Capturing the essence of camping – pictures by Doodlemum

I’m a big fan of blogger Doodlemum, who recently did a couple of great posts on camping. I love them so much I asked her if I could share them with you all – and she happily obliged. Above is a picture capturing how a parent keeps their child entertained while camping without toys.

This is how she describes herself
37, short, defensive, far too chatty for my own good, mother, artist, noisy, chocolate loving and permanently tired. (I know,  how many bloody adjectives do I need…)

Happy Campers -by Doodlemum

 

If you liked these pictures why not skip over to her blog and see more of Doodlemum’s daily scribbles http://doodlemum.wordpress.com/

Camping 20 weeks pregnant with a toddler in terrible two’s

Babe sleeping well in her new sleeping bag

I’ve just come back from my first trip camping while pregnant with a toddler and I think the best way to summarise it would be exhausting.

What I thought might be a problem, was not

  • Being comfortable while sleeping, thanks to my wonderful extra wide DreamTime self inflating mattress.
  • Being tired from a night time waking toddler. Thanks to a new big girl’s sleeping bag she slept through two out of three nights. It would have been three out of three if hubby hadn’t decided to loudly blow his nose in our ears.

Things I didn’t consider where: generally how demanding and tiring camping is
Despite hubby doing all the work that involves lifting and stuff camping still took it out of me. Hubby already regularly does the lion’s share of set up, but I usually am in charge of the tent toilet. But because I’m not suppose to lift heavy stuff while being pregnant, I managed to get myself out of this too – what a win! Particularly as babe was struggling with the concept of not doing number two’s in the tent toilet, and he was left with a very messy clean up job.

We have a rule, you do anything more than a pee in the tent toilet and you have to clean it out. But we could hardly get our two year old to do that 😉

Despite hubby doing all the poo’ey set-up jobs, I’d not considered all the demanding extra work of having a toddler in the height of terrible two’s and not being at home with everything at your finger tips. I’ve lost count how many times I walked across the field to the toilet block which was some 300 metres or so away from the tent. Note for next time, choose a pitch next to the toilet block, not at the farthest point in the field.

I also seemed to forget how tiring pregnancy can be
Even though I’m theoretically in the most energetic phase of pregnancy (second trimester), it’s still pretty exhausting at times – particularly with a toddler around that only wants mummy to take her to the toilet, feed her food, get her dressed etc.

 

 

 

So next we have two weeks camping planned for six week’s time…yes, even we question our sanity sometimes. Plan B and C discussions are underway.

The land of ice and fire: camping road trip round Iceland Part 7

Akureyri is the largest town in Iceland outsid...

Image via Wikipedia

More from the series on my camping road trip around Iceland. 

So we’d done whale watching, experienced our first hot pool and still hadn’t found somewhere to eat on our second day (and it was late). Before we could catch some sleep, this day still had yet more surprises. 

We were still stuck in the back of beyond, hungry. Where do you find something to eat in a sleepy town at 10pm on Sunday? It turns out there were two eating options on the high street opposite each other. After some lengthy debate, we opted for the Italian which turned out to be OK; surprisingly modern with giant plasma screen and chic modern yet comfortable decor. We decided over diner (pizza) that camping on the school football field was not an option; surely we could do better on the second night of our holiday? (Not sure what I’m going on about, check out the previous post in this series). 

The conclusion was to drive back down onto Route 1 heading East onto Akureyri to pitch-up in the city campsite. This was no little jaunt; it involved another two hours or so drive. But the committed driver, was determined this was the only option. So off we trotted driving by the light of the midnight sun. 

 Onwards and eastwards
The drive to Akuryri was relatively uneventful, and after some poor navigation by me, we found the city campsite. Stealth like, the driver (hubby) rolled the car into the middle of the campsite and relatively quickly we spotted our plot. Before leaping to our action stations, in whispered voices we planned our super fast camp set-up strategy. 

This was until hubby blew our cover. Reaching over to the back seat to reach his coat he accidentally leant his arm on the middle of the steering wheel, which turned out to be the horn. Oh shit! That was everyone on the entire darn site woken up around us. We saw tents rustle; lights turn on, and if we were not in the confines of the car at the time, would no doubt have heard a whole lot of curses. 

