This afternoon we staggered back to civilisation after our week under canvas with five kids. Was it a success?? Well, we still have all five of them (although I was tempted to leave a couple of them on the side of the road: yes, my two).
There were no near drownings, all fingers and toes accounted for. Well, except Mr G, who broke one of his playing beach soccer (he tripped over an 8-year-old).
But the kids are fine.
So, yes, a success.
We managed to get the tent up in a rain/windstorm (the only one of the week, wouldn't you know it). It just had to pass overhead moments after we had pegged down the groundsheet.
Thankfully a kindly Westie rescued us, restoring Mr G's faith in humanity (after we struggled for a while in the rain while several neighbours looked on, without offering to help).
While this drama unfolded, the kids had made their way down to the beach and plunged into the first tidal puddle they found. In their clothes. In a rainstorm. While all the bags were unreachable in the car boot under the bike rack. I managed to find a few accessible towels, stripped them off, wrapped them in the towels and stowed them, shivering and dripping, in the warm car until the rain stopped and the tent was up. Crisis averted.
The storm passed, the sun came out, we set up our stuff and had BBQ hamburgers for tea.
Cooking & eating Al Fresco. Hooking up the borrowed fridge, the stereo, the electric jug and toaster to Power. We were camping in Luxury I tellya. (I pitied the poor bloke I saw carrying two cups of coffee from the camp kitchen. He must be a novice camper, unlike us professionals.)
Rinsing sand off under the cold shower conveniently located right next to our tent (right where this picture is taken)
Making necklaces out of shells and beads
A beautiful sunrise, and being awake to witness it (and capture it)
Discovering that "jumping waves" quickly turns into "swimming with our clothes on" when kids are involved
Explaining to our guest camper, Mads, as she watched my lot cavort and compete for attention: "I need to warn you that we do have a crazy clown family." She replied in all seriousness,"Yes I think I noticed that."
Swimming in our clothes in the sea at sundown; seeing Mads laughing and giggling. Hearing her shout out, "I think I've finally caught the Clown Flu!"
Playing games together: Trouble, Charades, Circles & Triangles, Cops & Robbers
Listening to the rain on the tent roof and being thankful it didn't leak (after Mr G battened down the hatches)
Watching my baby being doted on and watched over by four kids who love him. Hearing his laugh as he runs to follow them and falls over in the tidal puddles on the beach.
Knowing that staying clean and dry doesn't matter as much as having fun in the water, even if you've only just changed him.
Helping my daughter learn to ride her bike without trainer wheels. Watching her zoom around confidently on two wheels, able to keep up with the others on only her second day riding.
My blissfully peaceful morning swims: It's high tide. I have the beach all to myself. I swim out to the diving pontoon and lay back in the water with the blue sky above me and only the sound of the waves. Magic.
Enjoying a glass of wine as the sun goes down, with the baby asleep and the other kids playing on the beach below us.
Toasting Marshmallows over the gas BBQ.
A beachfront tent site.
Tangled Salty locks
Seashells, Sandcastles and Smiles
Then there was the other side of the story...
Cross words. Tears and tantrums. Squabbles and hurt feelings (and yes, a Marital Discussion or two). The guests were fabulous, I have to say. We couldn't have taken two lovelier kids with us on our camping trip.
Our two big kids however, seemed to have a few too many moments where bad attitudes, show-off behaviour and selfishness made me cringe and ask myself: When did these children of mine become so awful?
It's the subject of a whole other post: my lovely girl (aged five) has suddenly gone boy crazy and turned into a world-class show-off. My usually good-natured sporty son has become too competitive, and values winning over friendship. So I guess Mr G and I have a clear parenting challenge ahead of us this year, to bring these two back into line.
Mind you Mads, did say to me yesterday: "Man, I've never been this good for this long before!"
Her mum, the lovely Amy (of HavenSpace) confimed this to be true. So I am trying to console myself that if my kids had been camping with other people, they wouldn't have been so rotten.
I must say though that the bad was probably only around 5-10%. The good, the sweet and the fun took up the rest. So much so that we stayed an extra night. So it can't have been that bad, aye?
We survived. And it was worthwhile. But not exactly a Holiday.
One day we will look back and laugh and enjoy the memories. Right now we are knackered.
Now all I want to do is lots of This:
And finish reading This:
I think our Medal is in the post.