Insane behaviour that suddenly becomes acceptable because you’ve pitched a tent in a field and decided to live there for a while….
We have recently returned from a 2-week family camping adventure that took in Dorset, Cornwall & The New Forest. Due to this low-tech scenario, I took a pad and pen with me, #oldschool and wrote down actual words on paper, as we travelled. After about 4 days away and watching the world (translation – ‘being a nosey cow’), I started to note down a few bits about camping and the way that people behave in this environment, that struck me as completely nuts but also brilliant.
Basically, things that you wouldn’t dream of doing if you were at home. Things that suddenly just because you’re sitting in a field in a canvas chair become completely acceptable.
Here’s a few bonkers soundbites from our little trip:
1. You leave all your worldly possessions behind a sheet of plastic approximately 1mm thick and go out for the day. Making sure you pull the zips right down and fasten the Velcro tight, yeah that’ll stop the burglars. Seriously? It’s like putting all your stuff in the front garden and going to work. Nobody does this, ever.
2. You let your children talk to strangers. Yep, all kinds of strangers, men, women, children, dogs, horses, you name it. Suddenly everyone forgets this isn’t standard protocol anymore. Anyone who even looks in the direction of your child presents a case of STRANGER DANGER, don’t they? However, there aren’t & never will be any bad people on a campsite. (But maybe don’t quote me on that….)
3. Your personal hygiene standards take a massive nosedive. Where leaving the house would normally involve some combination of soap, water, deodorant & perfume, you settle for baby wipes and turning your pants inside out. I know, kinda gross. But totally workable for a few days at least.
4. Wearing a head torch is cool. FACT. In any other situation you just look like a total dick (unless you work down pit, I guess?) but on a campsite, you’re in the cool gang (finally!) and many fellow campers will marvel at your illuminated hands-free abilities.
5. Your bedtime routine transforms from an elaborate event, perhaps involving moisturiser, cleanser, mouthwash, floss etc, to a piss in the bushes (yes, the ladies too, don’t lie, we all know you’ve squatted like a pro when you can’t be arsed to walk 100 yards to the toilet block) and a quick once round with the toothbrush.
6. Sex anyone? Are you crazy? There is no sex on a family campsite. Remember the 1mm think plastic you’re sheltering under? Your need to be warm and snug will far out way any ideas about actually touching your partner. Plus you will invariably have at least one child with you on your now slowly deflating air bed. Shutting their door and ignoring them is regrettably not an option in a tent.
7. Getting dressed is basically a hassle, especially if you have kids, so most people just don’t bother. Walking around in your pj’s is totally accepted. Combine this little ensemble with a pair of wellies and you are ‘campsite chic‘, everyone will want to be you. I long to do this on a regular Monday, but in the outside world I fear it will be frowned upon.
8. You eat every meal outside. In Britain, this is clearly insane behaviour. If after making my cereal this morning you told me to go out to the garden to eat it I’d tell you where to go and not politely. Leave my cosy kitchen? Don’t be ridiculous. Yet I just did this every morning for nearly 2 weeks (in pj’s & wellies because of course, as already discussed, I had not bothered to dress).
9. Your normally varied and (attempting to be) healthy diet, is reduced down from all the main food groups to just 2. Meat & bread. Makes meal times nice and easy but can result in major ‘blockages‘. Whilst constipation can sometimes be a blessing on a campsite, be sure to drink copious amounts of alcohol (out of a questionably clean plastic vessel) to counteract this. Tick….
10. You let your children eat pretty much anything, anywhere….
If you go somewhere like The New Forest where there are wild animals roaming, there is basically sh*t everywhere. But gone is the obsessive high chair wiper – “Go on darling you just sit right there and eat your tea, that’s right, right next to that pile of horse shit”. Super!
Don’t let me put you off camping though. It’s brilliant, I love it and so do the kids.
What do cheese, toilet paper, keys and shoes all have in common?
They are all unremarkable. But isn’t it amazing how many truly unremarkable things can entertain, fascinate & distract small humans for extended periods of time?
Although we as adults can’t always comprehend the fascination, maybe it’s because not all of these things are always on show and in fact, many might normally be off limits completely for small people, so by offering them you’ll be breaking several house rules and most likely undoing some previous good discipline work. Due to this, there are some associated risks.
Here’s a small selection of unremarkable items that my children suddenly become obsessed with the second they catch sight of them. Sometimes I purposely bring them into play when I just need to get sh*t done or I quite simply want to be left the hell alone!
What Is It With Small Children And….
It’s cheese, what’s not to like right? But my daughter’s favourite, Cheese Strips, have the added benefit of coming in strips (does what it says on the tin), that can be pulled apart. She takes each strip off one at a time and eats them individually. It takes bloody ages, it’s brilliant!!! I can drink a whole cup of tea, sometimes I’ll even go back for another. *For increased impact add a cracker, so plain, so simple but they’re like a child’s version of catnip. It’ll be like all their Christmas’s have come at once. Risk Factor – cracker crumbs! You’ll be finding them for days.
