About three years ago, when my eldest and middle daughters were five and three respectively, I took them on an overnight camping trip. We packed light: just the two-man tent that I’d used with my wife and a few extras. We found a quiet corner of a remote site only 30 minutes from home, built a fire and enjoyed some quality time under the stars.
After sausages and marshmallows, stories and a sing song it was about 8 o’clock: time to tuck them into their sleeping bags and for me to hit the beers I’d smuggled into the rucksack, maybe a little reading by firelight.
Two hours later I admitted defeat. They weren’t going to sleep without me and my half-opened beer was going flat. I crawled in to a tent that was much smaller than I remember, and found that if I slept as I intended: me with my head at the wide end of the ‘coffin’, the girls around the other way – I’d likely suffocate them both with my feet. And since they wouldn’t lie nicely alongside each other, I ended up on my back, one on each side. On my back because each time I turned left or right, I’d get their hot sausage breath on my face.
I’ll gloss over the next 8 hours, but all you need to know is that we were home and eating Shreddies by 7.30am.
That was three years ago and though we’ve been camping many times since, it’s only been in a tent the size of Wembley Stadium equipped with very separate bedrooms.
But I feel bad. That’s not camping, it’s displaced living without Peppa Pig. And so I was drawn to the concept of Microadventures, conceived by a chap called Alastair Humphreys:
The concept virtually explains itself. But recently he put together Microadventures with Kids, in which he single-handedly demolishes every excuse you can come up with for not getting there and just, y’know, doing it. I’d recommend you follow him on Facebook. But be warned, you will need to dig that tent out of the attic.