musingsponderingsandrants

Parenting, profundities and humour

Storm Fuckwit — August 26, 2020

Storm Fuckwit

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There comes a point in every holiday when the pervading mood tips from ‘enjoyment’ to ‘endurance test’.

This is usually on the way home when you may have been up at the crack of dawn to get that coach transfer which crawls along picking up people all feeling as depressed as you from 8 billion hotels before depositing you at the terminal where your flight is running 3 hours late and the only shops open sell dried up cheese croissants and terrible coffee.

Or maybe when you have been chucked out of your hotel room at 10am so the next lot of guests can sit on your veranda with a pina colada whilst you try to ‘enjoy the facilities’ whilst living out of a suitcase and using the communal shower facilities (which on one memorable occasion for me were smeared with human excrement) before getting on that coach and… see above.

Or you have to catch a train from Biarritz to Paris and then from Paris to London and then from London to home and you are finding it nigh on impossible to get the hire car into the incredibly tight multi storey in Biarritz , return 3 car seats across a very busy road whilst wheeling 5 suitcases and managing those three car seat occupants and it is 40 degrees in the shade. 

Etc.

Currently I can only dream of such privations.

On our current staycation we have hit the tipping point on Day 3.

Of 10.

We are currently caravanning in Northumberland and in the first 2 days we had weather. The weather did not stop us enjoying Lindisfarne Priory and Holy Island on Day 1 (including a cycle across the causeway for hubby and kids) nor Alnwick Castle and Gardens on Day 2 (although not Seahouses on the way home which hubby asserted was ‘lovely’ and which really wasn’t and turned out to be a step too far).

Although we had weather we also had coats and hats and hike boots and therefore we could deal with it.

Then Day 3 hit. We had already decided Day 3 would be a day around the campsite. It did indeed turn out to be a day around the campsite mostly because we were hemmed in by unrelenting pissing down rain. It started in the small hours and was quite relaxing whilst we had a lie in with cuppas and the paper.

It got less relaxing once we headed outside and found that our awning was basically a river. Thereby rendering most of our shoes and kit soaking wet.

To give us a break from the Chinese water torture sound of unrelenting pissing down rain on caravan roof we eventually decided to venture out to Berwick upon Tweed, a place which you will know if you have read Winter is Coming is one I had decided never to return to. It is 19 years since I froze all my digits off walking the walls in November. It hasn’t got any less grim. That probably wasnt helped by the unrelenting pissing down rain (did I mention that already?) which had now hit 12 solid hours.

Anyway we found a cafe for lunch, spent a happy 30 minutes and a lot of cash in a sheet music shop (which I haven’t done since a year last April when I found a similar treasure trove in Penrith another town with many independent shops), was disappointed by the cycle shop and spent a small fortune in Go Outdoors. Along with many other people a lot of whom were in flip flops and shorts and were buying up the waterproof clothing aisle. They had not prepared for weather at all. We also bought more rock pegs to try to peg down more of the awning and prevent the torrent passing through. That turned out to be a good move.

We were then pushed back to the site by the unrelenting pissing down rain and a date with the campsite swimming pool. I demurred (having had more than my fair share of water for the day) and I spent the hour doing loads of washing in my in laws’ static caravan (considerably dryer than ours) and emptying the caravan toilet in the unrelenting pissing down rain.

We had a nice curry cooked in the caravan by Youngest which went some way to masking the hideous smell of 5 pairs of drying trainers and then decamped to the in laws for the evening for warmth, alcohol and less fetid air. I don’t actually drink alcohol. Its days like day 3 when that seems totally irrational. 

Anyway we had to eventually go back and transform the caravan from its day configuration to its night configuration (a process that involves a kind of sliding block puzzle of cushions and duvets and pillows and PJs and teenagers made more difficult by 5 pairs of wet trainers whilst husband is abluting in the shower block (every damm time)) and went to bed. Assured that tomorrow would be a better day.

About midnight I was awoken by the howling gale that was now besetting our caravan and driving the continued unrelenting pissing down rain sideways.

I knew the south had been beset by high winds from Storm Fuckwit but the forecast had not mentioned them getting so far north. Nose bleed north.

(I know, by the by, that it was not Storm Fuckwit but its actual name escapes me. I know we had Storm Ellen about a week ago so I know that it is an F and male (bloody men) and Fuckwit seems as good a name as any).

We were not particularly worried about the actual caravan it weighing more than a small house but our inflatable awning was flapping alarmingly against the side. The inflatable awning had gone up really easily. This now seemed more than a little alarming and I was starting to miss the steel poled edifice that took two days to erect in balmy Norfolk. We had visions of it taking off and acting like a some sort of kite sail and dragging us across the site. This probably would not have happened but in the dead of the night such things loom large.

