We’re throwing it back to the final weekend of the summer holidays (oh how that already seems like a lifetime ago) when the time had finally arrived…the time for the first camping trip! Both cars jam packed and filled to the brim, we were ready to set off.
In car #1, myself and Guy Rope #1 were particularly rammed in. Boot full to busting, backseats piled high and camping bits and bobs squeezed in around my legs in the front passenger seat. For some reason, I thought that as a couple without kids, everything would slot neatly and concisely into place and I’d have the luxurious leg room in the front that I remember my parents being accustomed to. However, I felt like that kid all over again being squished into the car in order to fit everything in. To make matters worse, we didn’t even manage to squeeze in our bucket and chuck it camping loo which we had specially bought knowing neither myself nor Guy Rope #1 can manage an entire night without at least one middle of the night wee! “Have we bought too much for weekend camping trips?” I ponder… “No, we just need a bigger car” comes the reply from Guy Rope #1. That’s that then! Upon arrival at the Longleat site, we are greeted by the friendly wardens (AKA Mum and Dad) who guide us to our pitches. Our tent will be facing the tent of Jellybean and Guy Rope #2 which we realise will be like looking into a mirrored image as we look across and see our exact tent with the exact same set up across the way. As we will have identical tents facing each other, we recognise the importance of ensuring our tent looks as well constructed as their tent, if not better…the competition is on. Groundsheet quickly laid out, tent poles forming, tent taking shape and being pegged down; we have got this tent construction business down to a tee! Well that’s until we realise the top of our tent is sagging… “Where are they up to, are we beating them?” … “Go and have a look at their tent, is their tent sagging?” … “Why is their tent not sagging? Go and figure out what they’ve done differently?”. After unpegging and repegging every tent peg and pulling the guy ropes as tight as possible, we finally shift our saggy top and we are ready to set up the inside of our little home away from home. We roll up the tent door like proud owners of a new house turning the key in the lock for the very first time until SPLAT…whilst our pitch looks very picturesque under a couple of very large trees, it turns out that pigeons also like our pitches for that same reason and our tent has just been christened. We haven’t even stepped foot inside yet and there is poo on the floor, brilliant! Bird faeces removed and we can crack on with the inner tent, air bed blowing up and table building. Before we know it, our home for the weekend is all ready to go and right on cue, our stomachs start to rumble. It really does appear that putting up and taking down tents is hungry work! What to eat on the first night of our first camping trip? BBQ of course!
Over in car #2, we travelled in much more luxury having left our tent, footprint and carpet with the parents in Longleat after our trial run (see Take one… Take two…). Recognising that this would be a one off, we relished the moment packing snacks and thermos flasks that could be reached at any time without the fear of toppling the Jenga of items that will most likely be balancing on my knee in the future! Upon arrival I’m faced with the daunting reality that we’re now in a race, not only against Jellybean and Guy Rope #1, but also the fading light. Before I know it, their tent is not only taking shape but is free-standing! They’ve either been practising their tent erection skills without us, or they’ve been to Hogwarts, because it took several arguments before our tent resembled theirs. Having almost admitted defeat and contemplating sleeping in the car, you can imagine the music to my ears “how have you stopped your tent from sagging at the top?”, luck was on our side and we had somehow fluked it. However, that did mean that we weren’t any help to them as we had no idea how we’d done it. Unfortunately for us, we lost the ‘race’ as they opened up the door to their home away from home first… Unfortunately for them, their prize was a splattered white gift on the floor of their tent. That’ll teach you for being so quick! The interiors of both tents seemed to be set up in no time. But this is when I heard the dreaded “are you sure this is a double airbed? It doesn’t look big enough to me” come from tent #1. Oh no. I was in charge of purchasing the airbeds. Have I bought them a single? (…luckily it was a double and we didn’t have to sacrifice ours for the weekend)!
Now, it’s time for food. “Are the sausages in your cool box or ours?”. Burgers, sausages and kebabs all on the teppanyaki with an alcoholic beverage in hand. Chuffed with our first attempt at putting up both tents, we sit most content, with full bellies, soaking up our evening. The perfect start to our first camping trip as adults and all those fond memories are coming back thick and fast.