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The Kid and I were very made-up and flattered to be invited to go camping with some friends over Easter.

However, being a bit of a wuss by nature and given my love of all things homely – like my own bathroom and loo for example, I have to admit to rising panic at this forthcoming adventure.  I hate to be cold and public loos and showers bring me out in a rash at the mere thought.

Couple that with the fact that I’m a bit of a tidy freak and that I’d be living out of a bag in a tent with 8 others – well of course I bloody said yes!!!!

This probably surprised my beloved camping buds but the ‘give it a go’ in me, coupled with the fact that I knew The Kid would love it, saw me agreeing like I’d been a camper all my life.  I also knew we would have a really good laugh.

Too late to change your mind now girlies!!!

Iron Man found the whole thing hilariously amusing given my wimpy nature.  He generally wouldn’t put me and camping in the one sentence.  Glamping – yes, caravan – yes, treehouse – yes, lodge – yes.  Camping no.

He managed to contain his excitement about having two whole days to himself and I certainly didn’t begrudge him this as I know how much I love my own space.

So without further ado, a camping meeting was underway and a pitch secured at a Haven campsite in Clacton.

Wanting to be on top of things, I immediately snapped up this tea towel in Primark which was to become the camp mascot.

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Advice was forthcoming from another camping friend in the form of making sure you put something under the airbed and take lots of layers.

Let me tell you I could have single handedly done my own fashion show with one days worth of clothing layers.  No need to tell me twice.  She shalt not be cold.

A Dora the Explorer table cloth and a picnic rug for under the beds were also packed.

It would later transpire that Dora would be responsible for our redemption.

I was also usefully provided with an electric cable for hook up courtesy of my brother in law which Iron Man kindly converted and shortened as it was on a ridiculously long lead.

I was sorted. The camp would be sorted, with our combined strength, we would make Bear Grylls look like Barbie.

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And so came the day.

Generous lashings of rain leading up to our departure assured us of a nice soft ground for pitching.

Departure also gave us ringside seats to a police chase before we had even left home.

A taste of the excitement to follow.

As we approached Clacton, the sun shone brightly and warmly.  So brightly that it belied the fact that every tent on the field was surrounded by straw.  It had been a very wet week.

Not for us though.  Coats off and out came the tent.  It was at this point that I was humbled by the tent erecting skills of my pals.  This was to be my chocolate teapot moment.  I did not have a clue how to put a tent up and was happy to be the apprentice erecter under their expert direction.

It’s all about teamwork at times like this but on the basis that a team is only as strong as its weakest member (me on this occasion), it was somewhat shocking that the whole thing was done in an hour and we were sat drinking Prosecco in the sunshine laughing at how lucky we were.

Time to test the electricity.

It turns out there was a reason for the lengthy lead – to allow it to go into the tent and stay dry.  No worries here though, 8 beds were swiftly inflated and it was baking.  Thumbs up all round.

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We had a tightly packed schedule of forestry, swimming and rifle shooting that afternoon and by 7pm we all fell down in the entertainment lounge for food, drink and a show.

Time seemed to stand still while we were there as we seemed to pack so much in to one day.  This is one of the great things about camping.

I have to say as far as sites go, this one was pretty much spot on.

We also had a ban on technology for all, not a popular choice but also very liberating and it wasn’t missed.

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And did I mention shows?

It turns out that we were treated to another as we left the lounge to return home.  This time a lightning show!  The rain was coming down in stair rods and we had to get ourselves and the six kids back to base across the bog.

This is real camping.  None of this Prosecco and sunshine lark.

Mud, rain, dark, cold, loo runs and rain beating down on the tent with the occasional bolt of lightning.

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Needless to say, not too much in the way of sleep that night and a face full of rain awaited the first person to unzip the tent as they glimpsed the dark sky of the new day.

Three out of four rooms had wet bedding.  For some unknown reason, ours being the 4th was bone dry.

No beach today.

We were soon conferring and changing plans whilst sipping a lukewarm cuppa from the travel kettle that took 5 hours to boil, while attached to the metre long cable in the rain on a bin liner!

Not deterred, we set off with our list of indoor pursuits and had lots of fun.

It was during our game of chicken charades that the ‘bug’ came.  An  over enthusiastic charade was initially suspected but unfortunately for one poor member of our crew, this was not an isolated incident.  We had a poorly camper.

We were not deterred.  Rain and sick did not stop our play and another days events were enjoyed by all.

There was just a small matter of some of the children getting lost on site but a recent headcount shows that 6 returned home safely.  No flies on our childcare!

The rain finally let up and we were treated to a clear sky and plummeting temperatures for our final sleep.

The Dora table cloth was to save the day by going someway towards insulating us from the ice cold floor.  On reflection, it was probably Dora that kept us dry too.

A peaceful night ensued with the occasional snore and quack.

It was then time to do the whole thing in reverse and take down our house of fun.  Once again we were treated to wonderful sunshine.

Operation clear-up was another success.

And we all survived.  Happily.

Dora the Explorer emerged as a hero of the holiday.

I did it.  We did it.  I’d do it again.

I didn’t phone home once.

Best of all you can roam around in a fleece onesie and a funny hat looking like a teletebby and no one cares.  Imagine that!

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There are a few tips that I would offer to any prospective campers which I shall be storing in my camping file for future reference :

If you think you are getting away from a snorer, think again – you will effectively be sleeping with everyone else’s snoring husbands (or wives).  There is no sound proofing in a tent.

  • Never take a pitch next to a caravan.  Not only will they piss you off annoy you for being dry and warm in a thunder storm but their ability to watch TV loudly until late will really get on your wick as you lay freezing trying to nod off.
  • They will also wake you every time they walk across the floor and when they get up and they bang their doors very loudly.  The only way to meet behaviour like this is with another caravan.  Canvas is no match in this relationship.
  • Take a longer electricity cable.  Short leads are for houses.
  • Do not wear wellington boots that no one can get off – even if they are fashionable.  They will hinder progress.
  • Research inflatable sick buckets.  One for Amazon.  Pack.

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And as if by coincidence, it would seem that we were not alone in our experience.  Even the PM was getting involved.

Here is the headline in the newspaper on our departure day.

So where were you Dave when the rain came in?

Trying to pinch my wellies no doubt!

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Such a memorable few days for all.  There are no barriers and secrets with camping.  I think we all know a little more about each other than before we went!

I wonder if I have changed your mind if you are a non-camping type like me?

Or maybe you are a seasoned camper and have seen it all before?

Either way, I would love to hear how you shape up under canvas.

Thank you for reading.

Until next time ….

Nicky

 

The Secret Diary of Agent Spitback

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