Camping with the ‘man’ box……..

So after the school run from hell I thought it time to sit down with a cup of coffee and write the next instalment…. who am I kidding?!?!? The twins are rampaging around the room, boy twin currently wafting a Harry Potter toy wand around and girl twin pulling to bits the duplo model the older two were playing with before the school run from hell….. that will teach them to leave their toys out!!

I promised a camping trip blog so here it goes……..

After the manic trip around the supermarket to get essentials then realising I had none of them, I had resort to roping in the Hubby who was swiftly dispatched with the children after the school pick up to fill in the huge gaps I had left.  As I scrambled around the house grabbing blankets and pillows, shoving every combination of clothing into the older twos Trunkies panic started to set in….. what if this was a bloody stupid idea?? Well, lets face it, it probably was a stupid idea but they are always the best ones – right?!?!?

We were pitching late so, whilst Hubby packed the car (because it apparently is a ‘Man’s’ job – we will come back to this) I stuffed a wholesome meal of frozen pizza into my older two and some Ella’s Kitchen pouches into the twins. Two cars loaded, because in the absence of a bus we need two cars for a trip like this, off we set. I was allocated the car with the kids so I got to listen to Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ on repeat whilst hubby got the ‘supplies’ car, so he got to listen to whatever the hell he wanted to in relative peace….who knows he might have even treated himself to the luxury that is silence!! Lucky sod!! Thankfully the trip was a short one….

We were camping at a place called Fairthorne Manor, it is a YMCA campsite and it is amazing. It is not like any ordinary campsite and features lots of fabulous onsite activities including kayaking, obstacles courses, abselling, aqua slide, bouncy pillow and aerial zip lines to name a few. We unloaded the car with the big two barely able to contain themselves and the twins bemused by the next adventure they had been dragged along to in their 9 months with us. Luckily we had bought two pretty slings to carry them in so whilst I tandem carried them to our pitch, Hubby used our big off road Mountain Buggy as a wheel barrow transporting all our equipment.

The car park was a short walk away from the field we were camping in so off we set as a family of six to find the perfect spot. Although the other campers didn’t resort to throwing themselves on the ground in the area immediately surrounding their own tent, you could sense that most were thinking please do not bring that gaggle of very small children near us! The nervous smiles gave them away so, in turn we decided upon  the middle of the whole campsite, just so fellow campers could be subjected to us in equal measure……

The staff at Fairthorne were amazing and no sooner had we laid the ground sheet out, they had swept our big two off with all the other children camping for a game of football and so we had the tent set up in record time. Before we left Hubby had packed the supplies, as I mentioned this is apparently a ‘man job’. He has lots of shelves in our garage full of really useful things….. there is a whole box full of electrical leads for appliances we no longer own and even if we did they’re are now so many we wouldn’t know what worked for what. There is another box full of light bulbs….if every light were to blow in the house similtaneous we are all over it! And, there are the carefully packed boxes of camping gear, of which he thought he had put the box of camping kitchen utensils in the car…

Several months ago Hubby bought a new knife block and decided he would clear out our cutlery draw at the same time. We had obviously accumulated lots of random knives which could now be discarded…. However, Hubby thought the best course of action was to put in on a man shelf in the garage, in a man box….. The knife man box was now in our tent!! Rather than a corkscrew (he is very lucky I bought a box of wine) I now had more knives than a magician would need for a knife throwing act. If we were having steak… we had a steak knife, filleting a fish…check, hacking a rack of rib….yep – got a cleaver. This is all so useful in a tent with 4 small people…

What saved his bacon was the fact that this camping weekend not only included all the activities but also included all our meals so kitchen utensils were not required. After the tent was made homely for the children with twinkle lights appropriately placed, including all over the twins buggy we headed off for tea. Well, to Hubby and I this has to be the highlight of the weekend. You see with 4 children aged 5 and under we survive on toast and wine. In very equal measure. I haven’t had breakfast in 5 years and nutrition comes in the form of a ‘Mugshot’ at some point in the day and our current favourite ‘Co-op’ Lasgane… ironic as all 4 kids get a home cooked meal every day (sometimes it is a frozen pizza and Ella’s Kitchen but I have still prepared it). Well, the tea was absolutely amazing – chicken, veg, potatoes, we were in heaven and ate like ravenous pigs. The vitamins and minerals must have hit very quickly as we both started talking in sentences quite quickly and the usual way of communicating in hand gestures and single words had been replaced by two almost human beings having a conversation. This wasn’t camping, this was a health spa!!

