The Pickens have just returned from their first camping trip en famille. It started like this:
“You know, we should have just taken the whole summer off, and gone exploring in a camper van.”
We were driving along the M5 at the time, having spent the weekend in Yorkshire, and what feels like most of the summer driving on the M5, M42 or M1. I’m very bored of the A30 at Temple.
My response: to look at him with a bemused/irritated expression, and point at that a) we don’t own a camper van; b) the girls have never been camping c) the small matter of a high maintenance business with full stable of clients and staff to look after.
Our last experience of camping was exactly 10 years ago, when we attempted to walk the South West coast path. I sprained my ankle pretty badly on day two, and ended up in a pricey B&B in Portloe after just one night under canvas.
As the Operations Director at home (and Managing Director at work), I book all the holidays and organise deposits, payment and packing. Mr P organises things like breakdown cover, insurance and the car kits you need to drive in France, complete with breathalyser and high-vis vest.
I am done with holiday organising this year. I’ve booked and organised a trip to Portugal, Brittany at the end of this month and a horribly expensive Centerparcs visit for New Year.
“If you want to go camping, you sort it. I doubt there is any availability in Cornwall now anyway.”
Because I can’t help myself, I turned to the equivalent of lastminute.com but for campsites. There were but a handful of pitches with electric hook-ups in the county.
Mr P did what he normally does in these situations – delegate to another organised female. My mum, Cathie.
She emptied the contents of her shed – including tent, gas stove, retro sleeping bags last seen at Brownie camp circa 1990 – into the boot of his car, while he booked a pitch at a site outside Redruth. She even arranged to meet him there with my stepdad to pitch the tent.
All I had to do was rock up after work at Globe Vale Holiday Holiday Park with a cool-box of barbecue food and a bottle of Bombay Sapphire.
And it was a total success! Liv made a different friend every five minutes, Bryher could run wild and free as her usual feral self. The toilets and showers were immaculate, and apart from a bit of rain and some fairly cult-like Caravan Club rallies, I would totally recommend it.
I could even pop home for an extra hoody and some ice for the Bombay and tonic (I’m not very good at slumming it).
Why pay four figures for a break in Longleat forest when we can camp on our doorstep?
Rachel Picken is MD of communications agency MPAD www.mpad.co.uk. She lives in Truro with husband Mark and daughters Olivia and Bryher.