Harry The Camper

The last thing one of my colleagues said to me as I left work before the Easter break was “Are you F***ing mental!?” and as I got into my car I actually thought that I might be.  We had, you see, booked to go camping in Salisbury, with a 1-year-old.  We both went as kids with out parents so it couldn’t be that hard could it?

Well.  In short. No. We bloody loved it and so did Harry!  Back in September Nikki and I spent our savings on our new holiday home – a spanking new Camplair S trailer tent from Camperlands – and this last weekend we finally got to take it out for a spin and see how Harry took to the camping way of life.

After reading lots of other blogs about camping with kids we packed up pretty much everything we own into the car, hitched up and off we went on the short 1 hour trip to our campsite in Salisbury.  We opted to test out camping with Harry somewhere near for the first one just in case it ended in disaster.  Driving with a trailer is a new thing for me and made me feel like an actual grown up, though Nikki did have to keep reminding me that we had it on there as our speed crept up past the 60 mile an hour mark.

On arrival I learned what it is to be a dad, or at least what I imagine it was like for my dad as I was left to complete task 1: Solo tent erecting.  We had agreed in advance that Nikki would entertain Harry whilst I got our mobile home set up.  When I initially negotiated this deal I thought I had cut a master deal, that was until I was stood alone, in the middle of a load of caravans staring blankly at my trailer.  I knew it was in the right place as the camp manager had kindly guided me there on his bicycle before pacing out the “8 good strides” that marked our pitch.  Luckily George from Camperlands had kindly laminated a 12 point set up instruction sheet so I got to work.  In the demo we had with George when we picked the trailer up he put it up in 15 minutes.  Nikki asked me if I should be taking notes, which George laughed and so with added bravado I dismissed her question with a forced laugh myself (mental note for the future – take fucking notes!)

Nikki helpfully sat in the warmth of the car shouting tips and taking pictures.  I’m not 100% convinced she was at the demo to be honest as she remembered very little…

As I was getting stressed with the pressure of getting it right I just had to look and see these two beauties and it was easy again, they did their best to cheer me on…

Until his food came out and he started dining alfresco, then I was simply a blurry noise in the distance distracting him from his next fist of omelette.

With their support and in a PB time of a 2 hours it was finally up.  No rips, no hammer rash and only regular levels of swearing – nothing overly offensive to shock the on looking caravaners who were smugly sat watching from their comfy cushioned bench seats.  Here she is though, such a beauty!

Once the tent was up we set about making it a bit more homely and let Harry loose to explore.  He is mobile now so crawls everywhere with a frightening amount of pace and an alarming lack of self-awareness.  He also “sofa surfs” which 9 times out of 10 involves him pulling himself up on something and then shuffling sideways a few steps before face planting.  Luckily the trailer has a perfectly sized step into the sleeping area to help with his training and the grassy floor helped to cushion his bum from the repeated bashing it was getting as he sat between sessions.  Boredom kicked in about 10 minutes into his exploration and we started to lose him as he became the winge monster

So we deployed his toys and all was good again in Harry land!

Once we were set up it was just like a home from home as really we were glamping rather than camping – the main challenge was always going to be the evenings and how he would cope with the light streaming in and the noise of the local wildlife.  We prepared well in advance by taking away his blackout blinds from his room a few months ago so we knew light wouldn’t be the issue so it was just the noise and the cold.  For the evenings we took, for us, our duvet and an emergency sleeping bag and for Harry he had an extra layer under his pjs, his normal sleeping bag, an actual sleeping bag and a blanket so we thought that would be enough.  It wasn’t.  The plan was that Harry had his double bed on his side which we had buffered with 4 pillows to limit his movement and we had the other side with our duvet and each other to keep warm.  So off to bed we went, Harry at his normal time of 7pm and us at the not-embarrassing-at-all, middle-aged time of 9.45 and all was well.  This is easy we thought.  Why would people even blog about it being difficult?  That was until the temperature dropped in the early hours which seemed to wake him up.  He cried.  My, apparently cold-hearted, suggestion was to leave him be as he would be fine and would settle himself.  This was not the solution.  Instead I was abandoned as Nikki took the duvet into Harry’s sleeping pod and chucked me his buffer pillows.  I was faced with every campers nightmare, going outside of the relative warmth of the tent in the early hours into the cold night to get the sleeping bag from the car.

This did work like a dream though and although my shell sleeping bag had its cold spots I was delighted to wake up naturally the next morning at 6am, Harry’s normal waking time.  It was great though to be reunited in the morning with them (including the duvet) to watch a spot of Peppa Pig.

After the first night and a hearty campers breakfast it was plain sailing and we all took to it like ducks to water with Harry sleeping through the next 2 nights in a similar fashion.

The holiday as a whole was amazing and we are so happy with the trailer tent which is lucky given the fact that we have 3 more holidays booked in it this year.  The main piece of advice I took from all of the other blogs was not to try to have the same camping holiday as a 3 that we used to have as a 2 and it is so true.  We didn’t sit up until 11 playing cards and drinking rum each night like we did in our last tent holiday.  No no, we drank tea, played scrabble and went to bed before some teenagers have got up.

Ive droned on a bit this time so I’ll leave it there and post a final few pictures of the Sharp’s first family holiday as we enjoyed a lovely walk around Old Sarum


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