Husband decided to go out in the unrelenting pissing down rain and gale force winds to try to secure it back down with those new rock pegs.

He did so and in the process woke up all the kids (and probably our neighbours too) so we lay there listening to the wind and the slightly less flappy awning and the kids sighing and wondering which shake of the van was the kids turning restlessly or the gale force winds for about an hour until the awning was once again flapping free.

This set a pattern for most of the remainder of the night.

No one really slept. The unrelenting pissing down rain continued. The gale force winds continued. Our paranoia continued. The smell of drying trainers continued. I prayed for day light. And deliverance. 

When we awoke at 6am we seriously doubted we could stomach our planned trip to Edinburgh. What I actually felt like doing was stuffing all the wet gear in the van/ car/ bin, hitching up the caravan and driving home to civilisation and brick walls. 

Anyway we forced ourselves to carry on regardless. And actually we have had a great day. The weather was mixed again. But it was warmer than here and there were dry shops and a castle and Costa and MacDs. And a great view of the sea from the train.

And I remembered my umbrella. I am sure after a (hopefully) good nights sleep we will be back to enjoyment again. 

Until Friday the weather forecast for which is ‘heavy rain and a fresh breeze’  all day. 

Ouch. 

 

 

 

 

Winter is Coming…. — August 22, 2020

Winter is Coming….

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So today we set out on our second round of ‘Caravanning in a Pandemic’….still not as intrepid as it sounds but perhaps a little more so than last time.

And that is for two reasons: 1) winter is coming and 2) we are oop north.

Let’s take 1) first. In England the long summer school holidays run from mid July to early September. This isn’t that great for many reasons. The light lasts longest in June when in usual times kids are sitting very important exams with BBQs in neighbour’s gardens running on until 10pm and hay fever at its peak. And anecdotally the weather is usually best in May, June and early July. See my exam point above again…

By this late in August one can smell that winter is coming. The light changes and gets that slanting misty feel which makes driving at about 8pm very tricky. It completely disappears at 8.30pm- those runs you were doing (I say ‘you’ because I don’t run but my offspring do) are seeing you return in the dark- not ideal.

There is a bite to the wind. All those beautiful lush gardens and hanging baskets are looking dry and yellow. I actually don’t like August much. It is a nothing month. A time when you feel you should be having a ball but all you really feel is like all those Winterfellers…. for winter is coming. It might hide behind a brief Indian summer, always after the kids have returned to school, and it might break you in gently with conkers and blackberries and kicking fallen leaves with gay abandon whilst avoiding dog shit. But it is there. Lurking.

This year it promises even more menace with predictions of gloom and virus resurgence.

It is against this backdrop that we got up at 5am (in the dark, note people) to set off for our next caravanning trip (so far with water but we got this far last time so we ain’t counting our chickens yet….if you are baffled please read Corona Camping).

And we arrived at 12.30pm. Because we decided to come to Northumberland. But not just Northumberland the northern most part of Northumberland. We are actually nearer to Scotland than the next major English city. Point 2)…

My husband booked the site. He is from the north east. But even he is a southern softie in these parts. People from north Northumberland probably feel the same about those from County Durham as geordies feel about those people from the midlands, places like Sheffield. We sailed past Sheffield before we stopped half way.

We booked the trip to meet up with my in laws who still hail from those parts. My husband must have said about twenty times “I didn’t realise just quite how north we are going”….

The one upside of the journey was that we got on the A1 at Bedford and got off it at the entrance to the camp site.

I am not sure we have ever done that many miles on one road before. About 270 in total. It is a truly astonishing road. Motorway and 3 lanes in places and then up here single carriageway and full of tractors and hay wains (well lorries but you get my drift). There are service stations with Greggs and Costas and caravan parking. And road side burger vans in parking bays.

Today it felt a little interminable. If I am honest.

Anyway 6.5 hours after leaving we made the site. It is fine, a little rough around the edges but on the whole fine. I am not sure there will be any moth walks.

Already we have visited Berwick upon Tweed. For duck tape (all that water has it’s downsides) and gooseberry yoghurts (not from the same shop I hasten to add). I vowed never again to ever visit Berwick after we came for the day during a holiday to mark our 1st wedding anniversary. We had booked a hotel whose exact location now escapes us. What we remember most about it was the ‘swan’ theming of our room. Even down to the gold swan taps that spewed hot water. Luckily in copious quantities. For we got married in November and so the holiday was a little parky. (That is pretend northern speak for cold).

We decided to spend one day walking the walls of Berwick. The wind was whipping mercilessly off the North Sea. I have to say it was probably the coldest I have ever been. Except for that other short break my (not yet) husband took me on to the Fatted Lamb in Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria (another would be northern place) when we got snowed in and the pub had a power cut. I had to swap bed sides with my (not yet) husband as the draft through the window was making me so cold even in thermals, bed socks and PJs….and as anyone in a long term committed relationship knows swapping bed sides is only a last resort when all else fails…

But today I had to brave Berwick as it is the only place between us and Scotland.

