For me, putting up a tent is a bit like giving birth.
Bear with me on this…
Obviously there isn’t the same actual physical pain involved, no one would ever camp if there was, but there are plenty of parallels. Think for instance of that moment when you come to pack the tent away. You look at the tiny bag, you look at the tent, surely one just isn’t going to fit in the other? See what I’m saying here?
I don’t camp often if I’m honest, (why would you pee in a bucket and eat food warm that’s meant to be cold/cold that’s meant to be hot when you could stay in a hotel?) and all my camping is at festivals. I set out full of enthusiasm, I’m confident I can do it without pain relief/crying, but the minute I set the bags down on the inevitably sloped and rocky patch of grass next to the toilets, I turn into a monster. Give me a pre-pitched tent any day.
I give the children harmless jobs to do – hold the tent pegs, pass the hammer – but within minutes I am overcome with the urge to punch someone in the face. It’s not even that I struggle with tents, I can put them up fine, I just hate it. Every time I promise myself never again, but then the months pass, the sun comes out and I find myself thinking ‘it wasn’t really that bad was it? Let’s have another go…’ (At camping, not babies).
So, that’s where I find myself today – gazing at the blue sky and thinking back fondly to the festivals I’ve taken Bee and Belle to over the last few years. Not all of them have been sunny, but they’ve all be a break from routine at least. And a change is as good as a rest after all. So I’ve been told.
As a single parent, I like to go to festivals where I can let the kids wander off for a bit, so I can at least have ten minutes lying happily in the sun on my own. My absolute favourite for this is Camp Bestival – baby sister of Bestival, set in the grounds of Lulworth Castle. Last year Bee took a friend, and the site is small and safe enough that I felt happy letting them go off on their own for the whole day. It is really family orientated – one of the headline acts is Mr Tumble – and the kids’ field has a lovely relaxed feel. Belle really enjoyed being able to run off on her own, and I felt sure she’d be able to find me again in my sunny spot.
We will definitely be going again this year, but my tent memories haven’t quite faded enough to feel ready for camping yet. To spare us all the two hours of rage on arrival (I need a good hour to calm down afterwards too), I am going to be camping in style this year in the Tangerine Fields. Not only do they put the tent up for me, they even blow up the airbeds and lay out the sleeping bags. On top of that we get private showers and toilets – complete heaven. And at the end of the weekend we can just walk away and someone else clears up. Speaking as a woman who has three-day old dishes in the kitchen, you can imagine just how fantastic I find this prospect.
So if you’re taking the kids to Camp Bestival this year, look for the posh camping and come and say hi – I might even let you have a go on my private loo.