Camp Fail

Saturday 2 April: Day 1 of the Easter Holidays

The Boss and I had spent since Friday lunch-time packing, stuffing and loading and finally shoe-horned the kids into the car just before midday Saturday. One last check of the long, long list and off we set for 6 days camping in Northumberland! We’ve never been there and were looking forward to exploring it and hopefully enjoying the driest and mildest weather around. Except us being us, it never quite happens like that, does it…?

Princess Daffodil

Princess Daffodil

We arrived at the campsite, Waren Mill, around 4.30pm. The rain had stopped for a little bit but the fog hung in curtains over the sea, so undistracted by the hopefully gorgeous views, we got our pitch allocation, drove round to the wonderfully empty field, released the delighted and squealing minxes into their natural habitat, and quickly set to work erecting the behemoth tent (Vango Maritsa 500).

The little puddle in the bottom of the tent bag was a bit out of place, but as we unfurled the tent and poles and pegs, everything seemed fine: well, it had started to rain again. Like a well-oiled machine, The Boss and I took opposing sides and slotted the heavy poles into place. A bit of heaving and juggling and wishing we’d another 3 pairs of hands to hoist it (as yet too short and not strong enough to meaningfully help), and the tent was up. Hooray! Just as the rain really started to come down. We ordered the girls away from their daisy chains and daffodil crown-making and temporarily into the car while we painstakingly pegged out the tent, re-centred it on the placement as instructed, untied and retied the guy-lines, pegged them, meticulously opened and pegged the vents… Och, you get the picture. We know from long experience that time spent at the beginning getting it right pays dividends when the heavens open in the middle of the night. As forecast throughout the week ahead. Along with the hovering-just-above-zero temperatures.

As the rain decided to go from steady to heavy, I grabbed the tent inners and nipped inside to get them hooked up so that we could quickly all loll around our lovely, light, airy tent. The zip into the tent was jammed. I tugged. I teased. I yanked. I pulled steadily. I threatened. I shouted. I yelled. I growled. Nothing. I looked more closely: the zip seemed to be gummed up with what looked like wet silvery salt. Oh-oh…

I called The Boss over for reinforcements / moral support / possibility of blaming him. He tried everything I had (except for the shouting – he doesn’t really do Drama Queen). We remembered the tent has 2 other entrances, so he unpegged one and tried to unzip that. No go. With a “grrrrrRRRRR!” he finally managed to open it. I ran round, shielding the inners from the rain with my wet head and tumbled inside.

Dear goodness, the place stank! And the floor was wet. Very wet. This didn’t bode well at all. I called for the cloth we’d packed to mop up condensation in the morning. It just smeared the water around. I considered sacrificing a towel. The Boss came back with a penknife, so we left the puddles and prioritised taking turns to chip away the salt around the zip of the front door from either side. Chip, chip, chip, pull. Chip, chip, tug. Chip, yank. Like a pair of archaeologists we painstakingly dug out the zip. Finally, finally, we got it to open! We brushed off all the detritus and zipped back and forth, back and forth, freeing the teeth. It worked. Ish. Hooray! Right, now to investigate the water. And the smell.

Well, the smell was easy – every single seam was mouldy. All the once-clear windows were now entirely opaque. The zips at all the windows were jammed shut with similar powdery gunk to the front door zip. Ew!!! Maybe if the rain stopped and the wind started up, we could air the tent…? I looked at the rear ‘rib’ that the bedroom inners hook onto. Sodden. How could I get that dry? No new drips on the floor – good, at least it’s not leaking. Hopefully. I looked at the central ‘tower’ that the inners also hook onto and where we store our clothes in. Mouldy, wet through and actually disintegrating. Was I really going to connect the bedroom inners to this? Was I really going to sleep in here? Were we really going to subject our little kids to this?

