When I was a child, my family had one of those guides to campsites in Great Britain. It was chock-a-block full of advertisements for places to camp all over the country. Hundreds and hundreds of listings from large holiday parks with nightly entertainment, to small fields with just a lowly toilet block. My brother and I loved that book. Whenever holiday season approached, we’d spend ages flicking through it; reading each advert, drooling over the photographs, picking out our favourites. We didn’t care about location or price or the state of the toilet block. No, we wanted a playground, somewhere to buy sweets… and a swimming pool. Preferably one with a water slide!
Fast forward thirty years, and I’m still that same girl that loves camping and loves picking out campsites. But that well-thumbed paperback guide has now been replaced by google, and my criteria has done a full 180. Nowadays I like a quiet, dog-friendly site, with beautiful views. And most importantly, no smoke! Since developing Pulmonary Hypertension, I can’t stay at sites that allow open fires as the fumes from burning wood irritate my lungs. Unfortunately as toasting marshmallows is Instagram friendly ( 😉 ), open fires have had a recent resurge in popularity. Consequently, it’s becoming increasingly tricky to find sites -particularly quiet, rural ones- that ban it. It takes me a few hours of googling and emailing and ringing. I also react to smoke from coal barbecues, but as these are always allowed, the safest solution is to position the Bumblebee away from fellow campers’ down-wind. Sometimes lovely campsite owners allocate me spots at the edge of their site, or in private fields away from the masses. But if I’m unable to do that, I hide from any wayward fumes in my van! 😛 Thankfully my kind friends and family are happy to cook their sausages on gas stoves!
But even though trips in the Bumblebee are more difficult (and worrying) with over-reactive lungs… it’s always worth it! 🙂 I adore camping. It is the best bit of summer. My favourite part. The sunny season would not be complete without some nights under canvas (or under tin roof!). I love it all. Sitting outside in my pj’s to drink the first cuppa of the day. Playing boules and cricket and rounders on the grass. Listening to the rain pattering on the campervan roof. Chatting for hours in the dark. Eating bacon cobs when half asleep. Waking at dawn and watching the sun rise. Huddling under the gazebo to escape a sudden shower. Playing card games by torchlight. In fact the only thing I don’t like is scootering back and forwards to the toilet blocks!
This summer, as well as an awesome fortnight exploring Scotland, we’ve taken two brilliant Bumblebee trips. In July, we had a fabulous weekend in the Brecon Beacons with my nephews. Unbelievably, whilst the rain soaked the rest of the country, we were blessed with sun and warmth. Perfect for the boys’ first ever mountain summit, guided by their Uncle Phil. (It was a little too hardcore for my scooter, so I stayed back at camp, and listened to the final day of the Tour de France 🙂 ). Apparently the ascent took slightly longer than planned, as the boys were collecting dung beetles and winberries en route! 😛 It was a wonderful weekend in the Welsh countryside. We paddled about in a river, enjoyed a bedtime walk, and hunted insects everywhere we went. And on the second day, I was also able to get into the hills, as we found a lovely rural road through the mountains. With no traffic and magnificent views, it was perfect for a long family walk and scoot. And when the boys grew tired, they both hitched a ride on my wheels! My wonderful body was in fifth gear all weekend; I had enough energy to read and play and be with my nephews. Amazing! None of us wanted the weekend to end. 🙂
Phil and I also enjoyed a brilliant trip to the New Forest, with my lovely besties and their young families. Our fourth annual camping trip together! Over the years the number of children has increased, the tents have got bigger, and the total hours slept much less! Hilariously there was a big storm on our first evening; it shook the tents and flooded the grass! Not ideal camping weather… we went to bed early! 😛 Luckily the weather gods then shone on us for the remainder of the trip. 🙂 With five youngsters under four -and a dog- we stayed and played on site all weekend. It was a beautiful campsite, dotted with trees and shrubs… and wild roaming cattle! One cheeky mare stole a whole bag of bread from Zoe’s car! My body was amazing once again. After being ill in the days prior, it not only recovered, but allowed me to to join in more than any girlie trip prior. Thank you wonderful body. 🙂 I loved playing with the children; from stacking towers with the littlies to collecting berries with the oldest. Many stories were read, and many trips on the scooter were enjoyed. And as they’re now getting older; they were even able to walk Lottie for me! 😛 I chatted and caught up with my friends over copious cups of tea, and ate far too much food. It was my favourite Girlie camping trip yet!
For me, camping is the best bit of the summer. For a few days, I get to live and play and be outside. All day in all weather. My carpet is replaced with grass, my ceiling with blue sky, and my lights are the stars. Magical. 🙂 Well, except for the scoot to the toilet block…! 😉