I’ve never been much of a camper. I blame my parents. When I was a baby, they took me and my three siblings (aged 5, 7 and 8) camping for the weekend in high country in Yosemite. In November. In a 1970s canvas tent. No one slept, except me (I am often reminded) as I was in a buggy. The rest of the family were in sleeping bags with just canvas between themselves and the freezing earth.
My father packed us all up the next morning and we went home (apparently to no objections). This is one of those family stories that gets better and better through time. Susie was fine, she was in the buggy. The rest of us FROZE. There was SNOW on the ground. My dad, aged 85, still mutters about being really tired and having to drive us the three hours to our home in Silicon Valley.
So, you see, I like my little comforts. But Scottish hubby was in the Scouts, and has always been keen to try camping. The compromise? Glamping!
Disclosure: We were given a family tent from Sports Direct to try out.
The Bank Holiday weekend was a perfect time to go for it. We had fun planning our “trip” to the garden. As the weekend neared, I kept checking the weather. It was due to be dry, but nights were predicted to be 5C. Brrrrr.
We turned the weekend into a family affair. The girls unpacked the Campri Quest 8 tent (£139). While the oldest read out the instructions, the other two put all the pieces into separate piles. Then we scratched our heads a bit. Is it just me or does it seem like all instructions are written by non-English speakers.
A friend warned me to make sure to put layers between the air mattress (did you even have to ask if we would have air mattresses?) and sleeping bags. I suppose I went a little OTT. I put old rugs/blankets on the ground sheet, then the air mattresses, then another couple blankets, then sleeping bags, then duvets OVER the sleeping bags. We were ready!
Then the fun part started. Since we were at home, no comfort was spared. The girls brought out books, a clock, teddy bears and dolls. I brought out a radio, space heater, camp lights and my latest BritMums Book Club read: Buddha in the Attic.
Dad brought out the sun loungers and our badminton set, and camp Modern Family began!
On our first night, we barbecued hamburgers on our gas grill and made British S’Mores (recipe below). Mum and dad had Pimms (limited edition blackberry and Elderflower). We went to into the tent around 9 and played games, including cards, charades, Bananagrams and
Chinese Whispers. It started to get cold, so I turned on the space heater. In the background we had Classic FM.
Into our “rooms” at 9.30 (OK maybe it was closer to 10). Space heater off. Read books. Camping lights off by 10.30.
Yes it was cold outside, but we were snug inside.
We had a wonderful time. Our youngest said it was one of the “funnest things we have done, EVER!”
We ended up spending a couple nights in the tent, but took it down right before the heavy rains.
We are even thinking about our next camping trip – away from the garden! Shocking, I know.
S’mores are a popular American camping treat, traditionally made with graham crackers, Hershey’s milk chocolate and marshmallows roasted on an open fire. Since some of these ingredients are hard to get a hold of in the UK, here’s my British version.
1 pack milk chocolate digestives
1 pack marshmallows
Method: Roast marshmallows on stick in open campfire. If they catch fire, quickly blow it out. When marshmallow is nearly melted and falling off the stick, place between two chocolate digestives, like a sandwich. Then eat the melting, gooey mess!