In our column documenting the ups and downs of family life, local mum Harassed Harriet goes on holiday
It’s half term and we’re planning to go camping. We buy an old fashioned bell tent on ebay and collect it from a hippie type who looks like he is still recovering from last year's festival season. On the way home, hubby decides we need a trial run at tent erection. Our garden is too small, so we stop in Richmond Park. "I remember them from my army days,” says a passing rambler. “Taking it up Everest?"
Our destination is, in fact,a campsite attached to a West Country caravan park. The children are wide eyed at the rows of static caravans as we drive through the holiday park to the campsite. A noisy family has set up camp next to us.
"Hi, I'm Jabbering Jack, the resident ventriloquist,” says the father, “You must come to my show in the clubhouse later.”
"Actually, we might just toast a few marshmallows and have an early night", I reply hastily and he looks a bit miffed. Nevertheless he offers us the use of his family’s ‘toilet tent’ - the loo block is several muddy fields away. But we have a bucket and it’s easy enough to empty the contents into the hedge behind our tent. Beyond the privet there is a well-appointed holiday home. “I hope the posh people staying there don't see," laughs my husband.
Considering it's our first night under canvas, we sleep quite well. On our way back from the showers, we stop at the clubhouse where the camp entertainer, Captain Crusty is in full swing. It is still breakfast time but the room is pitch dark and resembles a seedy nightclub. Kids play games with Captain Crusty while their parents drink beer and feed fruit machines. Our three are desperate to join in the fun but this is not what I had in mind and I shoo them out.
It’s too wet for the beach so we take a bracing cliff top walk. On our return to the caravan park, we stop at the burger van. The man frying onions is in a state of high excitement. "You just missed David Cameron. He bought coffee for him and Sam and a couple of Twixes. They're staying in that big house behind that ridiculous sort of explorer's tent."
Back at the campsite, we bump into Jack gearing up for his evening performance. "Actually,” I say, “We will come to the clubhouse tonight, and could we make use of your toilet tent after all?"