Two days to go - today's lecture is on how to put up a tent easily, effectively and with little stress.
1. Book into a preprepared one, ie a tipi, roundhouse, airstream trailer or yurt preferably with built in furniture and maid service (this is my personal preference, but husband won't consider due to a. too expensive and b. it's cheating) or Tangerine Fields, we can't do this as we're going with friends who are in Camping Plus and they won't be allowed in the Tangerine Fields bit due to bouncers and as we'll be swapping children and fighting over who gets to go home with the little ones and who goes to the silent disco - me, me, me, me, so that's not an option.
2. Plead work and send your husband down the day before with the younger children to put the tent up. Arrive the next day with fresh food supplies when everything is up, unpacked, beds blown up, etc and remember to keep your mouth firmly shut to prevent comments like 'oh, couldn't you move it a foot that way?' and 'why didn't put the tent up on the flat, closer to the car park, further away from the loos?' etc as comments like these are highly likely to end your marriage, no matter how much wine you've brought!
3. Have a fall back position sorted - my friend Amanda has a flat in Swanage, very close to Lulworth, and she's said that if it gets desperate we're very welcome to come and crash at hers - maybe commuting is the way to go.
We're going for option 2. on the basis that I promise to be very grateful.
In preparation for this Pete, my lovely husband, put the tent up on Sunday to make sure that he could still remember how to. Also, by doing it in our garden it is more challenging than putting it up in a field as there are two labradors to contend with in our garden and lots of screams of 'who let the flipping dogs out into the garden', 'I thought I told you to keep the kitchen door shut', 'Sidney, Jasper, get out of the damn tent', 'Sidney, come back with the cross brace, it's not a stick'. Humans are far easier to cope with, they don't run off with the cross braces in their mouth thinking they've invented this brilliant new game when all the humans stand around laughing and being extremely unhelpful - sorry, Pete, it was funny.
Sunday night, tent up, air beds blown up - double one not blowing up, good job we tried this out, find spare only to remember that the reason we bought the new one is because the thingy that stops the air coming out went missing years ago and you have to sleep with your finger bunged in the air hole to keep it from deflating, hmmm. Can we get the sofa bed in the back of the car?
Shiny new cooker out of the box, oooh, very exciting, it's massive, looks like the on you get when you do posh camping in France with those static tents that come with everything - apart from this will always stay clean as Pete hasn't bought the gas canister to make it work - sweetheart, that's why it was so light to carry.
Little uns think this is great and want to sleep over in the tent, ha ha, Pete pleads that he as to work the next day, I comment that he put the tent up so he should sleep in it with his children. Great idea, lovely night's sleep in my bed. Children and Pete a little tired and cold in the morning after waking up at 5am when it got light. This was a good idea as now we know we have to bring more blankets too.
Best practice for further years camping - make husbands put tent up the weekend before and sleep in it to test whether the new sleeping bags are going to be warm enough. If they have no sleep and are very cold then you need to bring blankets - who needs tog ratings?
Guess what he's doing tonight? Trying to get the tent down and packed up into the bag while stopping Sidney commandeering cross braces aka 'helping'. This is going to be great spectator sport - I think I'll try out the new plastic wine glasses and watch him while shouting gently encouragement such as 'Sidney, leave it!'
Beverley is a food writer and broadcaster, she is the founder of Splat Cooking and her first book '500 Baby and Toddler Foods' is published by Apple press on 5 September 2011, her APP 'Cupcakes, Muffins and Afternoon Tea' will be available to download from the Apple Store from September.