Tag Archives: booze

Camping beats Glamping any day of the week…

There are many things that have changed about our lives since our delightful rugrats made their arrival.

Ironically though, for us, holidays aren’t really one of them. Yes there are fewer lie-ins, and the hunt for a pub that caters for 3 fussy eaters instead of just 1 takes a little longer, but essentially we’ve just bolted our kids onto our annual West Country pilgrimages down the A303.

For us, there is nothing better than a country cottage, with an Aga (actually no – Agas are a fucking nightmare to cook on) and a log burner, preferably next door to a pub called ‘The Blacksmith’s Arms’ or the ‘Duke of Cornwall’.blacksmiths

Small Wildlife Park nearby that pretends it’s a Zoo? Tick.

One roomed “museum” with a fake suit of armour on a wall and a gift shop with over 50 different types of stationery items emblazoned with their logo? Tick.

Field with a few sheep, a llama, a wallaby (or is it a small kangaroo?) and a large barn with a “death slide” in it and no health and safety guidelines, calling itself a “theme park”? Tick.

We’re all fucking over it.

We did ALL of those things on holiday before we procreated. Having kids just means we can justify doing it (and we don’t get as many odd looks…)

The one exception to this no-change-to-our-holidays-just-because-we-have-kids rule is camping.Camping

In our own childhoods we camped to varying degrees – Paul approximately a million times with cubs, scouts and ventures; and me on a handful of occasions once I had turned 16. NEVER with our parents.

By the time we were old enough to choose our holiday destination, he’d had his fill of the great outdoors and I wasn’t overly enamoured with it, so once we were living in our own house and sleeping in our own comfy bed, we didn’t really ever see the need.

After all, teenage camping is basically all about having sex and drinking where your parents can’t see you – not so appealing in a leaky tent in a rainstorm when you could have been doing that at home, with a takeaway, under your own 13.5 tog duvet.

Basically, you wouldn’t have caught us dead on a campsite post 1999.

But then…children.

It has a funny effect on you – having kids. Never did I think that I would be happy to be in a field, holding on for grim death to a massive flapping bit of fabric, being whipped in the face with guy ropes, whilst we desperately battled to get tent pegs into ground that was harder than Vinny Jones.

Why so happy? Well, for one…it wasn’t raining! But mostly because of the couple of strange little people who hadn’t stopped running, laughing, falling over and generally having a bloody amazing time since we got there. Our kids.

Now, I’m not saying that they’re completely miserable when we’re NOT camping, but the change in them was instant and incredible.

They were 2 and 5 on our first camping trip, but 6 years on, the same change comes over them every time we arrive in a mole-hilled, poo splattered campsite. It’s tribal, instinctive freedom. Maybe it’s because we’re different too.kids

At home, we’d never let them out of our sight, and yet here, we positively encourage it. There are still rules though. Many, many rules.

  • Stay together – like a mini tribe or hunting party
  • Don’t leave each other alone
  • Did we mention the staying with your brother bit?
  • Also: STAY TOGETHER!

Nevertheless, they have oodles more freedom than they would at home and they bloody love it. So, by the way, do we.

Once the initial “erection” has been achieved, usually with at least 2 threats of divorce and several hundred disagreements about where the fire should be located, everyone’s shoulders start to visually drop.

The constant swiping of phone screens to make a few work calls or check emails and social media, slowly but surely decreases down to the taking of an occasional picture of the amazing job we did on the kitchenette area this year, or the swish new camping chair that someone picked up for a song on eBay.

Drinking alcohol becomes a ‘whenever you feel like it’ kind of a pastime, governed only by your mood and the availability of booze, rather than pesky pub opening times or socially acceptable “yardarm” references. It’s like the airport basically – anything goes.field drinking

However, I’ve never seen anyone obnoxiously drunk on our camping trips. There’s no meat wagon cruising past, rounding up lairy parents when they’ve started a fight by the shower block. There’s more like a constant, pleasant buzz of tipsiness, rounding off the previously sharp edges of your life.