There was nothing we could do, we just had to get out, get sorted and get to sleep asap and hope that there were some forgiving residents in-house that night. 

The next morning, well later on the same day – around 8am we got up, showered and got out of there before we got overcome by the paranoia that someone might lynch us at anytime for our rather noisey arrival.

Day 3 at last, and we had already driven around one-quarter of the perimeter of Iceland. Come back next week to find out about our arrival at the fetid Myvatyn. 

  • Read part 1
  • Read part 2
  • Read part 3
  • Read part 4
  • Read part 5
  • Read part 6
  • Stop when a bad day starts

    Every so often you begin the day and its all wrong, and it doesn’t get any better – it gets worse and worse. And you wish you’d just stayed in bed…not that that is ever an option when you have kids (but you can theoretically aspire to this). Last Monday was one of those days, it was the third day into a week camping trip in the Derbyshire Dales site seeing and visiting family.

    Not sure what my mood was like when I woke up, but the experience in the shower was going to set the tone for the day….

    Taking a cold shower
    I’d palmed babe off onto hubby while I dived off to take my first shower of the holiday. Urgh yuk, yes, the last time I’d showered was Saturday morning, I needed to freshen up. Before I go on, I would like to explain that not showering everyday is not standard practice, although it’s a bit more common when I’m camping. I might stretch it to a day and a half – hey, I’m camping for goodness sake, I’m never going to achieve the polished look anyway (although I never do at home either).

    Well I’d gone off to the shower and pressed the push button (like you do in the swimming baths – argh how I hate these water saving showers). The water runs just warm, hmm, that’s a bit rubbish. My rationale at this point is that the hot water just needs to run through. So I dive under and slap shampoo on my hair, right about two seconds after this, the water runs cold…proper cold, no trace of warmth cold.

    Ever the optimist, I am determined that the water will ‘come good’ and heat up shortly. So I stand next to the shower all wet and getting increasingly cold, repeatedly pressing that infernal button. After what seems like ten minutes, but was probably more like two, I realise that I am doomed to a cold shower.

    Its been years since I had a cold shower, and I forgot how blooming awful it is. Those twenty seconds between grabbing the towel and drying I am usually cursing from the cold. This time, I was positively warm. Well that’s an overstatement, but everything being relative, I was pretty toastie.

    Driving round doing nothing
    So I was not happy, but to a degree enjoyed reveling in my misery with all the other pitying campers – “you’re not showering are you? I wouldn’t, the water is cold” said with blue lips. Nothing more needed to be said. I either got respect, or a whole bucket load of sympathy. But the net result never the less was, moody me.

    Hubby then declared that he couldn’t tolerate the campsite anymore, being pitched next to the sess pit, and the terrible road noise at 6am of lorries from the local quarries thundering down the road. So we proceeded to spend the majority of the day, driving round from one campsite to another getting more and more disillusioned, and finally concluding that we may as well stay where we were. What a waste of valuable holiday time!

    Curry cooked up in the rain
    I had this marvelous idea, that we should cook a curry on the stove. Ever the optimist, I ignored what the Met Office said about weather warnings and rain at 6pm. At 5.50pm I suggested that with light rain, we’d be OK to get the stove out and get cooking. It all went terribly bad, hubby had to stand out in the pouring rain trying to keep the stove alight while trying to stop the rice from boiling over everywhere. He was seriously grumpy with me, and rightly so. I did offer to stand out in the rain, but I am a litttle accident prone and he wasn’t willing to trust me not to burn the tent down, set light to the car and cover the campsite in curry. To his credit, the curry turned out good.

    I am very pleased to tell you though, that it all got so much better from there.

    So what are your best bad day experiences?

    The land of ice and fire: camping road trip round Iceland Part 6

    It was still only the second day of our two-week camping road trip round Iceland, and we still had no satisfactory place to sleep. But hell, we brushed the sleep issue to the side, the main reason we had come to this delightfully drab hub of the North West was to find the much talked about hot pool in the middle of know-where backing out onto the ocean. 