The weather forecast for this week is best described as ‘mixed’. We have already had some weather. I was fitting that duck tape in the rain. Quite heavy rain. It was hard to see if I had fixed the leak to be honest (I hadn’t by the way).

We have rather optimistically brought the wet suits… hmm…

Anyway what we will probably spend most of the week doing is visiting castles in the rain. There are a lot of castles. Due to that Scottish border proximity. There is also part of a wall. To keep them out. Maybe it gave Trump the idea. But then it was built by the Romans. We have learnt since then. Walls don’t work and are very expensive. And anyway currently most Scots want to keep us out not vice versa….

And we will be walking along mostly empty beaches, often overlooked by castles and priories. And probably digging a big hole. I will be wearing my hat. I brought two. Both are woolly.

For although it is very north and has weather and many tractors Northumberland is absolutely stunning. We will be sure to make the most of that. Before we get back on the A1 and get off at home.

Beach Snob — July 26, 2020

Beach Snob

No sand…

So here we are in sunny Norfolk. I am being a bit kind here as yesterday evening it was anything but sunny as we sat in our caravan listening to the thunder and the rain pounding on the roof and thanking our lucky stars that we weren’t still in a tent.

Tomorrow, the day before our departure, and hence the day of the great awning dismantling (a virgin procedure at that) torrential rain and 40mph winds are forecast. This has thrown our plans into some disarray. It could be worse, though, we could be in Spain. No really we could be, had we not decided to cancel in April and forfeit the deposit. That is the best grand I ever spent. We would have flown yesterday just before Tui pulled out again and the 14 day quarantine period was reintroduced.

Phew.

Anyway we have decided to ignore the great awning dilemma and have a beach day.

We have had 2 beach days on the holiday so far.

Before I describe those I must take a moment to introduce my husband. It is pertinent here as one of the things you need to understand about my husband is that he is a beach snob.

To my mind the perfect beach day involves sand, sea, tea, icecream for the kids, a fish and chip shop, a lavatory and usually some amusements. I won’t be frequenting amusements currently as I cannot comprehend how it is remotely possible to make them covid secure. My kids missed 4 months of school due to children being considered so covid unsecure and so I resent the fact that a small unventilated room full of shared machines and dirty coins (I used to work in a bank and I learnt there that a frightening amount of coins test positive for cocaine; a virus should have a field day) with staff who usually never venture out of their booths except to dispense one lollipop for 1,569,436 tickets are allowed to open first.

Usually in the UK to achieve such delights one needs to venture to a seaside resort. Like Cromer. I really like Cromer. When I get bored of the beach (usually after I have been required to play around 8 different ball games and been shamed and laughed at thoroughly for not being able to catch/ throw/ hit a ball by my obscenely sporty offspring) I can have a wander round the shops selling shell ornaments, jigsaw and enormous sweets in the shape of dummies. Even with a face mask this is still appealing to miss another round of French cricket.

This holiday my husband had other ideas. He has an aversion to well facilitied resorts. He finds them beneath him. He is a beach snob.

Unluckily for us the Times published a guide to Britain’s best beaches this week and 2 were local to us.

To be fair the first beach day was  not designed to be a French cricket and chips affair. My husband decided we should walk from Cley on Sea to Blakeney point to see the seals. He advised me this was 4 miles.

We arrived at Cley and set off. Like the majority of beaches round here it is made up of shingle carefully sorted by the sea into size grades based on the difficulty of wading through them. We schlepped for what felt like a couple of days until we reached the halfway house. Which was a quarter of the way…. my husband informed me that the walk back was also 4 miles but inland so easier on the knees.

We finally reached the dunes which are actually a step up walking difficulty wise and ate our lunch. It was at this point that my husband read the second part of the walk and discovered that we had to schlepp back along the beach after all. I lost my sense of humour.

Anyway the dunes were full of amazing dune plants which I had some fun identifying with my plant ID app. And we then walked on some boardwalk (utter bliss) and then on some more dry sand (grr) and finally we reached the National Trust ranger who was banned from sharing his scope so we couldn’t see any of the seals or the 3000 nesting birds except as dots in the distance. He was a font of knowledge though and it was lovely to hear all the birds.

The 4 mile trudge back wasn’t so great. At one point Eldest and Youngest began a Disney singalong to pass the time. That was a low point.

Anyway the day was one of those that you look back on with hindsight and think you enjoyed. Which to be fair in parts I did. I would probably have enjoyed those parts by driving to Blakeney. But there you go.

