The idea seemed great. The picture in my head a scene of utter serenity. We booked. We allowed ourselves a few days of anticipatory glee at the mere thought of a few days away family camping by the English seaside.
And then we packed the car!!!
We unpacked said car as the mountain of supplies were not going to fit. We went from pleasant holiday voices to strained silences as the man of the house in all his caveman glory thought he could indeed fit two tents, four sleeping bags, sleeping mats, blankets, stoves, pots and pans, camping gear, miscellaneous rucksacks, clothing, a toilet (indeed), basins, toys, etc etc etc etc..into our tiny English little car.
We stood by in mocking silence as tempers flared. The kids grew bored. I held firm to my hair straighteners as come hell or high water I was indeed going to find an outlet to tame my unruly hair whatever criminal activities I might need to engage in to find said plug!!!
And then we were off.
Groaning and moaning (both car and occupants) down the packed one way road to the coast along with thousands of other overloaded, overfilled cars.
Hot, hungry and harrassed we arrived hours later than our hour long drive we expected. Glorious sunshine greeted us and as we drove through the site to find our pitch we were seduced by the picture of families everywhere and the heady smell of bacon cooking in the outdoors and the opportunities and optimism that lay ahead.
We might be best advised to gloss over the putting up of the tent. The instructions were reduced to a shredded mass fluttering in the wind as the 20 minutes needed to erect the small four person tent had somewhat alluded the man of the family some four hours later. Yes four hours.
To make matters worse a group of three females arrived and in less than half an hour had constructed their elaborate tent, dining area, pumped up the sleeping mats and even set out fairy lights to decorate all the while oblivious to the red, raging mass of a man still struggling with the guy ropes… and no… absolutely no… he did not want help. That was made pretty clear, so we stood and watched instead alternating between all out raucous laughter and appropriate sympathetic sounds of support.
Eventually, as night fell, the tent was finally up and all around were the sounds of sleeping mats being inflated manually and with some exertion. The stove was on and the welcome smell of dinner cooking calmed everyone’s frayed and ragged tempers. Children oblivious to these problems ran past happy and free – laughing and giggling with complete abandon waiting for the call of dinner. This was what we had envisioned finally. The good old outdoors, sea air, sitting together outside our slightly wonky tent eating half cooked dinner from steel plates – but happy nonetheless.
To be continued…