How much can you pack into two days? Everything!
My wife had stuff to do at the weekend, and I realised that myself and the boy didn’t have ‘stuff’ to do. So, with a promising weather forecast, I decided to take the boy on our first father/son camping trip.
Jut like any first adventure, there is a temptation to over-pack. And this ex-scout lives by the Scouting motto ‘be prepared’. I’ll post separately about some good cheap camping gear I used, but it turned out that I filled the car boot with so much stuff that I ended up skimping on clothes to save space.
But clothes don’t matter. Anyone who’s ever been on scout camp knows that there are two certainties.
1.Boys will not voluntarily wash
2. Boys will wear the same clothes for seven days.
So we set off for the isle of Arran for two nights camping at Seal Shore campsite, with one spare pair of pants each, and a very small bar of soap.
We arrived at 8am on Saturday and had the tent pitched right on the edge of the machair by the sunny sandy beach. We put our cool bags in the shade at the front of the tent, and got down to the serious business of marching up and down the length of the beach thigh-deep in the water. Fish were almost surveyed, dead crabs were poked. Shells got gathered, and stones were almost nearly skimmed. Fun was had.
Brunch was apples and ice cream, lunch was sausages on the bucket barbecue, dinner much the same, followed by toasted marshmallows and baked chocolate bananas. When camping, it’s vital to keep the intake of vegetables to the absolute minimum. Vital.
Our neighbours were a chilled-out couple from Largs on a rare two-night break from looking after their autistic teenager. They were very relaxed, staying out late into the night to watch the stars and the lighthouse by campfire.
They had invited us to join them, but the boy was asleep as soon as his head hit the space on the groundsheet where a pillow should be. I heard the neighbours suppressing giggles as my boy let out huge sleepy farts.
The next day was wet and windy. And we quickly went through our spare socks and pants. Still, we went treasure hunting at 8am, had rolls and sausages at 10am, and got a peek at some seals, and even some porpoises out in the sea.
With our wet socks drying on the dashboard, I drove barefoot to Brodick castle, where bogles and vikings were waiting for us. We parked, put our dry socks on, stepped into our wet shoes, and went for a walk in the castle grounds.
The entry price is steep if you’re not a member of the National Trust, but the gatekeeper is a kind little granny, and a very well-behaved child might just find that entry to Brodick castle and grounds is free!
On the way to the Rangers quarters, we passed a quite matter-of-fact viking, in full gear (including sword). The boy just grinned. We exchanged words on weather and camping on the island (the vikings, like ourselves, were under canvas for the weekend). My boy was quite impressed, as it seemed I had managed to tame this fierce-looking fellow.
We played awhile before gaining entry to the castle. Each room is beautiful, and contains a National Trust person who will help you to enthuse children, who might otherwise dash though each room without spotting the treasures to be found.
A quick lunch was followed by a pipe band, and a viking combat display. A pretty decent afternoon.
Back at the tent, we read stories and doodled till bedtime.
In the morning, our coolbags were covered in muddy foxy footprints! Our neighbours had been visited by something wild and furry which had purveyed their last two uncooked sausages. A fox had come by for breakfast.
The boy’s bucket and spade had also disappeared in the night. We found the bucket on the beach. But I guess the fox decided to keep the spade for a future dig. He’s fantastic, afterall!
We packed for home, wrung out our wet socks, and caught the 11am ferry home. We were very lucky to also catch sight of two basking sharks a few hundred yards from the boat. The tip of one is just viewable as a small black triangle in the photo.
So, castles, sandcastles, seashells, seagulls, slugs, sausages, marshmallows, foxes, seals, porpoises, basking sharks, campfires, vikings and more – all in two days.
A weekend can be a holiday. If you’re smart, you can wring out 52 of them every year.