I called The Boss indoors for an emergency conference. His wee face fell as he looked around: I didn’t need to explain. He suddenly frowned at me and asked if I was wheezing. Yes, my chest did feel very tight, but was that because I wanted to cry…? We looked again at the main sticking zip. Still sticking. I worded what we were both thinking: “What if we need to get out the tent tonight in a hurry and the zip sticks? That’s so dangerous.” We knew what we had to do, but decided to sit in the car with the over-excited minxes and discuss it in front of them, reluctant to actually make the final decision.

Maxi showing her happiness not 20 minutes before

Maxi showing her happiness not 20 minutes before

In 100% humidity, it wouldn’t dry out. We couldn’t sleep there overnight. We probably couldn’t sleep there ever again. We couldn’t clean it and we couldn’t replace the zips. And not being able to get out was too unsafe. We’d have to junk the tent and abandon the camping holiday.

“Can we salvage anything?” I asked The Boss, over the sound of 3 bitterly disappointed children howling. “Guylines? Tent poles? Inners? Pegs?”

“Just the pegs. The unbent ones”, he said sadly.

Right. No time for hysterics. It was already after 6.30pm (why, oh why, oh why could we not have discovered this before we’d spent 90 minutes setting the tent up?!). We were undoubtedly not the first campers this had ever happened to. Perhaps the campsite staff could suggest a cunning plan while we were still reeling in shock? The Boss called the Emergency Warden, who suggested staying in one of their wigwams or caravans overnight and sorting ourselves out in the morning. Brilliant! She promised to call back with the details.

Goodbye lovely tent

Goodbye lovely tent

In the meantime, The Boss and I set to work dismantling the tent and taking it to the skip. The girls cried and hugged each other. I felt a terrible heart-pang myself, remembering some of the fantastic holidays we’d spent in it: camping in the garden and horrifying the neighbours with the kids’ screaming and shrieking; our first family-of-5 camping trips; the camping that kept our family together 2.5 years ago (no-one was coping with The Boss commuting at weekends with his new job, so we spent the summer holidays camping at the campsite closest to his work).

Had it really been 2.5 years since we’d last used The Behemoth? We’d camped lots since. Right enough, we’d used the little 3-man tent instead each time. The Boss sheepishly admitted that he vaguely remembered putting the big tent away with a wet groundsheet that last time and waiting in vain for a dry day to put the tent out in the garden and dry it off properly. Normally I’d have screamed like a banshee at him, but the error was 3 years ago. Could I have promised back then to sort it out instead? A dim memory stirred in me, too. We were probably equally culpable. Why had we not got the tent out and aired and checked it before booking the trip? We normally would have. Oh yes – because it’s barely stopped raining since last August. Meh. How would we ever be able to afford to replace this? We said goodbye and thank you to the tent as we stuffed it in the skip.

unhappy kidsThe Warden called back as we sat in the car sheltering from the rain. Unfortunately they were fully booked. She was ready with details of how to get to the nearest Argos and outdoor kit shop and their closing times so we could nip off and buy an emergency tent. We thought about it as a family. Maxi immediately said that it would be daft to buy a little tent when we already had a 3-man one at home. I pointed out that a cheap tent wouldn’t cope with the forecast daily rain over the next week. Midi asked whether we’d get any money back at all. The Boss said no, it wasn’t their fault at all and they were only being helpful because they were kind people – we’d lost our money. Mini cried anew over her forgotten giraffe stuffed toy.

Damn. No tent. Bad weather. Upset family. I calmed the kids down and explained that things in life didn’t always go the way we’d planned. We could either sit and be miserable about it forever, or we could choose to make the most of it. The Boss and I agreed that we should eat first, discuss it all over dinner, then make a move, whatever that move was. The campsite had a restaurant on-site that we’d planned to eat at on the first evening anyway, so we did just that.