….Keys & Remote Control’s?
I’m grouping these together as the benefits are all aligned. Now these are ours, not for them. They perform important jobs and are a massive pain in the arse to mend or replace. Oh…..but how they are coveted by small people. What is it with that? And the thing that gets me the most about keys and remotes is that we’ll buy them their own keys (plastic of course), give them an old remote or even some old real keys. But they know, don’t they? They know they’re not the ‘actual ones’. How is this possible? They can’t string two words together or wipe their own arse’s but they know immediately if you’ve tried to fool them with bogus technology! Risk Factor – if you do give in and give them the ‘actual ones’ you may never be able to lock the front door again or change TV channel….eh
Again, why do small people love toilet roll so much? I think it’s the paper dangling there above their heads, isn’t it? They must feel like it’s teasing them. Waving it’s paper loveliness right in their faces. With its potential to be torn so easily into tiny little pieces, it’s quite understandably just too tempting not to reach up and grab. And grab some more…..and a little more. Until yes you have your own makeshift Andrex Puppy. *Has the potential to amuse for long periods. Just imagine all the things you could get done? Risk Factor – messy but it is only paper. If they eat some they’ll be fine (I guess?).
One for little-little people. My 1-year-old is obsessed with shoes. I’m sure this will pass *please God*. So for a little time out I just sit him in front of a shoe rack. It’s genius. Just seeing his face light up. Beautiful. Risk Factor – based on the fact that the 1-year-old likes to ‘post’ things in a variety of inventive places, there is the potential risk of never pairing up some shoes again. Hey ho….
….A Bucket Of Water?
My son was recently introduced to ‘the bucket of water’ on a sunny day in the garden. Hours and I mean hours of entertainment. Splash a ball in….take ball out….throw ball….collect ball….splash ball in……repeat. *Requires supervision (just 1 eye will do) & good weather. Risk Factor – possible drowning, so don’t fall asleep during your extended period of relaxation. And obviously the child will end up very soggy, but it’ll be well worth it.
Get these out and you might as well don a long robe and silly hat because congratulations, you’ve just become The Pied Piper. Small children will follow you everywhere. So simple these floaty, transparent globes of joy. And the ‘untouchableness’ only seems to spur them on. Risk Factor – don’t let them hold the bubble mixture. You know how that ends right?
I am making light of these things, as I always do, but actually whilst writing this, I have found myself smiling at just how wonderful it is that young children are fascinated by so many insignificant things.
For the vast majority of my son’s life, he has not needed shoes. But all the big people around him wear them and in fact, these people have several pairs each. That’s a lot of different shoes that don’t belong to him, no wonder he’s so interested.
We should perhaps every now and then try to view the world a bit more like our children do.
Let’s be more fascinated, let’s fully embrace the bubbles, the water and the cheese. In fact, let’s maybe do all three of those at once!
I am massively guilty of non-embracing. Life is so busy and complicated, I’m always thinking about the time it’ll take me to clear up and forgetting about the potential joy that will come before. Re-rolling a roll of toilet paper is such a phaff and it will never fit back on the holder. But. Maybe once in a while, we should just let them do it and think about the mess later?
I started writing a blog 8 weeks ago. Here are a few things I have learnt in that time, about myself, blogging and life in general.
The last 2 months have been an extraordinary personal journey of discovery for me. Yes, I started writing a blog, but that’s just one part of it. Something changed, I’m still not sure quite what, but it is good. I have stopped looking at other people and thinking “I’d like to do that” or “I’d like to be more like that”. I’m trying to make positive things happen for me by being proactive and brave. It’s slow progress but there is progress and that’s the only thing that matters.
I feel like this is my time to figure out what I want to be when I grow up…..
Things I have learnt about blogging in the last 8 weeks:
The blogging community is full of lovely people. You’d think people would be cliquey and possessive of their space, a space that as a newbie I just invaded. But they’re not. There are millions of blogs out there, which makes it feel like an uphill battle but everyone is very welcoming and supportive, it’s a great place to hang out.
You could spend all day on Twitter, I mean ALL DAY. Tweeting, retweeting, sharing, liking, linking, it’s exhausting!!! I have a day job so obviously I don’t do this ALL DAY but it’s key to marketing your blog and trying to get your voice heard. As a Marketer myself, I would say just spend the time you do have wisely, in areas where you know you can connect with people in your target audience. Ooh, look at me, giving out advice at just 8 weeks in…….. *rolls eyes*
Looking around you is good. My most favourite thing so far to come out of writing a blog is that it has forced me to stop and look around. I need to figure out what to say each week, so I do research but mostly it’s observational. I have started to put down my phone, turn off my music and watch the world. Watch people (not in a weird way), listen to conversations, notice things around me. It’s honestly wonderful, I highly recommend it. In the words of Ferris Bueller (…. I love this movie)
Things I have learnt about myself in the last 8 weeks:
I love writing, I mean I LOVE it. I can’t believe that I discovered something new (out of nowhere) that I love doing. I encourage you all to try something new, anything, get out of your comfort zone. Do it and do it now. If that’s not enough encouragement for you then check out the Shia Labeouf video at the bottom of this piece (well I want you to read the rest don’t I). It’s not only hilarious but it might be just what you need right now!
