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  • Writer's pictureLiz Copping

Camping with the grandchildren- was it a tent too far? by Liz Copping

Liz and her husband were reluctant to go camping after their childhood holiday experiences but at a family get-together they were talked into a weekend under canvas. So what did they learn from their weekend in the wild?

how to start a fire wih no matches or lighter

Oh it seemed such a wonderful idea when we were all sat snug and warm around the dinner table at Christmas – a weekend camping and fishing with the whole family including a 3 and 5-year-old.

My husband and I are not even fair weather campers remembering days camping in windswept rain sodden fields in Cornwall much preferring the comforts of a five star hotel with a beach, cocktail bar and balmy weather. What were we thinking? But our eldest son lives on the West Coast of the USA, Washington State where they regularly pop to the woods at the weekend to enjoy the great outdoors. So on our latest visit we had this ‘adventure’ to look forward to.

The weekend arrived and hubby popped out to purchase his contribution to the trip – a rather large amount of wine and a YETI which we soon discovered was without a doubt the best investment ever. It was going to be our wine cooler for the trip promising to keep anything ice cool for 3 days - I would like to say I can vouch for that but after two days it was empty (but the ice was still there).

So after packing the SUV’s with just about everything you would need for a month away and dressed in distinctly different outfits (we hail from the 'just add another layer generation' whilst the rest had the appropriate outdoor clothing ) we drove what could be no more than 40 miles. Things were looking up – we could always nip back to the comfort of the house. But no we had agreed to go ‘gramping’ as it became known and would survive the weekend outdoors.

Oh how camping has changed?

Easy assembly pop up tents, inflatable beds, comfy chairs with cup holders, elegant plastic wine glasses, lightweight rechargeable lanterns and torches with solar power packs and sturdy rain canopies.

However, our family still wanted to experience the authentic side of camping and this included starting a fire with tinder and flints.

So we settled back in our comfortable chairs with our chilled rose and watched the entertainment commence. It was enjoyable to watch and certainly brought out the competitive side of the whole family. The little ones were sent to collect small sticks and leaves and to be fair within 30 minutes there was an impressive roaring fire. Dinner consisted of beautifully cooked steaks (no charred bits), rice and salad washed down with a delicious Oregon Pinot Noir. The washing up was done in the river and after we played card games and recounted numerous stories.

In due course, we trotted off to bed feeling very relaxed thinking perhaps camping was not so bad after all. However, as we reached the tent our son handed me an aerosol casually saying it was a bear deterrent spray just in case I needed to pop to ‘The Black Hole’ during the night. Just in case? I’m well over 50, our tent was pitched next to a fast-flowing river and I have what can only be described as an overactive bladder. So in the dead of the night, loo roll in one hand and bear spray in the other I was sprinting at a speed that could easily have put me in contention for an Olympic medal for the loo. I safely made it back to the tent to find my husband blissfully unaware that he had rolled out of the tent - it appears the ideal 'quiet' pitch we had chosen was not as flat as at first sight. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep a wink that night. The following morning whilst chatting with a dad in the next pitch I spotted a shotgun and asked where he planned to go hunting - he laughed and said no it was only for their trips to the latrine at night!

But things did improve as that day we went fishing and kayaking and it was an absolute delight to see the little ones’ faces when they helped land a huge salmon which we cooked and ate that evening. We taught them to skim stones, build a camp, played ball, had play fights and enjoyed relaxed conversations with our children and their partners uninterrupted by mobile phones, laptops and televisions. All of us said we couldn’t remember when we last did that all together – to be honest probably never.

Would we do it again? Of course we would!

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