Sunday, 17 August 2008

We've come on holiday by mistake



Oh I knew that wonderful line from Withnail & I would come in useful one day. I don't do camping, have reached this age without experiencing the joys of spending a night under canvas and until last week I would have happily bet against me doing it now. It's not that I don't love the great outdoors,



I am indeed perhaps at my happiest when I am out rambling around the countryside, it's just at night when all the wildlife comes out to play I prefer to be safe in the knowledge that bricks and mortar lie between me and them. Sharing a sleeping bag with the moon and stars is one thing, creepy crawlies and spiders another. So it was the utmost trepidation and sheer madness that led us to book our pitches last week in the middle of nowhere during severe weather warnings and gusts of winds blowing at 60mph!



We went with our best friends who actually live on the seafront and could see the storms coming in from the sea and battering against their windows. I think they thought it wasn't going to happen, that we would ring to cancel, but having spent three years discussing this trip and building up our children's hopes, gales force winds and rain were not, it seemed, going to stop us. Fortunately (or rather recklessly for us novice campers) we had booked a secluded spot in the woods for our adventure. Just us, the trees, the wind and the rain and a pile of damp firewood!



I wish I could say that I was of much help to Mr Ragged Roses as he struggled with the tent but I have to say that up until the moment the tent was erected I did very little, I had of course made some new cushions for the tent so that I would have something pretty to gaze upon whilst my children grew steadily more and more feral, the rain lashed down, our noses ran and I stood on constant lookout for uninvited insects.



Our friends arrived with a car as laden as ours with food, wine, disenfectant and wet wipes. A strange thing happened, dusk fell, the rain lightened and M and his friend were able to indulge in their latent pyromania. As the wood smoked in our campfire and the wine poured from the bottles, the laughter followed.



Marshmallows were toasted, songs were sung and chocolate was devoured. Our children were in their element, it was too dark to worry about the spiders and the moon, well the moon was just absolutely beautiful.



Within a space of a couple of hours I felt transformed. Relaxed, smiling and happy, I even volunteered to take the children with my friend on a moon walk to the loos (I'm afraid the lure of the compost loos was not that attractive, and so we braved the longer walk to the toilet facilities). Across a moonlit field with bats circling over our heads, children leading the way with their torches, our arms linked, it was fun, exciting and strangely liberating.



I could say that my first night under canvas was equally as beautiful but that would be a lie. What I can say that it was the longest, loudest night I think I have ever experienced. Having secured the tent against any unwelcome intrusion and sealed off any possible access we tumbled into our sleeping bags (I say tumbled, but really mean I threw myself onto the airbed, completely missed it - ending up wedged in the side of the tent completely trapped in a sleeping bag with my legs stuck up in the air). What followed was 8 hours of animal karaoke - owls hooting, pheasants shrieking, sheep bleating, interminable snuffling outside our tent and a noise that we couldn't identify that managed to wake both Little Sister and Big Sister and convinced me that a wild boar was outside the tent. Mr RR poked outside to take a peek and reassure me, he thought it was badgers, in the morning we realised it was the sound of friends snoring! Imagine our despair when we found out that it was only 2.30am and that another 5 or 6 hours would have to be spent like this. And so it was, 5 hours of near hysteria from me and the relief of hearing the dawn chorus and knowing that we could get up.



I could go on, there were tales of exploding gas cylinders, the joy of finding a bottle of perfume, our non stop intake of carbohydrates, me sticking my leg through my sleeping bag in a desperate attempt to get some fresh air amongst all that nylon, achling legs and dirty faces.

However what I really really want to do is tell you that it was pure magic. The rain stopped and the sun shone



We slept amongst a canopy of beautiful trees,



a babbling brook on one side, open fields on the other.



The children paddled in the stream,



played on the hanging ropes, ran off and made camps and we sat and talked secure in the knowledge that they were safe and having fun.



They discovered fairy houses and tree spirits. We awoke to shafts of sunlight greeting us through the trees and stood amongst them wondering at the beauty of it all.



We walked in the woods, amongst handsome, majestic trees,



strolled past corn fields and sat late in the night around fires talking and laughing.



And what's more we finally slept - slept safely, deeply and undisturbed as the moon shone over us. We returned more Rugged Roses than Ragged and I hate to admit it, but we will be returning ... and not just to return all the spiders that came home with us in the car.

