Sunday, 23 August 2009

Do you love us mummy?

A huge amount, I blithely say. More than all the tea in China.

But perhaps not quite enough to repeat those last ten hours in my life, ok?

I know that you Shark, now say you love camping. And you Tiger, say tents are fun for a first night. Even you Squirrel, my diamante daughter, add that you enjoyed the idea and now are we going home?

But let's not mince words. Let's say that for mama the first night in a tent was A LIVING HELL.

How do I count the problems? Let me do it in order, procedurally. In that way, it will be like basketry, and I shall weave out my peace and calm.

My first problem is the countryside sinks into darkness and there is no electricity.

I admit. I did not actually think ahead when I said Fantastic! Let's go live in a tent! I will blame the kids and say my total lack of speculation was guided by my children. And they never think more than ten seconds ahead. Which at the time of agreeing to camp in a field, seemed a better guide than planning. And my outlook is, your attitude to a new situation predicts how much you're going to enjoy it. So of course that all fits. I wanted the children to enjoy living under nylon. Say nothing about dangers, horrors, spiders, creepy crawlies in my socks. I did not think of these. I did not want to think of much at all.

In my defence, that lack of planning was also a protection. Because I might betray to myself how much of a town girl I really am. While I love striding across those fields feeling the wind on my face by day, I also like, by night, brick walls, electric light sockets and warm beds.

But look! In the countryside it falls dark! How beautiful is the grey cloak of dusk settling upon us in the wooded glade.

Where are the torches mama?

What torches?

What do we have apart from NO TORCHES? Well, we have NO TORCHES. Aha! We have one wind up lantern! Where is that? Oh yes, where is that.

Remind me now, where is Shark? Shark has declared she is not staying with us thank you very much. We are undignified and our tent is embarrassing. Shark has found herself somewhere else to stay. A nice cosy spot in the organiser's tent down the other end of the field. And she'll have that wind up lantern, thanks.

So with a falling down tent and one child disappeared to someone else's tent in the dark dark woods carrying the only light we have, there is only one thing to do. GO TO BED.

Oh dear. Let me pause to weave another therapeutic basket.

My second problem becomes apparent twenty minutes after climbing in a cold sleeping bag. I am lying on the world's quickest deflating airbed. Once Grit's fat arse climbs aboard it sinks quicker than the Titanic. Thanks mainly to the FIVE HOLES. How many holes I do not discover until daylight, when I drench every inch of that airbed in cold tea and bitter tears to discover at which point the little air bubbles ooze up and prompt me to slap on another rubber patch from the bicycle wheel puncture repair kit.

But it is daylight.

And the next problem is the composting toilet.

Now I'm sure there are many models and makes of composting toilet. You can tell me they are very worthy and good. Then you can slap me round the face for pining after a draining system that will destroy the earth.

Because this particular model of composting toilet has a sort of partition inside the bowl, where you aim the pee in one area and the poopy in the other. I know really it is straightforward, because unless there is something tragically wrong with your body, then pee comes out the front and poo comes out the back.

But you try getting those in the right order after four hours of broken sleep on a hard cold forest floor, a torture interrupted only by the dream of pain that you are being eaten alive by badgers who are mocking you because they have torches and you do not.

Now, my darling Shark, Tiger, and Squirrel. I love you more than all the tea in China. But after the first night of living hell I am ready to up sticks and leg it out of that tent quicker than a rat up a drainpipe propelled by rocket fuel. I know now it will take more than LOVE to make me stay one more night in this tent, even if it means you get to flit about in Shakespearean mode coached by Danny Nussbaum.

To stay here, I can no longer force my brain to shut off and shrivel to the size of a pea. Let's face it, I did that already. And it did not work. No. I now come with a LIST OF DEMANDS.

1. I want a self-inflating mattress like Michelle's otherwise the deal is off.
2. I want a proper set of wind up torches otherwise the deal is off.
3. I want a proper sleeping bag, and extra duvet, otherwise the deal is off.
4. I want to go home today, use the toilet and the shower, otherwise the deal is off.
5. I want to stock the car with beer, red wine, bars of chocolate and those delicious breadsticks from Waitrose, otherwise the deal is off.

And on those terms, and only those terms, I might stay just ONE more night.

And love, ladies, has nothing to do with it.


Rachel M. said...

Wow, that turned out considerably worse then I'd imagined. My last camping experience was in the everglades, supposedly the salt water side beside the ocean where the alligators don't go - I'm still suspicious. It was cold, wet and rained so hard my husband got bronchitis because I made him sleep on the wet side. I'm not going back - until provisions have improved and are better planned. In full agreement with you on this and I would have given you sufficient warning had I read your prior post before yesterday.

HelenHaricot said...

my list of requirements:
michelle's is one of those linked too. i love my self inflating airbed and have a v fab sleeping bag. choc and wine also important

mamacrow said...

firstly - I agree, to go camping you MUST have an air matress - self inflating or with a hubby to footpump it.
A throw up tent.
A sleeping bag and lots of extra layers - or a small child (they generate an astonshing amount of heat)
at least one wind up torch per person
baby wipes

and hey, at least you HAD a toilet. We go to some private land belonging to a friend, and are back to basics - a tree and spade :-O

Michelle said...

Also the PETT toilet is an essential in my book.

I love my Thermarest - I even told you where to go buy it you muppet! Some people just won't be told.

Mr Farty said...

Wind-up torches hadn't been invented the last time I went camping. I'd almost forgotten how cold it was.

Three more nights? You must love them VERY much.

kellyi said...

On our last (and I mean LAST EVER) camping trip, my husband and baby had a synchronized puking session. Husband could, at least, aim for a bowl whereas little cherub just vomited over every one and thing.

Up until this I had rather enjoyed camping. Not any more.

sharon said...

Sorry for laughing but I just couldn't help it.

At least now you know exactly how low down the comfort scale you are willing to descend no matter how much you love your children. Hope you get a chance to buy in some comforts before the lights go out again.

The Green Stone Woman said...

Can you make it to the store real quick and buy the things you need, or are those not in the budget? I do feel bad for you and am myself feeling your discomfort in my back of that deflated mattress. Better make a list the next time, grit. If there is ever going to be a next time!

Grit said...

hello people, thank you for your comments! i am becoming more determined by the hour that this new enterprise will succeed. failure is not an option.

Merry said...

I point blank refuse to go anywhere with compost toilets. It is against my personal ethos for life. Which has, listed among be happy, safe, fulfilled and purposeful.. "be near clean, working toilets".

Mud in the City said...

I am sorry to laugh at your discomfort.....but that was very funny! I really hope the whole experience looks up and that the Gritlets have an amazing time.