British Summer

I’ve just been looking back at the post from April. What seems like eons ago, the sun was glorious, bright and bursting with warmth. The BBQ season came early, the birds were singing and everyone was preparing themselves for a major heatwave.

Well – HOW WRONG WE WERE! I can’t, in fact, remember what the sun looks like – It’s the middle of summer yet all over the country billions of pounds worth of damage has been caused by torrential rain and flooding. We now have a rubber dinghy and two life savers strapped to the side of the house in case we have to abandon ship and ride the waves.

The tomatoes L planted with enthusiasm in spring have become waterlogged and are rotting in their pots, the bathroom is constantly draped in damp clothes that can’t be hung out to dry and the new outdoor run for the rabbits is sadly rusting after minimal use.

We have managed to catch a few bright spells here and there but I can quite honestly say that I’ve managed to wear my shorts a maximum 5 times this year – four of which were in April. Alas, my legs are as pasty as the day I was born.

Last week we braved the weather to go camping in the Peak District – are we mad you ask? Well… Yes! But, because it had been booked for over 3 months, we felt we couldn’t let our friend down on her 40th birthday!

Donned in waterproofs jackets, trousers, wellies and with umbrellas for back up, 16 of us drove through torrential rain to pitch our tents on a mini outdoor swimming pool.

Camping has got to be one of the weirdest activities we folk choose partake in. I mean, why would anyone want to spend several sleepless nights on a hard, lumpy ground, being eaten by all number of blood sucking creatures and unable to make a cup of coffee without having to sit for 20minutes with a kettle over a flame no bigger than a large candle?

Inevitably the tent is pitched a peculiar angle because in the rush to get out of the rain, you paid little attention to the instructions. You then spend 40 minutes adjusting, readjusting, tightening guy ropes, altering tent pegs and swearing under your breath because the once dry interior is now developing a large, muddy welcome mat and you are far wetter than you would have been if you’d taken your time in the first place.

To make matters worse, the toilet is always a five minute walk from camp. So, if you’re like me and you’ve been woken at 4am by the birds singing, the cows bellowing and the sound of torrential rain on your tent, you then have a ten minute dilemma about whether you should ‘hold on’ until the morning or trudge half a mile up the road in your pyjamas and wielding an umbrella.

Personally, I refuse pee behind the tent unless it’s in the dead of night under cover of darkness. But during the summer, it’s already light by 4am so this isn’t an option. And besides, if you did decide to mark your territory at the end of a guy rope there’s always the fear that someone will hear you – god forbid!!

I rant on about it like I hate camping but actually there is something quite good fun about waking up and taking the first peek out of your tent to see what the weather is like even tho you can hear the rain. Then you totter stiffly to your friend’s slightly bigger tent to help prepare breakfast for 16 people over a teeny-tiny gas powered stove. There’s a sense of camaraderie and ‘community’, not just with you and your friends, but the whole campsite when you’re all suffering from blood-shot eyes, bad backs (if you have a poor quality bed roll) trench foot and the sense that you haven’t slept a wink in weeks. Its FUN!!

I have to mention that we did benefit from some great sunshine (for a WHOLE day) which meant we could charcoal slabs of meat and vegetables on a huge BBQ and sit around our make-shift campfire for several hours singing songs and telling jokes. It was certainly worth the effort – we hardly complained at all when we packed away our sodden tent under another rain-cloud! Nor did we bear any hard feelings towards our friend (the birthday girl) who spent the weekend in a B&B!

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