Monday, January 01, 2007

Camping In

Sleeping bags wrapped up into satisfyingly large presents awaited the children under the tree this year. One of our New Year's Resolutions is to take the mega step of going camping, a move hitherto prevented by the sheer hideousness of trying to pack three children, the paraphenalia of life under canvas, as well as enough toys, clothes, snacks for an army of toddlers into one ordinary estate car. With youngest safely past her fourth birthday it suddenly seems like a possibility – all the idyllic camp sites of South Africa enticing us to try out for ourselves the adventure of leaving the security blanket of home behind and heading into the wilderness.

My experience of camping dates from years back, when as a teenager I went on my parents’ school camp, acting as quartermaster general, boy scout style – doling out corned beef, tins of stew and bacon and eggs to be cooked on open fires. Tents were two man A- shaped canvas, we washed in the stream, if we bothered at all. Modern family camping seems to be a whole new ball game, requiring a lot more equipment and comforts. We need to acquire a two room tent, a gas bottle camping stove, blow-up mattresses for older bones to rest comfortably on, folding chairs and tables (because any fool can be uncomfortable, as my father-in-law is renowned for saying).

So we’ve made a start with sleeping bags for the children. These of course must be road tested, so tonight they have decided to sleep on the floor of their bedroom in their sleeping bags. The original plan had been for the older two to venture a sleepover at their aunt’s house (100m down the hill) but that had to put off till the weekend, so the floor of the bedroom it is. Much arranging and rearranging of territory, toys, pillows and PJs went on and the novelty of it all has them still awake chatting.

It feels like a good start to get them used to sleeping at a different angle. It has been more than a year since we slept anywhere but in our own beds (sad but true, but then we live in such a lovely place that it is quite hard to leave it) – full on camping cold turkey might have been too much for youngest, who was already feeling strange, just with her own mattress and duvet on the floor right next to her bed! The next stage will be to get a tent and pitch it outside our house, somewhere on the farm and try sleeping out in it...then freedom to travel will be ours.


  1. Camping! Roasted marshmellows over a campfires helps soften the hips for evenings of sleeping in a tent on hard ground! I am sure you will find camping a wonderland of fun (even the dirt,)for children to feel free! My advice, not alot of toys with the exception of a ball and a deck of cards!

  2. oh good advice on the toys.

    I'm getting all restless to go camping ... but it's winter here now and ... well ...

    i hope you have lots of fun!



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