57 comments:

Country Bliss said...

What a beautiful setting to camp in! I remember the first time we went camping, about 12 years ago, we had a thunderstorm but it didn't put us off either. We've now bought a caravan and are hoping to go to Torbay next week to try it out.
Yvonne

Ali said...

Ah you made me laugh! Wonderful.

Joanne said...

well this is what you call camping, out in the middle of nowhere, camp fire, marshmellows chocolate and long walks to the nearest loo well one you would even consider using. it sounds like you had a great time well done to you for braving the out doors.

Greentwinsmummy said...

Fabulous post!! it mad eme laugh when you wrote about the noise! When we first moved here I was gobsmacked quite frankly at the noise at night!! however do folks sleep I would mumble & wail! yet soon those sounds became balm to my ears & the sounds of cars,doors banging & revving engines,folks passing now seem vile & alien to me,as for street lighting I could never ever live with it again!
It looks like a wonderful time x
GTM x

Gina said...

I have to confess that I don't do camping (too many wet holidays under canvas as a child - our only holidays in fact) but your post has made it sound almost tempting. Such beautiful photographs and what a lovely setting.

Simone said...

Absolutely gorgeous post! You camped in such a beautiful setting and it looked just magical. There were moments that sounded more like 'Carry on Camping' though!!! You should have got a photo of yourself with your leg up in the air!!!

Vanessa said...

What a fab story, then I realised is was not a story it was your camping adventure!

Least it has not put you off doing it again.

Vanessa x

Gill at Lucy Locket said...

That looks fab Kim!
I'd never camped until about 12 years ago, husband is a seasoned camper and persuaded me to go...I loved it! We had several holidays but after a very wet week in Somerset I said never again, I want a proper bed in future when I go on holiday. Now though, I'm keen to camp again, the magic works doesn't it, you relax, forget about what you look like, enjoy simple pleasures and get used to sleeping on an airbed.And it's cheap!

periwinkle said...

Lovely pics to go with a lovely post, the thought of your legs in the air made me laugh too. Glad you had fun
lisa x

French Knots said...

What a wonderful wood to camp in, beautiful. You are braver than me, I'm not good with ceepy crawlies and things that go bump in the night! Hope it is just as magical next time you go, can you get a cotton sleeping bag to escape the nasty nylon??

Amanda said...

I am so glad you got to experience camping!! Seriously, I just love it - although unfortunately have never had the joy of camping just for pleasure or in a wood (I am very jealous!!) I just giggled along with your tales of falling off the airbed - I had one of my charges fall off her bed in the middle of the night once and somehow end up outside of the tent and being as she was quite challenging (shall we say) and this was the middle of the night and I couldn't find her I panicked quite a bit!!! Camping just isn't camping though without a few mishaps to laugh about at the end of it all!

kristina said...

Such a super post! Loved the story and the photos. I'm still working up my courage for our first camping expedition, but I'm definitely feeling inspired now! K x

Katherines Dream said...

What a lovely post. You have told the story so well. I am so pleased that you did enjoy it...I must admit I was not a keen camper until I read the Happy Campers Book...a really great book and full of inspiration.
Camping can be such fun...you just have to relax into it...and onto the air bed..ours felt more like a waterbed after a couple of nights.
Carol x

Katherines Dream said...

What a lovely post. You have told the story so well. I am so pleased that you did enjoy it...I must admit I was not a keen camper until I read the Happy Campers Book...a really great book and full of inspiration.
Camping can be such fun...you just have to relax into it...and onto the air bed..ours felt more like a waterbed after a couple of nights.
Carol x

silverpebble said...

I so enjoyed this post - it made me laugh at the tales of snufflings and lurking creatures but it also made me want to sleep under the stars! Thanks for a lovely bit of escapism!

Garden Girl said...

You did it girl! I am so proud of you! The first night can be a bit like that- we always end up going to bed early, (listening to noisy blinking sheep!) and waking up early when we go away in our tent, but thats part of the fun. The place you stayed looks fabulous!Was it far from where you are?
Glad you had a lovely time, your photos are beautiful, especially the last one.x

Kitschen Pink said...

Very inspiring, so this is what my man and my boy rave about. I might almost go camping with them one day - almost! t.x

A Saucerful Of Secrets said...

