Wet weekend in Wales
I’ve learnt something new this weekend, and that’s that you really only need two types of footwear for camping trips – wellies and flip-flops. Both of which, you’ll note, are waterproof. You will not be needing those rope-soled platform espadrilles you purchased with balmy nights sat round drinking Pimms in mind. They’ll just get very, very soggy.
Yes, it rained in Wales this weekend. But let’s start from the very beginning. It’s a very good place to start. (Well, so Maria sings in The Sound Of Music and who are we to doubt her?)
The Peas family are still camper van novices – this was only our second ever trip in our 20-year old VW T25, purchased last year. Last weekend, we fired it up (or tried to), to check it was working for our Welsh trip. It wasn’t. Luckily, there’s a guy in the next street, Samuel, who can fix up vans, and he sorted ours out for us. I had to arrange this, as Mr Peas was away on business, and for some reason Samuel insisted on showing me how easy it would be for me to change some kind of tube thing, even though I had no idea what the tube thing was or what it was for. That’s why I was paying him the money. Still, I respected him for his honesty. If I was at all technically competent, knowledge of what the tube thing was could have done him out of future work.
Not sew great
Van fixed, we aimed to leave for Wales at 9am on Saturday. I was up until midnight on the Friday night finishing sewing the curtains for it – a project I started enthusiastically in January, then stopped. Turns out I hate sewing. It doesn’t help that I only have a cheapy Janone mini-sew machine that won’t sew anything thicker than tissue paper, s0 I’d probably have been better off gluing the damn hems up. Anyway, next morning, when I went to hang the finished bloody curtains triumphantly in the van, I discovered that one curtain is about 6 inches longer than all the rest, and also that I’d sewn the hanging tape on backwards. Aaaaargh. This is the kind of thing that sends people into murderous rages. Frothing at the mouth a bit, and steering clear of the kitchen with all its dangerously sharp utensils, I re-sewed the hanging tape, but the weirdly long curtain is staying weirdly long. I am done with sewing. Even writing about it makes me angry.
We left for Wales at 11am on Saturday.After turning back to collect the food we’d been instructed to bring down, also made by me the night before, we finally left London at 11.30am. Not bad for a bunch of faffers.
I’ll draw a veil over the journey to Wales. It wasn’t great. That’s all you need to know. But we got there.
We put the kids to bed and joined the adults in the communal area for a barbecue. It immediately started raining. Not just a little bit either, and it was soon joined by a howling wind, sending the rain lashing horizontally into our faces. It was at this point that I realised why people own anoraks. It had always been something of a mystery to me before, as they’re hideous items – and the fact that Mr Peas wore one on our first date nearly ended our relationship before it had begun. It’s lucky I am the type who looks for inner beauty, y’know? That and I got so drunk I snogged him anyway.
But I digress. When you’ve been soaked right through to your pants, then a biker leather jacket does lose some of its rock ‘n’ roll charm. I looked longingly at my companions in their sturdy waterproof nylon. Some of them even had anorak trousers. I had no idea such things even existed, but how I yearned for some now. I would have asked them where they got them, but the wind was whistling round my ears so loudly that I could barely hear what the person sitting next to me was saying. It was pointless trying to converse with anyone more than three foot away.
Still, it was a good reason for an early night, and at least we wouldn’t have hangovers. Although hangovers are what camping trips are about – well, doing stuff with the kids during the day then, as there’s no escaping the little darlings on holiday, getting roaringly drunk the moment they’re asleep and you’re free.
I’d like to say the next day dawned fair, but I’d be lying. I’ve never seen rain like it. My Converse were still soggy from the night before, and I hate having cold feet, so we headed into Swansea to buy some wellies and an anorak for me (I could only find a Back To Skool kids’ one in Tescos – I never thought I’d say it, but thank heavens for fat kids) and to take the kids swimming at the LC leisure centre. There was just no getting away from water, one way or another. Apparently, the LC is Wales’ most visited paid-for tourist attraction. I bet it is. It took 20 minutes just to find a space in the car park, there were so many campers and their kids sheltering there. The queue was almost out of the door.
We went to Nandos afterwards. That cheered me up. I love Nandos – so much so that I went there for my work send-off just before going on maternity leave last time. I’m a class act, me.
By now, we’d consumed quite a lot of meat. I didn’t dare tell Mike, who’d organised the trip, about my plans to stealth-convert my family to part-time vegetarianism. (Subversive!) I don’t think he’d have had much truck with it. After sausages for breakfast, and chicken for lunch, we tucked into pork at about midnight. I’m still not quite sure why it took three and a half hours to cook some pork fillets. I was happily getting stuck into the red wine, so maybe I missed something.
It was also bloody freezing. Although I was dry in my wellies and Back To Skool anorak (I got over the fashion-hideousness of it by pretending I was in Shoreditch, where the hipsters all dress like that anyway), I was still shivering, despite wearing six layers of clothes. Only in Britain can it go from balmy evenings one week to Arctic the next. I made a mental note to stock up on fleeces for all for future camping trips – again, not something I ever envisaged myself wearing, but needs must. Ray Mears has done at lot worse in the name of survival, and I really had to take my cue from him.
To my amazement, we woke up next morning to glorious sunshine. It was still freezing, mind you, but the sun was out. We raced down to the beach- which turned out to be really pretty once the thick grey mist that had been hiding it finally lifted – then quickly raced off it when hypothermia threatened to overcome us. We went to the pub instead. It’s the British way.
Then it was time to get the kids into their PJs, settle them into their car seats, and speed (well, chug along at 6o mph tops) back up to London as they slept peacefully. That was the plan, anyway, and surprisingly, it actually worked. They barely woke up as we transferred them to their own beds. All that fresh air really does have something to recommend it.
Anyway, it was a top weekend. Yes, really. The camper van didn’t leak (and it was truly tested), my curtains blocked the light effectively, the kids loved it, and slept well, and we all ate a lot of sausages. Plus, I am now the proud owner of some leopard print wellies. Hipsters in Shoreditch would kill to own a pair of these. Result!
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