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Bear Grylls hasn't a patch on our lot

WE'RE off to the West to camp, which all sounds very adventurous., 'all' meaning the words 'West' and 'camp'.

In fact, as we set off merrily, but for one last look back at the pair of dogs whose noses and paws are splayed 
ruefully across our sitting room window, 
we look more like we're transporting a 
consignment of bedding.

"So much for the 'great outdoors'," I observe.

"It's great outdoors all right," replies by wife, "so long as you bring plenty of duvets."

The youngest middle teen has also brought six pillows. "Where do you even get six pillows?" I mutter.

He grins. "Don't ask," he says.

We're to be a family of four, it seems, for a day or two at least, having left the eldest and his younger brother to look after things ­- without pillows by the look of things - while we sleep under canvas (and duvets).

"It'll be fun," says my wife, not for the first time, as though by repeating this enough, it will just happen.

We've each packed some bare essentials. I've brought coffee grounds and filters. The kids have packed an enormous pot and a bumper bag of popcorn kernels, "To have with one of the films I brought," reveals the boy as we hit the motorway.

"You realise we're camping. . . in a tent," I say.

"So what?" he says, stacking his six pillows to make a wall on the back seat of the car between him and his sister, then laboriously placing the enormous pot on top.

"I brought the vegetable oil," pipes in his sister from behind the pillows.

"Well then. . ." I mutter.

"There'll probably be a kitchen area," explains the boy.

"And there's me thinking we were going all 'Bear Grylls'," I tell him.

"I feel sick," says the youngest from the back.

"Hold the popcorn pot," I tell her, adding: "Only 285 kilometres to go."

"Fun," mutters my wife 
sleepily as I reach the speed limit, safely on the motorway and she can nod off.

"We can only hope," I tell the windscreen as something suddenly occurs to me, "that there's a coffee machine there that takes filters."

It's almost four hours later by the time we pull in to the town near the camp site and I can begin prying my cramped fingers off the steering wheel where they have become attached by their fingernails.

The camp site, as it turns out, is quite big and very busy. We find a space and set about pitching our enormous tent.

I empty a baffling series of poles onto the ground. "Think I found the trapeze," I mutter.

We're almost all still talking to one another when the thing is finally up and we begin ferrying all the duvets and pillows in from the car.

A German-looking hiker nearby observes this spectacle from where he's perched on a tiny, three-legged canvas stool, poking a grim little sausage with a foldable fork.

"Nice evening," I nod at him, grinning and looking around at the sky in a vain attempt
to distract attention from the giant wad of coffee filters and sack of popcorn kernels in my arms.

He blinks at me. It begins to rain.

Bushcraft

"Well, must go," I gush, gesturing with my coffee filters, adding inexplicably: "Bushcraft weekend." And I flee into the tent.

We sneak off before dark to see about the cooking facilities. There's a sign over a door that says 'Campers' Kitchen and Recreation Room' but when we go inside there's just a few pool tables and some plastic chairs.

We ask the teenager on duty behind a counter. He frowns and scratches his face.

"Yeah," he says, "I don't know why it says that. There's no kitchen here." He looks under the counter as if to be sure.

"Looks like things may actually have to be a bit more basic tonight than planned," I announce back at the tent, chucking the popcorn kernels and coffee filters into a corner.

"So," I ask, "what would Bear Grylls do in a situation like this?"

The boy produces two giant bags of fruit jellies. "Movie, anyone?" he beams.

We huddle around the tiny electronic notebook, screwing up our eyes to watch the horror film about people running around in the dark being chased by baddies.

The boy props up the open popcorn pot behind it, to help make the sound louder.

"There should be a scouting patch for this," I say, emptying some jellies into a coffee filter. "Anyone care for some sheeps' eyes?"

Luxuriating in our own duvets in the other side of the vast tent later, my wife and I drift off to the sound of the kids' arguing, the occasional muffled thump of a fist and a hoarse, whispered "Owww!"

"It's not so bad," I yawn, "this outdoors life."

