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Wednesday, 8 July 2009


I'd like to explain away my absence by telling you that I took myself off to a far off field, erected a flower sprinkled tent and spent a fortnight at one with nature. But that would be a lie and no-one likes a liar. Instead these two weeks passed in a haze of sickness and sun. And thunder and pale pink roses and Percy Pigs. And Mariana by Monica Dickens and reading for the Playground Mommies Bookclub and Sportsday and a really rather fabulous Summer Fete complete with tombola and seaside donkeys. (Donkeys make my day). There has been a devastatingly awful Red Leicester quiche presented to someone I wanted to impress, the replaying of this song maybe a hundred times a day, not enough laundry and a whole lot of mourning for my beloved twinkly green car. There has been flesh coloured gladiator sandals and toes painted the colour of Summer pudding. A new found craze for Gossip Girl I am embarrased to admit to, plans for Summer staycations, chocolate limes by the dozen, sheets sprayed with lavender mint water, and nights stuffed full of chaotic, exhausting, and once ever so slightly raunchy, dreams. But there has been no camping. Do you hear me? THERE HAS BEEN NO CAMPING. Camping, or rather the lack of it, is causing lapses in my dignity. I haven't been you see. Not ever. Not once in thirty seven years. We weren't a camping family. My Mum thought she was slumming it when we owned an eight berth caravan complete with shower room and microwave. And then I grew up and the need to camp was lost in a haze of babies and businesses and dubious 18 to 30 style soirees around the Blackpoolian equivalents of the continent, and the very idea struck Mark as downright ludicrous so it was set aside in favour of pretty bed and breakfasts in the Lakes, and all was well and good but it wasn't kisses under the stars, and makeshift hummous in a tin can and falling asleep to the music of the crickets now was it? No it blooming well wasn't. (Is blooming a swear word?) And so I have taken to begging people I know and random passing strangers to take me camping. I even wrote it in my now defunct internet dating profile. (Wanted: man who will teach me how to ride a bike and take me camping) and during the last Mummy Bookclub I made a DOWNRIGHT show of myself by almost getting down on my hands and knees and setting aside the business of the evening (discussing Water For Elephants), begged the camping Mummies of the district to strap Finn and I to their roof racks and take us with them. And they laughed and they made all the right noises and then they WENT WITHOUT US! Hmmmm. See the thing is this: In my head camping...actually let's call it glamping, is a gloriously pretty, Brocante like melee of fairylights and floral flasks. It is all about spotty wellies and sausages and camp fires and vintage quilts and moroccan lanterns and marshmallows and maybe even a sheepskin rug or two. There is no room in this decadent dream for squatting in forest clearings, baked beans and kids who won't go to sleep because there is a family of earwigs in their sleeping bag. And there's the rub. And probably the reason why people laugh out loud and Diane nearly gives herself a coronary giggling everytime I mention it. People seem to be of the notion that Alison+Camping=Cause For Much Hilarity. Certainly the men of the internet didn't take me seriously and offerered mini breaks in Paris instead (Paris?? Pah!) and current 6 foot 4 beau is studiously ignoring the very idea of it. It is a scandal. There is more to me than false nails and fairy lights! I could camp. I could rub sticks together and cause a fire. I could happily sit inside an ugly tent and listen to the rain battering the canvas with only a Dorothy Parker anthology to keep me company. I could bathe in a stream in a frilly Victorian nightie and drink peppermint tea from a tin mug. I could assemble a glorious cheesecake from a packet of digestives and a tub of Philadelphia and waltz my way around a muddy field. I could, I could, I could. And I will. Mark my words, the universe is conspiring to take me camping. A long lost friend re-discovered via the medium that is Facebook (all hail thee Facebook!), she with whom I shared my first experience of a campsite (though we were caravanning) as a seven year old now runs a rather fabulous blog in honour of all things camp (no, thats not right is it?) with her husband. And: and, I tell you, another friend has set up a real camping site in her rather large back garden and me and the tent I haven't got could go camp there anytime we wanted. Heck we could walk there in ten minutes. And nip inside her house to use the loo. Who said Alison May wouldn't make a happy camper?


Florence and Mary said...

You're not alone, I too love Gossip Girl! I watched the whole series in 1 day online!!!

I seem to have a thing about camping myself at the moment!

Victoria xx

Anonymous said...

You need to buy yourself one of those wee, retro caravans. You know the sort from the 50s & 60s. Resemble an egg on wheels. No worries if you don't have a car, just camp in your back garden! I plan to have one of those beauties one day as the ultimate personal space. I won't care if the trailer hitch ever gets used. There's some clubs in the U.S. for women who do annual holidays in groups, all with these retro caravans, or trailers as we call them. There's some bloggage out there on it than makes your mouth water!

Morag said...

Two words--MaryJane Butters
Bed and Breakfast in a luxurious wall tent
Backpacking Cooking
Retro Teardrop Trailer
Outpost Book-Unleash Your Inner Wild
Directions and Pattern for sewing your own wall tent.

Anonymous said...

Well it's a bit of a joke in our house how much I do *not* want to go camping. Give me soft pillows, hot showers and room service any day. However, others swear by it so I hope you have great fun when it happens. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh wow! Thanks for the linkage!


Anonymous said...

