Monday, 9 June 2014

How to Have a (near) Perfect Camping Experience

 I get annoyed when people paint a picture perfect image of their lives on social media.
I am proud to be human, despite all that unsavoury stuff that comes with that package and I would never want to give anyone the impression that I am anything but human.
But I do have a tendency to try to keep things positive on here, so I was a bit worried that my last post about camping came across as a bit too "dreamy", "cheesy" or "glossy".
Hand on heart, it was probably the most idyllic camping trip ever. It was as perfect a camping trip that you could ever wish for.
The sun shone, the kids refrained from excessive bickering, and even the four-year-old held off on his epic tantruming phase for the weekend.

But camping is camping. And it's not perfect.

So here is another side of our ideal camping weekend for the sake of Keeping it Real and I'll share some tips that we have found to be useful when trying to pull off an idyllic camping weekend.

Firstly, when camping in a small space with others, you must be tolerant and accepting of certain odours.
Because, what happens in the van; stays in the van.

Like butter wouldn't melt. 
Poor old dear has no idea.

You must also create a hard shell for yourself so as not to be easily embarrassed. Upon pulling up at the site, (after much effort) your dog decides not to wait until you get to the adjacent field, but to drop poop right in the middle of your field, in front of all your camping neighbours who are trying to enjoy their bbqs after watching your van attempting to mount the hills to park, skidding and spinning in mud, spewing out exhaust; repeatedly.
This alone is embarrassing enough, but when you bend over to pick up the offensive turd, hiding your flushed cheeks behind your hair, your dog will then decide to dart off pulling the lead out from between your legs where you had wedged it for a moment to deal with the poo bags.
Your dog is not a sensible dog and will attack bbqs with sausages, steal children's footballs and will wreak havoc so you have no choice but to abandon the turd to chase the lead unsuccessfully until you make a dive for it, falling on the ground, getting dragged through grass and mud by mad dog for just under a couple of metres. 

You must then be of strong enough character to refrain from swearing too loudly and return to search for the hidden poop in the high grass.

Full of shame, head hanging down, you turn to your man for some reassurance.
It's hopeless, so your he won't even try to convince you that no one even noticed. Your neighbours will offer you a weak and worried smile, while fretting about their new, lively neighbours for the weekend.

This is all within the first 6 minutes of arriving on site.
So maybe this should be filed under: How to make an entrance to remember on your campsite. Get yourselves known.

Side Note: I also try not to exaggerate for the sake of humour. I think that card has been played too often.
I wish that I could say this was an exaggerated version, but this story is very real and very "normal" for us.
With our dog comes humiliation, and adventure.
But Jesus Christ Fenton, I love her.
Grandma, I'm not swearing for the sake of it, and our dog is not named Fenton. This is an attempt at solidarity with other owners of dogs of similar temperament:
You must be friendly and try to repair your reputation as you saunter over to the neighbours to ask if you could pretty please heat your Naan bread on their fire, seeing as you just arrived and are hungry and it will be a while yet before you can start your own fire.
FYI: Naan bread hot and fresh off the fire is the best. It is also awesome if you have prepared a meal to have upon arrival. From experience, we always arrive late on a Friday and everyone gets grumpy if they have to wait to long for food. I made Red Lentil Curry, which is super easy to have cooking while you potter about packing. We only travelled 30 minutes away from home, but these were some grateful and hungry travellers.

So be prepared with food.
On a normal camping trip, we would usually plan to go out to eat somewhere, or grab some fish and chips to have back at the camp site on one of the nights. 
Luckily, we had enough food on hand with us despite this plan, because after struggling to get into the very hilly site, we weren't going to try to leave again until home time.

Be Cool with getting dirty.
Unless you want to waste perfectly good sitting-around-time faffing about with showering over the weekend. you've got to be able to deal with being sticky, grubby and happy.
Baby Wipes.

Be relaxed about your toileting habits. There is no privacy or respect owed to campers. You can't be precious about this.
As much as you might appreciate some "alone time", your son will follow you to the portaloos,
and park himself right outside on his chair, waiting patiently for you to finish; alerting all campers to your presence and time spent within.
On another "alone time" occasion, your wife will send a child down to hide behind the portaloos setting off evacuation sound effects on the phone's button app.
But don't worry.
The children will get her back by unlocking and opening the portaloo door on her from the outside while she is balancing a lit flashlight under her chin, thus illuminating herself and business to all on the dark outside.

You may also want a strong stomach because by Sunday of the camping weekend, you will find yourself calculating how long you can hold your wee in relation to how long it will take to get home.

You may also hear of children playing in the funny blue water that comes out of the toilets.
And you will be grateful that those children are not your own this time.
Baby wipes.
Antibacterial Hand Gel.

Pack a Sense of Humour with you.
You are guaranteed to need it when your chair collapses on you,

or when you drink a caterpillar with your coffee.

Be flexible.
You may think that you are going camping to have some alone time with your family, but there are other people at the site.
These are wonderful people, who assure you that you were not the only ones who had trouble parking on site and they will ask you if there is anything that you need from the shop when they go since they know that you are stuck.

When your dog chooses to poop in front of their pitch (another group who didn't witness the first occasion) they will see your embarrassment and launch into their own "embarrassing dog" stories to make you feel better.

In the evenings, they might serenade you with guitars and voices, and awake you by wafting the smell of bacon-cooking-on campfire over to your pitch.

They will kindly inform you that the toilets are out of loo roll, before it is too late, and they will share some of their own private stash of quilted squares if they have any spare.

You may feel jealous that your kids aren't as reliant on you for their entertainment purposes as you had hoped for, but this is because they have been integrated into what is a massive tribe of camping kids.
They tell each other ghost stories, play chase, ball and all sorts of good things.
They come round to have a crafty drawing flash mob at your pitch, using the charcoal and pastels with gusto. 
You catch a glimpse of your dreams with these people,
and you don't even know their names. 
It's all over by the end of the weekend, without even a phone number/email/newfacebookfriend to show for it.
But you are left with the glowing embers...

I got all dreamy, cheesy and glossy again.
I can't help it.
Camping weekends are the best.


  1. Oh gosh I read the glossy version and got all wistful for our next trip. Now I'm reminded of the toilet horrors (and there really are multitudes). Our next trip is to a festival too, so those loos are not going to be pretty by Sunday night! *wails*
    I still want to go though... ;)

  2. How funny, I love the shot of your children in the camper - and the innocent dog! I daren't admit I've never been camping! :D


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