All anyone needs to achieve in this field is basic; shelter, warmth, food and fun.

There are no tellies, very limited (or in our case, no, games consoles) and even if there were, they would be out of battery charge within a few hours, so everyone is forced to find something else to do.

Roasting marshmallows is an obvious camping must-do, but we manage to make it into an all day activity. The kids and a few key “grown-ups” i.e. people old enough to drive, (everybody mentally regresses on camping trips and the line between child and adult blurs considerably) head off to the woodpile, armed with axes and saws and maybe a bandana or 2 for effect.

They return, sometimes more than an hour later, dragging half a tree behind them. For anyone who has seen the recent incarnation of The Jungle Book, it’s like the elephants have arrived to shape the landscape of our campsite, so deep are the furrows from the heavy boughs!lumberjack

They then spend another joyful hour or two, chopping, sawing, stripping off leaves and needles until we have enough wood to stoke the fires of several royal palaces for a week. It is all burnt by the second night in a series of campfires that can be seen from space.

Our favourite site allows fires freely, and whilst you can purchase neatly netted bags of pre chopped logs for a small fee, we always avail ourselves of the free woodpile and child labour, because, you know, what else have we got to do?

Laundry? Paint the spare room? Pay the council tax? Nope.

All we need to do is get a fire going for warmth and food, or as we refer to it – CAMPING CRAP.

At no other time would we consider 3+ hours of manual labour, involving at least 5 people to be a worthwhile endeavour, when the end result is to slightly melt or (more likely) burn a few marshmallows. And yet, the kids (read everyone here) absolutely love it.marshmallow

When asked what their favourite holiday is, they always and without hesitation say it is our annual family and friends camping trip to Weymouth.

And we (mostly) agree.

For me though (and here is where our priorities differ and the line between adult and child becomes somewhat sharper again), the best thing about camping is, without doubt, the cost – or lack thereof.

We spend £80ish for 3 nights and 4 days of summer holiday accommodation (admittedly brought and put up by us, but still…)

A flat by the sea in the same season, with similarly sized rooms or even a static caravan on a popular holiday park costs a minimum of £1000 a week or £400ish equivalent for the 3 nights that we spend away.

Don’t get me wrong – we will stay in a lovely cottage – with a fire and beds and a kitchen and a flushing loo, we will have a lovely time and we will pay the going rate for it.

But GLAMPING? Really? They want to charge you even MORE!

TO STILL STAY IN A TENT…

Unless you have a “perfect camping weather scenario” – a light breeze, gently scudding a few fluffy clouds across a bright blue sky, with a temperature range of 20-22 degrees (dipping only to 15/16 degrees at night) – you will be either staying in a freezing cold or unbearably airless, stuffy tent, regardless of how much money you have paid for it.glamping

OK – someone else might have put that tent up for you before you got there, but is that really worth an extra £150+ a NIGHT? A NIGHT? Maybe it is to you. Maybe your hatred for tent “putting up” is worth the additional splash of cash. After all, it’s only 7 bottles of Bombay Sapphire a night more…but really – what ARE you doing with the time saved? Instagramming artful pictures of the bell tent that someone wanged a camp bed in and charged you through the nose for? #sawyoucoming

The whole point of camping is making the kids do annoying “getting back to basics” chores so they will be so full of hatred for you, that they will want to fuck off to the kids version of the pub (The Haybales) and leave you all in peace to drink and eat a ridiculous amount of crisps.

“Come here and hold this guy rope.”

“Get in that tent and blow your airbed up.”

“Oi! Those are NOT snacks for the children – HANDS OFF MY SWEET AND SALTY POPCORN!”

These are all things that you need to be shouting at your children, so that they get the full camping experience. They are not going to get that with a quinoa salad already waiting for them in the fridge in your tent.

Now, I have to admit here that I would quite like to go Glamping. I know, I know. But every time I look wistfully at the brochures or the quaint little caravans that remind me of Mr Toad from Wind in the Willows, I then compare the price list to that of a really, really nice swanky hotel. That has a pool. And no horseflies. And curtains.

