After the fiasco of last week’s un-camping trip, our family didn’t have much excitement left for our actual camping trip. Partly, we had had a pretty busy week, but also there wasn’t much to actually prepare. I had done it all the week before! Still, Friday rolled around, I packed the car and the cooler, and we headed north again.
We ran a bit later than we would have liked, but fortunately the drive to Rydal Hall was a bit less than an hour. We quickly got our keys and found our pod. After unloading the car, Carl started heating up our dinner while I sorted out everyone’s sleeping bags and mattresses.
The boys were pretty excitable at this point. They had a great time toddling and crawling around the campsite whyle Carl cooked. We had a very active bedtime. I’m not sure anyone actually listened to the bedtime story. They were having too much fun on the air mattresses. Eventually we got them into bed. N (age 2.5) only got out of his sleeping bag once, which I found impressive since he’s still in a cot at home.
Carl and I spent a bit of time outside. I read, and he went exploring to see where we should go the next day. The weather was a bit cool and cloudy, but otherwise dry. Sitting outdoors in the evenings is definitely my favorite part of camping!
Our Very Rainy Saturday
Saturday morning we woke up not-too-early to rain. No thunder, not terribly cold or windy, just a steady downpour. Typical weather for the Lake District. We had checked the forecast the day before, and knew that the rain would likely continue for the whole day. We had breakfast, put the boys in their puddle suits, and decided to walk through Ambleside to look at the boats on Windermere – about 2.5 miles.
It was so wet.
The funny thing about the weather here is that while it rains often, it doesn’t often rain all day. It starts and stops, goes sunny then cloudy then wet again. I joke that I never leave home without my sunglasses and my raincoat.
Saturday was the exception. It just rained. All. Day. Long. By the time we got to the lake, Carl and I had decided to pay for a boat ride, so we could get out of the rain and eat lunch, and take the bus home. Fortunately, the boys loved both of these things, but it really wasn’t the extended time outdoors in unspoilt nature that Carl and I had been hoping for.
We caught the bus easily after the boat ride, and headed back to put the boys down for naps.
The Weather Wins
The camping pods have a little awning over the front door, but it isn’t big. Naptime found me and Carl with our camping chairs backed up under the awning, covered in blankets and our raincoats, chilly and watching the rain. Like I mentioned, sitting outside while the boys sleep is usually the best part of the weekend. This, though, I found a bit lacking.
To top it off, N wouldn’t sleep. He eventually came back outside to play. After two hours, I took refuge in the pod for a bit, then G woke up. I headed off for the restroom, and when I came back, I was done. Done with the wet and cold. Done trying to enjoy the outdoors despite the weather. Just done.
People say that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. To some extent, I can get behind that sentiment. We managed to stay out so long in the morning because we wore raincoats and waterproof shoes. After hours of rain, though, all I wanted was to stay in the dry and relative warmth of the pod, to not have to deal with the wet anymore.
Carl and I made space in the pod and settled in for a few hours hanging out with the boys. We played, made dinner, read stories, and every single one of us went to bed at 7:30.
A Nearly-Dry Day Out at Whinlatter
We woke up really early on Sunday. We had discovered the night before that our air mattresses had leaks in them the night before, so Carl and I had spent the night sleeping directly on the floor. I managed ok – Carl not so much. Maybe it was a coincidence, but Carl was really unwell. We managed to have breakfast, get dressed in damp shoes and jackets, and pack the car. I drove us up to the visitor’s centre at Whinlatter Forest where I planned to take the boys around their Wild Play trail.
The trail was actually pretty cool. Better yet, it didn’t rain until after we finished. The boys had a lot of fun in the gravel pit and the play huts (or the cafe house, as N called them, where he made me cups of ‘tea’ to drink). We spent about an hour walking the trail and exploring the play areas. We had a very early lunch at the cafe, and then loaded into the car and headed home.
The Bright Side
When we arrived home, we unpacked the bare minimum of stuff we needed from the car and attempted to rest for a bit. At least Carl slept. The boys played what sounded like an excited version of peek-a-boo. Personally, I took some time to think about the weekend.
Honestly, I think after our experience we could justify foregoing camping trips for quite a long time. While the trip probably averages out to a rating of ‘mediocre’, there were some definite lows, and not too many highs. We had a difficult time.
As I was talking to Carl about it after we got home, and my overwhelming feeling was I just want to get out again. I want to get back up to the Lakes, to go for hikes, to build campfires and go swimming. I want to take my kids out on those kinds of adventures. I have come home with ideas to research and plans to make. Our short, wet, kind of disappointing time in the Lakes has increased, not decreased my drive and commitment to getting outdoors.
I think this is precisely why we need to keep doing things like this, even if there is a risk that they end a bit miserably. These little tastes of the outdoors fuel your motivation to get outside. They inspire. They protects our kids from nature deficit disorder. It helps us understand ourselves in relation to a much bigger Creation, that we are much less in control than we imagine. This is truly the bright side.