Over the next hour, we sat waiting on dinner, fielding ideas. Mini suggested that we go home that night to get Giraffe. We agreed that would be the most sensible and cheapest thing to do. But we didn’t want to. And the longer dinner took to arrive (the restaurant was very busy), the less likely we’d be able to make the 4 hour drive – The Boss and I were exhausted. Midi suggested that we stay in a hotel overnight then spend tomorrow having fun somewhere and going home tomorrow night. Aha, now that’s more likely! Then we could stop stressing about getting home at 1am. But we only had our budgeted spending money left. We sat watching the painfully slow wi-fi load pages onto The Boss’s phone every 4 – 12 minutes (yes, I timed it).

LateRooms turned up nothing. The problem of having 3 children and not being able to afford 2 hotel rooms! We called the nearest Premier Inn. No, they absolutely would not let us share one room. Please? No. Pretty please? No. We tried a few other websites. Nothing. The phone signal waxed and waned and the wi-fi ground to a halt as the restaurant got busier.

We ate our fish and chip dinner and decided to set off before it got any later (it was 8pm) and just hope for the best. We let the Warden know we were leaving and thanked her profusely for trying so hard to help us out. As we approached the A1, The Boss’s phone picked up 3G signal, so he checked out the Edinburgh Premier Inns. He phoned the Musselburgh one direct. The lady on the other end said the same as her colleague in the more southerly hotel: that we couldn’t share, and that she only had one room left anyway. Voice cracking, The Boss explained that we were actually quite desperate, and told her our tale of woe. The lady sympathised. She talked to her boss. She relented and said she’d do her very best to get the room ready for the 5 of us before we arrived.

An hour and a half later, after a slow and difficult drive through thick haar fog, we arrived looking like red-eyed survivors from the rainforest. The lovely receptionist made us feel safe and welcome and commiserated with our bad luck. She even apologised that Mini would have to share with one of us. We didn’t care – we had a place to sleep that didn’t drip, creep, splosh,smell or give us asthma!

Don't care where you lot are sleeping - this is MY big bed!

Don’t care where you lot are sleeping – this is MY big bed!

Well, I say sleep – the kids slept well. Mini slept like a whirling dervish. Occasionally she’d punch me in the kidneys, slap The Boss, kick me in the stomach, rouse and demand that she be handed Midi’s Heffalump to cuddle, then kick the covers off and snore and splutter in The Boss’s ear. The Boss and I just clung to the edges of the bed either side of Mini and felt thankful for a room!

So, Pop Kids, what have we learned from this sorry tale?

  1. Always, always, always dry your tent. Somehow. Find a way. Just do it. Don’t ever leave it for 3 years.
  2. Always get your tent out to check it before you set off on holiday. Even better, get it out and check it before you pay for your booking.
  3. Always have a back-up plan; a proper if-all-else-fails plan. That doesn’t involve driving through the night in haar fog when you’re tired.
  4. Involve the kids when you have to make tough and upsetting decisions – they’ll feel less helpless and will burst with pride if you use one of ‘their’ (cleverly-planted and set-up) ideas.
  5. Bar one single person, everyone we asked for help and advice gave us it gladly. It was humbling and heart-warming. And I’ll tell you just how brilliant the kind Waren Mill Warden was in another post…

Weekend in Gairloch Part 1

17 August 2012

In a final, last of the school summer holidays fling, we spent the weekend in Gairloch. The car was packed and ready to go the night before, I fed the minxes and had them in their pyjamas from 1700hrs, so we only had to wait on the The Boss arriving half an hour later and off we zoomed!

4 year old navigator

The rain stopped and the clouds parted as we left Inverness and headed west. The road was absolutely empty, so I enjoyed being Mondeo Mummy (like Mondeo Man but with more hormones). We inherited the car from my brother when he gave us Foster Cat to look after, and he always raved about the ride. Throwing it around the single track lanes to Gairloch*, I saw what he meant – even the minxes were comfy in the back. (*though I have to stress [this being a family show ‘n’ all] that I didn’t speed and was a courteous driver to other road users at all times. Even the biffs. Honest).

Highland clouds lifting on the A835

The view down to Loch Maree through Glen Docharty. Go on, click to see it larger!

