We went camping this weekend. That's right, me, the spud and the reluctant Frog. It was brilliant. Just don't ask the Frog.
We pitched tent in a field on a great sweep of chalk hill overlooked by the Uffington Horse, an Iron Age fort and the hill where allegedly St. George slew the dragon. Thunder was promised but while we heard it, saw the clouds and watched the lightening, it just rumbled past us. This has been the most glorious weekend and England in high summer is glorious without needing the sun for company, so you must just imagine it - high grass, cow parsley, buttercups, purple mallow, sudden valleys, clustered copses, hawks, crows, scudding clouds and the green of the hills leaping out against the blue of the sky just before a breeze ruffles the grass.
There were 14 of us plus 8 children under the age of 6. I know. Essentially they formed a pack which occasionally split into two mini-packs; all that is except the three littlest who were so easy to manage that it made me wonder what sort of mental I was on when I thought the spud was a handful at 10 months.
He was happy as a pancake, running around, stealing toys and playing endlessly at the stand-pipe being sprayed with water. He went to sleep last night mid-conversation: "Daddy doesn't like camping" "No sweetie, Daddy doesn't like camping... do you like camping?." "Yes, I LIKE camping." "Mummy likes camping too" "NO!!!! CHARLIE likes camping TOOOO!!! Zzzzzzz"....
He didn't get on that well with the inflatable mattress, he kept falling off, necessitating the predicted entrance into our bed and an almost completely sleepless night for me. He pushed and kicked and hogged the covers until springing wide awake at 7am demanding rice. He then walked around the tents of my sleeping friends (I want whatever it was they all gave their kids to get them to sleep in a hot bright tent past 7am) pointing at camping equipment and scattered toys and saying loudly "what's THAT Mummy? What's THAT?" for no reason other than to make conversation until eventually they all woke up toooo.
After two days of playing and living outside it took a lot of soap to remove the incremental layers of sunscreen and mud (and that was just from me). Tonight as he was drifting off after his bath I asked him again if he liked camping. "I LOVE camping!" he said. "I love my Charlie" I told him and gave him a kiss on the cheek. He rolled over, wrapped an arm around my neck and said "I love my Mummy toooo" and gave me a kiss on the cheek. It's my first 'I love you'; kinda made my weekend.