"Mmm, fun," says my wife, dreamily.

WE'RE off to the West to camp, which all sounds very adventurous., 'all' meaning the words 'West' and 'camp'.

In fact, as we set off merrily, but for one last look back at the pair of dogs whose noses and paws are splayed ruefully across our sitting room window, we look more like we're transporting a consignment of bedding.

"So much for the 'great outdoors'," I observe.

"It's great outdoors all right," replies by wife, "so long as you bring plenty of duvets."

The youngest middle teen has also brought six pillows. "Where do you even get six pillows?" I mutter.

He grins. "Don't ask," he says.

We're to be a family of four, it seems, for a day or two at least, having left the eldest and his younger brother to look after things ­- without pillows by the look of things - while we sleep under canvas (and duvets).

"It'll be fun," says my wife, not for the first time, as though by repeating this enough, it will just happen.

We've each packed some bare essentials. I've brought coffee grounds and filters. The kids have packed an enormous pot and a bumper bag of popcorn kernels, "To have with one of the films I brought," reveals the boy as we hit the motorway.

"You realise we're camping. . . in a tent," I say.

"So what?" he says, stacking his six pillows to make a wall on the back seat of the car between him and his sister, then laboriously placing the enormous pot on top.

"I brought the vegetable oil," pipes in his sister from behind the pillows.

"Well then. . ." I mutter.

"There'll probably be a kitchen area," explains the boy.

"And there's me thinking we were going all 'Bear Grylls'," I tell him.

"I feel sick," says the youngest from the back.

"Hold the popcorn pot," I tell her, adding: "Only 285 kilometres to go."

"Fun," mutters my wife sleepily as I reach the speed limit, safely on the motorway and she can nod off.

"We can only hope," I tell the windscreen as something suddenly occurs to me, "that there's a coffee machine there that takes filters."

It's almost four hours later by the time we pull in to the town near the camp site and I can begin prying my cramped fingers off the steering wheel where they have become attached by their fingernails.

The camp site, as it turns out, is quite big and very busy. We find a space and set about pitching our enormous tent.

I empty a baffling series of poles onto the ground. "Think I found the trapeze," I mutter.

We're almost all still talking to one another when the thing is finally up and we begin ferrying all the duvets and pillows in from the car.

A German-looking hiker nearby observes this spectacle from where he's perched on a tiny, three-legged canvas stool, poking a grim little sausage with a foldable fork.

"Nice evening," I nod at him, grinning and looking around at the sky in a vain attempt
to distract attention from the giant wad of coffee filters and sack of popcorn kernels in my arms.

He blinks at me. It begins to rain.

Bushcraft

"Well, must go," I gush, gesturing with my coffee filters, adding inexplicably: "Bushcraft weekend." And I flee into the tent.

We sneak off before dark to see about the cooking facilities. There's a sign over a door that says 'Campers' Kitchen and Recreation Room' but when we go inside there's just a few pool tables and some plastic chairs.

We ask the teenager on duty behind a counter. He frowns and scratches his face.

"Yeah," he says, "I don't know why it says that. There's no kitchen here." He looks under the counter as if to be sure.

"Looks like things may actually have to be a bit more basic tonight than planned," I announce back at the tent, chucking the popcorn kernels and coffee filters into a corner.

"So," I ask, "what would Bear Grylls do in a situation like this?"

The boy produces two giant bags of fruit jellies. "Movie, anyone?" he beams.

We huddle around the tiny electronic notebook, screwing up our eyes to watch the horror film about people running around in the dark being chased by baddies.

The boy props up the open popcorn pot behind it, to help make the sound louder.

"There should be a scouting patch for this," I say, emptying some jellies into a coffee filter. "Anyone care for some sheeps' eyes?"

Luxuriating in our own duvets in the other side of the vast tent later, my wife and I drift off to the sound of the kids' arguing, the occasional muffled thump of a fist and a hoarse, whispered "Owww!"

"It's not so bad," I yawn, "this outdoors life."

"Mmm, fun," says my wife, dreamily.


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