We are nothing, if not resilient. Seriously, we had a nightmare trip in 2019 that would have turned less nutty committed campers into gibbering wrecks. From storm wreckage to flat beds to wet beds – we experienced all the camping nightmares possible for an average family. We started off with misplaced optimism about exploring the stunning county of Cornwall, taking in a couple of family visits and having a generally wonderful break. First stop South Winds Campsite in the surfing capital of Polzeath:
1. Flat bed
Had an absolutely amazing first day and went to bed full of fresh air, happiness and “isn’t my family great-ness” whilst snuggling into our lovely cosy bed.
Woke up at 2am. Pumped bed back up and crossed fingers.
Woke up at 4am. Wasn’t full of happiness. Pumped bed back up again.
Woke up at 6am. All happiness had leeched from my body along with the ability to move without creaking or groaning.
We spent an hour or so with our repair kit, finding the leak and confidently repairing it ready for the next night. Spent another lovely day and went to bed totally ready for restful and recuperative sleep.
Repeated pattern of previous night.
Bought new bed.
2. Wet bed
Our dear daughter was 3, but had been going through the night with no “accidents” for 6 months. So, for whatever reason, we decided not to follow our own advice and did not pack any nappies. You can probably guess what’s coming.
Night 3, after 3 full-on days of sea, sand, kites, running, making friends and bucketloads of fresh air, our children were sound asleep in their shared double. So sound asleep in fact that neither had noticed the circle of wetness they were both lying in.
As any parent knows, waking up sleeping children is absolutely the LAST thing anyone wants to do so Daddy and I started a whispering argument about how to deal with this. “Leave them” was Daddy’s wise advice following the path of least effort. I was not so sure and eventually we decided to try our best to sort this without waking them. So, mission impossible began. This involved careful placement of towels on our bed, moving children to our bed and changing them with minimal movement/sound, changing their bed and more placement of towels, moving everyone back.
Well, obviously they woke up.
We bought nappies the next day.
3. “Sleeping” Through the Storm
We heard there was a storm coming. “We’re not scared!” exclaimed Daddy in true Bear Hunt style, after all we’d survived plenty of adverse weather in our trusty tent and knew all about double pegging, storm pegs, etc.
Turns out this was a bit optimistic.
It was rather windy when we went to bed, but we settled down, confident in getting a good night’s sleep. I woke up a couple of hours later and it was clear that this was not your average storm. The noise was, frankly, terrifying particularly given that it was the middle of the night. “Are you awake?” I whispered and knew it must be bad when partially deaf husband replied, “Totally!” We poked our heads into the living area and saw the tent bowing in so leapt out to investigate. There followed a flurry of activity – re-shaping, re-pegging, moving the Landy to shield the tent, pacing up and down with our hands on our hips, shaking our heads and finally going back in.
The kids were fast asleep all through this and continue that way until morning. I mean, how?
I did not go back to sleep. Just lay there waiting to be blown to Ireland.
4. What’s happened to our tent?
We were due to move to the next campsite the next morning so packed up feeling rather subdued and a little concerned about the rather odd shape of the front of the tent. But with true optimism, set off further down into Cornwall to explore areas we had never been to before, confident our camping nightmares were finished. The picturesque village of Mousehole beckoned with camping at an out-of-season football club, Mousehole Camping.
So, we started the process of pitching our tent again. Although the storm had passed, the wind was still buffeting us and presenting all sorts of challenges. I was definitely on crank factor 10 following almost no sleep but made the decision to not lose it if at all possible. Daddy had also made this decision and was trying not to shout at the hyped-up children who were running round and losing things in the wind. “Losing it” was starting to win however and in the end, bribery was employed to get them to stand (still please) on tent corners to try and get the job actually done. This was having some effect and we started the muscle-sapping process of pumping up the tent.
It became apparent that all was not well.
The back of the tent/sleeping area was fine but as we got closer to the front end that had taken the full impact of the wind, the shape of the air beams was distinctly bowed as though the wind was still pushing on them. We went around straightening, adjusting the air pressure, umming and ahhing to little effect. I heard a couple of cracks during this time and thought that it was the cricket game that was taking place in the next field. But then heard a couple more cracks in quick succession and turned my attention sharply to the air beam where the sound was actually coming from. I saw a bulge at the corner of the beam and heard a few more cracks which turned out to be the stitching popping and saw that the bulge was a rapidly expanding air beam as it pushed its way out of the popping protective casing.
The inevitable happened.
Airbeam down. Now what?
As luck would have it, the lovely proprietor of the campsite offered us the use of a vacant bell tent for the rest of our stay and our holiday was saved!
5. Lost items
With a son who is perfectly capable of losing items in his own bedroom, losing things is inevitable.
It felt a little unfortunate that the thing he lost was the only coat he brought with him. Taken off whilst in the middle of an energetic game with new friends and discarded somewhere on the field never to be found again. Probably swept out to sea just as the storm came in.
We conceded that he really couldn’t do without a coat given the mad weather and of course, we just love spending money on more things from our constantly haemorrhaging bank accounts.
It was also a sad time for Daddy as he imitated his son and left his beloved hat of 30 years at some never to be found again place.
At various points, I also lost my patience and sanity.
6. Poo-gate (x2)
Here is a case in point.
First night in lovely bell tent and am woken up in the morning by beloved son who has an urgent need for the toilet so off we set over the 500 yards across grass, tarmac, around the pitch to the loo block.
“Oo, I need a poo Mummy.”
“Let’s go a bit faster then.”
“I really need to go, Mummy!”
“Not far now darling!”
And then the words, every parent dreads:
“It’s coming out, Mummy!”
I mean…what can you do? I thought brazen it out and keep going so half dragging him along, that’s what I did.
By the time we got to the loo block, things were not good.
It was literally all over his lower half including squelching inside his trainers. He was obviously upset so I was simultaneously trying to comfort him whilst not touching him or giving in to the rapidly rising tide of vomit. I pretty much had to hose him off, bin the PJ bottoms and disinfect his trainers. Also had to hot foot it back the way we came to assess the erm, damage left behind. A few doggy poo bags and squirts with a water bottle later and no one was any the wiser. I swerved every time I went past that bit though for the rest of the stay.
The next fun time for Mummy came the very next morning. I woke up before the others and took myself off to get washed. On my return, I saw dear daughter stood outside. As I got closer, it seemed her pyjama bottoms were round her ankles so I sped up with that familiar sinking feeling. As I got closer, it became apparent that I was too late and that she’d “deposited” immediately outside the entrance to the tent.
“No sh*t,” was what Mummy wanted to say.
Daddy stayed sound asleep through both incidents.
Despite our camping nightmares, we are desperately disappointed not to be camping in the next few weeks/months as Covid-19 rampages around this beautiful country. Please stay safe and stay at home for now. But don’t forget to support our wonderful camping industry as soon as you are able to so that we can all enjoy it for years to come. Check out some fab campsites on our directory and perhaps give them a follow or a like to keep them in mind for the future.