I have friends who actively hate camping and all that it brings with it – no fridge, no hairdryers, shower blocks, no proper loos. None of the above bother me – well, they do, but not when I consider the trade-off.

Ridiculously happy children; throwing balls, grazing knees, getting headbutted by goats, discovering their independence, making new friends, getting covered in dirt (and not giving two hoots!) and learning how to entertain themselves without the help of the Disney channel. That’s worth all the tea in China (Or all the Orange Pekoe in Sri Lanka if you are a Glamper…)glamp

So, if you can afford to Glamp, then Glamp – I’ll come if you’re paying. If not, then camp. Either way, your kids will be the better for it – yes even if it pisses it down with rain all the time and you’re all cold and tired and a bit bored. Because they never remember the rain. Just the fun and the times the sun peeked out, and the views and the fresh air and supermarket brand Capri Suns and the smell of burnt sugar.

And that you were altogether.

That is priceless – no matter how much you’ve paid for it.

Weigh too much information…

I’ve always been the fat girl.

fat molly
Good grief..

Sometimes I really have been the fat girl.  Sometimes I really haven’t been the fat girl. But the fact remains that if you feel like the fat girl, how fat you actually are doesn’t matter.

I don’t know whether I’ll ever not be the fat girl, but I doubt it. And that’s OK.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for sympathy – it is nobody else’s fault but mine.  Less shite in the gob and more getting off the sofa = not having to shop in Evans.  I get it.  I am a reasonably intelligent woman.

The trouble is, my intelligence usually fucks off to bed at about 9pm on a Friday night, leaving me with a bottle of wine and a “sharing” size bag of crisps.  It always returns on a Sunday evening, usually with a disapproving look, mumbling something about how I’ve ruined it all again.

Having tipped the scales at a knat’s fart off 20 stone in my late teens (and then again in my late pregnancies!), there is no doubt that there have been occasions where I really, really was the fat girl.  I was morbidly obese, on the pill, smoked 20-a-day (that was the level I admitted to my GP anyway) and did no exercise. But boy, did I have fun…

Epiphanies have come and gone and a couple of stone have gone with them.  Periods of contentment and pregnancies where I took every opportunity to “feed the baby” have added pounds back on.

Over the years, there has been a ridiculous amount of weight lost and gained and lost again , but amongst it all, I have never really felt any different than I did back then.

Yes, of course I feel better that I can walk up the stairs without breaking into a sweat.  Of course I am happy to be able to shop for clothes in a much wider variety of places.

Supergran…

For this Supergran costume I had to buy a tartan skirt in a size 18 from a charity shop and sew in a massive panel to make it fit. Yes I am glad that I am so much fitter than I ever was as a teenager.  And yet. I’m still fat.

A stone and a half fatter than my all time low (well, let’s say heavier rather than fatter, because it’s all mostly muscle you know after all my amazing exercise of late…) but a very praise worthy 6 stone less than my all time high. It’s good to remember that, but it’s dangerous too.  So many times I have said that I would NEVER go above a certain mark on the scales again…and yet here I am.  3lb over that mark.

I wish I could be one of those people who are truly happy with their bodies; wearing their stretch marks with pride, as badges of motherhood honour; accepting their fanny aprons as a minor inconvenience for the miracles of life that they have brought into the world, but the truth of the matter is that my kids have done far more mental damage to me than they ever have physical.

My stretch marks are not the stripes of a Tigress.  They are the reminders of what a bloody idiot I was (am), eating pizza for tea every night whilst pouring copious amounts of sugar into my coffee. My thigh biscuits (thank you Tina Fey for this fantastic term) are my own doing as I should just have stuck the many packets of Hobnobs consumed in one sitting, straight down my jeans. Pretty much the only physical thing I can blame on my kids are the 2 c-section scars, which are better hidden by all of my flab than anything in a Where’s Wally book.

fat molly 1
I could eat that cake in one sitting if I really put my mind to it…

I renew my vigour on a regular basis, trying to get myself back down into the “Just Overweight” category and the most recent weapons in my arsenal are a combination of a Davina DVD, a Fitbit and counting calories – all of which work marvellously from 7am Monday morning to approximately 4pm on a Friday.

