air left in it. I tossed and turned for the next couple of hours until dawn broke, often finding a slightly inflated spot and then finding myself back on the hard ground again within minutes. Zee was too excited to sleep in past 7am so we were both up early. We got dressed, did a wee in the designated bucket and peered outside the tent to see who else was up. Zee happily ran off to join his buddies in another game of football while I tracked down a teabag because of course, I remembered 75 things that we would never use, but totally forgot the ONE essential!
I spent a lazy morning gathered around the kettle, catching Zee whenever he ran past and pushing a chocolate croissant or piece of fruit in his hands while hearing all the gossip I missed from the night before. It seems the campfire chat went on way into the early hours, with one poor family recalling how the Greek God(zilla) kept them ‘entertained’ telling stories and laughing at his own jokes outside their tent until way after midnight. There was a point, she said, when she thought it was all about to quieten down so allowed her weary head to rest gently on her pillow when his voice suddenly boomed “MY FAVOURITE JAMES BOND IS TIMOTHY DALTON” and it all started up again.
Got to love him.