Anyway our next beach day was going to be a full french cricket and wetsuit affair. We loaded the car with everything required for such a day including no less than 6 sorts of ball and set off to travel the 12 miles to Holkam beach listed as number 2 in the aforementioned Times survey. As is the way in Norfolk those 12 miles took 45 minutes and several near misses with range rovers.

It would appear that there are an awful lot of Times readers currently in Norfolk. I probably could have guessed that from the number of times a range rover has nearly crashed into us head on by driving far too fast down the single track lanes. The car park was rammed. The queue to pay stretching out in a socially distanced conga to somewhere near our campsite.

What the Times had failed to mention about this 2 mile long secluded beach was that it is at least a 30 minute schlepp across dry sand and/ or marsh full of sea lavender (the clue is in the name) and wet dogs off their leads that shouldn’t be) to the sand and then a further 15 min schlepp to the sea. Sea and sand proximity is not good.

And there are no facilities at all. No tea, no shops, no lav. Anyway we made the most of it and I played beach tennis and French cricket and was laughed at as is tradition and 3 of the idiots made the extra 15 minute schlepp to go in the sea and then we all schlepped 30 minutes back (this time through a pine wood which was a little easier). And then we travelled the 45 minutes back to the camp site and the luxury of a wee.

Today is forecast to be lovely. Yet again husband decided we should have a beach day. On a beach that has made the top 10 of Britain’s best beaches in the Times. Overstrand.

This time we drove through Cromer to get here. So close and yet so far. We arrived at the car park where some people were sitting in deck chairs next to their cars. I mocked them. It is such a British thing to do. To drive to a seaside and sit in the car park. Wierd.

Any way this car park had lavs. We used them, loaded up and started to trek down the slope. When I say loaded up imagine every shoulder and hand of 5 people occupied with carrying burdens of various shapes and sizes.

On our route down we saw a cafe. My spirits lifted. Tea and lavs ticked off the list was a win.

It became apparent that there is one massive downside of Overstrand beach. There is literally no beach at high tide. None. High tide was precisely the time we arrived. We are all now sat on the prom/ sea wall waiting for the beach to appear. We are not alone. This may explain the deck chairs in the car park.

There is sand in Cromer.

The prom is nice
Corona Camping… — July 22, 2020

Corona Camping…

So many moons ago, about last August, just after we returned from our summer holiday in France we began the annual ‘Where shall we go on holiday next summer’ debate.

This is a long and often fractious process with wildly differing views and opinions and indeed aspirations.

Suffice to say that Eldest and I won out and we booked 2 weeks all inclusive in the Canaries. We had been to this particular hotel twice before please see Sunbed Wars for further info.

Then the pandemic happened. The quite astronomical balance was due by the beginning of April, (never have 3 kids seriously or if you do never allow them to grow up) people were struggling to get refunds for holidays actually cancelled and it was likely that even if we were able to go by late July all the best bits of an all inclusive (buffets, discos, karaoke, squashing balloons against virile German chests etc etc) were unlikely to be allowed. Add to that booking a pool slot or beach hexagon and wearing a mask in 38 degree heat and the whole idea seemed, well frankly, much less appealing.

So we cancelled. And yes we lost the deposit. But hey if you can afford 2 weeks in the Canaries you can afford to lose the deposit. And someone’s job might be saved.

My husband then began another round of the great and now twice annual ‘Where shall we go on holiday this summer’ debate but with bells on.

He decided to buy a caravan.

My initial reaction was one of horror. This is often the case. I am wont to see the downsides in his hair brained ideas.

Once I calmed down it seemed like a relatively good plan. We were still in the midst of full lock down. But logic and rumour dictated that camping sites were likely to open early on due to them being outside and naturally socially distanced. A caravan with it’s own loo and shower meant that if shared showers we ruled out we could still go.

We are quite good campers and had all the gear. My hips no longer cope with more than 3 nights sleeping on the floor so a caravan would allow for a longer stay.

It cost about 2 lots of the holiday we had just cancelled. And had a resale value.

Hubby did the research, as he likes to do, and found our perfect caravan for sale at a local ish dealer and booked a showroom visit on the weekend that became allowed.

We also booked two campsites. To begin with hubby was keen on north Devon. I reminded him that on our trip to Woolacombe in February half term we had nearly had kittens driving our car down the really very narrow roads flanked by high solid verges and having to badly reverse when meeting a tractor coming the other way. I suggested that our cortisol levels may take 10 days to return to normal if we added an 8ft wide caravan into that mix. We went for Norfolk (flat, relatively wide roads, soft hedging) and Northumberland (A1)…

Again this was a punt. Neither site was open or knew if they would be. However the Norfolk one was doing full refunds and the Northumberland one was for the end of August and cheap as chips it being oop north.

The site in Norfolk was well known to us as we had been numerous times in our tent. We knew the pitches were generous and the site large.

