Looking Forward to Breakfast

I have been out of the blog loop for a few weeks. Where have I been?

Belgium.

There is something about it that sounds comical for some reason and it may not immediately seem like a prime holiday destination but here is my story:

We’re so relieved to get out of the car. To finally be here. On our HOLIDAY. We have been driving for 5 hours. The kids are weaving around in and out of our legs glad to be free. We stand at the reception. P gives his name to the woman behind the desk. She checks her screen, scans, then checks again.

“Are you sure you reserved?”

“Yes” says P “I’ve got the confirmation papers…” He starts ferreting about in his rucksack.

“No it’s ok” says the campsite woman “your name does sound familiar, let me look again”

“Oh” she nods “Indeed”

And then…

“You’re a day early” she says “you’re booked in from tomorrow”

P and I gawk at each other. We’re whispering “didn’t you check the date on the email?” “no, didn’t you” “no I just thought I remembered it”

Luckily the woman finds a free spot so we can pay for the extra night.

We have bought the most gigantic tent and it’s going to take some serious concentration to put up. The whole thing weighs about 50 kilos. We find our pitch and discover that it’s the slopiest in the whole campsite. Our van immediately gets stuck in the muddy grass as we back into it.

P lays out the ground sheet in strict accordance to his primary aim – Not to let the canvas touch the wet grass. He is focussed and methodical. A wants to help. She tries her best, but has the skills of the average 4-year-old when it comes to tent erection. I am feeding the poles through the loops. S is trampling over the neatly arranged tent tangling himself up in the guy ropes.

It’s almost taking shape when it starts spitting with rain and I realise it’s getting past dinner time. The kids haven’t eaten in hours.

“Don’t start getting all the cooking stuff out now” says P “go down to that cafe place, they must have something”

I walk down to the cafe.

“It’s Monday today” says the young woman behind the bar. “We only do take away between 5.30 and 6.30”

I look at the clock on the wall. It is 6.32

The young woman sticks her neck round into the kitchen, then turns around and shakes her head. “Sorry, he’s already turned everything off”

I trudge back up to the van and throw the contents of our packing around until I’ve retrieved pans, bags of pasta, bowls, forks. Then I get the kid’s wellies on and go off to find water.

At about 7.30 we’re eating and inflating the airbeds simultaneously.

The kids are in bed in their sleep compartment and we leave all the bags scattered around the middle of the tent until the morning. The rain starts falling in earnest as we zip up the tent.

“I hope the van’s ok parked out there” says P “What if it starts slipping down the hill in the night?”

“That’s not going to happen” I say with authority, glad that I’m not the one doing the irrational panicking on this occasion.

“Is this the duvet you brought for us?” I ask

“Yes”

“But this is a single”

“That’s the one you pointed at in the cupboard!”

Oh shit, I realise, he’s right. By some trick of fate I had recently tidied up the cupboard, something I haven’t done in at least a year and I must have pointed vaguely in the direction of where the double duvet used to be.

We try to sleep on our squeaky airbed, but the more the rain falls the more I imagine a mudslide on the outside of the tent. I get up. I go outside and check. The van is pointing directly downhill with the back wheels towards the side of our tent, exactly where the children are sleeping in their tent ‘bedroom’. P has already placed a couple of logs behind the wheels, but I forage about in the dark looking for more twigs and any dry material I can find.

“What are you doing?” asks P

“It’s ok” I say. “most of the wheels are still on the grass. I don’t think it can slide”

“Oh god. Now I’m not going to be able to sleep” he moans

“Well you’re the one who started this!”

After an almost sleepless night, we hear the kids stirring at their usual 6am.

I get out of bed and unzip our compartments. God it’s freezing. We’re all going to need jumpers. I’m opening all the bags. I’ve found some socks and fleecy jumpers.

“Quick get these clothes on. Please please be quiet. Everyone’s still sleeping.”

Tents are pitched pretty close together and I don’t want to wake everyone up at this crazy hour.

I have to run to the van to find cereal and bowls.

A looks at me with an excited glint. “I’m allowed to have my chocolate cereal!”

A has been looking forward to this holiday for weeks mainly because she’s been promised cocoa pops for breakfast. She has never had cocoa pops before but the mini variety packs have been in the cupboard at home ready to be packed. Despite my aversion to the idea of filling her with sugary cereal first thing in the morning my nostalgia for this childhood holiday tradition has won out. A has been talking about the cocoa pops almost daily for the last two weeks.

We have forgotten the mini variety packs.

My 4-year old daughter sits in a muddy tent surrounded by strewn luggage at 6 in the morning. Her little eyes crumble in disappointment and she cries.I hug her but I can’t make it better.

“Maybe you haven’t forgotten them” she whimpers. “Maybe they’re just still there in the van”

I wish we were at home in our warm kitchen eating mountains of sugary cereal.

Hours later the rest of the campsite finally stirs to life. We’ve unpacked, the rain has stopped and we’re starting to make the best of it. We’ve moved the van, splattering mud across my only clean pyjamas in the process. We spend the rest of the day exploring the woods and the river. We see a red squirrel. A takes her fishing net down to the river and chats to other children on the huge trampoline. We visit the horses and the donkey. The sun is shining and it feels like summer. We swim in the river. A and S are running about kicking a ball and we are drinking tea from our camping mugs watching them play. In the evening we collect wood from the forest and build a campfire. There are kids everywhere playing a foreign looking game involving throwing wooden blocks. Some of them are even speaking French.

We all sleep really soundly that night and in the morning we drive into town and buy a whole new set of mini cocoa pops. All the more special for being in Belgian packaging.

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2 Comments on “Looking Forward to Breakfast”

  1. allthegear says:

    Sounds just like our camping trips! I’m looking into us going to Europe this year instead of staying in cold, windy Blighty. Hoping to convince Husband but I’m not holding my breath.

    Glad you got to relax and enjoy it in the end


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