Shopping for camping after finding him – butter wouldn’t melt with this one

Being a parent is a heart stopping career

There are many moments during my nearly 9 years of parenting that have been absolutely heart stopping. My eldest son thoroughly tested this when at 28 weeks gestation he stopped moving long enough for me to be admitted to hospital where it transpired he was just having a super long nap. Then would show up, kicking away, when they put the monitors on me.

At 19 months old he cut his head open in a soft play area, 5 weeks later he tripped over his own feet and went through the glass front door. When my second child came along he decided to tag team with his brother. 18 hospital admissions where his lungs stopped working properly and a case of full blown anaphylaxis and I thought we were done. Apparently not.

It was a hot day, we had friends come over to put some stuff in the garage and because of this all the doors in the house were open and we were distracted. I suddenly realised I hadn’t seen my little one for a while and tore through the house looking for him. When it became apparent he wasn’t here, I legged it onto the riverside lands screaming his name and realising how hopeless it felt. The riverside lands are vast, he is small and I didn’t know where to begin. I then heard my lovely neighbour shouting that she’d found him and when I saw him again all the breath left my body. Total time we realised he was missing – 2 or 3 minutes. The longest 2 – 3 minutes of my life (including the drug free labour I had with him). I never expected parenthood to be a walk in the park but my goodness, this one’s going to take a long time to recover from.

At least you don’t really need clothes at the beach

Don’t let an 8 year old pack his own clothes for camping

My 8 year old is sensible. Most of the time. So when we decided to whip the kids on a last minute camping trip I thought nothing of having him pack his own bag. The only thing is, I’m relatively inexperienced at camping. When we went last year with my lovely friend, Kate she told us everything we needed and pretty much packed for us. My partner is very experienced with camping so he was left with the responsibility of finding the campsite, booking it, organising the car and everything we needed. My only job was to pack for me and the kids. All looked good, other than me forgetting hoodies for the boys and having to make a last minute dash to their Dad’s for them as we were already on the road. Oh and suncream – luckily there was a co-op to rescue us for that one.

All was going well, we were having a great time and I decided to get the kids ready for bed, in the dark, nearly 3 hours past their bedtime. I was explaining to the 4 year old that he needed to wear winter PJs and socks as it gets cold at night. It was only when I went to get PJs for the 8 year old that I realised we hadn’t packed any. Ever resourceful, I sent him to bed in my cropped jeans (ankle length on him) and told him to get on with it. The next morning he said he had hardly slept – the jeans kept twisting around, making him uncomfortable oh and the air bed had a leak so he woke up on the floor. I’m sure that on our next camping trip he’ll remember PJs and maybe to not jump on a newly inflated air bed as soon as we put it in the tent.

There is no such thing as short queues at Legoland

Because school holidays aren’t challenging enough (especially when you work from home), the boys’ school decided to tack an Inset day onto the first Monday of term. The other half and I decided that as all the other schools we knew were back, we would risk taking the kids to Legoland in the hope that it would be relatively quiet.

So far I’ve managed to avoid Legoland after reading some hideous reviews about queue times and wasps. Surely those people had just had a bad day and were venting on whichever forum I read it on. After all, we can all have a rubbish experience then hit the internet.

If there’s anything our trip taught me it was trust what you read on the internet. Seriously. While our day was happily wasp free, the first signs that our ‘Inset day’ plan clearly was the same plan that the majority of the country had come up with. It took over 20 minutes to crawl up the drive and get parked in a field/overflow carpark far away from the entrance. This was an hour after the park had opened so things weren’t looking good.

Legoland itself is lovely – it’s clean, friendly, has loads to look at and do and has clearly been well thought out. All this is negated by the queues and that when it’s as busy as it was, rather than turn people away, they cut down the time of the rides. Queueing for over an hour for 30 seconds of rollercoaster doesn’t feel like value for money. In between queueing for rides we decided to grab a coffee from one of their cafes and guess what? The queue for a cup of coffee took 25 minutes. I’m not saying I wouldn’t go back to Legoland, there was so much to enjoy, we’ll just try to pick a quieter time next time and pray that the queues aren’t too long. 

Aftersun is not the marketing con I thought it was

I buy suncream for the kids and the little one goes to school on the hottest days looking like a snowman where he’s put on his own suncream. I’ve always kept the boys relatively covered so no burns and no need for after sun. Naturally on the hottest days this year I forgot the suncream and spent a lot of time outside. The boys and my partner were fine as they are naturally olive skinned, I am not olive skinned, I was not fine.  After 2 days I relented and went to the shop to buy aftersun and suncream.

Having always thought that aftersun was a con as it never fully got rid of sunburn, I have to say I am a convert. It cools immediately, my skin was less sore almost straight away and after a couple of days of using it, everything was fine again. From now on I’ll be adding aftersun to the shopping list where it can join the 15 bottles of upside down, half finished sun cream in the medicine cupboard.

Definitely don’t get this in London!

Going away for 1 night is totally worth it

Having spent most of half term in what felt like lockdown because of the stormy weather, as soon as it cleared up we decided it was time to get the kids off the iPads and make the most of what may be the only summer we get – this is Britain after all so summer can be counted as 2 days of sunshine.

My partner suggested camping – something we’ve never done together before and because of other commitments (the aforementioned Legoland plan), we would only be going for one night. I wondered whether it would be worth it – driving for hours, packing the car, shopping for staples, the laundry that would follow – just for one night?

The short answer – yes! We had an amazing time. We found a great campsite which was really child friendly, was near all the amenities, the dog behaved himself and everyone had a brilliant time. We all loved the freedom that camping gave us, rather than being confined to a hotel. My partner made putting up and packing down a tent, look so easy (probably wasn’t but I wasn’t asked to help so I’m counting that one as a win). We’ll be camping again next month, just for one night and I’m looking forward to it already.