Friday, 18 May 2012

Pancetta wrapped fish? Too 'in tents'...

Frankly, today could still go either way.
It’s had a shaky start – Pink insisting on getting her new Barbie puppy parlour thing (please, please don’t ask – it’s far too distressing) filled with bubble mixture so that Barbie can wash her puppies (the canine kind, in the unlikely event that any male has been brave enough to set foot here) while I was trying to make packed lunches and distribute that last handful of evil Cheerios fairly between the kids, and Blue getting overwrought about making a mistake on a piece of homework.

why hasn't she taken me for a walk yet?
To make matters worse, I have been bullied by the school’s’ raised eyebrow policy’ into feeling insecure about my diagnosis of the rash that is currently present on Pink’s arms and legs. Blue took himself off to school, she watched Tangled, and I tried to get on with work before the appointment in the ‘rapid access emergency clinic’. Fred (the dog) spent 25 minutes trying to entice me into the garden to play with him, and then sulked on his bed next to my desk, huffing at regular intervals. Blue was wearing his contact lenses, and I had the uneasy feeling all morning that today would be the day that he gets dust in his eye, which will induce screaming agony, and that I would be in the queue for the rapid access appointment, just about to go in with Pink, when the call comes to race up to school and deal with the lens issue.

(A general note/rant about school and its attitude to illness and being patronised: The rash Pink is sporting  is identical to one Blue had last week. I have a filthy cold – I can talk again but I am so full of snot you would not believe it – and the kids are both a little snotty. I took Blue to the docs in the end last week, despite there being no other symptoms, just because I do get a little twitchy about his health given his history. The verdict was ‘viral rash’, as I suspected, and that in the absence of any other symptoms, he was OK to go to school. Anecdotal evidence from Blue suggests that there are other kids at school sporting the same rash, so I felt fine about this. Pink had a lesser version of the rash at the same time as Blue but then it flared up yesterday. I expect with the excitement of turning 6 she is actually quite tired and if this virus is the ‘lurking’ type, it took the opportunity to jump in again. She is fine in herself. But school called me yesterday, and her teacher ‘had a word’ when I went to pick her up. May be I’m reading too much into it, but whenever this sort of thing happens, I end up feeling (a) completely patronised, and (b) like a totally neglectful and bad mother who pays no heed to the welfare of her children. Does anyone else get this feeling from school?)

As I expected, Pink was fine to be at school, and despite my worries, no call so far to deal with Blue’s lenses, so Pink and I headed up the hill, dog in tow.
So far so good – both kids now at school, and Fred only got 2 ticks during his walk...

But there’s this evening still to get through. We are camping for a great friend’s 40th birthday this weekend. She is my oldest friend – our mothers went to school together, so we have history. When we were children, we used to share a boiled egg – I would eat the yolk then she would eat the white.

We aren’t going too far for this particular adventure, so the fact that we won’t be leaving till after 6.30 (Pink has a birthday party to go to) doesn’t trouble me too much. I haven’t packed yet, but I can do this while Pink is at the party. We don’t need much.

However, the following concerns me greatly: the campsite we are going to does not accommodate camper vans, so we can’t ‘glamp’ it in the van – we are going to have to slum it in a tent. Not only that, but we have a new tent, purchased for instances such as these (we can’t use the van on scout camp, either  – have to show solidarity with the scouts...), which we have never put up before. In fact we haven’t even taken it out of the bag to check everything’s there. “It’ll be fine” says the Husband.

 We have a chequered tent history – one that went from sharing the Husband’s 1 man tent in various walking expeditions up various mountains in mostly appalling weather conditions (that’s what happens if you hang out with the Army, girls), to a more sophisticated 2 person bike tent (i.e we could both sleep in it comfortably and there was enough room for our bikes in the awning bit, but rolled up it fitted neatly on the back of a bike). We spent many happy R&Rs in our “life-before-children” cycling round northern France.

 When the kids came along, and we decided to ‘do’ camping, we went a little crazy and purchased an end of line (read cheap) ENORMOUS thing that could have slept the whole scout troop in it.
OK, so maybe it wasn't quite THAT big...

It was too big. It was a pig to put up, and if it got wet when we needed to be packing it up, it was almost impossible to dry out because we don’t have anywhere big enough to hang it out. The big tent went on ebay after a particularly harrowing incident a couple of years ago. We arrived at about 8.30 p.m. at a campsite, strangely enough for another 40th. We were nearly the last to arrive, having towed the dinghy with us, we were both frazzled and in desperate need of alcohol.

I had been responsible for getting everything ready, so that when the Husband got home from work, we could just pack the car and go. The Husband set to, putting up the tent, and various friends chipped in to help. “Should there be 4 of these black poles?” enquired one friend. “I can only find 3.”

You know when you have those moments in a marriage. That was one of ours. And yes, I know, over a bloody tent pole. But hey, we held it together through Blue’s chemotherapy, so we’re entitled to fall out over a tent pole, right? It was all my fault. The pole had been sent away for repairs and when it came back, instead of putting it properly back in the tent bag with the other poles, I’d just chucked it in the cupboard. And then when I was assembling everything, ready to be packed in the car, I’d forgotten about the pole.  Fortunately, between the 30 or so other families, we scraped together a couple of small tents and the weekend was saved, but the tent went on ebay on the Sunday evening and we went looking for camper vans.

Since then, we have camped using a combination of the hike tent and the bike tent (we did that a few times during the rest of the van hunt summer), and last summer on scout camp in Holland we used the van awning as a stand-alone tent, but only for sleeping. And now, we have a new tent. Which we have never put up. Frankly, one of the reasons I love the van so much is that it has completely removed the ‘arrive at the campsite put up the tent’ stress. But not so this evening. We will be back there, with 2 over tired (and in Pink’s case, thoroughly over-sugared)  kiddlywinks, trying to fathom out how the tent goes up. Even if there are instructions, you can be sure they will be wrong...

The light at the end of the tunnel is that because we are not leaving till later, we can eat before we go, rather than having to factor a meal in to the tent-erection fun and games. I’d planned pancetta wrapped fish with lemony new potatoes and green beans, but do you know what? I think I’ll get a pack of sausages out of the freezer, crack open the oven chips, and make sure there’s plenty of gin in the ‘food’ bag.


  1. Love it! We have a tent just like the one you've sold, it's so big I was worried that the council would start charging us council tax for it. Gin, a box of wine and wet wipes are my camping essentials. I'm very envious of your van.. Have a great weekend! x

    1. Oh yes, wipes. Definitely an essential. The new smaller tent was a big hit.

  2. Your life is busy like no other x


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