Camping Antics

My family have always been keen on camping in one form or another so I have lots of happy - and not so happy memories of tents and caravans.

 Every summer as soon as school was out, my parents would load up the car and we would head for an early morning ferry. Breakfast on the ferry is a tradition I have continued to this day! We would drive and drive and camp and drive and eventually end up in some new exciting place where we would stay for a while before heading back to Calais. I know Calais almost as well as my home town!

We visited France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Andorra, Portugal, the former Yugoslavia  ... and I'm sure other places I have forgotten about! We found amazing beaches, joined in with village Festivals we happened upon and I learned to make friends even when my new friends didn't speak my language.

My least favourite bit of the trip was always the trip over the Alps, especially when we graduated from tent (and I can still smell the dusty canvas) to a caravan with decidedly unstable bunk beds. I'd lie awake, scared to move in case my top bunk collapsed on top of my unfortunate little sis trying to sleep below!

Grossglockner High Alpine Road
Grossglockner High Alpine Road
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
But back to the Alps - my dad, who had a cavalier attitude to health and safety at the best of times, would speed his way round hairpin bends up and down the mountains with the little caravan rocking behind us. He would have the window open, one arm nonchalantly resting on the sill ( he always ended up with his driving arm more tanned than the other) and I would be desperately trying not to look at or worry about the dizzying rocky drops we were cms from! I was probably the only child who was happy to miss glimpses of snow in summer in favour of a nice safe tunnel through the mountain instead of over it!

We were big fans of the caravan club. Well, for different reasons. My parents like the camaraderie, the peace of the countryside and the chance to meet like-minder camping types.

For me it was a great place to meet boys!

I met my first love through the Caravan Club ( hiya Jonno!) - he reads this nonsense you know. He
me & mum at a rally circa 1984
 went on to marry another caravanning teen (Hiya Adi!) and they are still happily married with kids and grandkids decades later!

During weekend "rallies"  which were generally in fields, possibly near to a pub but not much else, we and all the other teens teamed up and it all went a bit Lord of the Flies.
We would pitch our little tents as far away from the adults as we could manage and enjoyed what for many was a first taste of freedom.
It all sounds a bit sordid but actually mostly we walked. Walked for miles and talked about the cr*p that teens talk about. I didn't have a particularly happy home life at that time so it was liberating!

We young campers were particularly proud of the speed we could erect our "pup" tents. Mine was made from what was then terribly modern rip-stop nylon. It had no ridgepole so was especially quick to put up but always looked a bit saggy. It was a lovely shade of brown I remember and it served me well, even on holidays in my 20's to good ole Weston-Super-Mare.

Grumpy tired out at Dads,lads
daughters and dogs camping last yr.
Having a young family myself we invested in a 12-man monster-tent. (why is it always man? Are women and children not allowed?) Actually quite quick to put up and perfect for our large family  with three separate bedrooms and a huge living space, but as more and more people re-discovered camping, campsites got wise and started charging by the tent size and number in party! OK if you have th standard 2.4 kids but If you are a madmumof7 like me....
A week in Bournemouth just a few years ago cost me £90. I priced it last year - £380!

We sold it last year after DS#1 left home and DS#2 declared he hated camping and would never go again and bought one of  more manageable size. So far it's only been used for our church's annual Dads, Lads, Daughters and Dogs camping weekend so I have not actually slept in it.
But since nowadays I much prefer a nice luxurious hotel with running water, en-suite bathroom and a comfy bed, that's fine with me!

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