Over at P2PU I’m organising a semester of learning around Mozilla’s Open Badges project. If there was one for ‘packing up a tent in the dark’ or ‘continuing
in the face of adversity’ I’d have a fuller CV this morning.
It all started innocently enough. “It’s a lovely day, isn’t it?” stated the four year-old HyperActiveBoy™ as we played football in the back garden on Saturday. “I think we should go camping tonight.” I was too busy trying to hold ChunkGirl™ (who, at seven months, is now the same weight as her two year-old cousin) to concentrate on the question. “Yes, we should go sometime,” I replied.
After much badgering over Saturday and Sunday it was agreed: PersistentBoy™ and Daddy would go camping on Sunday night. Mummy found a campsite close by and, at 18.30, off we went, driving less than ten miles to our destination. The opencast mine and trainline we passed close-by to the campsite should have put me off or, failing that, the bizarre fluffy white chickens. But oh no. In the words of the Beautiful South, we Carried On Regardless.
HyperActiveBoy™ and I had the tent up and were in it by 19.30 after having the now-traditional hot chocolate and cookies, and getting washed in the shower block. My plan was to read in the tent but, on leaning back to lie down, managed to crush my Kindle in a way that broke the screen. Not the most auspicious of starts.
With AwakeBoy™ far too excited to get to sleep with Daddy in the tent, I decamped to the car planning to scour internet forums for a solution to my Kindle problem. But, of course, we were in deep Northumberland where GPRS is like frickin’ broadband. After about an hour of fruitless searching, and with AwakeBoy™ still steadfastly refusing to sleep, I decided to get back into the tent.
Back in summer 2001 I went round Italy with AwakeBoy™’s Mummy staying at Youth Hostels. The sleeping bag I bought for that trip was an ultra-light one made for Mediterranean summers. On Sunday night it felt like the equivalent of a bin bag. Oh, and I didn’t have anything to use as a pillow as AwakeBoy™ was hogging the improvised rolled-up blanket.
AwakeBoy™, a.k.a. TalkInHisSleepBoy™ a.k.a. HotWaterBottleBoy™, of course, has never been cold in his entire life, so didn’t really understand why I, at about midnight when he was finally dropping off to sleep, proclaimed I needed to go back into the car to get my oh-so-thick M&S Dad cardigan.
From there it was all downhill. The excitement started again with AwakeBoy™ as I re-entered the tent. I threatened to take him home. A train went past. Something was moving in the opencast mine. He needed a wee-wee at 2am, managing to cover the outside of the tent in more than dew.
But then, at 3.30am, the cockerel started crowing. “That’s it!” I cried, not really caring who heard us by this point, “we’re going home!” AwakeBoy™, looking bewildered and as if he’d done something wrong, asked why. I explained that it wasn’t his fault, that it was the worst campsite in the world, and bundled him into the car.
Taking down the tent took about ten minutes in the dark given that I just threw it into the boot of the car. We drove up the drive towards the campsite owner’s house where I dropped the key off by posting it through the letterbox.
Did I also include a £10 note to cover the pitch fee? No reader, I did not.