I hate everything about camping; traipsing across a field at 3am in the pouring rain to go for a wee, the inability to straighten my hair, other people’s hair in communal sinks, no fridge for the wine. It makes me shudder just thinking about it.
Ad loves it. It’s just one of our many differences. Opposites attract and all that! So I wasn’t terribly happy when the kids decided that part of Ad’s Father’s Day present would be the promise of a family camping trip. FFS. Why rope me into this? After all, he’s their dad not mine!!! But the kids persuaded me to agree to the idea in principle. I laid down my conditions – 1 night only, I had to be able to keep my wine cold and it had to be a weekend of wall to wall sunshine. I was quietly confident that my strict conditions meant that it just wouldn’t happen – we all know how reliably shit the British summer is….
But last weekend, with temperatures predicted to be in the high 20’s, I finally ran out of excuses. I packed the wine and resigned myself to a couple of days of crappiness. The boys went ahead and pitched up camp in Wales – Poddy McPodface for Ad and I, a 4 man tent for the kids and a fairly impressive gazebo for “living space”. By the time Ab and I joined them the next morning there was nothing to do, everything was under control and the sausage and eggs were cooking!
Ad and Josh chose the campsite. It’s one of their favourites and I can see why they like it so much. The river Severn runs through the site – they know I love being close to water. I dipped my toes in but it was painfully cold so there was no way I was going in. The boys went for a swim because they’re stupid! The dog wasn’t convinced either!
The stunningly beautiful Llyn Clywedog reservoir is close to the campsite. We visited a few years ago but I’d forgotten how tranquil and serene it is.
It was a baking hot weekend so we didn’t hang around at the reservoir too long and carried on to the shadier Hafran Forest. The trees edging beautiful way marked trails offered us some respite from the 30C heat.
A short walk away from the forest took us to the “Severn Break Its Neck” waterfall. I could have stayed, watching and listening to the falls all day.
We had a fab couple of days together as a family, remembering that we like each other’s company. Quite often we get so wrapped up in the madness of work, school, exams – life – that we lose sight of what’s really important. Sitting around the camp fire, toasting marshmallows, talking and laughing together felt quite special and exactly what we needed.
We also managed not to start a forest fire – although it was a close call when Ad poked around a bit too much forcing the hot embers out of the bucket and onto the parched grass.
Me: “Is that fire bucket a bit close to the ground?”
Ad: “You worry too much”
The next minute the kids are running for water, Ad is stamping flames out and I’m wearing my best “I told you so” face. But actually I do concede this wasn’t exactly the stuff that wild fires are made of!
I didn’t sleep well – the futon in the camping pod wasn’t too kind to my back but it must be a step up from a roll mat so I can’t complain too much.
I do reluctantly have to concede that this weekend has changed my view of camping. I came home refreshed, recharged, relaxed and happy. 2 days and 1 night on the right campsite, with the right people and with right weather has made me say things like “shall we buy a bigger tent?” I took it back once we got home but that’s still a pretty impressive turnaround!