Now, this is a post that a few of you who follow me on Facebook/Twitter might have been expecting. We’ve just returned from a lovely few days away in Cornwall… camping. I mean, come on, it’s May, surely it would be OK to camp in May, no?! Now, we’re not scared to camp and we’re not bothered by the rain, so to be fair, even though the weather wasn’t all that kind to us, it never really stopped us doing what we had planned and when it REALLY mattered, the sun came out. That is, when we set the tent up and we when we took it down! I guess I always knew that the sun wouldn’t a permanent fixture, because we have friends who go to Cornwall every year and every year they manage to find some sunshine, but yep, you guessed it – they weren’t in Cornwall this weekend, so no real sunshine to speak of! I must say though that the main benefit of wind/rain on the coast is the sight of fabulous crashing waves and we certainly saw plenty of them!! Love love love it!
So our main reason for going centres around the loss earlier this year of the Hub’s mum. Whilst not actually Cornish, she grew up in a village very close to Padstow and as her children grew, many happy family holidays were spent back in the Padstow area, including visiting the annual May Day festival. Hub often talks fondly of those visits and we have been back to the village several times in recent years. This year, we decided it was time our children experienced May Day and became acquainted with the Obby Oss’s!
But our story really kicks off when we discover that on Day Two our camping neighbours are two families of what I have since described as ‘toffs’! Now bearing in mind this is Padstow, we’re not all that far from Rock (Chelsea-on-Sea) and so Home Counties accents are to be expected. But these weren’t your average Cotswold Yummy-Mummy brigade either… they were something quite different! Now I’m not here to preach perfect parenting, goodness knows how I get through some days with a teen and pre-teen without the use of a manual/rule book! But there is an unoffical camping code of conduct and these guys just about tore the darn thing up and stared all over again! Now let’s see if I can summarise this without losing you…
1. When you camp you need to adopt a ‘camping voice’ – that is one’s ability to vary the volume and tone to suit the location, the surroundings and most importantly, the bloody time of day! Calling one’s 3 year old daughter as though she’s up in her 3rd floor townhouse bedroom, when she’s in fact 3 feet away in her ‘tent room’ doesn’t do it for anyone within 500m and not at the crack of bloody dawn!
2. If you are using your tent for the first time, then it’s prudent to give it a try before you set out to camp, or at least be familiar with one end of a pole from another! A lack of TV was easily compensated by watching two inept alpha males trying to figure out why there was a spare piece of pole, this was, in their words, ‘hilaire‘! (Note this word was equally used as a greeting between the 2 females of the group, as much as an expression of enjoyment!)
3. Camping with children requires planning, planning and a ton of back up plans. Even when they are 11 and 13… trust me on that! But when they are 2-ish and 3-ish, it’s a whole different ball game and you know what… just because some parenting guru at your mummies coffee morning says “Controlled crying totally works, yah…”, doesn’t mean it’s something you should be trying in the middle of a campsite. If your child is a dreadful sleeper, you need to have a plan. OK, my plan for your parenting involved that spare tent pole and not on your child… you might have tuned out the waaa… waaa… waaa… at 10.30pm, while you enjoyed your 3rd Cornish micro brewery beer of the night, but the rest of the site hadn’t and some people were even less happy than us!! (As a post script on this episode: Child falls asleep and then whoosh… festival fireworks started… waa..waa..waa!)
4. That ‘planning with kids’ thing I mentioned? Well, that includes feeding them and feeding them the things they love. With smaller children, who are likely to be fussy about their food from time to time, it makes sense to pack a few of their familiar staples, if only to buy you some time when standard meal times go awry, which can happen when camping. BBQ’ing 1000 chipolatas at 8.00pm, when said children are now past their bedtime (no I’m not imposing a curfew – but I did hear them say – rather whinge – that they were tired, several times!) and then being surprised when they say they don’t like the spicy flavour was not your best move. However, funniest moment of the sorry situation was when slightly less annoying toff chap decides to shelter the BBQ from the now predictable squally showers! Only his choice of shelter was a child’s brolly not unlike one the Queen mum might have used…
The next big gust took said brolly and allowed it to tumble-down the hill, right past our tent. Well, if it was possible to wet yourself laughing in silence, then the Hub did a great job of it! Not because of the flying brolly, but the manner in which slight less annoying toff ‘ran’ to catch up with it! This was most definitely the right time to declare: “Oh… hilaire!”
And so, on the final morning, as we packed our things away in the sunshine, we reflected on what had turned about to be just another average family trip away. I say average, because in my experience, there’s no such thing as normal, quiet, relaxed, or event free when we go away! And you know what… I wouldn’t have it any other way!