Monday, 3 August 2009

Lie #1 - Camping is Fun (but only when you're 8 and your Dad gets up at 6am to make you pancakes)

So, as mentioned in my previous blog, I was supposed to spend a week in the loving arms of British hippies, shunning technology and learning about compost and such. But alas, the Big Green Gathering was cancelled for political reasons (!?) and thus I was fated to spend the time visiting family in Cornwall with my friend E.

Fortunately for me, the fates had seen fit to give me what turned out to be a lovely three days with my family – grandparents, uncles and various family I rarely get to see. Blessed with a single day of good weather, E and I explored little towns all over Cornwall and even got to spend an evening with my godson and his brother – Louie and Alfie, two of my cousins. I should add here as a sidebar, that following an evening of playing snap (with postman pat cards), Alfie (who is 6) asked me to marry him, thus making my second marriage proposal of the year, and the third from a cousin since I was about 5… (I was once engaged to my cousin Tom when I was about 5 or 6, until my mother explained that our children might be a little retarded so it was probably for the best that we called it off). I am clearly destined to either marry into my own family or have a seriously underage toyboy. Things are not looking good.

Anyway, I digress. Back to Cornwall. So E and I spent three magical days in which the familial harmony renewed my faith in the goodness of mankind etc, and then decided to go camping for three days, up near Bude. I have been camping on several occasions throughout my life, and despite the doubtful looks I get from friends, I have always prided myself on being good at camping. I view myself as having a sort of reckless abandon when out in the elements – a Pocahontas-esque image of myself standing at a waterfall with the wind whipping through my hair and making me look incandescently beautiful, while a chorus of wild birds sing out some Disney style crescendo. I even got cross with the man in Millets who asked if I was a ‘raver’ when I asked him if they sold glowsticks. “No,” I informed him crossly, “I am a serious camper with a wind up head torch and a special little stove and everything.”

Anyway, you can see where this is heading. Not only had E and I picked the most sorry little campsite in Cornwall, we had picked the worst weather you can possibly imagine. We trundled through the gates in my little Ford Ka (which had already done 500+ miles AND accidently gone to Devon when we were lost) and it promptly started to rain. And it only went downhill from there. Our practice run of putting up our six-man-tent-for-two had been in my quiet little back garden in Buckinghamshire – a far cry from the wilderness we now found ourselves in, struggling with a tent that kept trying to take to the skies in a whirl of beige and green nylon.

So we finally sat down, smug in our giant princess tent while the couple next door wriggled in and out of their standard two man tent, and read magazines and played cards and generally felt very cool and earthy and organic. I even bought a book of crosswords to complete the next day while lounging by the outdoor heated pool (which wasn’t open and looked like a hole in the ground as it was). After an hour of playing snap, the weather had become a force to be reckoned with, and E and I began exchanging glances of concern over our supposedly fabulous minimalistic holiday. Combine that with the fact that we forgot cutlery AND mugs (which led to spreading peanut butter with a three day old wooden chip fork and drinking schnapps from a measuring jug) and things were going seriously downhill. Shouting over the wind to one another, we questioned the stability of our tent, which was bending in a worrying angle in on us. Deciding that we were basically in a hurricane, we prayed for our safety and passed out around 11pm (following an eventful trip to the bathroom 250 m away in the howling wind and rain – sidebar: I was wearing cowprint hotpants and wellies with goretex – not a good look).

The next morning, we were puffy and exhausted and swore blind that camping was not for us. Admitting defeat and throwing away £30 worth of camping fees, we climbed back into my little car and spent 7 hours getting back to civilisation, where we had vanilla lattes and caramel hot chocolates. It seems my Pocahontas fantasy will have to wait until camping can be a little more accommodating… call me shallow, but until I can emerge from a tent without full waterproofs and gale force winds, I am sticking to hostels and hotels.