    Finding the hot pool
    So we set off to find it, following the scant instructions in the ‘Rough Guide’. After driving up and down various roads about five times, we discovered that we had to drive through the port area (building site), over lots of rubble (thanks for the 4WD) and up this faint track. 

    The track was said to have followed the shore round for about 25k, so we figured this was the only thing that could be it. We drove through field after field, opening and closing gates, ushering sheep and horses out-of-the-way. 

    Locals peered out of their windows, wondering why the hell some random couple was driving up this way at 9pm on Sunday night.  After what seemed like ever, because we had to drive so slowly and were so starving, we eventually got to the hot pool and it was breath-taking. There on the side of this pinnacle just a couple of feet from the rocky shore was a shallow steaming hot pool, which was about as rustic as it gets. 

    The only things in the vicinity were a few derelict old farm buildings, which no doubt in a couple of years time will become another outlet to rip off the unsuspecting tourist in the form of deluxe changing facilities, with entry gates charging a bomb to take a dip. 

    Braving the cold
    So we’d driven all this way, now it was time to brace the elements, change into the swim kit and leg-it to the warmth of the pool. This involved stripping stark bollock naked (well not for me because I’m a lady but you know what I mean) in the howling wind while standing on gravel – not the most comfortable changing experience. Once in the pool it was awesome, we looked over the sea northwards and saw the island that some famous folk law character was supposed to have swum from and nearly carked it, were it not for the thawing therapy of the hot pool. 

    Anyhow, time was getting on. We’d spent 30 minutes “chilling”, or  more accurately warming, in the pool and had succeeded in turning ourselves into prunes. So we concluded it was time to get on. 

    Getting out the pool, we realised that all this time, we had been sloshing around in the make shift hot pool, the real old one was set just behind. It turned out to be considerably smaller and slimy too. Sitting on the ledge was a hazardous experience, as you could easily slip arse over tit on the green gooie stuff, but it made for great pictures. 

    The slimey hot pool at 9.45pm on Sunday evening

     

    By this time, it had reached 10pm on Sunday and we still hadn’t eaten and we still had nowhere to sleep for the night…come back next time for the next installment. 

    p.s. double promise to tell you about hubby waking everyone one up in the middle of the night by leaning on the car horn.

    Telling off other people’s unruly children

    I’ve just come back from a long weekend camping in Somerset, which for the large part was brilliant, except for some of the kids being the proverbial pain-in-the-ass. Don’t you just hate people who don’t keep their kids in line, leaving you to do their dirty work for them? 

    I know we all have different standards, but come on – a modicum of respect should be instilled into everyone surely? 

    Spotting the cause
    But then you look at the parents, or more accurately, you listen to the parents. Drawing conclusions from just their looks, I will admit can be a bit shallow, and can be a bit off the mark. 

    Listen, that’s the best way, listen to the way they speak to their kids, and each other for that matter. I’m not talking about the parents who talk in three letter words, and think the word ‘lavatory’ is big and fancy (although it often includes them). It’s the uncontrolled shouting and swearing AT their kids (not just within earshot like me) – and then the bad behavior and lack of respect that they themselves generally set the standard for. There is little wonder their offspring are tearing around like hyenas on acid. 

    Water pistol brat child
    The bad behavior on our weekend camping holiday started pretty much straight away, as two little brats came loitering around the front of our tent squirting each other (and us) with water pistols.  This is where it started, my transition into ‘Helga’. 

    “Could you go and play somewhere else please?”  

    In one mind I was thinking – if you don’t stop that you ferial vermin, I’m going to throw it down the chemical toilet waste disposal point. Ha, that would have taught them!  

    Eventually, I must admit, after me shouting at them various times over the next 24 hours the father stepped in and re-affirmed to his kids that their behavior was out of order. A bit late, but better late than never.

    Parents setting a bad example

    Once we’d solved one unruly sprog problem, another one arrived on Saturday as a big family turned up and pitched up opposite us. If I was going to judge them on looks, I would have been able to tell straight away. But it was the behavior that set them apart – not really the kids, the parents. 

