Reality of camping is very different

Sian Crips, Georgia Perry and Abi Robinson, from Oaklands School, Waterlooville, celebrating their A-level results. Picture: Habibur Rahman PPP-170817-140116006

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Part of me feels like a maverick, while part of me feels like a fool. Because this weekend I’m taking a one-year-old camping.

I’m not quite sure how I’ve got myself into this situation, but after lengthy discussion over whether we just take five-year-old Molly and leave Jack behind, I snapped like a disrespected breadstick and said; ‘It’s all or nothing!’

So this weekend we’re going for it. The kids, the dog, the wife – we’re packing our bags and making the most of wild West Sussex for a whole night.

This is where the story starts to get a little more complicated, as we don’t have a tent and we’ve never taken the kids camping before.

In my mind’s eye, I envisage a nice sunny July day, with the children gallivanting around the beautiful English countryside.

They’ll be busy making daisy chains and gulping in the country air until the sun sets.

Then I’ll knock up some freshly-caught trout from a little stream on an open fire and we’ll all sleep for 11 hours before doing it all again the following day.

Realistically, it’ll be heaving it down with rain and we’ll spend seven hours in a foam-coated warehouse.

Then we’ll have to spend £14 on sandwiches that are curled up like Aladdin’s slippers.

There are two types of campers, those that camp and those that try to camp. We barely fit into the latter category.

While we’re mentally eager to give it a whirl and ‘get stuck in’, the truth is we don’t know what we’re doing.

If it was my wife and me, it would be simple – a tent, two sleeping bags and some woefully cheap beer that makes you feel like you’ve been stampeded when you wake up at 0436 clambering around for the zip/toilet.

With two wee souls in tow, it’s all very different. What will they sleep in for starters?

I’ve got a massive pair of thick rugby socks that have been around since the creation of mankind.

Can I slip little Jack into one of those and hoist him skyward so that he’s dangling like a Christmas stocking?

Is it fair to whip out the yellowed family heirloom sleeping bags and ask them to kip in there?

Last time I slept in one, I woke up with a plaster stuck to my neck – yet I wasn’t wearing a plaster when I went to sleep…

The principle of roughing it appeals to me immensely. Let’s get back to basics – games, stories and shoddy food that nearly tastes okay.

But the reality is, of course, very different.

So if you see a dishevelled, mud-splattered, steaming mess with burning red eyes pleading to get into McDonald’s at 0555, take pity on him.

Because it will be me.