Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Summer Memories

When I was little my parents would load up my Dads Peugeot 205 and we would set off on holiday. The tiny boot was filled with our tent, picnic set, sleeping bags, cool box, camping stove, buckets and spades and clothes. My brother and I were usually surrounded by pillows on the back seat. As my feet didn't touch the floor that meant extra packing space beneath them too.

Climbing up the Welsh hills Dad always announced that someone needed to get out and push, as our little car groaned its way to the top. I was never entirely convinced that he was, as he claimed, only joking. Especially given Mums huge sigh of relief when we actually made it.

We had some fantastic holidays. We built amazing sand castles on beautiful beaches. Played hide and seek in sand dunes. Collected sea shells as we paddled. And enjoyed Dads fried breakfasts cooked on our tiny camping stove (that mum refused to use).

Of course it had its downside too. Long road trips filled with eye spy and counting red cars (it was always red for some reason). The four of us crammed into one tent. All to spend a British summer in the pouring rain.

Camping has changed these days. Now my colleagues talk of glamping. A phrase that could never have been applied to our trips. Believe me there is nothing luxurious about sleeping in the car when you discover that the camp site is rat infested, or chasing your waterproof exterior tent across the camp site in a storm in the middle of the night. Now the recollection of us untangling it from the bushes that it had become so fond of, and reassembling it over your somewhat soggy sleeping bags is amusing. I don't think that any of us experienced that emotion at the time though.

That was the end of our camping trips. Our tent needed replacing after its escape and strangely none of us were in a hurry to do so. The lure of hotels, with proper beds, running water and actual roofs were calling to us. We didn't put up much, or rather any, resistance.

To be honest neither Mum nor I were ever really outdoorsy kind of women. I'm quite impressed that we ever actually went camping at all. As for Dad, I think he was possibly quite glad to put an end to checking inside the sleeping bags each night before we'd go to bed (due to an earwig incident which involved lots of screaming).

Never the less I look back on our adventures with a nostalgic smile. The rainy days were cosy as we snuggled in our sleeping bags playing card games. The chills caught from sleeping on the damp ground no longer seem so bad. In fact it all seems like so much fun now I'm almost inclined to pack up the car and give it another go.  Almost.

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