Thursday, 25 August 2011

'Attack of the Midges" - Coming to a Cinema Near You!

Part 1: Before THEY Came!

We went camping!

We picked a site, 40 minutes away, on the North Yorkshire Moors. We raided my parent's loft for camping equipment. We packed the car (my parent's car, as this time we had swapped).We set off!

We arrived. Found a pitch. Pitched (in under 30 minutes). Blew up the airbeds (well, the air pump did). Retrieved Fearless from a muddy puddle he was lay face down. Put Fearless down for his afternoon nap. Watched the sun emerge from the drizzly skies. And sat down with a cup of tea. "Well that was all a bit too easy, wasn't it?" I said to The FH whilst trying to peel off the smug grin someone had plastered across my face.

Growing up we camped ALL the time. As both parents were Teachers, we would spend the six week holidays making our way down to the South West of France, trailer in tow, spending as long as we could there, exploring pine cone forests, discovering  markets that would shame London and  taking the locals on at boules. Then we would head back to Calais; bronzed children, exhausted parents and a trailer tent jammed with barrels of red wine.

But in my adult years I swapped ferries for planes, spontaneity for package, camping stoves for all inclusive buffets and lakes for pools. Safe to say, on arrival, I felt out touch. It seemed camping had moved forward and left me behind; laundry rooms, electric hook ups, family wash rooms (more impressive than our recently fitted bathroom) were all sure signs that “Glamping” was present.

We'd camped once, as a couple, in the early days, before kids, with a tent named "titch" so small we thought it had been nicked when we came back from the pub, but soon realised, as we stumbled closer, we had parked the car in front of it. But that had merely been a pub crawl in The Lakes disguised as a walking holiday. And to be honest the camping part is a bit of a blur. Nothing like this. This time we had two children under 4, a baby bump and no booze - we were hardcore.

I found myself suffering Tent Envy "Look at that one FH! That's got a living room and a canopy!"
"Our tent is fine" he'd reply.
"Ooh look at their camping stove, it's got a grill and FOUR hobs!
"Our stove is fine" he's reply.
Eventually, I stopped commenting and just silently tent watched. I discovered wind breaks were the new camping accessory. Fortunately, my parent's windbreak had randomly been left in their car, so I got it out and asked The FH to put up, I didn't want us to look amateur. Unfortunately the camping windbreak is double the height of the beach windbreak, so it probably had the opposite effect, as experienced campers scoffed inside their tents at our midget accessory “Newbies”.

Little O and I were itching to explore the campsite; him wanting to go to the play area, me the campsite shop. Returning, itchy feet  satisfied, we all headed to the local pub for dinner, where everything was accompanied with homemade chips -yum. Full bellied and heavy eyed we  returned to the little blue tent, a lot later than anticipated, and settled the kids down for the night. Our little tent has two bedroom compartments. the plan was to take a child each. I was settled in one bedroom, but then decided that the other bedroom looked roomier (even though they are exactly the same inner tents) and the airbed was clearly pumped up further, so asked to swap, The FH sulkily obliged - the things you can get away with whilst you're pregnant!

And the night went well - no midnight toilet visits needed, no waking children, air bed still full in the morning and the tent still dry. it was a little bit windy, well quite a lot actually. In fact, so windy, that when little O woke at 5.30 (no black out blinds in tents) and had to go for a piddle, The FH followed us out inquiring if Hurricane George had passed through here during the night and said he just wanted to check if my parent's car had blown away. We came to the conclusion the windbreak (which was still flapping) may have enhanced the sound effects - maybe camping ones are quieter.

Still, all in all, the first night was a success. Now it was time for breakfast. Breakfast? What were we planning to have for breakfast? As I eyed a food stash, it slowly dawned on me that we may have overlooked that one. We had no grill, one small camping stove, a loaf of bread, no butter, and an array of tinned produce… We hadn't quite covered breakfast. As the campsite shop didn't open till 8.30 and we were all wide awake by 6.00 am, The FH roared off in the car to find the nearest garage. He returned half an hour later, the garage was only 5 minutes down the road, but he had to sit outside for 20 minutes waiting for it to open! Alas, he had cereal and bacon!

We soon discovered the necessity of a windbreak as The FH had to wrap himself and the camping stove up in it to keep the flame alight, but 10 minutes later, there we were sat outside our little blue tent, eating bacon sandwiches, attired in hoodies and pyjamas, hair flapping like flags in the wind.

The morning was very pleasant. I even got chatting to fellow campers, as I ran after Fearless, retreieving him from their tent. We made camping small talk; "Ooh yes it's a lovely campsite" They'd say.
"Umm. Very clean" I'd reply, handing them back their saucepan Fearless had ran off with.
"How'd do like your spot?" they'd enquire.
"Great yeah, lovely view of the woodland."
"Not bothered by the midges then?" they'd ask as Fearless emerged from their tent with a wooden spoon.
"Hadn't noticed them" I'd say walking away, Fearless restrained in arms, spoon discarded on the grass.

"Funny that" The FH said later, when I retold the conversation. "The landlord said that last night. Something about the wind keeping the midges down"

But we thought no more about it as we were having a lovely time watching the kids dive in and out of rock pools in a lovely bay on the north Yorkshire Coast. Actually, we were letting are children entertain most of the beach as they dashed around us naked, rolling/bombing/shrieking/belly-flopping in and out of the pockets of sea water. The wind had died down, the sun pushed out a few more degrees and found ourselves sunbathing and craving ice-cream! We ate out for lunch, promising each other we would be eating tomato soup and cheese sandwiches on site for tea. We did have a budget after all.

We returned to the campsite, both children snoring in the car, we left them there, car doors open (because you can do that camping) and had a cup of te Al fresco, enjoying the sunshine,  whilst  I reminisced about my childhood camping adventures and The FH listened politely. "Well hasn't this been lovely" I said after a pause and a sigh, but secretly slightly disappointed there had been no drama "Don't think it'll make an interesting blog post though..."


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