The trouble with making a real effort for 80% of the time is that I feel so immensely hard done by when that 20% balls it all up.  And that is the danger zone for me.  Because it really isn’t fair that sticking to less than 1200 calories a day all week; stepping up my exercise to red-faced-breathless-ugly-panting-face levels at least 3 times a week and then having a takeaway and some wine on the weekend means I still don’t lose any weight.

Life isn’t fair though, is it.  Life will not turn around to me when I’ve chucked all of my toys out of the pram and say, “Poor Molly.  Sorry that you’ve been working so hard on being really fucking hungry all week – let me give you a free pass for the weekend…”

It’s just not how my life works.  I feel hard done by, ruin it further by ramming a load of crap in my mouth because I feel so sorry for myself and so the cycle begins again. At other times, I accept fully that to get anywhere, I need to be on it 100% of the time, and for a while at least, that does the job.

I would love to be able to blame my fat just on being sociable, but in reality I use food (and drink…) for everything – celebration, commiseration, reward, to show love, to feel loved, rebellion and because, you know, I REALLY LOVE EATING AND DRINKING.

To be fair though, it is a major factor in why I plateau on my weight loss journey *dry heaves at Americanism*. My FOMO (see Mum Tums and Cum post for reference here…) means that a potential “one in the bank” evening spent at home with a jacket potato and salad turns into a “dipping into the calorie overdraft” evening in the pub.

And here is the real reason why I am not unhappy enough with being the fat girl to really (and I mean REALLY) do something about it, once and for all. I am at the age now to know that I will probably never feel like the thin girl, the medium girl or even the slightly chubby girl. After every round of weight loss, there is the sense of achievement I get from knowing I’ve knuckled down and put the hard work in.  I feel great about getting fitter in general – it’s a fab example to the kids and they do tonnes more exercise than I ever did at their age, which makes me proud of them, and me.

But am I going to not go out for that drink or that coffee and cake with people I love in order to achieve that? Am I going to join the gym and go every night for an hour without fail? Am I going to sit in a restaurant eating a salad or not having a starter and a pudding because I am watching what I eat?  The honest answer to that is, probably sometimes – because I really cannot ever go back to the size I was.  Mostly though, I am going to have to accept the plateaus, the small gains and the feeling of never really being able to let go of the reins, because there are so many more important things in life to worry about.

If I was still 20 stone and smoking, then there probably wouldn’t be many more important things to sort out and I am grateful to the fat girl that I really, really was for being that constant reminder of how you can’t overindulge in every area without paying a price somewhere along the line.

The thing that I have come to realise though is that even if I do see a time where the number on the scales doesn’t fall into one of those dreaded orange or red bands on the horrific BMI graph, I will still feel like the fat girl.  I will still sigh at my flabby tummy and still be irritated that my sister got the boobs and the waist and the fucking eyelashes. (Nothing to do with weight I know, but it IS super annoying…)

Being fat is not great for your health, or your vanity, but neither is being a miserable, hungry, party pooper.  Someone will always be bigger and happier with themselves than you, but that girl who you think has the perfect figure feels every inch as fat as you do.  The key
to all of it, is to try and be the best version of yourself you can be, fat or thin and then love that person.

So if you feel like the fat girl – you might actually be (like me at age 20 and 20 stone) 20151122_104007, or you really might not be (like me at age 16 and size 12-14) – embrace it, let it worry you just enough to get a bit of healthy in your life, but don’t let it rule you.

Chances are, you see yourself completely
differently than those wonderful people in your life that you need to celebrate with – and they would rather have you as a happy fat girl than a miserable anything else.

When I got home today, I found a bottle of cider on mybottle doorstep with a big bow on it.  An anonymous gift giver, who obviously saw it and thought of me – l

ittle did they know I was in the middle of writing this post.

“Thundering Molly” is well rounded and medium, and she
couldn’t be happier…