Day One (Monday)
Day one and guess what? The sun has decided to take a holiday the same time as us. Not only that but we turned up at the campsite and it started to rain. Only a little drizzle but still – rain is rain when you’re trying to pitch a tent! A really sweet old guy cycled us round to show us where our pitch was and finally it was that moment we had been dreading – time to pitch the tent. Yes the tent that has been under my stairs for the last ten years and hasn’t seen the light of day in all that time!
I got it all out of its bag and the wind really tried its hardest to rip the tent out of our hands as we tried to follow the obscure instructions, that might as well have been written in Sanscrit for all we could understand of it! And where were the pictures? I need instructions with pictures! My dad tried really hard, bless him, to help me with this task, but to us it appeared the colour coded poles were far too long for the slots they were supposed to go into and we were getting in a right old pickle and not getting anywhere fast.
Finally I decided it was time to go and find a ‘man’. Surely there would be a ‘man’ in a tent somewhere that could save the day. Sure enough I found him (just the ‘man’ for the job) in a lovely couple called Laura and Joe, who funnily enough were due to leave that day but loved it so much that they had decided to stay a few extra days. Joe was an ex army man (so a pretty handy ‘man’ to have around) – perfect! Basically Joe took the lead and got our tent up in next to no time – bless him! By the way, Laura’s name wasn’t the only coincidence – their dog’s name was Ellie (my daughter’s name for those of you who don’t know) so I thought that was pretty cool!
Next jobs were to blow up the beds and put the new barbecue together. The first bed blew up just fine and it fit perfectly into one of the little bedroom cubicles in the tent. However disaster struck when I went to blow up the second bed. There was no bung! I couldn’t believe it. And all because I had decided to get it out at home first to make sure there were no punctures. So somewhere between deflating it and putting it in the bag by the front door ready to take away, the bung had mysteriously gone missing! I was slightly concerned to say the least – there was no way on Earth I was going to sleep on the floor without something soft underneath to protect my back and my daughter and her friend, who were sleeping in the other bedroom, were adamant they weren’t prepared to either. Suddenly I had a bright idea and sent them off to the site shop to buy some beach lilos. Second problem solved.
The third problem of the day arose when Dad tried to put the barbecue together. He found that the screws were the wrong size for the holes and the holes themselves had been manufactured the wrong way round! What the? Anyway G.I. Joe to the rescue again. Being an army man must mean ‘good at making do and mending’ because he managed to help my dad adapt what we had and get the barbecue together for me.
After Mum and Dad had gone we sorted the tent out so that we were nice and organised and enjoyed the afternoon. We had been given a pitch next to the playground so little Alice was happy and we hardly saw her for the rest of the day. It was so great to see so many kids of different ages all playing together quite happily and getting on so well.
As the day wore on it started to drizzle again and I started to worry about how I was going to cook if it rained because I needed to cook outside the tent! The wind was also picking up a bit. But as soon as there was a lull in the weather I quickly set up the camping stove (a single ring with gas canister) to boil the kettle for our pot noodles. Problem number four of day one – the kettle wouldn’t boil! I think I must have wasted practically a whole tin of gas trying to boil that damn kettle and at best all I could get out of it was luke warm water for a disgusting cup of coffee. The pot noodles also failed miserably. So I decided I would have to barbecue something.
Problem number five – trying to light a barbecue with a bit of a breeze blowing out every single match you try to light! We got there eventually. It wasn’t cold, it was quite warm still, just a little overcast – so when the sun found an exit in the clouds, it was really quite pleasant. Eventually I managed to barbecue to a delicious burnt crust two packets of sausages and six kebabs. Actually it was really nice and the box of strawberries went down a treat too. As the evening wore on we put everything away and moved the picnic table into the tent where we played some cards before snuggling down in our sleeping bags and sleeping compartments for our first real night in the tent.
Day Two (Tuesday)
Well what can I say? Rain, rain, rain, what sounds like gale force winds and more rain… LOL. We had a bit of a scary moment at one point in the night when the rain seemed to be dripping into the tent in some areas but it was raining pretty damn hard at the time, so…
So we just relaxed in the tent, playing games, reading etc. We managed to get the table and chairs up in the central compartment and eat breakfast and I even managed to get a cup of tea out of the gas burner. Then later on we went into Pevensey Bay to have a meal and play some pool at the Beach Tavern.
