It’s time to blow the cobwebs off this space and see about some blogging again. I sense there are only a few weeks left before another bomb goes off in our lives and whilst the sun shines, marking season is over and I have some sane thoughts again I’m back in the writing zone.
This weekend we went camping, early mornings on my own in my little sleeping pod (husbandface and sonface shared their own pod so this pregnant lady stood chance of a little more sleep) gave me the space and inspiration to write again. Phew. Some sense of normality might be on the way to be restored. (even if I have spent this last nap time once again watching too much of The OC)
So, here’s the first ode to camping, second instalment of my thoughts from a tent to come later in the week…
We were never a camping family when I grew up. Self catering cottages were the cheap option of holidays back in the 80s and 90s and we spent a week each year in different ones in the beautiful lands of the Lake District, Devon, Northumberland, Dorset and Cornwall. Camping wasn’t an option. Too uncomfortable and strange and for proper hardcore people.
When we got married I found myself in a new world. A world of instant internet, a world that needed more active choice in switching off from. Self catering cottages now seem to be on the more expensive end of holiday budgets and all come with wifi and instant connection to the world you’ve left behind. Nothing wrong with that, but husbandface and I sense the need for more intentional switching off, both of us being fairly wedded to the world of the smart phone and all the lovely things we can do with them. Camping seemed to be a good option to escape the screen, to put down the streams of information about the world and the lives of others. We ran a few test nights away and enjoyed the respite from life back home.
We acquired a tent large enough to stand up in, my absolute requirement if this was going to be part of our family life, and then, I at least, put camping out of mind as we had our son and the thought of night feeding in a tent filled me with horror. Husbandface has kept the dream alive though and this summer we have at least 3 camping weekends planned (I still can’t comprehend a week away but I sense in a few years time it will happen…) he tried out our tent with the boy on a night away with other guys from church and a month or so on we found ourselves under canvas for 2 nights this weekend.
I still have a love hate relationship with camping. It brings together the two extremes of my personality and they clash massively in the tent. I love the outdoors, I love nature. I love that almost all I could hear were birds and sheep. I love eating outside and I love being away from the city.
However. I hate mess, I love order, I want things to be clean and tidy and to know where everything is. I’m not keen waking up with everything smelling of bonfire and I am not sure about the whole trying to think about eating and cooking with limited stuff. Fun camping requires a fair amount of planning and organisation and I haven’t felt like I’ve ever managed that satisfactorily. Maybe it’s something that will come in time. Maybe I just have to live with the chaos and embrace it rather than getting stressed about all the things I’ve forgotten. Maybe one day we will have a car big enough to fit all the items that seem to be essential. I’m not sure if camping light can ever be done with more than one or two of you. It seems to involve packing up most of your life and that feels somewhat strange. Getting back to nature shouldn’t feel this full surely?
But maybe that’s it, camping isn’t really about getting back to nature anymore (at least not for us) it’s about switching off from the barrage of information, about a mental simplicity more than a physical simplicity. Here electronic stuff runs out of battery, here everything takes longer and here our brains are taken up with smaller tasks. I’m sure there is a benefit to that kind of simplicity every once in a while. We seem to have acquired lots of camping ‘stuff’ over the last 4 years (although looking around the campsite not nearly as much as others have…) and although it seems bonkers to pack up the car with so much just for a couple of nights I think it’s worth the trade off. My mind feels more at ease, my soul feels good after days outdoors and our son has learnt the word, camping. (oh and fire. FIRE. FIRE is so much fun…).
The fine print.
We camped at Spring Barn Farm in Lewes, genius for onsite fun times on Saturday, not having to go anywhere was lovely. It also has a cafe which serves wonderful breakfasts, a bonus after a disturbed night and an early morning. Sonface did pretty good sleeping, all things considered, he just fought the sleep until about 9.30 each night. Even discovering that our little monkey had left the carlights on and we had a flat battery didn’t dampen our weekend as the nice recovery men came out within an hour and we were charged up and ready to go in the morning. We lucked out with the weather, arriving after the rain on the Friday and leaving in a gap in the rain on the Sunday morning. We got very sunburnt, remembering to smear oneself in suncream as well as the small one would have been a good plan. Sheep are very noisy. Tractors and doodledoos (Roosters) are very exciting. Bizarrely the sleeping mat we have was uber comfortable and I had my most cosy nights of camping ever (and at 29 weeks pregnant…). Everyone needs a husbandface to show grace when grumpy sore pregnant lady came out to play and to be uber patient in persuading the small one that sleep was a good option. Did I mention FIRE? Why we didn’t have more of it was a constant source of sadness for the boy. All in all a good for the soul weekend. I recommend.