Thank goodness for that!atlast a happy camper.I am so pleased you had a great time, it looks a lovely setting,magical I bet?Our camping experience was not meant to be,but hey, thats the british weather for you and yet I still love it :)Best Wishes from annie x

Diane of Crafty Passions said...

Gotta love the holidays esp your kind!!
Diane

mountainear said...

Well done you - full marks for bravery in the face of that wild night. (I love the sound of the countryside at night - but only from the comfort of my own bed.)

Looks like a fantastic place to pitch a tent - better there than on a regimented camp site.

Primrose Corner said...

Lovely, lovely post. You made me smile. My/our camping expereinces have been very similar by the sounds of things. Fantastic fun to do with friends. You're so right though the noise at night is just unbelievable. What is that horrible noise that sheep can make? ... and then there's the owls... Do they have to talk so loudly? What a wonderful memory to have.

Cowboys and Custard said...

Dear Kim.. this is pure magic!
I was gripped by your story and made all the more exciting with your fabulous photos..
I can just imagine you straining your ears to every nocturnal sniffle and snort.. I would have been convinced of wildebeest and gremlins at that point!
Enid Blyton's Famous Five would have been so proud of Brighton's Famous Four!
Lovely to have you back though ..
D xx

Fancy Elastic said...

ah, I love camping. Nothing like living in the outdoors to make you completely and immediately forget about the stresses and strains of daily life. Your pics are lovely.

Josie said...

lovely photo's and a great story, I've never been camping as like you, prefer walls between me and creepy-crawlies but you made it sound great, getting away from the rat-race for a short time at least.
Josie

Tracy said...

Truly dreamy, magic photos, Kim! And such fun...what a wonderful time...I've not been properly camping before--on "must-do-someday" list...I love the though of sleeping under the broad sky...Happy Days ((HUGS))

Wayfaring Wanderer said...

Sounds like an awesome time! I really love sleeping outside, I especially love the "noises"......

Elizabethd said...

What fun! I would love to experience camping again.........I think!

Paper Roses said...

Oh how fantastic,
We have so much camping equipment but my husband is such a baby he has decided he HATES camping but do you know what i may trick him into going next weekend.
I am going to pack our car up and just drive and see where we end up...
Have fun for the rest of the school holiday's.x
Debbie

mollycupcakes said...

How amazing the camp site looked. You are very brave for doing it and I'm so glad it turned out to be the best thing you've done and that you're going back.
It did make me laugh, you tails of your first sleepless night. Full of creepy crawlies and odd noises. I had forgotten all about the sipders argh! I hope they stay away for us at Featherdown downs lol stomp stomp, I'll set Daisy on them hehe!
Many hugs
Catherine x

twiggypeasticks said...

That sounds magical, camping is so funny I think, it is a thing of extremes but eventually you get so tired, you could sleep anywhere:) we hope to take Twiglet in the next year or so we're going to practice in Grandma Twiggys garden first.
Twiggy x

the homely year said...

What an adventure you've had. The only holiday in a tent that we pitched ourselves ie not a Eurocamp tent, was the wettest ever. Only Paul who was about 3, mangaged to stey dry. happy days!
Margaret and Noreen

elizabethm said...

What a magical post! We used to camp loads when the children were smaller and Ian and I have had some fantastic camping holidays in the Pyrenees. Somehow I have drifted away to the luxury of a bed. You almost make me want to have another go.

Rosie said...

Oh my goodness, rather you than me! I only do camping if it has 5* tents and an en suite!

But good for you,I am glad you enjoyed it, and it did look rather wonderful!
Rosie x

Thimbleanna said...

Oh Kim! You're SO funny! I'm so proud of you. Your campout sounds just perfect and now I'm so envious. And gee...it looks as though you're learning to like camping...could mashed potatoes be far behind???

Country Cottage Chic said...

What a lovely place but even that wouldn't tempt me to sleep in a tent!!!

Dental Records said...

Ah ha! comments for dental records! I am now but a skip from immortality!
Thank you for your kindness I may feel inspired to fire out another crotchety rant in the prumpy old men tradition.
That'll teach you to encourage me!

Margaret Cloud said...

The camping seemed to go all right, and the pictures make you think we went along with you if only in our minds, I love camp fires.

Sea Angels said...

Kim it sounds simply fantastic, I love camping, (too many Enid Blyton books I suspect)and I am green with envy, but sooo pleased you had such a great time.
Hugs Lynn xx

tales from an O.C. cottage said...

