As sun set we had 2 extremely excited children and a tired toddler really looking forward to going to bed. Now that’s a rarity!
Today we’ve spent the day sorting through our camping equipment and setting up tents. Yes, tents plural!
We still have our first tent, a novel dome in that day and age, from 20 years ago, when Dadonthebrink and I got together. We dug out our super light backpacking and trekking MSR tent. The kids festival pop up tent made a very quick appearance. Finally we set up our Coleman family tent (the one I reviewed last summer) too.
With each tent memories came flooding back:
Our first dome tent: Camping one Easter in Wales at the foot of Snowden. It was so, so cold! We lit a campfire and kept turning around to warm our back and then our fronts and then backs again. It was too early to go to bed, even snuggled up. I think we lasted till 9 pm when we gave up and turned in. Although we were both awake at the crack of dawn on our rocky beds we didn’t move thinking the other was still asleep and for dread of having to go out into the cold. Brr! That was a cold night!
Our MSR tent saw us through a spectacular holiday in New Zealand – we covered 5555 km in 5 weeks (seriously! That was the exact mileage!) It was the wettest and coldest summer in kiwi history and we set up and packed away our tent 35 times over the 5 weeks. She never had a chance to dry out and was covered in mildew by the end of our holiday, yet she kept us warm and dry throughout. And what an amazing adventure we had- sleeping on ground warmed by thermals, finding a deserted beach, where we could dig for hotsprings, peering out one morning to the view of Milford Sound and many many more!
While unpacking the MSR we discovered my old Casio watch inside. The tent was last used in 2006 August and the watch still works. Wow!
The kids’ festival tent is an extra sleeping pod when out camping, otherwise it is our indoor lay arena. The moment they see it, their faces light up.
As soon as the Coleman went up, the kids started talking about the New Forest and the ponies and cows that roamed around our tent last year. The fun we had discovering the bugs and other creatures around us.
Angelina even helped set this one up as she told us about the stories she already remembered from going away with this tent.
From our line-up of tents we missed our double dome tent; that one got demoted to reading nook after it failed the waterproof test last summer. It is now only pitched at events where I take Barefoot Books.
And also missing was our cheap little 2 man single sheet tent, the one which saw us through our trekking adventures in Chilean Patagonia, waking by spectacular waterfalls, iceberg covered lakes and covered inside and out in ice. Then got demoted to dog tent while we were hiking in the Pyrenees and the Highlands, with the dog carrying it in his backpack.
Oh so many wonderful memories, all linked to the outdoors that were made more accessible because of our tents (and other gear- some good, some not so good).
It is these sort of memories I want to continue to gather as a family in our tents or whatever shelter may come our way.
So tonight we are testing the sleeping out on a cold early spring night in our back garden. Testing our sleeping bags, our mats, our choice of bed clothes…. Because tonight we can still escape to the warm of our own beds. Next weekend, we are on the road, there will be no escaping to a warm bed from canvas sheltered beds. I want to make sure we are as prepared as we can be.
Now I’ll snuggle down in my own sleeping bag. Good night! x
What are your best memories of camping?