Camping with a 10 month old baby, and 3 year old. Would you do it?
Ok, me neither. But, what if I offered you a little cheat…the fellow campers in your party have a caravan? That means electricity, running water, a fridge….that was my turning point too.
My Dad, stepmum, younger siblings have gotten into caravan holidays and purchased one of their very own. In the last couple of years they have been trying to get us to join them on a bank holiday weekend Jolly to the coast, camping style, along with my older brother, his wife and 2 kids.
Last year, I contemplated it. 8 months pregnant, with a 2 year old. Somewhat fortunately, the planets didn’t align and I breathed a sigh of relief when we couldn’t make it after all.
This year, I really felt we needed to man up and go for it – after all, our eldest would relish the idea of sleeping in a tent, playing with her cousins in the fresh air all weekend. And anyway, what’s the worst that could happen?
As always, I threw myself into the preparations by doing a bit of pre-trip shopping (cue a #hidethebags camping special). Millets had a sale, so I stocked up on a new set of camping chairs (Eurohike, £15 for 2), inbuilt pump air mattresses (£18 double, £16 single). I also have always fancied a windbreak, so couldn’t resist the Olpro hedge style (£30), plus at the Range, under the encouragement of my Mum who assured me I’d always need one, a pop up beach tent (£10) and a mini frozen camping chair (£10) as a treat for our toddler. So, no pulling out now?
Imagine my disappointment when the days leading up to the trip were constant, torrential downpours. We kept an eye on the weather and it was looking 50/50. Both girls went down with colds, pushing my mum-xiety close to the edge. We contemplated cancelling, but decided we’d go, and take it one night at a time. We were only headed 45 minutes away from home after all. Dad made the call the trip was on, so we were full steam ahead.
We are pretty well practiced at loading the car for overnight stays and long weekends, but this time it was quite a squeeze. My worst of all worsts is feeling cold, so we packed onesies, winter coats, extra blankets, hot water bottles, and Uggs. As well as beach gear, steriliser, food, stroller, toys……Thank goodness our Quashquai (the apparent family wagon of choice) has a pretty roomy boot.
We arrived to find my parents caravan set up, a home from home. I have to admit, any scepticism I had about caravanning was quickly replaced by a little bit of love for the cuteness of it all. (Particularly for the vintage sage green 1970s caravan parked opposite us). Seeing Dad (Grandad) in his element cooking bacon rolls for us all was a joy to watch, and I imagine those memories will stay with the girls as they grow old. They certainly will for me.
Dad supplied (and helped erect) a huge 4 bedroom tent, which was perfect for our family of 4, and my brothers family of 4, plus all our stuff.
My biggest fear (other than the cold) was of our kids keeping the entire campsite awake all weekend – one tends to cough a lot, one doesn’t really sleep through the night, and they both are often up at 6 or earlier.
The result was this. Baby G did wake, but quickly settled. She may have even slept better than normal. Toddler G stayed up late, slept like a log, and was quiet in the mornings. No cough, thank goodness. I even slept through my brothers snoring, and a drunken kerfuffle at a nearby tent! As did the girls, thank goodness.
I wasn’t alone in my middle of the night toilet paranoia, and we (mainly my sister in law and I) had some random dark trips to the loo with torches, stopping to chat to each other en route. The thing I’ll remember most about the nights will definitely be the sound of the tent zip! Dragons den idea, silent tent zipper, you saw it here first.
The toughest thing was the early wake ups, trying not to disturb anyone, but the awning of Dads caravan was perfectly set up to make babys milk, a coffee, even a bit of breakfast. As the sun slowly warmed the damp dewy grass, we sat out and watched the countryside wake up.
We had a lovely afternoon at my favourite beach, Viking Bay in Broadstairs, and got home in time to snuggle the kids up to watch Frozen in the caravan , while we ordered an Indian takeaway.
We did leave a day early, as the weather forecast was looking a little iffy. Packing up a soggy tent with soggy kids wasn’t on the agenda, and thank goodness we did, because we woke up at home in our own beds on a very wet bank holiday Monday.
Would I do it again? Absolutely! As the kids get bigger, it can only get easier, right?!