Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Camping It Up

It was my utmost intention this weekend to be found meandering alongside the Canal du Midi in Carcassonne, alone. Malheureusement, I am instead to be found packing for a family camping trip to Polzeath. Now, whilst I may love my family dearly, I was looking forward to a bit of solitary confinement. I don’t need any stimulants or glittering conversation, in fact I was happy to lie on my B&B bed and stare at the ceiling.
“No need break the habit of a lifetime”, quipped Hubby. He’s such a wag.
Having had several visitors recently however and pandered to their every whim, my accounts are such that I have had to forfeit my flights from Newquay to London then to Carcassonne and back. Someone else would have sat in my seat on that aeroplane, the anticipation of adventure and the unknown coursing through their veins, landing to the unmistakable, olfactory sense of being abroad. Smells of garlic, herbs and wine hanging heavy in a Mediterranean night air, the foreign sound of frantic cicadas adding to the general sense of being in a distant land. A siesta taken on an afternoon so hot that even the mosquitoes are languid and all the while I wouldn’t have had to take care of anyone – not one tiny or large person could have whined for my attention, no dinner would have had to have been cooked, no washing, no organizing, no-one’s happiness to pander too except mine and all I wanted, was a bit of peace and quiet.
As it transpires, I will now be on an undoubtedly soggy campsite, my French ensuite substituted by peeing into a bucket at 2am. Cassoulet swapped for crisps, a scorched sausage and a warm stubby of beer. I can’t wait.
Hubby of course, thrilled that I am not now going to be spending money in the South of France nor enjoying illicit flirtations with God knows whom and who will also now be on hand to take his youngest daughters to the public conveniences is a very jolly soul. The camping paraphernalia has made its way out of the basement and into the kitchen and I have actually caught him whistling as he chucked melamine into hot soapy water.
“It’s going to be great Alice”, he said as I looked dejectedly on, “C’mon, cheer up there’s a love” he added, flinging a tea towel at me.
The lists for such an expedition are endless and when Hubby isn’t washing up, he has been at the computer adding yet more items to aforementioned inventory.
“This is very comprehensive y’know”, he said, very pleased with himself, “I’ve even remembered the hooks”.
“What hooks?” I asked, as if I cared.
“The ones that clip onto the tent frame”. I must have looked blank.
“Oh you know, the hooks we can hang things from. They are multi-purpose. By day we can hang macs and sweaters from them and by night torches and lanterns, not too mention perishables that need to be stored above ground level.” It is easy to see how he has done so well as a supply officer, although, one wonders if he will ever again be able to replicate that triumphant feeling of successfully storing ship before a long deployment when every box of cereal and every last rasher of bacon was neatly packed away. Maybe this is him trying to recreate those times, I can but indulge him.
“So, have we enough batteries? I don’t want to miss the bucket.”
“Plenty, the Co-op have got an offer on, although I’d prefer it if you could manage a pee in the dark, you don’t want to wake the kids”.
“Shove off; I’m more likely to wake them as I wail when the pail tips over”.
“Oh well, I suppose but you must be quiet”.
“To pee quietly into a plastic bucket in the dead of night inside the thin canvas of a tent would be wholly unfeasible”, I point out, packing the plastic dishes into a box.
“Actually the tent is made of a strong, water and fire resistant polyester Alice”. I roll my eyes.
“It’s all very well for you to be laissez faire about all this stuff but when we are on that campsite in the cool night air, you will be delighted that I have remembered your favourite comfy chair, the fleece blanket, the cafetiere, pillows, duvet and …”
“Oh all right, I get your drift”.
“Now I just have to locate the surf board and we’re all set”.
“Surf board?” was he having a mid-life crisis? To see young men, paunch free with honey coloured skin, effortlessly ride a wave, accessorized by earrings and silver bangles is a joy to behold – a middle aged man however, with a tummy and varicose veins as surfing accessories is quite another.
“I think you may have left it a bit late to adopt the surf bum look”, I said gently.
“Not for me Alice, for our son but thanks for the vote of confidence, I’ll remember that when nubile young girls are running past us and you are extricating your sarong from upper reaches of your buttocks.
“It’s called a wedgie Dad”, said our 11 year old, walking into the kitchen, “And just to let you know I am not going near you on the beach if one of you is in a swim suit and the other has a surf board under their arm. I couldn’t stand the shame.”
“Ditto” drawled our son, ambling in, “You’ll stay in the campsite with the babies right?”
“I am not a baby”, added the 5 year old, “And you are very stinky”.
“Speak for yourself”.
“Poo-breath”. All our attentions turned to the Red-Head, who at almost three, has developed quite an insulting, scatological vocabulary. I sighed deeply and considered for a moment who had sat in my seat on flight 72. They’d better be having a good time.