A good opportunity came my way last week, an opportunity that wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t of put myself out there and taken a leap of faith 8 weeks ago.
My inner monologue is VERY loud. Jesus, I thought writing stuff down would help but I think it’s made it worse! I do wish I’d pipe down sometimes. It’s got so bad that occasionally I can’t remember if I’ve had an ‘out loud’ conversation with an actual person or if it’s just the voices in my head.
….Who said that?
Things I have learnt about life in general in the last 8 weeks:
If you don’t ask you don’t get. An old one but so true. This is about confidence and seizing the moment, something I’m trying to do much more these days. If you want some help or you think there might be an opportunity for you somewhere, go and ask about it. The worst thing the person can say is no. Then you’re no worse off than you were before.
I asked two friends this week to help me with some things for this blog, things that will take them some time to complete. They both accepted enthusiastically and were pleased that I came to them (for which I am hugely grateful). Me from a few months ago would not have asked this question, I would have felt like I was putting them out and asking too much. They are both very talented in their fields so this would have been a massive missed opportunity for me.
‘Winging It’ (to start with anyway) is totally ok. People think that just because you write stuff down and publish it, you must know what you’re doing and be a really confident person. I am not confident about writing at all but I keep going because a few months or more down the line I envision this changing. I’ve learnt that appearing confident is a big step towards actually feeling it. I’m also learning something new every day at the moment, which is exciting and massively rewarding. How many of you can say the same thing? When was the last time you learnt something new?
Know your priorities. Writing about my own journey & thinking about the future has reinforced for me that family is the most important thing, don’t ever lose sight of that, whatever crossroad you come to.
Last few (random) learnings:
Donald Trump needs to shut the f*ck up.
The song I have been joyfully singing along to for weeks now – “Angels On My Side” is Rick Astley!!! I literally had no idea until the other day! #HowDidIMissThat?
This Is The Story Of My Week With A Sick Baby – Via The Medium Of Song
My 1-year-old son has been ill for over a week, the poor little fella. So I haven’t had much time to think about writing and anyway my week has been so full of rubbishness, what would I say that would be of any interest?
I thought on it for a little bit and in a moment of silliness & an effort to make the week sound slightly less dull than it actually has been, I have decided to deliver this piece via the medium of song……..
Oh come on………just work with me people, it’ll be fun.
To the tune of ‘Ten Green Bottles’.
I’ll give you a minute, this is going to require a little work on your part…….. . . Got it? Yes? OK, let’s go
10 Google searches – what’s that on the baby’s nose? 10 Google searches – what’s that on the baby’s nose? Have you really learnt nothing, you NEVER self-diagnose. 10 Google searches – what’s that on the baby’s nose?
9 temperature checks today, my new thermometer is divine. 9 temperature checks today, my new thermometer is divine. God, what do I think’s gonna happen, in this short amount of time? 9 temperature checks today, my new thermometer is divine.
8 times I’ve tried to shower, I just want to be clean. 8 times I’ve tried to shower, I just want to be clean. The sick baby wants to cuddle, putting him down seems kinda mean. 8 times I’ve tried to shower, I just want to be clean.
7 nights of broken sleep, my mind is so unclear. 7 nights of broken sleep, my mind is so unclear. I’m starting to really feel it, seriously, someone bring me beer. 7 nights of broken sleep, my mind is so unclear.
6 loads of dirty washing, yes this job is mine. 6 loads of dirty washing, yes this job is mine. We’ll just turn our pants inside out, it’ll be totally fine. 6 loads of dirty washing, yes this job is mine.
5 days since the baby’s, done any kind of poo, 5 days since the baby’s, done any kind of poo. Constipation can be such a b*tch, I honestly need one too. 5 days since the baby’s, done any kind of poo.
4 trips to the Doctor, in just as many days, 4 trips to the Doctor, in just as many days. I know the receptionist by her first name, think she wishes I’d go away. 4 trips to the Doctor, in just as many days.
3 days off work with baby, I wonder what I’ve missed? 3 days off work with baby, I wonder what I’ve missed? I’ve just returned from a year off, they’ll think I’m taking the piss. 3 days off work with baby, I wonder what I’ve missed?
2 empty bottles of Calpol sitting on the side, 2 empty bottles of Calpol sitting on the side. Have I overdosed the baby, I really can’t decide? 2 empty bottles of Calpol sitting on the side.
1 attention deprived 4-year-old in a moany grump, 1 attention deprived 4-year-old in a moany grump. The baby’s getting all the attention, so she’s got the massive hump.1 attention-deprived 4-year-old in a moany grump.
So there it is….
And now, you will be humming that tune for the rest of the day……