WOMAN ON THE VERGE: Nothing for it but to carry on camping


• I’VE been enjoying some annual leave from work and to save myself the inevitable, massive come down from the holiday highs, I figured we’d just stay low. Like real low. Like at ground level. Yes, we went camping. Again! Sure look, we enjoy it, even if there are some moments that I struggle to remember exactly why. But that’s normal whatever family holiday you’re on … right?

• For starters, on our recent camping trip I found myself giving a lot of thought to zips. And specifically why there has to be so many of them on one single tent. I didn’t count but I think our tent has at least 549. Possibly more. And they all have to be negotiated noisily up, and down, at various times of the day and night (more on that later). Sometimes it’s the little things that can push you over the edge and sometimes it’s the flipping zips that do it for me.

• Then there’s the necessity for so much ‘stuff.’ You pretty much need to pack up the entire contents of your house, even if you’re just camping for a weekend. Leave something behind at your peril (it could be a plunger/potato masher/allen key … who knows). Of course there’s loads of specially-designed gear available now to make camping more of a comfortable (hah!) experience, most of which we have at this stage. I’m first in the queue when the discount supermarkets have their ‘camping weeks’ and I could probably have upgraded to a swanky caravan at this stage with what I’ve spent. There’s nifty little shoe holders, wardrobes, portable coffee machines, inflatable couches and armchairs – you name it, you can get it. But actually all you really need, in plentiful supply, is optimism. Because at regular stages during a camping holiday your resolve will be tested in a big way. As will your feelings for your family – although that depends on how big the tent is, and the weather.

• Speaking of which, if you’re camping in Ireland it goes without saying that at some point you’ll find yourselves sitting inside as the rain belts down on the canvas, playing cards. If you’re prepared for this it makes it an awful lot easier to accept. Also, don’t forget a golf umbrella as you’ll need it for BBQing in the drizzle. It’s character building.

• As well as zips, I spent a lot of time thinking about airbeds during our holiday, usually at 3am in the morning as I wondered if there was any way we could fit an actual mattress in the car next time. I think I’ve done enough damage to my back to keep a chiropractor in business until at least Christmas. But sure like I said, it’s character building.

• I also spent a lot of time thinking about the toilet in the ‘wee’ hours. I’d lie there convincing myself that I didn’t need the loo. Most definitely not. Nope. I was totally grand, even after that third gin and tonic. Then an hour later I’d have to give in, navigate getting off the air bed (not easy), grapple with the zips (loud enough to wake the dead), make the trek to the toilet block, and on route fantasise about a week in an apartment in Spain. When I’d get back, though, I’d feel like Bear Grylls and I’d settle down for some fitful slumber thinking that this is the life alright. Then three minutes later I’d hear a little voice whisper in the dark: ‘I think I need the toilet.’ Every single time.

• We did get lucky in that our break coincided with some of the recent warm weather (smug? Me?). And of course the upshot of spending a few nights in a tent is that when you get back home, you feel like you live in a five-star resort. Running water? A fridge? TV? Rooms with doors … where you can spend some time on your own? Such luxury! For that alone it’s probably worth it.

• Although when we got home and I was still on holidays from work, I got a glimpse of summers of the future and it left me a bit rattled. The six-year-old and husband went to GAA training and I found myself home alone which rarely happens. I thought about grabbing the mop but it was a lovely evening and for the heck of it I sat outside and took a moment. It was glorious, if a bit unnerving. My mind start racing and I figured that in just a few short years I’d be able to do this whenever I liked and suddenly it didn’t seem as appealing. But before I could get too morose, everyone piled in the door wondering if we could go camping again next weekend and it was back down to earth for me with a bang. There’s always the toasted marshmallows to look forward to, I suppose.


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