This weekend started innocently enough. A friend, fresh from a sunny Whitsun break away, asked our mum's group whether we fancied a late summer camping trip. Well I was in the Guides of course, I'm handy with the square lashing and know just where to put my kindling for maximum impact. I've enjoyed many a festival, and managed to survive the great Glasto flood of 2005, so despite not having ventured out under canvas since T arrived we signed up straight away. And so it was that six families (including two pregnant mums) and their eight children trotted off to the Lake District this weekend.
I need to rewind a bit, it wasn't quite that simple of course. Finding a site that would let us pre-book and which was family suitable was a challenge, but Church Stile seemed to fit the bill. We dug out our old tent, tugged on the guy ropes and scratched our heads. Somehow even a giant double skinned dome didn't seem suitable for three plus bump so I began the search for a new one, as did many of my camping compatriots. I read up on glamping. In these credit crunch times, eco friendly families are going back to basics and putting their money where their tent pegs are. I looked at blogs featuring pictures of Bodened-up children frolicking in front of Cath Kidston teepees. They extolled the virtues of jam jars as vases and talked of vintage table cloths and mismatched china. I imagined that could be us, and rinsed off the multi-coloured plastic Disney picnic ware.
I should have known of course. The weather forecast was the first warning. As departure day drew nearer my claim that the long-range prediction of torrential rain was wildly inaccurate began to sound a little thin. My husband made 'not coming' noises, but undeterred I booked him a train ticket to join us after work on Friday, planning to greet him with a cold beer served in a warm field as the children entertained themselves with nature's playthings.
It is only thanks to two of the wonderful husbands present on the trip that my tent got up at all. A dry run having been thwarted by the bleeding episode earlier in the week, it came out of its bag for the first time in the really quite muddy field where we planned to set up a mini village. My husband missed his connection, and a lack of mobile phone signal meaning we spent 90 minutes waiting on a freezing station for him to arrive. He stepped from the train, despite having been a mostly sunny afternoon, the heavens opened.
Oh the rain. It rained, and rained and rained.
I am taking full advantage of poetic license here of course. There was respite from the showers. Saturday in particular was a lovely day. We spent the day owl-spotting at Muncaster Castle and ooohing at the beautiful scenery. The company for the weekend was wonderful, I am lucky to have such lovely friends who in turn have beautiful children. The setting was picturesque, and T has probably never had so much fun. There are definitely some things our three days away have taught me though:
- If your husband really really really doesn't want to go camping, but agrees to placate you, he will be miserable, whatever the weather
- If your husband is miserable, you will be miserable, however hard you try not to be
- When the only clothes that fit are your summer maternity wardrobe and it turns cold, you'll have to resort to interesting combinations. Black leggings, a cream skirt, two layered tops and blue wellies was the real low point
- One Size 5 toddler nappy does not contain the wee of a pregnant adult human. When it's pouring down in the middle of the night it is far better to brave the outdoors than to have to exercise your poorly performing pelvic floor to pause mid flow to grab another one, the alternative being to pee on the floor of the tent
- Asda camping equipment is cheap for a reason. Our 'table' was so shoddy that even a vintage jam jar of wild flowers would have keeled over, had I been arsed to bring one
- A tent village defies all laws of physics, and sound travels huge distances in the open air. This is good when you're after the gossip and very bad when trying to whisper-argue with aforementioned grumpy husband
- If your toddler wants to stand at the water's edge and watch the stream, there is a 95% chance that even if you are within a foot of him at all times, he'll still manage to fall headfirst into freezing water
There were good bits too of course. Watching the children play together (albeit in wellies and waterproofs), communal cake by lantern light and the pride I felt at actually having managed three nights on an airbed in my heavily pregnant state. We were definitely camping though. The mud that came off my legs in the shower this afternoon, back home and dry, is testament to that. More back to nature than glam in any way shape or form.
Next year though, with a stronger table, larger stove, more enthusiastic husband and (gulp) two children. Who knows??
I'm game if you are.