Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Gandalady's essential camping guide!

I can hardly believe it, but already we are two and a half weeks into our England adventure. So far, it's been great. Lots of family and friends to see, and cool drizzly skies to enjoy: yes, really. Prior to our departure there had been hardly any decent rain for a month, and Kampala was turning into a dust bowl. (I will let you know when the novelty wears off.)

The highlight so far has been camping at New Wine. We heard some excellent counter-arguments to the new atheism from Dr John Lennox, who has publicly debated its leading exponents. We came away with a library of books. And the camping was very character-building! Just in case you're thinking of taking your young family to Somerset for seven nights under canvas, I have put together this useful guide to help you learn from my mistakes!

1. It WILL rain, torrentially, unremittingly for eight hour stretches, more than once, because THIS IS ENGLAND. Factor this in before starting the holiday to minimise disappointment.

2. Come prepared. Gum boots, waterproofs, tent in good condition, sense of humour, enough change for courage-building chocolate and caffeine fixes.

3. On a camping holiday, you can never have enough warm clothes. Bring twice what you think you'll need. If you have been living near the Equator, bring three to four times that amount.

4. Tiny, two-man tents are for sixth formers and masochists. You need something spacious that you can stand up in. And an air mattress, and a double duvet. It is not supposed to be punishment.

5. Bring the potty. It is much easier to take to the toilet block in the rain than a screaming, bursting child who has lost their shoes.

6. Don't worry if you don't wash for three days or change your shirt for five (ahem.) No one will notice. Will they?

7. Don't even attempt to wash the children in a muddy communal shower. It is a complete waste of time.

8. Ear plugs. The teenagers come out in force after dark and this is..testing.

9. Take full advantage of the close quarters: babysitters everywhere! Other children for yours to play with! Very good.

10. A glass of wine at the end of the day warms you up and generally improves the whole experience.