When I was a kid, we camped a lot. I have done it enough times to know the basics and I’ll be honest here, it’s not really my thing. Not because I need somewhere to plug in my hairdryer or store my eyelash curler – because that’s so not me – but because I am pretty much an introvert.
My idea of a perfect holiday? Somewhere without lots of people, without annoying activities, where there is lovely scenery that I can see when I look out through the window, while I sit around in my comfy pants, drink tea and do craft all day. I don’t have to cook, or clean, or go anywhere, or do anything other than write by the cozy fire in my cliche oversized jumper. There’s an outside world, but it’s – well, it’s outside. Where I am not.
Anyway, recently (last weekend) we took the kids and went camping. No showers for a few days, a tent, some friends, a fire. That sort of thing. Which, to be fair, I wasn’t super enthused about because A) read above about my idea of a good holiday and B) winter is rapidly bearing down on us and I am one of those people who feel the cold.
Marshy was super excited, though, and he did an excellent job of building the kids up. He bought them home a torch each a couple of nights before we left and their faces exploded with joy. I let them pick a scarf each out of my wardrobe (and I have a scarf collection, believe you me) and we made a show of learning how to wear our beanies and gloves. We talked about sleeping all together in the tent, and how maybe we’d be lucky enough to see some animals.
Nobody mentioned bugs, outside toilets and angry sinuses, but I let that go, because their innocence in the face of adventure was too good. And hey, maybe they’re extroverts, right? I told myself not to be a party pooper, packed a little tub of crafty things just in case and put it in my hand luggage.
On the first day we stopped at a little roadside diner for lunch. The moment we opened Piper’s door, she started screaming “The Kangaroos will get me, the kangaroos will get me,” over and over again hysterically. We took her out of the car, demonstrated that there were no animals at the cafe, soothed her and promised ice cream.
It was cold, but they seemed fine. I wore almost everything I had bought with me at once (not joking) but the kids ran, and played, and were generally free range. They explored, and got dirty. Toasted marshmallows on the fire and decided they were better raw. Jumped into sleeping bags and curled up together on the big air bed. The first night, Piper asked to go home to her own bed (she’s notorious for sleeping NOWHERE excpet for her own bed) but Orion takes his job as big brother very seriously and he soothed her, cuddled her, joked with her until she relaxed and they both went to sleep. Second night, they both went down easily, because they knew they had each other.
On the way home, Orion was carsick in the first half an hour, then slept the rest of the way. Piper took her shoes off and had us all choking on her three-day cheesefeet extravaganza, then tipped her drink bottle all through the car seat and soaked herself. A quick stop at a macca’s for lunch saw me raiding the boot for a completely new set of clothes, whilst fending off the umbrella and a small assortment of bags that kept trying to leap out. When we got home, I treated myself to one of the longest and most amazing showers I have ever had, ever. Marshy and the kids leapt into the bath and marvelled at how brown the water was once they were finished.
And you know, at the end of the day, camping still isn’t my thing. But they loved it. For the kids, it was an Adventure. An exhausting, freezing, dirty adventure but an adventure nonetheless. Since we’ve been home this week, they’ve been telling everyone they see about how they slept in a tent. How they went walking at night with their torches, looking for animals. How I made potatoes with ham and cheese and COOKED THEM IN THE FIRE. And yes, they shout that last part. Well, Orion shouts everything, but he shouts the last part more, and he waves his arms as he’s shouting it.
So was I grumpy the entire time? No. Mostly in the mornings, when I’m grumpy anyway, because I am not a morning person. And, whilst we have already established that I am not in love with camping, nor do I completely despise it. I totally love the idea of camping more than, say, having my teeth extracted. Or eating a rice dinner with toothpicks. Or having to empty the sink after a pan has been soaking overnight and the water looks like something out of a Resident Evil movie. See? I’m awesome at this!
Jokes aside, and yes it’s cliche, but the joy on the kids’ faces made it totally worth it. One hundred per cent, absolutely, completely worth it.