After tea there was a giant campfire where campfire songs were being sung and marshmallows toasted. Of course our eldest daughter who thinks she is a bonafide pop star at 5 threw herself to the front row to gain maximum exposure. The twins still awake were lighting the way for some with the buggy adorned in multi coloured twinkle lights and Hubby and I were ready for wine! Eventually the kids gave in and collapsed in a heap into a pile  of duvets and fleece blankets. Hubby and I poured the wine and sat back quite smug….bloody easy this camping thing..

How wrong we were.. after a few glasses and then a few glasses more as Hubby uses the mantra ‘you don’t really ever get drunk on holiday’, he retired to one pod with the big ones and me to another with the twins. Everyone asleep as soon as the heads hit the pillow. All quiet and peaceful until the bad twin decided to unleash hell. Somewhere between twilight and dawn bad twin woke, decided he was hungry and despite his size started screaming in a high pitched wail that could be heard in Calais. In a panic we scrambled and somehow managed to put together a feed in almost record time and calm down the shrieking banshee that is our youngest son.

Next morning we headed for breakfast and making our way through the camp site it did feel like the walk of shame. Had I a pen and paper I would have made a sign to go over his side of the buggy ‘I apologise to those I woke last night, it is not big and it is not clever’. As it was I had to smile and offer apologies as we went. Everyone was of course lovely ‘we have been there love’, ‘it didn’t last long’, ‘just glad it wasn’t ours’… what they really thought is ‘thank you for keeping us awake, please make sure you remove the bad twin offender tonight and take him home’.

Breakfast was amazing, so we filled up and then headed off for a full day of activities. The kids flitted from one thing to the next and it was great. Daddy even got to try out the aqua slide and came away relatively unharmed. This despite the crowd of fellow Dads who had gathered to cheer him on in the way only fellow Dads can…

After Daddy and eldest Daughter had completed an aerial slide (where Daddy looked a tad apprehensive throwing himself off a platform several feet in the air but had to pretend it was a breeze as eldest Daughter did just throw herself off the platform without so much as a deep breath), we all completed the obstacle course, played several rounds of Ninja Squirrel and jumped the remaining energy out on the bouncy pillow. Then we all headed for another hot meal filled with goodness.

As bed time approached we were filled with a little trepidation, what if bad twin turned evil tonight? The decision was made to just drink wine to numb the impending night terror. BUT something happened on the second night….. bad twin turned good! He only went and slept through…..albeit in my arms so I woke in the morning to a dead arm but I had a contented baby! As we opened the tent door our fellow campers almost broke out into a round of applause but stopped just short instead offering us congratulations on the behaviour of all four of our children. We were back in the ‘in crowd’.

As it was our last day we had breakfast and then packed as much of our camp away before making the most of the last day. Again our Connecta baby carriers were invaluable and not only did the twins have a little nap in there but it gave me two free hands to drop some kit back to the car whilst Hubby dismantled the tent.

When we arrived home that afternoon the kids literally slumped on the sofa and barely spoke. It takes A LOT to wear my two oldest children out but the family camp at Fairthorne did just that and they spent the rest of the day in some delirious, mud crusted daze – just as you should when you have had such an amazing adventure at 5 & 3.

Our next adventure is a holiday involving a plane trip so I will no doubt have plenty to tell you about then.

In the meantime, the story of the knives continues, although we unpacked most of our kit back to the man shelves, Hubby decided the knives would remain in the boot of the car (for some reason only known to him……) I am sure he was intending to dispose of them but hasn’t yet worked out the safest way so…… a week later when he took my Daughter to a friend’s birthday party and the parents had forgotten a knife to cut the birthday cake, guess who piped up with ‘No problemo, I have a man box in the car full of knives…take your pick!’…..?

PS  I wore posh pants all weekend and so, the knicker revolution is still alive and kicking!

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