This week my son and I went on a microadventure. Now generally speaking I'm not the most adventurous sort, but I do enjoy a spot of camping. I grew up on camping holidays, and my husband and I took our children camping a lot as they were growing up. We haven't camped as a family of five for a few years, but all three of my kids regularly go camping with school and friends. My son has always had an affinity with the great outdoors, and is at his happiest setting up tent somewhere remote and wild. I, on the other hand, like to know that life's comforts are not too far away and that there are some reasonable facilities available (clean showers and loos are non-negotiable, a little shop useful, and launderette optional in my opinion).
For his birthday we bought my son a copy of Alastair Humphreys' book, Microadventures, which suggests all sorts of ways to fit little adventures into everyday life. Now I'm not sure I've got the stamina for sleeping on a mountain-top in a bivvy bag (although that would be amazing), but I do like the idea of having a 5 to 9 adventure. So, straight after work on Friday, my son and I went camping at a sweet little campsite not too far from here. We packed minimal equipment, and were set up on our pitch by 6.30. There weren't very many other campers, now that the school holidays are over, but enough to make a friendly atmosphere, and we pitched our two tents near some willow trees, next to a hedge.
I had borrowed my youngest daughter's old pink tent. It's very bright, but extremely comfortable. We visited a nearby shop to buy provisions for tea and breakfast, and sat outside our tents as the dew began to fall eating our evening meal together.
We chatted as it began to get dark and the moon rose, and I was reminded that it's dark by 8.30 nowadays, so we headed off to an old pub across the road for a warming drink. It was very quirkily decorated inside, and we sat in the corner and talked the evening away.
Back at the tents, it was completely dark and I looked around me, aware that I am rarely outside at night away from streetlights and traffic. My eyes gradually became accustomed to the dark, and although there were few stars to see, the trees were outlined against the night sky. I slept well that night, and was woken the next morning to the sound of crows cawing and a myriad of bird song in the trees around my tent.
I lay in my sleeping bag and inhaled the lovely smell of camping; that wonderful aroma of grass and tent which is so evocative for me of all the previous camping trips I've ever had, stretching right back into childhood. The sounds are so familiar too - the unzipping sound as campers undo their tent doors and step outside, other people chatting across the field, dogs barking, the low whoosh of camping stoves being lit and kettles whistling.
When I emerged from my tent it was a cloudy morning and the grass was very wet with dew. As I walked across the field I regretted wearing sandals as my feet tingled in the cold wetness. We boiled the kettle for a cup of coffee, and after that fried vegetarian sausages on our little stove.
The smell of the cooking was so appetising in the open air, and we made them into sandwiches with tomato ketchup, so different from my usual bowl of cereal! After breakfast we sat outside and chatted, and then packed up our things and drove the short distance home again, back by late morning.
I felt energised and happy, and had really enjoyed my son's company. It was hard to believe that it was only Saturday morning, and I vowed to break my routine more often to do life-affirming things like this. Hmmm, what other microadventures shall I have?