The scenery got more and more jaw-dropping as we drove west. I found it hard to keep driving and not pull up at every parking place to gawp at the mountains. I caught sight of Slioch out the side window and exclaimed, “Oh wow, look at that bee-YOO-tiful mountain!”

Maxi looked up from her book: “Where? They’re just hills. I mean, they’re high hills, but they’re not that…OH WOW! LOOK at THAT!”

I love our big old Vango Maritsa 500 tent, but my God I cannot be arsed putting it up and taking it down every time I want to nip away for the weekend. That’s a half hour and an hour respectively when the minxes aren’t properly tethered supervised. Knowing that we wouldn’t arrive at Gairloch much before 2130hrs on a Friday night tipped the balance: this time we took our ancient, trusty Vango Storm 300+. That old tent did us proud before Maxi Minx arrived, and she even camped with us till she was 1. Best of all, it can be put up in around 5 minutes.

We drove through Gairloch town itself just after 2100hrs, straight past 2 people from The Boss’ work. He did the comedy double-rub of his eyes. Had we not been on a tight time-scale I’d have pulled up and made him walk past them nonchalantly, bidding them a cheerful, “G’d evening!” as he passed. But, we had to get to the campsite. I’d no idea if it locked up for the night. And the minxes were getting tired and sleepy…

If you think we’re sleeping tonight, you’re a …. <zzzzzzzz, snore>

Well, shortly afterwards we pulled into the best UK campsite I think I’ve ever stayed at. Amazing scenery, absolutely huge, and no set pitches: so long as you keep 7m away from any other tent, you can pitch where you like. Rather than head for a pitch with a view, we aimed for the pitch that kept our noisy girls the farthest away from everyone else. The ‘calm winds’ that were forecast felt like a steady 30-40mph to me, as The Boss and I pitched our tent by headtorch light. It took 6 minutes to get it erected (we’re out of practice…), another 15 mins to stake it to the ground and do the guy-ropes (they’d never been used, in hundreds of UK and French camping trips – I guess we’d been fair-weather campers after all!), 30 seconds to sling in the self-inflating mats, pillows and sleeping bags and 10 seconds to prise the minxes out their car seats.

I took them to the toilet block to case the place out, relieve little bladders, brush teeth, etc. It was like a scene from a horror film, Revenge of the Crane-Fly. I’m not scared of Daddy Longlegs, but The Boss sure is. And when you lose count of how many of the fluttery wee beggars there are in one toilet cubicle alone, you know there are a LOT… I did the honourable thing and warned him. I think he brushed his teeth outside… We sat up for a bit while the minxes snored almost instantly (Yes!!!! At last!) and watched the ISS go past. And again, 40-odd minutes later. It got a bit cold to be sitting outside in the howling wind, so we sat in the car, him playing with his iPhone and me knitting by headtorch (it was a gift, rather than a Rainbow Knits woolly creation, so that’s allowed). When the ISS went past yet again, we headed for bed.

So, how do you fit 5 trouts into a 2-3 man tent? Well, you put Grumpy and Scared-of-Cranefly Trout head to head in the middle with their feet at each corner, like a bottomless triangle. And you let the 3 minxy trouts doss in whatever position they find themselves in at any given moment. It was surprisingly comfortable and we all slept very well.

Introducing the Minxes To Camping

31 July – 2 Aug 2012

Well, we finally managed it – we got the minxes away properly camping for a few days. No-one called the police, no-one died and I think we might be allowed back on the campsite this century. So I’d say that was a success…

The Beast

We went to Deeside Holiday Park, near Peterculter, south of Aberdeen. It was the place we’d originally planned to stay at back in March, until it dumped with snow. What a brilliant site! Quiet, clean, with a safely fenced-off duck pond and great, sturdy playground for kids. It was pretty busy so we drove round it looking for somewhere to park the behemoth of a tent. Then drove round again. And then asked timidly at Reception if it would be ok if we used the overspill tent field. Luckily, for them and us, it was fine.

