When I booked our camping trip in North Wales, I envisaged wrapping myself in a tasteful wool blanket whilst toasting marshmallows under the stars and sipping spiked hot chocolate. Our days would be spent kayaking on the campsite lake and climbing Mount Snowdon in beautiful sunshine, admiring the amazing view from the top whilst a gentle breeze tousled our hair.
I didn’t consider the rain. Or rather, when I noticed the forecast, I assumed it would be a light spattering of refreshing raindrops; a misting of moisture that would cool us down.
Perhaps whilst passing the lush green landscape, with its rolling emerald fields and feathery conifers dusting the hilltops, rushing rivers and large glistening lakes, I should have considered it was a sign that our destination received a decent amount of precipitation. But like every eternally hopeful Brit, I shrugged off the forecast, pulled on my waterproof trousers and set about helping my husband to erect our tent.
Now this wasn’t our first time camping. Seven years ago we spent two weeks or so travelling around France and Belgium in the hot dry summer. Erecting a tent there required brute strength to drive the tent pegs into the sunbaked earth, but in Wales the ground had the consistency of chocolate mousse. The tent pegs squelched in unenthusiastically, whilst the children and the dog peered through the steamy car window at the torrential rain.
One thing I’ve learnt about children is that they sense stress with the same precision that a great white shark senses blood in the water; one whiff of parental uptightness can trigger a catastrophic tsunami of poor behaviour. So with this in mind, I pasted a gritted teeth smile on my face and started cooking toast over a camping stove, hoping we weren’t all going to die from carbon monoxide poisoning, whilst the children pumped up their airbed.
It was at this point I realised our tent was leaking. Big droplets of water were dripping through the roof, landing on my nose and forming puddles on the floor. Occasionally they would splash into the cooking pan and sizzle contemptuously at me. I couldn’t imagine ever feeling dry again, everything was damp, but I still didn’t crack. It wasn’t until my husband picked up one of my spare shoes and emptied the rain water out of it, that we decided enough was enough.
We had to drive for twenty minutes to find a phone signal and miraculously we found an AirBnB for two nights in a nearby town. We decided to pack up a few things from our tent and camp when the weather was forecasted to be slightly drier, but on our return to the campsite we found our tent had collapsed in the wind and rain. It was then that the absurdity of the situation hit us and we stood in hysterics, dripping wet, before dragging our belongings out to the car.
Our camping adventure lasted three hours. We basically set up the tent and cooked toast, whilst trying not to catch each other’s eye and admit how terrible the experience was. That night the campsite completely flooded, so we had a lucky escape. Unfortunately our tent didn’t recover from the tragedy, so it looks like glamping only going forward…