The rain stopped long enough for the little one to meet all her new friends at the playground late afternoon and I had a really nice and relaxing hot shower.
It was a very relaxing evening and I really enjoyed my pot noodle before bed.
We only had one little incident in the night – with a moth that refused to follow the light of the torch out of the tent and had to be captured by Shannon, the only one brave enough to get close enough to handle it without freaking out like a petrified little girl. I have to say it was a bloody big moth! And of course the girls had to talk about the scariest horror movies they had seen as an alternative to ghost stories because they couldn’t think of any! LOL I think Kate now realises just how obsessed with movies Shannon is. At 14 years of age she is a walking encyclopedia of movie information and if you ask her about a movie she’ll tell you who is in it, what Oscars they’ve won, who they have married, divorced, their children’s names – everything about their lives – she is so funny! She just looooves her movies. All in all a very pleasant day camping was had by all.
Day 3 (Wednesday)
I awoke this morning to sunshine streaming in through the tent and smiled to myself in my cosy camping compartment, with my little angel asleep cuddling up next to me. Alice was really enjoying her first experience of camping and it didn’t matter to her that we weren’t far from home – to her it was still a lovely holiday. I gently pulled myself away from her and snuck out to the loo. It wasn’t bright sunshine, still overcast, but it was warm enough and not raining, which I was pleased about because it meant I would be able to put the picnic table back outside and we could have a cooked breakfast. I was so looking forward to my eggs and bacon and cup of tea. Anyone would think I was obsessed with food, but to be honest with you it is just because I have had to try to plan the food around the weather!
By the time I returned to the tent Alice was waking up, so I began sorting out for breakfast. It started to drizzle a bit so I decided I was just going to have to try using the burner in the foyer of the tent. The teenagers got up and went to the toilet block while I got things ready for breakfast. Finally – a successful English breakfast of sorts – lots of bacon, 2 eggs, bread and butter and tea – mmm…yummy! Oh my God I am obsessed with food! LOL
We cleared up the breakfast things and managed to set ourselves up on the picnic table in the foyer with puzzle books and the radio (that amazing ancient camping radio my dad had lent us that just never seemed to run out of batteries!) and Alice drifted between playing out with her camping friends and doing her puzzle book when the rain got too much for her.
My dad nearly scared me half to death when he poked his head round the tent to see how we were getting on mid-morning, bless him, he thought it was funny how we were all huddled up in the tent while it was drizzling outside. But actually we were absolutely fine and enjoying the whole experience, rain or not. After Dad left the weather started to pick up. We moved the picnic table and fold up chairs outside, opened up the tent flap and started enjoying the day. Once again Alice spent the day playing with all the kids at the play area and I am just so glad we pitched where we did as I could see her at all times, and the dozens of other kids all enjoying the whole camping experience, meeting new kids coming on to the site all the time. They all seemed to have bikes and scooters and one boy even had a cool go-cart and they all just shared their toys and a great old-time together.
As the day wore on more and more tents went up all around us. It was so lovely to see all the kids enjoying themselves, making friends and all the adults relaxing outside the tents watching the children have fun. Just after midday I decided I would like to go for a little walk but the kids were having so much fun they didn’t want to go, so I left the teens in charge of Alice and had a wander up to take a look at the beach. It was slightly overcast but still warm and the tide was either coming in or going out (I couldn’t make my mind up which it was) so there was a little sand to walk on. I braved it, took my shoes off and walked along the surf.
The sea was warm believe it or not and it was so nice just walking along, the warm sea and sand between my toes and a gentle breeze blowing the salty surf into my face. I walked for a little while, just enjoying the peace – there were only a few lost souls like me wandering along the beach mostly with their dogs running in and out of the water and chasing tennis balls and the odd child! Soon I cut back up the beach past a look out tower and sat on the wall looking between the sea and out over the countryside – it was just so beautiful! A really picture postcard view of the British coast.
When I got back to the camp site the kids were still busy in their own activities. Alice playing bat and ball with two friends and Shannon and Kate playing catch with a tennis ball, making each other explode in girly giggles as they joked and chatted (and I think talked about some rather cute boys they had seen in some of the other tents 😉 ) Ah! Simple pleasures!
