Somedays I know I’m certifiable. Otherwise how would you explain the decision making process that led me in the depths of this winter to excitedly book us Ds to go camping this summer? A mere 6 hour journey with a 2 and a half year old and 9 month old would be enough to send most of us off to find a white blouse with wraparound sleeves in the Arndale Centre. Throw in RD’s extra needs and the fact that after this mecca we were going to have to attempt to put up a tent, you might be justifiably wondering what I was thinking of. But you see, I just knew I was going to be participating in something very special. Something amazing- the very first Camp Amazing.
The lovely Claire had a dream, a far more altruistic one than I would have ever had. She wanted to set up a camping weekend, a holiday that for families like us Ds would seem like a distant hope. It’s fair to say Wolf and I are hardly accomplished campers, previous camping trips have had us frozen in the drizzle in Wales where I packed a mac and an umbrella (and no, not a cagoule. I’m talking a Mackintosh coat) or in the blistering Spanish heat where we tried in vain to keep our gin cool. We are idiots abroad when camping. But still, we reckoned we could do this somehow and Claire soothingly told me it would be OK. And just like that I knew it would be.
My kindly Uncle thankfully agreed to a car swap. But given that his car could eat our car in terms of size, we still struggled to pack it. It was a play by play of fitting elephants in a mini, the kitchen roll akin to offering Monsieur Creosote a waffer thin mint (SIC). DD has taken it upon herself to appoint herself house cockerel, and started crowing at 5am so we rolled with the punches and set off early doors. RD had tried to throw in some delaying tactics with a nosebleed and out of nappy experience, but we for once ruled supreme and had them strapped in and ready to go.
In these situations, you know, the fight or flight ones, we often find ourselves in the latter category. So I’m not going to lie, there was a fair amount of bickering down the M6. Which as it turns out was wasted hot air, as the children were surprisingly good. I know we’d prepared for full scale meltdowns and given that they’re both non verbal, whinges which echo round the car which I presumed meant “are we neaaaarrrrlllyyy theeeerrreee yet?”. Set the bar low enough and we arrived almost ready for a team pat on the back. Then we remembered we had a tent to put up. One that was a) borrowed and b) too big to have had a practice at putting up. But the Camp Amazing team, were erm, well, amazing. I have to give a special mention here to Annie. Wise beyond her years, she offered to watch the mini Ds, not even a bat of an eyelid. And despite an almost overriding desire to nick off down the pub, Wolf and I were accompanied by our glamorous assistant Tina to embark on setting up camp.
The tone was set, we were to my utter surprise, relaxed. I can’t say we slept any better thanks to an airbed with a slow deflate and the odd check to see if a dingo had carried off either of my offspring, but there was just an air of calm. It’s the little things that count, things that I find hard to articulate normally. There have been many a do where I have walked away upset, and only realised afterwards that it’s because there’s been nowhere for my boy to lie down comfortably. To roll around like he just don’t care, to not have to have him get more worked up at being held on a knee. And to know that nobody was looking at my nearly three year old flipping around like a magic fish with the occasional head bang with sympathy or concern. The other families there got it. And RD even had playmates. They were all very good at studiously acting cool and ignoring each other, but it didn’t matter.
DD is only young, but I looked to the older siblings and I know in the future this will mean as much to her as it did to us. For now, Tubs was renamed Swamp Thing. She thrived on dirt and cuddles, licking sisal matting and dancing to the disco. I felt like both children were cherished. We felt at home in those canvas walls.
The sun shone, and we made hay (figuratively). The heavens opened, we got fed pizza. Claire made RD’s year with some finger paints. Truth be told, she made our year. I actually get a little choked up thinking about it all. I won’t bore you you with the fact that Rufus required a little jaunt up t’hospital upon our slightly earlier than planned return to the North but I’m sure he remained in such good spirits throughout his numerous cannulations and confinement because he’d experienced such glorious freedom for 3 days beforehand. Enough chat, where are the pictures I hear you ask? Eyes down, then we’ll begin…
Find out all about Camp Amazing here