     They continued to play ball games in our space, and nearly hit babe with a cricket ball at one point – and that was one of the parents! Not the kids. And despite my protests and requests for them to move, I was ignored. It was a shame; because that was the last thing we were left thinking about. We came away feeling somewhat intimidated, but angrier than anything.

    The ‘alpha’ male in hubby was fighting to be unleashed to put them in their place. But the more mature and restrained side kept a grip on things and calmly packed up and got out. My sister, who is known for standing her ground explained that should would have told them to “get the f*** off my pitch!” I love to hear what she has to say about these situations, it always makes me smile and feel a touch of remorse that I didn’t just tell them where to go. 

    My well behaved babe setting the right example

    Camping with a toddler – a far cry from back packing wild camping on the moors and being chased by a randy bull at 6am

    This weekend we’re off camping again – woohoo! We are determined to get the lifetime cost of this very expensive new tent down – I think so far it’s probably still as expensive as staying in a hotel, but next year should start feeling the financial benefit. But we don’t (generally) camp for the money-saving benefits, we do it more because we just love it. Although we do like to use the idea of saving money as an excuse to justify spending money on other things – but don’t we all? 

    Trailer Tastic
    We get to use our new trailer which we picked up last weekend, so we really can take everything but the kitchen sink now 🙂 No longer will my kit list be strictly monitored for ‘illegal’ items (illegal, ie they are not on the spreadsheet so we have no space for them). In fact, it’s a case of ‘the more the merrier’. The trailer is a little big for our current needs (future proofing you see) so we might need to bulk it out a little. No fear though, cause I’m here. 

    Not Like Wild Camping on Dartmoor
    It’s a far cry from the days of walking into the wilderness carrying all our kit on our backs. It takes me back to a time when hubby and I went wild camping on Dartmoor in Spring 2007 – and that was a trip to remember. We’d decided to camp at Grimspound, a rather eerie place in the middle of know where, steeped in all different legends which seriously gave hubby the spooks (he was not brought up in the country like me you see). It took a little longer to get there than planned, because we stopped off at the pub en route which resulted in us getting up to all kinds of mischief as we ambled drunkenly to the X on the map that we were aiming for. We cooked up a nice boil in the bag meal after pitching our brand new tent and had a nice chilled out evening watching the sun set. It all started to go down hill (yes we were on a slope – but I’m not making a physical reference here) at about 3am in the morning as the weather turned for the worse. 

    Wild Camping on Dartmoor - enjoying my boil in the bag dinner

     

    Dartmoor is renowned for having extreme changes in weather, resulting in various deaths as people have been stranded unprepared. Ever the worrier, hubby was getting in a flap – but not me. I was snoring away all happy in my snuggly sleeping bag – oblivious. Until he’d come to the conclusion that we should leave – at 5am in the morning! 

    “We could get stuck here and it could get worse, we need to get out now!” 

    Yawn, yawn – “nah we don’t” I retorted. But Mr Cautious was serious, so we packed up and shipped out within about 15 minutes flat.  

    We then had to walk in the dark using our compass as the only guide to direction, to get on the right path out of there. The weather was horrendous, he was right – but surely we would have been better to sit it out in the tent? Well, what was done was done, we had to find our way back over the moors back to the car. 

    Randy bull comes to protect his ladies
    It was going OK until hubby spotted something cantering down the other side of the hill in our direction. 

    It’s a bull and its coming towards us…look see the cows here – he doesn’t like us being so close?” said hubby. 

    Ever the optimist I replied “Nooo, don’t be so daft, it’s a horse. A bull doesn’t jump up and frolic around like that.” 

    The horse (I was determined it nehyed rather than moo’ed) was getting closer and pretty rapidly. Then it dawned on me, damn him – he’s right, it’s a bloody bull! And it’s heading straight for us. I was WRONG, so we sprinted into the gorse bushes and took a massive detour so that we could find a wall and jump over it to safety. We ended up getting back to the car at about 8am exhausted, wet and bad-tempered – but surprisingly happy to be alive. 

    Thank goodness those days are over! 

    But I do kind of miss the simplicity.