Monday, August 23, 2010

Pack up your troubles

May God save and preserve me, this weekend I am doing something which up until now has been absolutely unthinkable to a person such as me who adores her creature comforts.

I am roughing it, without running water, an electricity supply or indeed a bathroom with a locking door to go camping with my family.

Our kitchen has taken on the look of the ‘House of Value’ as our camping supplies have accumulated - a tent (family sized), a gas stove (one ring - possible disaster in the making) and assorted lights, sleeping bags and air mattresses and plastic eating utensils. The portaloo, as I write, is in the post.

The boy has almost taken off into orbit with excitement and if the truth be told his daddy is not far behind me. Me and the baby? We’re a bit more reserved into our enthusiasm. In fairness she hasn’t a notion anything is going on and me? I think I’m in denial.

Booking the trip really was one of those ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’ type of things. The husband and the boy had gone away for a boys’ own adventure kind of a trip to Donegal for a night and had come back with great stories of a night under canvas and the joys of the entire experience. (in fairness though, they are boys - they can pee standing up in a discreet fashion and have no need for hair dryers or similar equipment).

I think I was feeling a little fragile because, in the absence of a proper summer holiday and on the only good day of the last two months, I agreed to look at a family campsite. Booking it, and looking out at the clear blue skies over Derry, I suddenly had a rose tinted view of the entire experience.

We would run about doing outdoorsy type things all day, maybe a little cycling, maybe some frisbee throwing. We would eat a picnic of warm tomato sandwiches and soggy egg and onion baps and return back to our wee tent where, once the baby was asleep and out of the way of danger, we would like a fire and maybe sing a wee chorus of ‘Kumbaya’ (or similar campfire song). The hubby and I may share a wee aperitif and then exhausted from all the fresh country air and sunshine we would sleep blissfully under canvas until the following morning.

I fear it will be different - very different. I fear the rain. I fear that we will spend two days trying not to have our wee tent wash away down a hill in Fermanagh. I fear that the children will turn their noses up at my picnic efforts - in fairness because everyone wants something warm on a cold day, and I fear it will be very cold indeed. I fear that as it has been approximately 20 years since I have sat on bicyle the cycling may end in a trip to casualty. They say you never forget, but I’m willing to bet I’ll be the exception to the rule. I fear rain will stop play as far as the barbecue is concerned and that we will sit huddled over our one ring stove trying to make a pot of tea in what is seriously the smallest kettle in the entire known universe. As for singing ‘Kumbaya’ - well, it’s a well known fact that I can’t sing a note and believe me, the husband isn’t talented in that department either.

I fear the whole experience may drive me to drink... and not in a “wee aperitif on the terrace before dinner” kind of a way.

But I will give it a go. I’ll give it a go for the Brigini I used to be who used to get really excited at the thought of going camping and was gutted when we stayed in a school hall and not under canvas. I’m doing for the child I was who used to be obsessed with the Secret Seven and the Famous Five and long for all the mad adventures they have and I’m doing it for the six year old who is more excited about this than perhaps anything else in his entire life.

Maybe I’ll surprise myself. There is something appealing about leaving behind the trappings of modern life and spending time in the country - away from the Sky Plus and the Internet and all those other distractions. There is something very appealing about spending time somewhere the boy can’t get access to a Wii and we would be able to enjoy quality family time together in an age when getting time together is not so easy.

And who knows it might even be nice. The weather forecast for Fermanagh isn’t so shabby so we might just have a great time - who needs hotels and air conditioning? I’ll report back next week.

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