The weekend of our caravan viewing arrived wet and miserable. We took the kids (the whole event had the feel of a carnival as the kids had not been out of our village at this point for 3 months) and even Eldest who remained sceptical was won over by the ingenious cupboards and fridge.

So we purchased, collected a few weeks later and spent 2 hours manoeuvering it onto our drive, emptied our camping trailer into it, sold the trailer and tent and waited for our holiday to arrive.

And now we are here. Thankfully all the planets aligned. We managed to get the van off our drive with only minimal damage (when we manoeuvre it back on the drive upon our return we must park it further away from the fence), tow it successfully and reverse it onto the pitch with the motor mover which I am so glad we bought as our reversing failed spectacularly. As soon as they are allowed again we are booking onto the Caravan Club’s reversing course… I can vouch for the fact that watching you tube videos is absolutely no substitute for doing it in person.

The communal facilities are open here which is fortunate because during the first night we had a spectacular water leak which saw us awaken to 2 inches of water on the floor, sodden carpet and flooded cupboards..not so ingenious now… a repairman and part is coming Fri evening.

We also failed to put up the awning correctly (the instructions made IKEA ones look comprehensive) and so it nearly broke on that first night under the weight of the pissing down rain. But it didn’t and we worked it out the next day.

After 5 days here are my observations about staycating in a caravan (without water) during a pandemic:

The facilities which are usually clean here are pristine.

The site is half empty which means there are no queues for anything. Except the shop. And plenty of space to play cricket, footie, catch etc. And to try to reverse your caravan (badly)…

There is a booking system for everything from pool, to tennis, to moth walks.

This favours the organised. And that is me all over. Before we had even left home I had booked 2 National Trust gardens and parklands.

The National Trust is still doing socially distanced al fresco cream teas. Thank god.

It is the first time in a long while that I have forgotten about the pandemic for hours at a time.

Suffice to say we are officially sold on caravanning. We all love the beds. Eldest loves the fridge as he can eat as much cereal as he wants. We all love sitting in it at night playing poker at a table without the need for thermals or head torches.

We may never fly again. Seriously.

Sorry — June 6, 2017

Sorry

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I feel I should apologise.

Not to all of you.

Some of you live abroad.

But to all my local readers I need to be humbly sorry.

For the unrelenting pissing down rain and heavy winds that we are currently experiencing in the south east of England are a direct result of my children’s school.

Eldest and Middlest are on Activities Week. Let me explain. The school has a commitment to ‘outdoor’ education which means nothing for most of the year (except for a requirement to stand on cold, muddy pitches an awful lot and having to avoid square drill marching cadets on Tuesday evenings) but for one week a year it does mean the children go off on jolly japes and adventures in the great outdoors to commune with nature, learn more about themselves and drive their parents into a tizz over the kit requirements.

Now don’t get me wrong I am all in favour of outdoor education. All my children are in the Scout movement. We camp. We bike ride and swim and hike and surf and climb and take measured calculated risks with pen knives and camp fires. In short we do a lot of outdoor stuff. I love the outdoors. So do my kids.

Middlest (in Year 7) has a week of fiendishly complicated logistics which involve him in 2 local days out at three different locations and a three day, 2 night away trip. Easy peasy? Not really. Despite filling in the comprehensive (bizarrely yellow) forms stating that I was not going to collect Middlest from either off site venue as he has, you know, siblings that I needed to collect from school contemporaneously I still got a panicked call the week before half term during an important meeting demanding to know if I was collecting Middlest from the Country Park on Thursday. I ignored the call, so they rang my husband who knows nothing about logisitics who then also interrupted my important meeting. In any event Middlest is camping in Oxfordshire on Thursday and so clearly even if he hadn’t had siblings I was not going to be collecting him from the local (ish) country park. We got that sorted. Eventually.

Yesterday he spent the day at a local lake. It was too windy to sail. He was a bit disgruntled about that claiming that surely the more wind the better. I explained about capsizing and ramming. Into each other and the bank. He relented somewhat. Not to worry he had enjoyed the kayaking (although he was frustrated at having to go slowly as he is a bit of a ‘pro’ at kayaking (his words)) and the bell boating. And the replacement sailing activity. Sliding down a piece of astro turf straight into the lake and swimming back to shore. He thought it necessary to wear his waterproof coat during this manoeveur. Not entirely sure why. Maybe I should have explained before the event that waterproof does not mean full immersion proof.  And he could have removed all manner of crap from the pockets first. Which I had to fish out and discard later. Yuck.