How fun!

M ^..^

shabby chic said...

we have a tent! and I must admit I need a few days to recover when we get back!I feel a bit rough when I woke in the morning and looked like a cavewoman too that was scary!
I loved all the pictures you posted and it looks lovely. Especiallly all the light shining through the trees, I enjoyed hearing about all the animal sounds too!. There is nothing like coming home to your bed though!!!All that fresh air I bet you needed a good sleep too!

She'sSewPretty said...

Kim. I've done the camping without the loo, the camping without the tent, camping with a trailer. You almost make me want to go camping again. Almost. I love the forest but I have decided that only a cabin with shower and loo will do for me now. I just don't like sleeping on the ground and not having a shower. I'm a wimp. I'm glad you had a good time though!

Rosezilla said...

What fun! Such lovely photos, and a great post. Love the animal karoke! Glad you ended up having a great trip. We used to camp a lot, and I miss it.

Sal said...

Sounds like such a magical holiday!Just how holidays should be!
Glad you had a good time ;-)

BeachysCapeCodCupboard said...

What a beautiful place to go camping, Kim! We camped every summer when I was a child (much to my mother's dismay... it was not her favorite thing to do, but she managed, as my father, brother and I LOVED it)! I remember those late night walks to the loos (we call them "out-houses" here when there is no real "plumbing" involved). =) Your setting is so beautiful and serene. I can see why you want to return!

Cassie said...

Ahh camping, I love it. Although I will say that it has been twenty years since I have camped in a tent! You are a brave soul. My parents have a very nice camper, that's what I camp in now. My girls love camping, you're right, it is magical. Thanks for the great post, you made me laugh out loud!

LOUISE said...

Your account of your brush with nature would make a great short story for a magazine. What a treat to read this post. My OH sleeps out at least one night a week as he goes fishing and I get to hear of all sorts sharing his bivvy with him, and his van is full of spiders and webs too. I don't think I could sleep in a tent these days, my back wouldn't allow it, and I would be completely seized up at daybreak! So glad you all had a great time and it was indeed a lovely experience for your girls. x

Among the Hedgerows said...

I'm not much of a camper either, Kim but your post gave me a laugh. You're a much better sport at it than I would be ... I'm sure I'd be shrieking at the sight of (or imagined sight of) those spiders!! I bet the girls enjoyed though.
xo,
Lynda

Heidi Ann said...

Hi Kim, I am making dinner & coming back & forth to the office from the kitchen to read this post of your about "your camping"!!!...After reading this I may actually go camping too!...I am much like you, do not need to spend the night outside with all the creatures of the night! :)...However, the beauty is just overwhelming in your photos & now makes me somewhat interested in going!....I am so glad you tried it & now something you will do again & again!....Thank you for such a charming story of one woman's "camping adventure"!....We'll chat soon!...Heidi XO P.S. also thank you for your always wonderful comments!

Rowan said...

It looks an idyllic spot and I'm so glad you enjoye your camping trip. It will be a wonderful memory for Little Sisiter and Big Sister who obviously had the time of their lives.

Vintage Amethyst said...

Oh my goodness, what beautiful photos Kim.
I think you summed up camping quite nicely with this post! Tee hee!
So glad you had a lovely time, and that is one of my favourite lines from Withnail & I ~ James and I often say it when on holiday and things aren't going to well! Lol!
Have a lovely weekend
love
Alison x

Lucy Bloom said...

Ha, Ha - glad you enjoyed it in the end, nothing like getting back to nature!

Amanda said...

Hi Kim,

just popping by to let you know I've nominated you for a blog award over at my blog if you wish to pop over and receive it!

Andylynne said...

who says cultivated roses can't be wild roses. I'm so glad you had such a magical experience.

Tea Time and Roses said...

What fun! It has been a long while since I have been camping, but I still do remember just how much fun we had! A wonderful story indeed! Enjoy your weekend!

Smiles...

Beverly

ShabbyInTheCity said...

This is THE best post I've ever read on any blog Kim! From the photography to the telling of the story and the humor...you nailed it! I will have to look at it all again :)

Rodeo Princess said...

I love your photos! You have a wonderful talent with color and composition!

Sharon J said...

Hi. I love camping away from crowded camping sites but am finding it difficult to find suitable places in England. Where abouts was this? It looks absolutely beautiful :)