I miss camping.
All though my twenties, every weekend through the summer, old battle sites and new pub gardens, gleeful in our naïveté and never really understanding how fortunate we were… how many people get to walk the ruins of Whitby Abbey as the sky sinks and darkens overhead?
After living in London for so long, going to the New Forest and being back with the firelight and the open sky is a poignant reminder of how it felt to be carefree and twenty-four.
Add a ten-year-old son and a couple of wandering ponies, and a weekend away from every type of flatscreen is a very welcome thing.
I’ve missed the stars you can see when there’s no light pollution, and the sweet smell of the air in the morning. I’ve missed the haphazard cookery and the mess tins of tea. Hell, I’ve even missed the flooded tent and the pissing rain – on a British Bank Holiday weekend, you can’t do this stuff by halves.
The weekend included a hot day at Old Sarum (I’m sure we’ve camped in there too, at some point), where there was much foolishness and freeform Medieval Jenga, plus a visit to Salisbury Cathedral to light a votive candle for mum and to rescue an injured Pipistroll bat – and a bonus and slightly unexpected viewing of the Magna Carta.
There was the marvellous experience of sitting under our brolly drinking wine while the rain poured down all round is, and the lightning flashed under the clouds.
And on the Sunday, there was a lot of wet kit, a child tearing off round the site on his bicycle, despite the rain, and an afternoon of submarines in Gosport…
Sometimes, things in your life fall by the wayside – without you ever quite knowing how it happened. Things changed, you got too busy, and you just… didn’t get round to it.
And sometimes, having just a moment of these things back is a wonder without words.
Growing up is necessary, responsibilities are unavoidable.
But don’t lose track of the stuff that matters.