Mopsa said...

Be careful of those hooks. You don't want any Jude the Obscure moments.

Alice Band said...

Never got past Tess of the Durbavills, so what happened to Jude?

Mary Alice said...

Brilliant as always. Though I must say you should give surfing a shot even with the varicose veins...you yourself…to heck with the husband. And who cares who has to witness it; life is too short to miss the fun. When we were stationed in Hawaii all of the neighborhood women went surfing every Tuesday -in spite of all being fair, fat, and fairly forty - it was unimaginably exhilarating. I dream of surfing. Someday I'll post the photos!

Alice Band said...

Hi Mary Alice, I missed you! I don't think that I'm bendy enough for surfing, though once, in my dim and distant past, water skied around a bay in Cyprus!!

Mopsa said...

Alice - it's an unremittingly depressing tale, of unsatisfied desire and love, poverty and woe. When Jude's eldest child "Little Father Time" realises that the family are in the direst of financial straits he hangs himself and his two siblings using the hook on the back of the door, with a note attached: "done because we are too many". Heart wrenching.

Alice Band said...

mopsa - Oh my God. I won't let the kids read it then. Might give them ideas as I constantly wail I have too many children!

It's Just Me said...

I've just bought a load of camping gear, but haven't yet got to use it.

I wasn't planning on peeing in a bucket any time soon. Or in fact any time.

eBay may beckon..

Sally Lomax said...

Had to look up scatological! good word!

I can sympathise.........

(Of course!)

Broker said...

Alice, I have just been "camping" at Cowes Week, I think you may have enjoyed it more....

Alice Band said...

It's just me - get in touch with ebay asap!!
Sally - when shit happens scatalogical is one hell of a good word!
Broker - going to London in a minute, camping in Pimlico!

Broker said...

Pimlico, ah yes one of the better camp sites in London, just becare about peeing in a bucket there.

belle said...

just be thankful you aren't going to be on a yacht where you can't have a pee at 2:00 am without waking the WHOLE boat.
if you think you'll try and keep it quiet by not plunging the flush thingy ... there's a stink and horrible sight in the pan in the morning!!
Hardy's definitely too morbid for holiday time - I could never bear Far from the Madding Crowd when the stupid sheepdog sends the whole flock over the cliff ....

Lisa said...

While I love camping, and can pretty much pee whenever and wherever (wow, THAT doesn't sound right) it seems a pretty poor substitute!
Especially since you were looking forward to it so much, I'm sorry, Alice!
So, next summer, you will HAVE to go, a bunch of us can go together, who's in?

Alice Band said...

Broker- Pimlico was just a marvellous campsite!
Belle - We went on a barge last summer so can concur with the stinky smell of on boat loos. Especially after a few spears of asparagus!
Lisa - Thankyou for your commiserations!Would love to go on holidays with you, the food would be divine! Starting a diet tomorrow - oh God..

enidd said...

Enidd was once taken camping in Scotland at Easter by her boyfriend. She remembers getting soaked to the skin peeing in the field in a force nine storm. (They were the only campers in the field, wonder why.)