Can you imagine how much noise 3 over-excited minxes can make? Well, our poor fellow-campers don’t need to imagine (I’m sorry; I’m so, so sorry). They started screeching as me and The Boss got out the car and started to erect the tent. An hour later, with just the guy-ropes to do, and they were at fever-pitch. We took them to the playground and the duck-pond to burn off some energy, especially because Midi was just screaming loudly and randomly just for the hell of it, like an overly-sensitive car alarm. That worked a bit and they turned back into normally active kids. Stupidly, we then fed them at the Old Mill restaurant next door (not our original plan, but what you do when Someone (hint: not me) forgets the cutlery and plates!) So, full of calories, we then topped them up with hot chocolate and marshmallows. Crikey, talk about lighting the blue touch paper… After a while, though, you have to balance the racket you’re making yourself, hissing, “Be quiet! Go to sleep! For the love of God stop eating your sister’s hair!!” and just let them get on with it.

You can forgive a man almost anything when he puts your coffee on the campfire before he does anything else – even fix the tent.

I’m not saying that I didn’t get much sleep, but I remember that they finally quietened down around 2215hrs; and that the light rain turned to heavy rain at 0100hrs. At 0320hrs both Maxi and Midi needed potty runs. Around 0600hrs the workies’ vans started up and left, from right outside the tent door (the nice staff member mowing the lawn had warned us, but we knew we’d be up anyway). At 0720hrs I gave up and decided to get up and see how bad the rain was. Five minutes later I realised I *had* slept because I hadn’t noticed The Boss or Mini get up and leave the tent. At 0731hrs The Boss handed me in a freshly brewed espresso and went back to fixing the tent with Mini (he’d not pegged out the ventilation flaps. Oops). And my world became liveable again.

You don’t want to know what she was drawing in the condensation. Really, you don’t.

The next night we thought the girls would sleep more soundly because they’d fallen asleep in their (delicious) Greek restaurant food. Nope, not a chance. Just the thought of brushing their teeth outdoors and they were full of the giggles and screeches again. This time, though, they quietened down a bit earlier. Just a bit: 2200hrs. You could hear them clear across the campsite, by the washing-up block. It’s a wicked, unsubstantiated rumour that I only offered to wash-up to escape the cacophony, by the way…

I wrote up some of my top tips about camping with children over on the Little Trekkers blog, but I guess in summary:

– don’t forget your coffee. No matter what. Your life won’t be worth living.

– the best luxury item for kids is a potty. It saves that Silly O’Clock in the morning run across a wet field just as your 4 year old pees herself. You still have to march across sleepily to the toilet block to empty it, but your minx can go back to sleep. Taking the old pink potty was a stroke of genius, I tell you.

– camping brings out the muckiness in kids. Example, me and Mini Minx were cuddling up in my sleeping bag. Maxi and Midi had finally passed out. Mini was idly rooting around in her nostril.

“Mini, stop picking your nose: it’s not nice. Dirty!… Oh, what’s that?!”

Mini: “My bogey! Hehehehee”

Me, exasperated: “Right, now what are you going to do with it? Where’s your bogey going to go? No…no! Aaiieeeee!” as she happily and affectionately wiped it on my cheek.

Fuelling up for more minxy japery


Remember I mentioned the yummy raspberry cheesecake we all made on Thursday night? Well, it made me and The Boss feel so mellow that we decided on a whim to go camping this weekend. I pored over the weather forecasts and settled on a particular campsite near Gairloch, NW Highlands, as that would (a) miss all the rain except for a few hours in the early morning, (b) had a low midge forecast and (c) it was highly rated in all reviews. Brilliant! So we told the minxes and spent all Friday day and night happily getting our old camping gear ready and packing the car.

