Isn’t it funny how - as the years go by, a person’s view of life can and does change considerably? At first it’s your children that wreak havoc in your well ordered life, then if you are lucky enough - and reach a certain stage in life it will be your grandchildren who will make you do, what you really don’t want to do.
Suffice it to say that whereupon at one time I would be highly vexed about being in Blighty at this time of year; nowadays I’m not, because of all sorts of reasons, none of which would have made much sense 21 years ago. After listing a number of summer activities with various elements of our extended family, it was suggested that we all went camping together for a long weekend.
Cue panic! What to do? I hate camping, always have, always will. There I’ve said it. And yet my whole family are enthusiastically embracing the concept of a weekend away under canvas - in some godforsaken corner of England; but how do I dissuade them from this course of action without appearing a solid-gold wimp?
If you’ve never been camping, I can tell you now - it hurts, it really hurts. That is, unless you go for one of those fancy glamping breaks, whereupon your tent is supposed to be not really a tent at all, but a luxurious version of life under canvas with all the mod-cons one might expect in an Algerian knocking shop - or, so I’m told. However, be careful out there - for it seems that glamping is not quite as glamorous as it may have once seemed.
The British newspapers at the moment are full of shock-horror stories warning ‘staycationers’ of overpriced sites with murderously expensive ‘add-ons’ and filthy toilets. And as one observer sourly proclaimed - “It’s still a tent in a muddy field folks - but costing you an arm and a leg into the bargain.” In actual fact, I would like to challenge the whole concept of camping as some sort of fun for all.
For instance, I am not designed to sleep in some stupid sleeping-bag on rock hard ground and pretend to enjoy it, because I don’t. In fact, I never liked it as a Boy Scout nor as a very short-lived Army Cadet (khaki was never me!) where you didn’t even have a choice in the matter and it didn’t cost you an arm and a leg into the bargain. When my son was young and impressionable, he persuaded me to go on a Lads & Dads camp when he was in the Scouts.
It could best be described as a total unmitigated disaster with knobs on. After singing songs around the campfire for what seemed like an eternity and with my arse numb and covered in nasty looking ant bites, I decided that I would remove myself to the local pub which was also a noted local B&B. This did not go down at all well with the lads, some young feller called Akela - or the other dads come to think of it. But they didn’t mind too much the next morning when I arrived at the camp with a tray-full of tasty bacon-rolls and a couple of thermos flasks of hot coffee as a peace offering did they?
No, they did not! Anyway, happily I’ve managed to head off a potentially agonising camping trip with the family as I have volunteered to treat my lot to a long weekend at one of those activity park places where we will all sleep in a big wooden chalet on comfortable beds with running water and toilets that work. I fear it is going to cost me a small fortune - but I suppose it serves me right.
Mind you, anything is better than the family camping holiday in France as envisaged by my daughter next year and paid for by…come on, you’ve already guessed who, haven’t you? Suffice it to say, that this will only happen over my dead body. A requirement that the younger members of my family seem to be very happy to contemplate.