Monday, 13 October 2008
So what do you do when you feel like you're coming down with the dreaded lurgy? Take to your bed? Stockpile the old Lemsip and Vitamin C? What do you do when your head feels like lead and it's your oldest daughter's birthday - why you go camping of course!!!!
Big Sister is very much a creature of the countryside and has been harbouring dreams of a birthday party in the woods since we first went camping in August. Knowing that the weather might be against us (how wrong we were) we booked a yurt for the birthday girl and friends and hired a bell tent for us.
The only word I can use to describe the way we all felt this weekend was blessed (yes, in spite of the lurgy). On Friday night when ringing the campsite to check on our bedding situation the lovely owner told us that they had a surprise for us. Yes, the yurt was booked for Big Sister and the whole trail was deserted, furthermore they decided to let us, the poor parents, enjoy the yurt experience as well. They had erected not one, but two interconnecting yurts for Mr and Mrs Ragged Roses and little sister to enjoy with more comfort than I had ever imagined.
We arrived laden with enough food to feed an army, eiderdowns, the said tub of flying saucers, henna hand paint, face paint, tatoos, warm socks, feathers and the birthday girl.
She had seen the yurt before but wasn't prepared for the fresh prettiness that had been added for her arrival. If I could have bottled the look on her face as she walked into the yurt I would have - wonder, delight, sheer bliss and excitement.
Bunches of fresh flowers, double beds, tea lights, armchairs, heating, welsh dresser, stove,
gorgeous rugs, wall hangings, sheer curtains draping the "Windows" a teenager's dream.
On the other side of the campfire were our little yurts. Looking like two ....well I'll leave it to you to imagine what they looked like, nestled amongst the trees with two little wooden doors. We walked straight into what can only be described as Mr Tumnus" house! Little Sister being a huge Narnia fan looked just like Lucy when she was invited in for tea by Mr T for sardines on toast and a bit of the old panpipes!
Unfortunately the photos weren't that good, but imagine a world in miniature, our own little living room with sofa, shelves, rugs and tealights leading onto the second yurt with a bed, woodburning stove and more candles. It was just enchanting.
We just had time to put up some bunting before the friends arrived and the fun began. Not only did the sun choose to shine in a way reminiscent of midsummer (a proper midsummer that is), but the fields were empty. There followed a day and a half of pure outdoor fun. Fifteen year old girls running wild in the woods, bathing and washing in the stream, painting themselves with mud from the riverbank, swinging from the trees, making headdresses from feathers and foliage, eating for England, singing, laughing (oh what laughter), being free in a way that you can't be in a town.
As night approached and the moon shone down us we sat around the campfire and watched the mist rolling in across the valley.
Its long fingers creeping through the trees and completely engulfing us. We sat toasting marshmallows over the fire, playing wink murder and waiting, oh how long we waited, for Mr Darcy to appear from the mist on horseback. We heard a sound, not horses hooves but the sound of a quad bike - the campsite owner had arrived with a trailer on the back of his quadbike to take them off into the woods to gather some logs for our fire. I wish you could have heard their shrieks of delight as they were driven at breakneck speed across the field through the mist to the woods, we heard them shrieking all the way there and all the way back again.
And so to bed, the tealights were lit and the girls went to their yurt and we to ours. At 2.30am after three hours of Little Sister constantly asking me what the time was, my eyes and nose streaming and the sound coming from the girls yurt reached fever pitch as the flying saucers took their toll I had to ask Mr Roses to ring them up to keep the noise down. You could hear the noise drop immediately the phone rang. At the time it seemed the obvious thing to do, it was only later we realised how ridiculous it was to ring somebody in the middle of the woods who was only a few yards away - but mobile phones seem to be the only things teenagers will respond to!
A misty morning and a raging temperature and M brings me tea in bed, lights the woodstove and we're all feeling nice and toasty (I am perhaps feeling slightly toastier than most). The girls emerged slowly and bleary eyed from the hippy yurt and join us for hot chocolate chez Mr Tumnus. We spend a couple of hours chatting before I muster up the energy to go next door and rustle up their breakfast. They wander off for a morning walk in the mist.
And then the sun breaks through.
Another day of pure blue skies, brilliant bone warming sunshine, long gentle walks, more face painting (just how many times can the word "love" be written on a face?), jumping from hay bales, messing in the stream and friendship.
It was a festival that Big Sister wanted and a festival she got, one of fun, friendship and freedom. We sat and watched and listened to these beautiful girls enjoying themselves, free from the restraints of daily life, completely unselfconsciously enjoying the moment.
When we came home Big sister emailed the campsite owner to thank him. She told him that ever since she was little she had dreamt of finding a place like this and how lucky she was to have found it. How lucky we were to have been allowed to share it with her.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY my gorgeous girl. May your spirit always be free and able to shine as it did this weekend. We love you.