In The Olden Days Pre-Minxes we had 2 crates in the garage for camping: one crate full of small camp stove, cups, coffee, mini first aid kit, bits and bobs needed for a weekend away; the other crate was full of supplementals to take for a week or more away. It meant that we could get home from work on a Friday night, grab the tent, either one or both crates, climbing and/or cycling gear and a bag of clothes and GO! But the last time we went camping was in our old Vango Storm 300+, a week before Maxi Minx’s 1st birthday. So that’s 5 years ago… Ah, how much fun we had all over the Peak District when suddenly we were camping as a family instead of a couple! With our tandem plus baby seat at the back. Nowadays, it takes me all my time just to put together a comprehensive enough First Aid kit for the kids, never mind get the rest of the gear together. Hence why it took all of Friday.

I put up the old tent in the sun, left the doors opened and hoped that the stiff breeze would air away the musty damp smell (it didn’t). While I was at it, I aired my treasure stash of books that I’d liberated from their 17 year incarceration in my Dad’s basement. I don’t know which smelled worse! And kept 3 sun-creamed minxes from getting up to too much mischief. They went to bed all excited about the weekend ahead, heads filled with tales of new beaches to explore, croissants and bacon rolls for breakfast, Chinese takeaway for dinner, afternoon stop at the cake-shop and dodging midges. They’ve no real idea what midges are – I think they think they’re mischievious teddies or something. Ah, they’ll learn.

Saturday dawned bleak and wet. A quick weather check showed that the forecast had totally changed and that NW Highlands were going to get heavy rain some of Saturday and all day Sunday. So we and the tent would be wet all day. Hmmm. The Boss kyboshed the idea just as Maxi and Midi burst into our room holding aloft the soft toys they’d finally settled on taking. Maxi greeted the news with floods of tears. Poor little soul. I tried to cheer her up with a quickly cobbled-together story of how we could do all the things we’d planned here at home. She didn’t seem convinced…

One round of bacon rolls and cake in the oven for afternoon tea later, and Maxi still wasn’t convinced. She was allowed to make a huge painting mess with Midi, which cheered her up a bit. I started crocheting a round of red poppies on her granny stripe blanket which made her happier still. The Boss took her and Mini to the local Waste Busters in search of a new bike, then a quick food shop. The strange child loved that! But I think the thing that made her happiest of all was bringing home a Chinese takeaway and being allowed to eat it with chopsticks. Little Midi showed what hunger, greed, tenacity and a desire to out-do your big sister can achieve: she merrily showed off her chopstick skills picking up individual peas and rice grains, and crowing gleefully at her less skilful sisters.

indoor camping

Bedtime stories under canvas. Ish.

Full of takeway, cake, lemonade and wearing their new pyjamas, the minxes were finally ushered to their bedroom, where I’d managed to squeeze in the tent inner. It stank the room out with its musty smell, but they didn’t care! All 3 spent the evening thundering back and forth along the landing, in and out the tent, screaming their heads off. I guess the campers at that campsite will never know how close they came to having their Saturday night badly disturbed…

Around 10pm peace suddenly reigned: Mini had finally settled in her cot, Maxi had passed out in Midi’s lower bunkbed and Midi was snoring her head off, starfished in the tent.

home-made croissants

Flaky, doughy, munchy claws of buttery yumminess

Today The Boss baked the home-made croissants I’d made yesterday and brought out all 9 flavours of jam we have lurking in the cupboards. After that we had a day of messing about in the tent (they’re all up there now, at 2215hrs, still messing about in sleeping bags and arguing over whether the doors are going to get zipped shut or not. I’m contemplating padlocking the doors shut…), being educated in the Tour de France by The Boss, watching tennis (they got bored, and I felt all motherly to Andy Murray, greetin’ at the end, poor wee sausage).

Talking to Maxi over dinner, we discussed what we might get up to tomorrow. We agreed that we could pull out sleds for boats, use brushes as oars, they could get as wet as they pleased. And if the grass stayed wet, I might even pull them along in their ‘boats’. “Ooo, I wonder if the grass will get wrecked?” I pondered aloud.

