Camping is Good for The Soul.

IMG_6563I’m not always moaning and complaining about back pain. Sometimes. I have fun. This summer I had fun camping. Lots actually. CAMPING?! yep, that’s right. It’s potentially the worst thing to do if you have a bad back. But, it’s absolutely the best thing to do if you live in the South West, if you have children, and if you have friends with children.

I love camping and I will never give it up. I have lost so much of the fun in my life over the last few years; can’t bodyboard, kayak (well I can, but it means so much more hassle than I can bear), run, dance (ok, I never could do that), just living and being the person I used to be, but I won’t stop doing this.

I don’t feel so disabled when I am camping, and this is why: Friends. And R. And the children. But mostly R and friends. When we go camping, we all muck in, everyone helps each other. Someone has normally forgotten something, another normally has a spare. We work things out, we lend a hand without being asked. We share beer, burgers, music and laughter.

R and I have a Golden Rule. We must, absolutely always have a bottle or two of Good Beer while we pitch our SoulPad Bell tent. My job nowadays is a supervisory role, directing where the doorway needs to go, barking orders about the distance of the pegs from the groundsheet, reminding R for the umpteenth time that the front guy ropes need to be placed first to get it hanging right, getting more beer.

We often get to our pitch first, closely followed by another of our party, one of whom grabs a beer, the other grabs a mallet, job done and we move on to the next tent.IMG_1804

This leaves me to do what I do best. I pretty it up. I have swathes, bunting, fairy lights, hippy throws, lanterns, tea lights, hanging hearts. At the last camp we had chinese style lanterns, a coffee table and rug, and a large plant at the entrance to our ‘front room’. Ok, so that was not a planned piece of decor, a friend, M, got it from the plant sale at the site we stayed in, but what a magnificent touch! That’s going to be a new feature for camping. Plants. It hurts to do the prettifying you know, bending, kneeling, twisting, but so worth it, to look at the finished effects with a beer in hand, then tweaking, and moving. There are no shoes in the tent. There is no bouncing, no swinging on the middle pole like pole dancers; not R, he’s never been good at pole dancing. There is also no food, no fizzy drinks, no pens. And, as you can probably guess when there are 8 children ranging from 3 to 11, that these rules absolutely get obeyed. Never. We used the puncture repair kit on our last trip, when typically, my side deflated.

IMG_7027While the tent is going up, the children are gone. To the nearest park, tree, flat ground for scooting/bike riding, popping back for snacks and drinks; And once the tents are in situ, the adults drink tea, or beer, cook food, play guitar, sing songs. We see the children occasionally for snacks, drinks, the odd minor scrape, but rarely until it’s time to eat.

I take lots of painkillers when I camp, I ramp them up. Because, while its fabulous, it does still hurt, but it’s manageable with opiates, naproxen and diazepam. And lots of preparation. and a good mattress.

I help however I am able, which tends to involve removing rubbish from around the place, sorting out recycling and keeping the place looking tidy. But, there is no pressure to be or do anything particular, I am not messing anyone’s fun if I sit down or go and lay down in the tent. I am not getting in the way, and I am not being ‘looked after’ if I need some help doing something. Except I am, I just appreciate the subtlety.

Trewan Hall Campsite in Cornwall is beautiful, and is disabled friendly. They kept a pitch free for me when we visited, near facilities, shops, on flat ground, and their site is largely wheelchair accessible for those who need this. I celebrated my birthday there this year and we returned for our last camp of the summer. It’s peaceful, with magnificent grounds, walks if you can manage them, a fabulous pool with a diving board, much to Summer Girl’s delight (a Lido with a removable dome for bad weather).  It’s close to Padstow for spectacular fish and chips, and some of the best beaches in Cornwall.

So, as you see. People with back pain can have fun camping, as long as you have the essential ingredients of friends, beer, music and good food. And did I mention a good mattress?

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Thankful Thursday – 4 More Sleeps To Go…

On Monday, we are going to Center Parcs Winter Wonderland for 5 days.

You will easily spot us. Our family will consist of 1 Mother with sparkly christmas hat, badly singing christmas songs and the top of her voice, swirling and twirling and clapping and whooping. You will see a 6-and-a-half-year-old girl with a matching hat, singing with me, dancing and twirling and touching everything she sees. You will see an Exactly-3-Year-Old, crying because mummy is insisting that he wears his very own sparkly christmas hat, and occasionally falling over as he desperately runs after us, trying to join in Mummy and Big Sister’s craziness. You will see a slightly subdued, embarrassed Father hanging slightly back, asking everyone to calm down and occasionally getting cross with the children for not doing as they are told and, likely also telling his wife off for the same thing.

We really need this break. We need to shake the negative out of this year and get ready for a positive 2013. We are going to sit by the open fire and wrap christmas presents and write out christmas cards, while drinking mulled wine as the children sleep. We are going to drink hot chocolate and eat mince pies, sing Christmas songs and watch christmas films. We are going to ride our bikes through the woodland, swim in the Tropical Paradise Pool and do a 12-Days-of-Christmas Trail. We are going to visit Father Christmas in his Woodland Workshop, have a Christmas Carvery, and maybe I might even fit in a massage or facial.

I am thankful that I booked this at the end of January 2012 to cheer me up after feeling so rotten last christmas due to serious back pain. I am thankful that I am well enough to make this holiday. Despite still struggling to shake a general feeling of unwellness (my blood hurts, how is that even possible?!) at the moment my back feels relatively stable, and although I am aware it can ‘go’ any time, I am enjoying how it is now, and just praying it will last for the holiday.

We might even have snow -how magical would that be?