Sunday, December 07, 2008
Camping Rediscovered - Part 2
My husband is fond of quoting his father’s adage “Any fool can be uncomfortable”. This means that camping for him is not a matter of roughing it, but more about assembling the barest minimum of comforts and then adding some more. As we are at the beginning of our camping career we haven’t got anything like the amount of equipment that would create a home from home, and not enough space in the car to transport it. Last weekend though our friends had suggested a weekend foray to a beautiful place in the mountains that we’d heard about from all and sundry, and rashly we agreed to go even though end of term madness was in full flow.
So into the car went the tent that their aunt had just bought for the children for Christmas in honour of the class camp. Out went the borrowed family-size tent that took up half the luggage space in the car and didn’t allow room for the foam mattresses. Back in went the mattresses taking up 2/3 of the available space. A mental shopping list was started there and then: item number 1 – blow up mattresses.
An ill-timed stop off in our local town to buy rolls for lunch and a camping lamp delayed our journey a bit – it happened to be the last Saturday of the month, when the whole world flocks to town and queues at the cashpoints to draw out their wages, then potters through the super-markets en famille.
However the mountains aren’t too far away for us – only and hour and a half, so a game of I-spy and a packet of Sugus (Opal fruit type sweets) was enough to get us there fairly painlessly.
And the reward was the wonderful view from our tent.
Mountain rock pools, with accommodating tadpoles willing to be caught and relocated, cool breezes and sunshine, shady trees in a space a long way from anywhere much. All those rocks and mountain streams created a powerful energy – peaceful and deep.
Older bones are less resilient than they used to be and sleep harder won these days. The foam mattresses weren’t quite thick enough to make-up for the sounds of late-night revelers nearby; for Youngest, nappy free at last, who didn’t make it through the night and had to move into Dad’s sleeping bag half way through; for the barking dogs, which belonged to the campers who had set up their tent next to the ablution block and which decided that it belonged to them, defending it volubly against any night-time wanderers in search of the toilets; for the guinea fowl, who provided an resounding dawn chorus in the trees close by. If you have never heard guinea fowl, think peacocks, or roosters that are off-key and competing with each other – they are Loud. Nature in the raw also provided backing vocals by the Haadedaas, whose strident call sounds like the name they bear.
A rather grumpy set of adults emerged to greet the stunning dew splashed view of the sunrise. The list of essential shopping before the next camping foray grew longer: chairs; a second tent for Mum and Dad to sleep alone; extra thick blow-up mattresses; ear-plugs.
Tea and rusks in early morning sunshine helped restore a little equilibrium and the children had a great time, plus it is a beautiful place that we would like to go back another time to explore some more. But in the end the best thing about camping is the wonderful night’s sleep that you get, when you arrive home exhausted from fresh air and sleep deprivation, to crash out at 8.30 in the comfort of your own bed and sleep without stirring until morning!