Soon I decided it was a good time to get the barbecue going for dinner. The girls helped me and in no time at all we had chops and chicken thighs cooking nicely on the barbecue and chicken flavoured rice and veg in the pan on the burner. The smell was enough on its own to make my tummy rumble and I must say – it was absolutely scrummy! After tidying up and relaxing for a couple of hours I decided to take the girls for the walk I had been on earlier, only this time we walked up the beach for a while then up some country roads, over the railway crossing to the Star Inn.
Alice was delighted to find an adventure playground and one of her campsite friends to play with while we had a welcome ice-cold drink.
Shannon and Kate found a swan with her cute little babies and tried playing poo sticks over a little stream, which didn’t work because the water was too still.
Believe it or not, it was after 6pm and I was starting to get burnt! After an overcast morning and most of the afternoon the sun was now out in full force and when I went into the pub toilet I couldn’t believe it when I caught sight of myself in the mirror – I was going to feel it later, I was glowing, bright red from the early evening sun!
I decided to treat us all to a dessert, Shannon and I had Chocolate Brownies with cream and vanilla ice-cream, Kate had Sticky Toffee pudding and ice -cream and Alice had a kids’ special ice-cream with cookies. I’m talking about food again! Anyway, what a pleasant evening it had turned into.
By 9pm we were back at the campsite and it was still fine and light, so the kids carried on playing and as I sat watching them all enjoying their holiday I think I felt the happiest I have in a long time. For once I had not a care in the world, life was good, nothing to stress about, my children were happy and nothing at that moment mattered except enjoying our holiday and each other’s company. The setting sun turned the fine clouds a bright blush pink and in the distance a haziness painted the hills a grey-blue – I felt like I was sitting in the closing paragraph of a great novel waiting to be written.
Day 4 (Thursday)
After a very late night enjoying the kids’ company and watching the stars on a warm evening I awoke this morning to the most glorious day. Beautiful blue skies, sunshine and a soft cool breeze in all the right places. The sun was hot from the off and in no time at all we were all outside the tent, cooked breakfast on the plates enjoying the summer sunshine.
Before long the girls were planning what they wanted to do for the last day and as it was so gloriously hot we abandoned the idea we had of walking across country to find Pevensey Castle (too hot!) and settled for a day on the beach. However, it was so hot I didn’t think Alice and I would be able to stand all day on the beach, so Alice and I stayed at the campsite for the morning – me reading, Alice playing with her friends. The older girls wandered over to the beach (with strict instructions from me about sun safety!) for a spot of sun bathing and girly time (without my eye on them I think).
Soon Alice and I decided to follow. I went prepared, armed with large umbrella, sun cream and money for ice-creams. My goodness it was hot!! (the hottest day of the year so far). I joined Alice and Shannon in the sea to cool off for a nice swim (even though the good old English coastline isn’t the clearest of waters in the world and let’s face it – it’s freezing) on this occasion however it was such a welcome dip. It cooled us right down and we did have fun with the lilos and giant rubber ring. The weather continued to be really fine all day and after a few hours on the beach we returned to the site.
It was just so relaxing to just sit in the sun, chilling and watching the kids playing. A little later on, just before I started our last barbecue of the holiday the girls went back to the beach for one last swim. I sat dozing under the umbrella and realised after a while that I had dropped off into a deep sleep when I woke myself up with my snoring – whoops! A tad embarrassing – goodness knows what my fellow campers thought! After yet another successful barbecue and with the dishes washed up and cleared away the early evening continued much the same, with me reading and the girls entertaining themselves. I took myself off for a shower to cool off and thankfully it took the edge off the heat as I was really feeling it. The evening wore on and I suddenly noticed the sounds all around me – children playing and laughing, the waves lapping on the beach, the sheep in the fields – I wanted to remember those holiday sounds and the smells of the sea, barbeques and the early evening dew. What a perfect holiday memory to take away with me.
Day five (Friday)
Today we had to be out by noon and guess what? Yep! The one day when I didn’t want it to rain, the day I had to pack up and put the tent away dry – it rains! I got up once more before the girls and started to tidy up. We managed to get some selection cereals in for breakfast and between intermittent showers, packed up our stuff.
My dad arrived and gave us a hand, it had stopped raining finally and luckily the tent had started to dry by the time we took it down, although my dad thought it would be a good idea to take it back out at home and make sure it was properly dry before packing it away again.
The girls and I were actually quite sad to say goodbye to the campsite and I have decided we will be definitely returning to Norman’s Bay.
want to learn more about the club? Click here – http://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/