We just got back on Tuesday from a glorious Bank Holiday weekend’s camping in Dorset. The sky was blue and the sun was out more often than not. The Sunday was the highlight with a beautiful day at Lulworth Cove, fantastically hot, the kids enjoying paddling in the freezing waters and we sunk ice cold beers and ate fish and chips in sun drenched gardens at Lulworth Cove Inn.
We’ve visited Farrs Meadow before, last year, albeit slightly later on, it was really lovely to be back for a short time with friends we’d met there in our previous trip. As it was a birthday celebration there was a festive vibe to the stay, many children to hang out together and plenty of campfires.
I LOVE camping – I like sitting and relaxing outside with none of the routine daily of my life, no ‘real’ housework, no pickups or drop offs to distract me, no laundry, no digital interruption because the phones have always run out of battery and importantly a shared responsibility for ‘what to have for dinner’. I don’t know what it is about that dinner thing that’s got the oppressive touch to it but sometimes I feel like hurling myself on the kitchen floor at the prospect of deciding on and making another home cooked meal from scratch, and that’s coming from someone who likes cooking.
But back to the merits of camping, I love the way the children play unsupervised with other children they meet there, they’ll play for hours, with an independence we’re unable to give them at home. I like the temporary suspension of real life, where the only real concerns for the day are eating and sleeping. Sometimes we attempt cleanliness and trying to look presentable but standards are so significantly reduced I have no trouble walking the dog wearing something I wouldn’t even take the recycling out in at home.
I sometimes feel that camping seems to be my kind of modern day interpretation of a stoic experiment into a certain voluntary discomfort. Which is a bit rich, since, on the camping scale we are pretty glampy, we’ve got the light and airy bell tent, airbeds, double duvets, blankets, a shelter for if it rains. It is relatively comfortable as camping goes, but nowhere near what home life is like. Here, I have the kitchen underfloor heating on in the mornings, the dishwasher, the power shower and uninterrupted sleep (now, obviously when the kids were little…never… I served my time). Most camps the sleep has been brilliant. The tent doesn’t get hot in the mornings, the children sleep in. This camp was slightly different in that Rocco had got a LOT bigger and heavier since last year and no longer was the sleeping experience one to relish because we got to spoon the dog or see him all curled up neatly at the foot of the bed. This time it involved a lot of Rocco settling ACROSS MY LEGS and my legs in particular, between my waist and my calves. 35 kilos that had to be kicked off at intervals and also appeared to give the beds a slow puncture. We were also on a bit of a slope, the site is generally flat but we were squeezing in onto our friends fully booked pitch as we decided to join last minute so there was a lot of rolling to one side and middle of the night rearranging. I can live with the stripped back vibe to camping fine if I’ve slept but after 3 nights it felt appropriate to come back and appreciate the house.
We struggled on photos because we never had any phone battery but there are a handful of captured memories. Here, in the water, I am preparing for the artic enema part of my future Tough Mudder, it says a lot that I didn’t even go in up to my knees, I don’t know how the kids stayed in there for so long.
I even went for a run while we were away, previously I never get around to one, I bring my kit and it languishes in the clothes box. This year, with my 1000km challenge I was determined to rack up at least a couple of miles and luckily I found myself a running buddy within our camping crew. We ran alongside the river and into woodland and then got hopelessly lost but I ran. It’s only a matter of days now until I run a 10k and I needed some distance in my legs
Rocco, apart from ensuring early starts, escaping the tent in the early hours (yes, if he has access to the start of the zip, he can open the bloody tent), jumping into the River Stour and getting stuck because of a steep bank was no trouble whatsoever. Ahem. I have to thank the man that climbed an overhanging tree bough and pulled my panicking dog out the water by his collar because it started to look like it could all go a little wrong. Had I been on my own I would imagine I’d have had to jump in and swim him along the bank until it got easier for him to climb out himself.
The one thing I didn’t bring was my crochet. We were really limited on space in the car and in previous camps I very rarely get any done. The grass gets everywhere, it can get grubby and end up smelling of camp fire smoke so I left it, but I really missed it – it feels like it is so much a part of everyday that I can’t be without it. Needless to say I have more than made up for it on my return and plan to get a whole lot finished and a whole lot started over the next few weeks.