So a bag of wet clothes, towels, water shoes and waterproof coats awaited me. Not to worry plenty of time to get that coat dry ready for today. Not. It is at times like these that I seriously regret not having a tumble dryer. We love the outdoors remember. And would like it to stay unmolested by global warming for a little bit longer…

I hung the coat on the line outside and left to get Youngest from her footie training leaving Middlest with strict instructions to bring in the coat (and water shoes) if the black ominous clouds lived up to their appearance. Guess how well that went. I suppose I only lost an hour of drying time.

He needed that coat today as the weather forecast was even worse. He was due to spend half the day on a high ropes course which from memory when we did it a few years ago had no shelter at all and the other half in a wood orienteering. This is the wood which is one of our regular haunts in the holidays. The picture up there is what my children looked like after a wet day there last year. I was severely dreading facing the state of the waterproof coat, and indeed hike boots, when he returned.

It has rained solidly all day. And been very windy. In fact it would have been better if he had been sliding into that lake today as he got drenched to the skin anyway from the unrelenting precipitation.

His hike boots are literally waterlogged. His coat sodden. Not to worry these things dry out except that I have to pack them all later in a suitable rucksack so he can take them away camping tomorrow morning. He will be wearing both there. There is no way they are coming into contact with his sleeping bag. Which is currently dry. Looking at the forecast I doubt that will last.

Luckily Middlest is made of strong stuff. Despite his small and slightly puny appearance he has a great capacity for tolerating mud and rain and immense fortitude in the face of adversity. On the Year 6 ‘Outdoor Education’ trip he fell flat on his face in the mud whilst doing a blind trail. He thought he should just dive head first straight through the tractor tyre. He just found it funny as muddy water dripped off his nose. Apparently. Today he was fortunate as he was the first on the high ropes course (he volunteered- that’s Middlest for you, loves heights and climbing and is an all round monkey) and therefore got round the course before it was abandoned due to high winds. Some children had to be rescued after only a few obstacles.

So he will probably enjoy then next three days when again unrelenting rain is forecast- except for tomorrow when they are travelling there- he won’t wash, brush his teeth or change his clothes. He has a plan. Wear his waterproofs over his clothes all the time. Simply remove them before bed. And sleep. In the middle of the tent (or shelter if they are mad enough to go for that) away from the probably muddy door and also the probably wet sides. With his mates. So they can chat.

We packed all the other stuff anyway just in case. No PJs though. No point.

As for Eldest he left for a week on the welsh coast on Sunday. It was nice when they arrived. According to the text we got and the sparse Facebook photos. I glanced at the forecast for the rest of the week, shuddered and decided not to think about it. At least they are spending part of the week in an actual building.

So again my humble apologies.

The weather will improve next week when they are back in Maths and Geography.

Promise.

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The rucksack wearing Middlest

 

 

 

A Thoughtful One(sie)… — March 21, 2017

A Thoughtful One(sie)…

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Currently I am wearing my most unflattering garment. I do not say this lightly.

Like every other lady I have a selection of unflattering garments. Period pants. A pair of pyjamas that were bought in a large supermarket chain by my husband when I was stuck without warning in hospital with pneumonia. Swimsuits with the bottoms nearly worn through from over enthusiastic aquapark participation. Sexy lingerie that  once fitted and now, doesn’t. But which I have kept in hopeful anticipation of returning at some point to my previous svelte like self. My ABBA fancy dress all in one electric blue cat suit. Fleeces without form in dubious colours. Baggy thermals for camping and pitch side viewing. And my very favourite trackie bottoms which belonged to a previous partner and which he reluctantly allowed me to take when we split (along with my bedside alarm clock, I left him a bright blue lounge and a yellow sofa still on tick) which now have paint on the bum from a decorating job early on in my marriage.

But all these garments look Dior-like next to this garment. I am referring to my onesie. My Piglet onesie.

I am not a fan of onesies. Don’t get me wrong I think my children look adorable in theirs. We replace them every Christmas. Currently Eldest is bedecked as Chewie from Star Wars, Middlest is the cutest dinosaur I have ever seen and Youngest is a tiger which anyone who knows her will know is better than apt.

So onesies on kids I like. But I am not a fan of onesies on adults. I guess in late tennagerhood or one’s early twenties the wearing of a onesie might be seen as post ironic or some other such twaddle. I vaguely get the idea of cavorting as a dalamation  at Glastonbury, or my local railway station as I saw a few years ago, when one is 22. But only just.

There is certainly an age when onesies are no longer appropriate. Whether one is on a campsite or not. I have lost track of the amount of times I have stood next to a white rabbit (really on a camp site? what were you thinking?) whilst cleaning my teeth in a communal campsite washroom. And realising the person was my age or older. And then seeing them returning to a caravan thus divesting them of the only possible excuse for adult onesie wearing- the cold.

So you may ask why I am sporting my AA Milne inspired outfit. Although to be pedantic about it the onesie has been Disneyfied and as such is not a true A A Milne Piglet which I know annoys some purists. I personally don’t mind a Disney piglet, I once shared a buffet with him in Florida and he was more than adorable.

