We spent the last few days camping with friends. It felt like going home. Moments of joy while feeling fully myself among people I care about and admire. We paid very little heed to the clock, and watched the skies and the trees instead. Here are some things we learned.
1. You need (at least) three breakfasts
Brioche and scotch pancakes have become our starter breakfast of choice. Instantly grabbable from the sleeping bag for waking-up munchies. Minimal crumb-age. Sweet and comforting to ease you into the morning, but not too sweet. Great for fueling up while unearthing the crayons and football (Ro and H) or making the first tea of the morning (Rich). I was asleep.
Ro and H follow that up with a roaming menu of ‘cereal with red bits’, apricots, raisins and whatever else they can forage while drawing, waking up our friends, creating caves for midges or playing some version of football.
We then cook sausages (of course).
2. Woody Debris Dams are a thing
Richard told me about this on our walk. When twigs and things get caught up in a stream they form a natural barrier. It also has a more technical name that doesn’t sound as good (just say ‘wooden debris dam’ aloud for a moment). They are healthy for rivers because they promote biodiversity though creating habitats and establishing a natural flow.
Here’s what one looks like:
3. Take more blankets than you think you need
You can do so much with a blanket. Picnic. Dress up as Elsa or other icon of choice. Mop up a spill or towel yourself dry if you can’t be bothered to find the towel. Layer over roll-mats to create extra insulation and warmth. Layer over sleeping bags/duvets for same. Drape over shoulders for post-dusk hot chocolate/whiskey. Wrap around your feet when it’s 3am and you’ve not slept because your toes are jangling with cold.
4. The mundane is no longer so
So much of camping is about the basics – preparing the next meal (or cup of tea), trying to keep the inside of the tent relatively mud-free and dry. And so the basics take on a magical slow quality of their own. Everyone sat chopping veg together, or the littles harvesting buttercups during a washing up session. Conversations are opened and everything is interesting. Indeed, when I asked Ro about her favourite bits of the trip, up there was “When that man let me watch him clean the toilets.”
5. The optimum number of footballs is one per child
Ro and her friend Ed spent much of the time running around with a football. And fairly frequently, as you might expect with two 4 year olds, a tussle broke out about whose ball it was/whose turn it is/what game was being played. And then the second ball was offered. Cue the end of arguments, around 30 seconds of playing separately followed by some newly invented game bringing them together again. An abundance of footballs, an abundance of play.