I went camping with two other single parent friends over the bank holiday : yes it has really taken me two days to recover! I came back determined to make a list of the things you really never want to go camping without :
1. Baby wipes. Your days of wiping babies may be happily behind you, but believe me, you will never be so filthy as when trying to live in a field : the mud, the fires, the lack of proper washing or cooking facilities…actually you could upgrade that to a whole-body size squirter of hand sanitizer.
2.Alcohol. Vast amount, and no the hand sanitiser will not do. Getting drunk is the only way you will cease to care about the discomfort, the inconvenience, and the sheer unnecessary-ness of camping.
3. Bacon. Is the only thing that will cheer you up the next morning when you are hungover in a field, it’s starting to drizzle, and there are lots of children running around, shouting ‘Mum!’ or ‘Dad!’ in loud high-pitched voices, and some of them are yours.
4.Washing up bowl, liquid, and sponge. I think what does me with this one is the preparation : it feels farcical to spend a day packing up enough stuff to replicate your life in civilisation, in a field. You will need these though.
5. A first aid kit. Having one is the only way of being sure you will not need one : this is Sod’s Law.
6. A Firefighter. Trained in first aid, and therefore not liable to panic when your child brains himself on the tree swing, and is running around with blood gushing from his head just at the moment that you, having crawled off with your hangover to have a shower, have just put the shampoo on.
7.A Landscaper. Who will have a van, from which all manner of useful items can be produced : some pallets to make a table, and wood offcuts to make benches and little stools; some goggles, so the children won’t blind themselves while manufacturing stone age flint items to sell to local museums, a beautiful japanese tree saw (Have I already mentioned the Silky Big Boy?) for creating logs. This is a picture of the boys with their Big Boys, and a selection of timber.
8 A Tent. Don’t worry, you won’t ever have to put it up yourself, even if you want to and think you can. As soon as you look even a little bit confused, or as if you might have got a bit the wrong way round, men will swoop in from nowhere, like a roving tent-erecting swat team, and do it for you. You have two choices : you can rail against them, and snatch the tent poles out of their hands and insist on your right to empower yourself with the knowledge of the tent, or you can just let them get on with it, sit down and admire their muscles, and their eagerness to please.
Oh yes, I forgot about the menorrhagia! It was quite entertaining (as these things often aren’t) to have to keep making the gynaecolo-tea from Alchemilla Mollis to treat my inconveniently heavy menstrual flow (clots the size of bulldozers, I’m telling you!: not your ideal camping scenario!) Not only did it work, but it also kept my two (male) companions entertained for hours playing ‘Guess the Gynaecological Problem’.