Sunday, 18 September 2011

Birthday Camping

I have been camping again.
Not my own choice this time, but the choice of youngest son who requested a camping party for his 7th Birthday. Ahhh, a boy after my own heart, how could I refuse?  He has taken on board my love of the outdoors! We decided to keep it small and only invited 3 - one couldn't make it, one was happy to come to the party but not sleep over and only one was willing to embrace the whole experience. I was happy with that!
I'm so glad I didn't let the weather reports put me off! There were severe weather warnings for heavy rain over the Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If it had been correct, the party would have been a wash out!

I decided to go a day early and set up the Izmir on Friday while the boys were at school. It was a glorious afternoon - at the last minute I decided to forego EHU and go right down by the lake.
I chose a spot right amongst the trees - just incase the bad weather hit, it was nice and sheltered.
So once set up, I took the dogs for a blast around the woodland walk, then returned to the tent, made myself a coffee - an hour of peace and quiet, sat in the sunshine - ahh, one of those moments that are to be savoured as they don't come along very often!
All too soon it was time to go and pick up the boys from school.
We had tea, hubby went to work on his last night shift, D had football practice so it was 7pm by the time we headed back to site. It did rain while I was at home, but it had stopped by the time we got back to camp.
Got the lanterns lit, firelog in the firepit, got the boys showered and into PJs and dressing gowns, hot chocolate all round and we had a cosy evening by the fire. Another one of those blissful moments - just the three of us, cupping steaming mugs of hot chocolate, watching the flames, under the stars. Sounds a bit Enid Blyton doesn't it?
We had some rain throughout the night and the wind got up, but nothing the Izmir couldn't cope with. We were all warm and cosy inside.
I didn't have the best nights sleep - a couple turned up after dark and pitched a tiny tent just the other side of the trees. No problem with that, but they were still chatting at 2am and sound seems to really carry through a tent! Also a group in the next field were partying until the wee hours. Again, not a major problem as we were well away from them, but just enough to stop me going straight off to sleep again.
Saturday dawned wet and windy, so after letting the dogs out and making more hot chocolate, we all went back to bad to read for a couple of hours. Once the rain stopped, the dogs were walked again, then I pitched the second tent ready for our guests. D was very helpful - holding poles together for me and helping me to gaffer tape them together!

Once up, I festooned the fairy lights over both tents and set them to recharge in the sunshine.
Unbelievably there was no more rain, the weather stayed dry and sunny if blustery.
Party guests arrived and instead of ball games, we spent the afternoon kite flying!
My boys find it a little boring now, but their guests loved it! I keep a wooden box full of tent toys and games that always comes away with us and ensures that there is always something to do in adverse weather - luckily there were two kites in there.

I love kite flying - there is something uplifting and exciting about those brightly coloured bits of cloth swooping and soaring in the wind. These are very simple kites which fly in even the slightest breeze and are very easy for little hands to manage.
After that it was time for tea. We barbequed on the Cobb - sausages and burgers on buns to suit the boys, lots of ketchup, all shared with the hounds.
I took some homemade cakes and let them decorate their own using chocolate spread and plain white icing, plus loads of sprinkles and chocolate stars.
Even the strawberries got dunked in the icing!
Then there was some tree climbing
And finally we lit the fire and did toasted marshmallows and played charades. The wind dropped and the evening was still and calm. We even had some clear sky and managed to do a bit of star gazing.
We were a bit nervous of letting the boys all sleep alone in a seperate tent, so little M and his friend slept in their tent with Dad and D joined me in the big double bed. They did try to stay awake, but very quickly succumbed - they were exhausted!
A and I had a peaceful, grown up, 10 minutes by the fire before A also had to turn in (well he had just finished his night shift). After another 10 minutes on my own, I was also ready for bed. This time nothing kept me awake! And having little D in with me meant I had a built in hot water bottle! Poor A didn't fare so well - a big man on a narrow camp bed and his quilt kept falling off (his own fault as he doesn't like sleeping bags!)
At 7am I was wide awake and refreshed. Let the dogs out and admired the rising sunlight over the lake.
Breakfast this morning was sausages done on the Cobb followed by pancakes. I used one of those pancake mixes where you add water and shake, and did those on the Cobb as well. They were all eaten, but I didn't get to try them myself - should have bought two! Worked very well, even if they didn't brown as much as they do in a frying pan.
The weather stayed gorgeous while we packed up both tents. Got home about 2pm, then the heavens opened and the threatened downpour finally hit. Perfect timing! Not a wet canvas in the house - just the sort of camping I love.

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