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What takes the Glam out of Glamping?

Two kids and torrential rain – that’s what!

I’m a bit phobic when it comes to camping. I’ve only been three times. Once when backpacking in Australia where a group of us twenty somethings were deposited on Fraser Island with zero facilities and just the dingoes for company. The second time was when I’d just found out I was pregnant with Elsa and we were booked to camp at Virgin Festival. Terrible morning sickness does not mix well with smelly food vans, litter, lots of young drunk people and frequent trips to manky porter loos. (Luckily the music was brilliant.)

These two experiences scarred me somewhat for many years afterwards!

But I’ve always deep down I knew I’d not really experienced proper camping and maybe I should give it another go. Plenty of friends go camping regularly and some even take their young children with them. They almost make it sound romantic – listening to the pitter patter of rain on the roof, early morning walks before everyone is up, etc…

We had a rare free weekend and the weather forecast was fantastic so I booked last minute for the four of us (Husband, our 5 year old Elsa and 2 year old Ollie and me) to go Glamping in a bell tent in Norfolk. Some may say that Glamping is cheating but it was the softer way to re-introduce myself to camping and the setting was certainly very back to basics. Eight tents in a farmer’s field with an old barn in the middle housing a few old toys to borrow and a fair walk back across the field to the shower block and loos. Who needs modern day entertainment when you have nature all around you?

So was it all quintessential English countryside bliss? Not entirely! Here are some highs and some lows from our weekend:

High: We arrived and all was perfect. The sun was shining. The kids ran barefoot over the grass screaming with excitement. The bell tent was beautifully furnished – all vintage chic with bunting, floral bedspread on a REAL bed, a log burner and plenty of kitchen utensils. We had our own personal fire pit with logs to sit on and a picnic table next to it. There were other families doing the same thing. This weekend was going to be just the break we needed before my husband started his new job the next week…

Ollie gate

Not so high: Thinking that maybe it was time to feed the kids and then realising it was already 7pm and we hadn’t even started the camp fire. Kids didn’t eat till 8.30pm, meaning they were still buzzing at 9pm. Never mind, we’re on holiday! We’re at one with nature!

High: We DID get to toast marshmallows round the camp fire. How very Famous Five of us!

High: Eventually the kids did go to sleep, which was quite an achievement given they were in camp beds next to each other and at home O is in his cot in a separate room. We drank red wine by the fire and felt smug until we realised it was 11pm and all the other campers had gone to bed – because isn’t there a rule when camping that you should go to bed when the sun sets or something?

Low: Little O screams out in the night. I wake to see him sat upright in bed, scoop him up and find he’s all blue lips and freezing cold to touch. I realise the T-shirt that seemed the right attire for his warm chubby body at bedtime was not sufficient for a midnight temperature drop and a boy who won’t stay under the covers. Bad, bad mummy! I put him in bed between us, put more clothes on him and cuddled him to sleep. Hubby and I were now wide awake in this small double bed being kicked by O as he slept soundly. But it didn’t matter – this was our penance for bad parenting!

Low: I woke up what seemed like minutes later thinking who on earth opened the curtains and realising it was the sun. It was 6am and Ollie was demanding “hot milk Mummy!, hot milk!”. I located the milk in the cool bag, which was by now not looking or smelling too cool. I tried giving O the room temperature milk but he wasn’t having any of it and screamed at me louder that he wanted it hot. Ugggh! In my groggy state I located the matches, the gas burner and something to warm the milk in and set it all out on the picnic table. After 10 minutes I had hot milk. I handed it to Master O in his beaker. He took one sip and said “too hot Mummy, too hot!”. I had to laugh. I remember the rule now – you go to bed when the sun sets because you sure have to get up when it rises!

High: We had a pretty good breakfast outside, if I do say so myself, continuing to make use of the gas cooker, and then I went for a shower. I was thinking of all the things we could do today – ice creams on the pier, sandcastles on the beach, crabbing, wandering around pretty villages….. the list was endless.

Low: Just back in the tent, all dressed, all fed and we hear the pitter patter of rain. This soon turned into proper torrential rain. We couldn’t stay in the tent. The kids were getting bored and it was bound to pass. All the coats were in the car (of course – the weather forecast was tropical sunshine all weekend) so we made a run for the car across the wet soggy field (wellies were at home – yes rain wasn’t forecast!). I picked up O, tried to wrap the picnic blanket around him for shelter at which he heavily protested, screamed, kicked me and arched his back trying to get down. We made it to the car, soaked and a little irritable and thought what next? “Drive, just drive!” I said to my husband. We need to kill time and the kids might fall asleep.

Temporary high: Both kids fell asleep! They never sleep in the morning. Result! Now for some peace. I told hubby I wouldn’t mind a little snooze too. We drive to the lovely Holt and somehow end up in Budgens car park. Hubby dashes out in the (almost) comedy quantity of rain and returns with two Danish pastries and a takeaway coffee. We eat them in complete silence.

All time low: E wakes up and says “Mummy what ARE we doing?? Why are we just SITTING in the car?”. To which I reply “Shhhh!!! Ollie is asleep! Do you really want to go out in THAT?!”. “Yes” she says and so just to prove to her how wet and miserable it is we make another dash into Budgens to find something to buy that we neither need nor want. Back in the car which has completely steamed up and I realise that we’re spending an hour of our precious weekend just sat in a car park. It’s a rather depressing thought. This rain is showing no signs of stopping. I then utter those words that admit total defeat “Shall we just go home early?”.

High: Hubby says not to give up so soon, after all the cashier in Budgens said it would stop around 2pm! Well he should know because the forecast is always right. So we drive to a good local pub we know of, which amazingly has a great kids’ playroom, order burgers and some alcohol and wait it out. Well what do you know? Nearing 2pm the rain stops, the sun comes out and it’s really quite warm. Of course alcohol has helped too.

I won’t ramble on any more only to say that the rest of the weekend did improve and we even made it to the beach for a paddle, and had another meal by the camp fire that evening.

But I’ve certainly come back a little wiser and have made the following mental notes to myself re camping:
• Don’t do it the weekend before your husband starts a new job and has a tough schedule at work
• Sleep is scarce therefore tempers will be frayed
• Taking a danger-seeking, full-on cheeky two-year-old makes it even more exhausting. They need a campsite with a decent play area and something to do if it rains other than hitting their sister with a sharp metal shovel and opening matches
• Take a camping chair. There were no chairs with backs to collapse on at the end of a long day. Nothing glam about that!
• ALWAYS pack wellies, coats and a sense of humour
• Don’t regret not booking a music festival this summer
• Leave the kids behind and book a spa break next time

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About Me:

My name is Emma and I have three (!) wonderful babies. The oldest is my daughter Elsa, born in 2011 the second is “Milk & Mummy” my online boutique selling beautiful breastfeeding clothes and launched in 2012, and the youngest is my son Oliver, born in August 2014. All three exhaust me, excite me and make me proud on a daily basis and naturally all vie for my attention! But of course I wouldn't have it any other way.

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Milk & Mummy sells stylish nursing clothes including nursing tops and nursing dresses. We have everything from casual breastfeeding tops for a day at home to glamorous breastfeeding dresses for weddings. Many of our nursing dresses are also maternity dresses and we also sell beautiful breastfeeding covers and cute baby dribble bibs.

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