Sorry I digress. That was it, why am I wearing this heinous pieces of clothing? That doesn’t fit. That hangs below my crotch area in an intensely unflattering way. That is so hot to wear I break out in a sweat merely looking at it. That is not in any way ‘breathable’ being woven entirely of man made fibres. That has poppers, surely only suitable for babygrows and throw back bodies that have returned inexplicably from the eighties to haunt a new round of young women. That causes all sorts of toileting issues. That is essentially hideous.

I wear it because last Christmas my children clubbed together financially and organised with my mother in law the ordering and wrapping of said onesie as my Christmas present. They got Piglet because they know I love him as a character. They got a onesie so we could all wear them as a family.

It was perhaps the most thoughtful thing they had done to date.

And it could have been so much worse.

As it was for my husband who is forever consigned to being a Minion with a dungaree pocket in a deeply unhelpful place.

 

Camping…it’s in tents… — September 1, 2015

Camping…it’s in tents…

image

We have just got back from a three night camping trip.

Well when I say just I don’t actually mean just. Because in order to be in a place to have some time to pen this it is around 3 hours since we returned from our three night camping trip.

In those three hours we have only managed to partially unpack. We still have a trailer full of wet ‘stuff’ to unload and dry out. But that is totally pointless currently. It being slightly….inclement. Well I guess it is a Bank Holiday Monday and so one should expect to need the heating on and a pair of waders.

I have a love hate relationship with camping. I love it in the dry. And I hate it in the wet.

And even that is not strictly true. I love it in the dry but only once we are set up. And I don’t love it in the dry when taking it all down again. And I truly hate it all in the wet.

The things I like about camping are the freedom it affords the kids, snuggling up in layers of thermals in a toasty sleeping bag with all my children within touching distance, the fresh air, waking early, going outside and putting on my whistling kettle and watching the rest of the site wake up whilst supping tea, and the low cost.

None of this is much fun in the rain. Excepting the cost. But even then it feels like good weather should come as standard. Not an added bonus.

Through our years of experience we have decided that the optimum length of a camping trip is between 3 and 6 nights inclusive.

There is no point camping for less that three nights. The ratio of ‘putting up and taking down’-ness to time enjoying the actual camping is too low. And after six nights I cannot stand yet another day of bending down. To do everything. Unzip the door, make a cup of tea, get into bed. Etc etc. I crave worktops and door handles. And a toilet in the same abode as me. I am lucky to possess a cast iron bladder. And I do not drink. So do not need to venture out at night. Unfortunately my children often do. And require some assistance.

Part of the ‘putting up and taking down’ problem is that we do not camp light. This is, in part, down to trying to mitigate the ‘bending down’ issue. So we have collapsible tables, a cooker on legs, pop up dustbin, portable picnic table, very large tent etc.

And on the subject of tents. Tents come under the ‘gear’ category of purchase. My husband has a penchant for buying ‘gear’ for whatever activity he currently favours. He will pour over websites for hours checking reviews and ensuring whatever it is he purchases is the best in the field.

He ordered our most recent tent when our old one was irredeemably broken. Well he ordered a different tent to the one we currently have. Actually it was the same tent but in canvas. He had read somewhere during his extensive research that they have better thermal properties. He had failed to realise that it would weigh about as much as a small elephant. And would not fit in the trailer. Well I could have got it in (with the aid of a small crane) but nothing else would then have fitted. And I wasn’t going to leave all those knee saving devices at home just for a bit of thermal equilibrium.

So I was the one who rang the on line store. They were very good about it. Apparently it happens a lot. Men struggling to comprehend the dimensions on a website. Seeing truly is believing. And they agreed to send me the same tent in man made fibres and remove the huge boxes littering my hall. Which I could not physically move.

Still the tent is a monster. There are five of us so we do need quite a bit of space. But even I think being able to ball room dance in your lounge area in a tent is a little excessive.

However it comes into its own in the wet when all our other equipment has to come indoors. And we want to play endless rounds of Uno with whichever friends we are camping with. When I say ‘want to’…..

So today after a lovely few days when the rain had held off and we went biking and touring flour mills and eating cake and dancing to live bands and playing Bingo and doing scavenger hunts and chatting by our fire pit we collapsed everything. In the pouring down rain.

I managed to get the boot packed before it got really bad. But the gear in the trailer got soaked. We struggled more than usual to manhandle our gigantic tent into the small bag. Probably because there was a gallon of water in it. And also because, yet again, husband could not remember how to fold it. And we had the ‘Great Folding the Tent’ argument. Again. Every time.

Anyhoo as soon as there is a break in the clouds we will be putting the tent up again. In our garden. We will have the great ‘Trying to get the Pins into the Legs’ argument. For the second time in four days.

