Monday, 13 June 2011

I don't care what the weatherman says...

Having camped many times in my life, I would describe myself as a pretty seasoned, unfazed camper.  I have experienced: being woken by a massive bird sitting on my chest, the car accidentally dragging the tent half way across the field by its guy ropes, not being able to remember which tent is mine, large bear-like animals poking their noses into the canvas in the dead of night, tent/music rage, being attacked by midges, tent burglary, and most weather conditions, including getting drenched, and getting half baked in the early morning sun.

So there we were on Saturday night, us Buttons, all lined up in a tired, snug, little row, in our tent, listening to the sound of the waves, our faces glowing from the cider, and the sunny warm day spent on the beach, playing in the sand dunes.  And I couldn't help but feel a little bit smug that we had ignored the weatherman's warnings, and made a last minute dash to the coast.  All was perfect.  And off we all went to sleep, in sandy, cosy, slopey airbed heaven.

At 3am I woke to the sound of rain lashing against the tent, and the wind ripping through it, blowing and bending it this way and that - rather vigorously I have to say.  And I could hear the waves crashing against the rocks just 50 yards away.  Tom and Dolly were snoring soundly.  I looked over at Betty and her eyes were wide open, not blinking.  'Betty' I whispered 'Are you ok?'  'I'm a bit scared' she replied.  'It's ok my darling, it's just a bit of wind and rain' I told her.  My heart was pounding, I was sweating like a pig, I was terrified.  I kept thinking about my friend's 12 ft trampoline, and how just a few weeks ago, the wind managed to blow it clean over her garden fence and onto the main road some distance away.  I imagined our tent being the trampoline (with us in it) and the main road being the sea.

I lay there, holding Betty's hand, and trying to think of a survival plan, if the tent indeed took off and landed in the sea, or collapsed and suffocated us all, or if the tent poles came free and knocked us unconscious.  I had just accomplished the first part of my plan, which was to find a form of light (my trusty mobile phone) in order to be able to see during the rescue operation, when a huge gust of wind swept under the tent and lifted us a couple of inches into the air.  Now convinced we were in a hurricane, I shook Tom awake, and told him he was to transport our children to the car.  'Don't be so ridiculous' he said, and promptly started snoring again.  I shook him again and aggressively whispered in his ear 'We are in severe danger, we need to get out'.

While Betty got more frightened, and I pretended not to be, Dolly slept on, and Tom was outside whacking tent pegs back in.  When Tom reappeared he coolly said 'It's all fine, go back to sleep'.

As we drove out of the campsite at 4am, with a befuddled Dolly, and a shell-shocked Betty, up to their ears in wet tent parts/sleeping bags etc, we saw many battered tents and campers dotted about the place.  We also saw that one family had given up on their tent completely and hurled it into the bins as they made a dash for cover.

13 comments:

Dianne x said...

This reminded me so much of our holiday to Tenby in Wales, 2 weeks of camping in the sun I thought. Oh no it poured down everyday, I spent a week in the launderette and sweeping the water out of the tent. We moved to Blackpool for our second week and you guessed it it was as bad there. My husband now refuses to camp.

Elsie Button said...

Hi Dianne, we've had a few wet camping trips in tenby too! Camping in sun is like nothing else on earth, but camping in bad weather... miserable

Nora said...

There must be nothing scarier than camping in a rainstorm. I've never had the pleasure, but I imagine it's quite an experience. It's not like having a gentle rain pattering down on your tent. I'm glad you were all safe, even though you had to get up at 4 am. Hope your next camping trip is filled with good weather.

mummymummymum said...

Now thats why I don't camp :-) great story for the kids to tell now though. xx

Elsie Button said...

Hi Nora yes was pretty scary. Will listen to weatherman next time for sure

Elsie Button said...

Hi mummy mum oh but camping in good weather is just the best! :)

northernmum said...

Blimey. Heart in your mouth time eh.

Well done for surviving the storms.....

Sparx said...

...lifted you up 2 inches? Crrraaapp... We're camping this weekend, you're scaring me!

The worst I had was many many years ago (OK, honestly? Nearly 30) - I was with a friend and we had canvas tents which weighed a ton. The waterproofing stood up for one day, after that they were just these sodden, heavy sponges. We spent all of day 2 in a laundromat drying our clothes, our sleeping bags etc etc and slept in the car. The tents took a week to dry out in my garden afterwards - but I remember that trip sooo fondly. The second night we had spent all our money in the laundromat and cafes (no point in cooking in the downpour) so we spent the whole evening sitting in the front seat of the car listening to Yazoo and talking... even the bad camping times make good memories!

Elsie Button said...

Hi Northern Mum, Yes, very hairy!

Hi Sparx, I know exactly what you mean - i always look back at pretty horrific camping experiencs, very fondly. And also remember sitting in the front of the car a lot, and the proper canvas tents!! loved your memory!

Nel said...

Gosh! I was starting to slightly mellow to my husbands suggestions of camping but now my resolve to never sleep in a tent continues!!

Elsie Button said...

Hi Nel, Noooo, you must go! - just check there is no hurricane imminent :)

nappy valley girl said...

Ooh bad luck. I'm not a huge fan of camping - in fact the last time we camped in New Zealand our tent was virtually blown away in the night, and lots of other people in the campsite were totally washed out. This summer we're going to a campsite in Canada for part of our holidays - but staying in a wooden cabin!!

Elsie Button said...

Hi Nappy Valley, ooohh the wooden cabin in canada sounds amazing!