It was four in the morning. I had been lying in a half awake/ half asleep dose for about an hour and a half knowing that I faced the thing I feared most in the world.
The wind was battering the tent and it had been raining. I was curled up in my sleeping bag, on the edge of a half deflated air mattress trying to keep warm. But it was no good, there was no way I was going to get back to sleep without getting up and going to the loo. I cursed the glass of wine I’d had before bed and I cursed the people we had ordered the portaloo from for not delivering in time.
Rolling off the mattress and trying not to wake the baby who was sleeping beside me, I crawled commando style out of our tent, donned my UGG style boots and set off for the trek across the campsite to the toilet block before walking back and trying to zip myself into the sleeping pod of the tent with an ounce of grace.
This was not the romantic outdoorsy experience I had been hoping for!
Admittedly the day had started well. We had left Derry in the sunshine with a very excited six year old and a car full of camping equipment. We arrived at the campsite and set about pitching our tent while the baby slept in the car and the boy ran around making new friends and declaring it the best day of his life ever.
Tent pitched, sun blazing, we went for a walk and stopped to chat to the animals on a nearby farm before stopping off at the onsite playpark for a wee go on the swings.
There was I, all Mother Earth, delighted with myself and thinking “this is the life”. As I chased the baby around the campsite, her all delighted with herself having a big old field to run across - I felt the cares of the world lift off my shoulders.
Already my brain was running miles ahead of me. We could do this all the time - every second weekend if necessary - and we would take on the look of very healthy and sunkissed people. I almost longed for the sun to start going down so we could light our wee fire and sit in front of it blissed out.
All we had to do first, of course, was get the increasingly cranky little girl in our care to sleep. The fresh air had left her exhausted so we went through the bedtime routine motions. What we didn’t account for is that campsites can be really very noisy. I don’t mean in an antisocial behaviour kind of a way, more a children running around, having fun and chattering way. Mix that with one very nosy little girl and you have a lethal combination.
For three hours, I hushed, soothed, sang to (in a tent that I had learned was not sound-proofed) and pleaded with our daughter to go to sleep. I was longing for my glass of wine. I was longing for a wee seat out in the great outdoors with hubby and the boy over a barbecue. Sadly the baby who never sleeps had other ideas.
Once I was finally able to escape (crawling commando style again so as to not wake her) the sun had gone down, the wind had picked up and we sat, huddled together over the fire trying to get warm.
“You’ll be grand once you get inside your sleeping bag,” hubby assured me. I wasn’t so sure. All I could think about was the very warm, centrally heated, bedroom at home complete with kingsize bed and a 13 tog duvet. Reluctantly I changed into my pyjamas, slipped on my bedsocks (tres romantic) and fleece jacket and tried to get comfortable on the inflatable (thus also deflatable) air mattress. Zipping myself in beside the baby, while hubby and the boy snuggled in the other sleeping pod, I figured that at least the huge amounts of fresh air and wee drop of wine would send me over to sleep in record time.
I didn’t count on the wind - at one stage all I could think was that we would be lucky if we didn’t wake up surrounded by munchkins 25 miles south of the Emerald City. As the tent rattled and battered around me, I just longed to drift off to sleep. Anyone who knows me will know that with a good sleep I’m up for anything - deprive me of sleep and I become a terrifying harridan who you would be best to steer clear of.
I woke in the morning (I say woke, I mean gave up on the notion of sleep) to find that, thankfully, we were still in Fermanagh. The baby was exhausted and cranky. I had a pain in my neck from the air mattress. The rain was threatening to come down in sheets. The boys wanted to spend the day fishing (which is so not my thing).So I did what all good women would do, packed up my car, drove me and my girl home and had a lovely day with her before settling down in front of the X-Factor with a glass of wine.
I may have wimped out, but I felt better for it especially as I listened to the wind howl around the windows and watched the rain come down in buckets.
I have promised to try it again, maybe when the baby is older, or preferably in the care of a loving relative. But for now me and the great outdoors will just have to agree to disagree.
Wine tourism spain short story / Flash competition - Interesting flash fiction competition that's free to enter. How would aliens react to wine? Would wine play a role in the way that aliens perceive Earth? ...
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