“Who cares?” Maxi shrugged, licking her clotted cream with the odd bit of scone dotted round it. I laughed long and hard: this isn’t Maxi’s normal attitude at all. She’s so responsible and mature and proper that normally she’d have fretted and wrung her hands over the prospect of some grass being a bit put out.

“That’s my girl!”, high-fiving her. It looks like tomorrow might be quite fun after all!

March 2012 Camping Exped

So… how did the overnight camping exped go? Well, we all survived and had fun, but the neighbours didn’t get much sleep. Oops.

First the tent report:

I started putting the beast up on my own on Friday evening. I’m a flabby middle-aged mum (I turned 41 a few days ago. I’m now properly old, hehehehe) so that’s a good test for it. After 50 minutes, I managed to get this far:

After 50 minutes graft...

Mistakes along the way that I won’t make again: I now properly appreciate that a 5-man tent is a totally different beast to my old, loved 2-man tent; know which end is the front door; I’ll make sure that that’s lying on the ground first before pushing the poles in and piling the ‘ribs’ on top of each other; I now know to put the pins into the base of the poles (or the tent has no tension: dur!); I know that the curved ceiling ribs and angle-pieces need to really be in tight with the material; I’ve slacked off the groundsheet and zipped all the doors ready for erection (though next time I’ll leave one door unzipped so I can actually get the air out instead of having to roll over it like a dog in pig-muck…). Oh yeah, and next time I’ll make sure that I don’t lose the tent pins somewhere in the voluminous mass of canvas on the ground…

I think second time round it will probably take around 30 minutes with both me and The Boss doing it together.

More importantly, though, the Minx Report:

  1. I think my first mistake was getting the girls’ excitement levels to Level Incredible by letting them watch me put up the tent. Their eyes were spinning in their giddy little heads by the time I finished.
  2. Second mistake was letting them take out some marshmallows in little pots as a treat. Actually, that could have been worse – I was tempted to let them have them threaded on a skewer. As it was, they just made a few thousand very sticky messes.
  3. Third mistake was letting them take their favourite teddies with them. Around 2am when the temperature dipped to 2.1degC (according to the Met Office actuals) Maxi Minx woke up cold, but refused to put on her down jacket that I’d put in the sleeping compartment: it was keeping Bagpuss warm.
  4. Fourth mistake was probably not warning the neighbours. I guess hearing a baby crying outside at all hours of the night and morning would be unsettling to most people.

To be fair to the girls, after they raced around the inside and bounded over the mattresses, leaving trails of marshmallow mess at toddler height, they quickly settled into their new sleeping bags. I’m so glad I bought 3 season ones with lovely thick neck baffles – I hadn’t intended to take them camping in weather as nippy as 2degC, but apart from Maxi, they stayed plenty warm enough. And they both loved the bright purple colour (!) Luckily their Grandma had happened to buy them mechanical torches each, so they were read their bedtime stories by torchlight.

Within 30 minutes, Maxi and Midi were snoring, cuddled up side by side. After another 30 minutes of watching poor little Mini race round and round like a hamster in a wheel, howling and crying, I realised that she just needed help realising that it was bedtime. So I cuddled her into mine and The Boss’ zip-together-into-a-double sleeping bags, stroked her head, and recited our normal nap- and bed-time goodnight list (“Goodnight fishing boats; goodnight seagulls; goodnight Daddy; goodnight Mummy; etc”) It worked like a charm and she was soon snoring louder than anyone.

Unfortunately she didn’t stay asleep. Ouchy cutting canines put paid to that. So by the time everyone else was awakened by the shrieking seagulls nesting in the cemetery next door around 5.30am, I’d not had much sleep… Luckily The Boss slipped right back into our old camping routines and fetched me a hot coffee in my sleeping bag as soon as he woke. God, how I love that man!

Future Camping

Well, now the girls have got their first camp-night jitters out their system, as I type this I’m trying to book a few nights’ stay next week over near Aberdeen. I can’t wait!

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