E+E Column: Under Canvas

Logically speaking, the effort involved in digging out all our camping gear, packing the car (a challenging feat in itself!), pitching the tent and doing the same thing in reverse less than 24 hours later would seem to indicate that going camping for just one night is simply not worth it. But from my experience, logic goes out of the widow when it comes to camping because it really is worth it. I don’t think I’d be overstretching to say that camping, no matter how short the duration, is quite simply, a tonic.

This weekend we kicked off our camping season with a chilly night’s stay at River Dart Country Park (a bit more upmarket than the bare bones sites we usually frequent but most definitely highly recommended). Today we are all pretty weary but do not regret the trip for a second. We went with friends which I’d argue makes all the difference to camping with kids. Having other adults to split childcare with is invaluable and having playmates camping just a stones throw from your tent takes the excitement of sleeping under canvas to a whole new level.

I do have a bit of an embarassing confession though, we’re not quite as hardy as you’d think a family camping at the end of April should be for we have a wood burning stove in our bell tent. Since purchasing this, our camping trips have been transformed. We never have to worry about being cold and the kids love always having the opportunity to toast marshmallows, even on sites that don’t allow ground fires. So this weekend, as the temperature plummeted and half a dozen adults were hopping from foot to foot in the chilly night air, unwilling to go to bed at the same time as the kids but feeling like they might have to, we were able to invite our friends in to huddle round the stove with the leftover marshmallows, the best chocolates I’ve ever tasted (thanks Karina!) and a bottle of whiskey to share (thank you Phil!). We just about managed to not wake the kids and all thoroughly enjoyed some uninterrupted adult conversation and time spent with friends.

We’ve another two camping trips planned in the coming months and I daresay some impromptu trips will pop up as well. I’m counting down the days already, there’s just something about spending time outdoors, getting back to basics and spending time with good friends with no pressure or place to be that you really can’t beat. Happy Days!

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