My boys are getting old enough to share a pup tent. I believe it is time we downsized. And got fibre glass poles.

Or a caravan?

The back of our tent....in the garden...
The back of our tent….in the garden…

Procrastination… — June 23, 2015

Procrastination…

ahh-procrastination

I think I may have mentioned before that I love writing this blog.

I think I may have also mentioned that sometimes I panic gently about running out of ideas.

And then I need to do something unpalatable. And suddenly I become full of the muse and set to work…

Today I am supposed to be packing two smallish boys up for Cub and Scout camp. It is one of those chores which sounds easier than it is. I loath it. If I merely pulled my digit out of a small orifice I could have the job licked within about two hours or so (not including the GF cake I need to bake and name labelling all their newer kit). But something in me is putting it off.

And so I am writing this piece of fluffy nonsense instead.

On the kit lists it says that the smallish boys themselves should pack their bags. Hmmm. Well that would be lovely I am sure but as tonight I have to drag all of them down to the camp field to actually pitch the Cub tents and tomorrow one has to get to a village at least 30 minutes away by 5pm during rush hour, when we will only land in from school circa 4.15pm that aint going to happen.

In any event they can’t work the loft hatch, unhook the trailer cover or sew on name badges all of which I need to accomplish to pack the bags.

No I prefer to focus their energies on remembering to BRING ALL THE STUFF I LOVINGLY PACKED BACK…

And so packing is my domain and the process (once I got round to it) goes something like this.

First I attempt to find all the stuff from downstairs. To avoid going up and down those stairs too often. So I scoop up tea towels and medication, carrier bags for wet clothes, small travel sized tubes of sunscreen, packets of tissues.

Next I raid the garage in search of camping crockery and cutlery, strong boots, wellies, a camp chair. The latter is a new one on me. Clearly Scouts is a lot more civilised than Cubs. Or the group owns less seating.

I then make my way into the loft and throw down sleeping bags, pillows, thermarests & hold-alls that could never hope to contain all this stuff. This is made harder today as I have never been in my current loft and first need to negotiate the unknown loft ladder. Once I gain access I find that I am lucky and husband has put all this stuff in plain view.

I dig out flannels that won’t embarrass but are named, four towels (eldest needs three- the mind boggles), soap in boxes (how 1970s), spare asthma inhalers and spacers.

Finally I get to the bedrooms to assemble the rest of the gear. I search drawers for all the clothes that are old and already labelled. Unfortunately we have recently replaced a lot of their outdoor gear as their ankles were on show and for some inexplicable reason I have failed to name eldest’s new Scout uniform. So I amass a large pile of sewing.

It is at this point I realise that I have forgotten ‘shoes which can get wet’ (garage), waterproofs (under the stairs) and torches (in an unknown location- last seen on my hall bookcase unfortunately in my previous abode).

I call husband and leave a message torch wise. I gather the other bits, check the weather forecast and decide to chuck in sun hats and woolly hats.

A quick glance at the clock and it becomes apparent  that I have now only got an hour left to bake that cake and eat lunch before my afternoon meeting. Should not procrastinate, should not procrastinate. So I dump stuff on the floors and vow to finish tomorrow when my supermarket will have delivered the extra tooth paste I require. I do not have enough tubes for everyone to be in a different location. These en-suites have their disadvantages including needing 3 tubes of toothpaste- well 4 now so the boys can split up too… who knew dental hygiene could be so problematic.

Mid whisking hubby calls back and asserts that the torches might be in the bottom drawer of his chest with all his running, cycling and gym gear. It is a drawer I avoid at all costs it being a tangle of an unbelievable quantity of lycra, padding and vaguely sweaty accessories. I take the plunge and rummage around and unearth the torches. Another cross off the list.

I bung the cake in the oven and stuff down a cheese and pickle sandwich. Mid crisp, and again remembering the forecast of ‘extremely heavy rain’- I believe it was a Yellow warning- I remember waterproof trousers and dig around in my under stairs cupboard. During this process the timer on my cake goes off. I extract it and rush off to my meeting.

Tomorrow I will add teddies, that toothpaste, ice the cake, try to remember water bottles.

And tonight I will face the sewing mountain.

I wouldn’t mind so much but I know that when they return precisely none of the garments or towels and flannels will have actually been used. The soap in a box will remain pristine. Even the spare pants will be untouched. I try to see the silver lining in this whilst they soak in a bath and I load the washing machine whilst trying not to touch anything and put the clean, dry clothes back in the drawers…

Footnote: I appreciate that having to pack two boys for camp is a mere drop in the ocean compared to the effort the leaders put into these events. And I really do appreciate all their work on behalf of my kids and everyone else’s. You lovely people.

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