Hmmmm. I too have all these romatic notions of 'glamping' in my glorious bespoke made Cath Kidston-esque tee-pee (imaginary) under the stars.... but having done ACTUAL camping as a kid with my family (5 of us, yep 5 in a genuine vintage VW camper van which I would LOVE my Dad to still have now, but at the time I didn't want to be seen dead in, especially when being picked up from the school disco in it. Everyone else had NORMAL cars for goodness sake...) I can verify that it involves a lot of listening to rain pelting on the roof while being packed in like sardines, being instructed on how to have silent.. eherm, do excuse me, 'No. 2's' in communal campsite toilets (you put down lots of toilet paper first - my Mum says so!), queueing for a cold shower in what resembles a concrete ex-prison hut with all the other great unwashed, tinned food - EVERY DAY, evaporated/uht milk, being shown how to breathe your own warm air into your sleeping bag (thanks Dad) to prevent frost bite at night, gumbee's in your hair (anyone else know what they are? Did they only exist in the late 1980's????), buckets for midnight toilet emergency's so as not to have to brave the dark, etc etc!!!! Need I go on??!!

Of course, there's still nothing else like it and I'm dying to do it at least once with my daughter!!!

ithinkican said...

Just another link that might be helpful in locating some happy campers that take along guests.
Have a good glad your back,
SO GLAD to hear of the tall man in your life, Check out rental places for camp gear before you buy and I hope you really do get to go is the best thing in the world even without the frills.
The fairy lights sounds like a fun idea...I think I'll string some up in the back yard for tonight...
find a good gluten free sweet cracker and make s'mores with Finn in the back yard.
off to mix up some fresh lemonade.

Anonymous said...

Sweetie I went camping once....I slept under 3 stars .......and I will never stay at Jupiters Casino on the Gold Coast ever again!

Welcome back! I missed you.

xxx Fleur

Carlie said...

Camping, like housekeeping is a lovely, romantic and glorious as you make it. I personally think you deserve to go and that it is a fabulously healthy, dreamy and yes, lovely thing to do. There are misty mornings when you can hardly see beyond the light of your crackly morning fire and late night sippings of cocoa from big tin mugs and so many lovely traditional bits...the chummy singing of folk songs to a lone guitar, bacon and fresh-picked blueberry pancakes in a cast iron skillet after rolling out of the tent in the morning. Even the scrubbing of pots and pans in an open-dishpan is romantic, I think. Nothing like watching a heron rise off the lake when you look up from a suds covered pot. Lovely. Go with somebody kind who isn't intimidated by the "ickier" bits of camping, someone who loves it so much that they are willing to cajole you through things you never dreamed you'd endure and then make it somehow sound fond. Wish I could take you. Too bad you live in England and I live in Connecticut. *sigh*


Sasha said...

Oh Carlie, I would LOVE to go camping in Connecticut!!!!! Sorry to stray slightly off subject, but I am the biggest 'Gilmore Girls' fan IN THE WORLD!!! (I watched every episode in box set end to end, and went through a period of mourning when I got to the last episode - really) and have my own romantic notions of living in a real life Star's Hollow. Is it really like that there??? Pray, do tell....

Gena said...

Oh I can think of nothing more horrendous than camping!tents frustrate the hell out of me and what about all those creepy crawlies? I once spent a week in a caravan at the lake district,it rained 24/7 couldnt get a signal on my mobile phone or channel 4 on the minute tv,there was no escape!I was counting the days till we left!but my dear,I have no doubt that you would make the whole experience into something wonderful! if only I had known about puttery treats whilst in that caravan!could have been a whole new ball game!

Anonymous said...

Sasha - hate to burst your bubble, but . . .Gilmore Girls was filmed on a backlot in Burbank, California. And in fact - the Dragonfly Inn was the old Walton's House (I knew I recognized that house and when I saw the barn, I knew). But I also loved that show! I sure didn't want to see it end the way that it did . .

Sasha said...

Could you hear the sound of my loud wracking sobs from there Carlie/Anonymous?????!!!!! A film lot???? In - *sniff*- California??? Next you'll be telling me that Laurelai and Rory aren't really mother and daughter! Oh lordy lord. I daren't tell my daughter - she's still got high hopes of going to Star's Hollow some day. Oh well, I am trying my best to recreate a little bit of the magic - I have solar fairy lights everywhere outside the front and back of my house and garden! (there you go - for camping - SOLAR TWINKLE LIGHTS!!! They are FAB. Cox and Cox have some good ones, as do Sainsbury's which can either twinkle OR stay on!)

That's fascinating too about the Walton House - good to see even TV production companies recycle! Oh I do so wish they would make a season 8...... *sob*

Back to camping.....I agree with others here - a trial camp out either in yours or someone else's garden is a good way of trying it out for a bit of fun in the summer hols (I've even been known to let my daughter 'camp out' in her mini play tent in my bedroom when Daddy was away in the school hols!!) whilst still having a few creature comforts to hand!

Suzie said...

I think that Alison + Camping = something rather marvellous myself!
I like your descriptions of it at any rate. Do let us know how it all goes?

Kristina said...

You should check out Gypsyville. I think you will be so inspired and delighted by their products and their style. I know I love it!

Rebecca said...

Two things: One: Gossip Girl is briiliant.I want to dress like Blair and have an unmentionbale crush on Chuck. Two: 6ft 4, huh? You go girl!
But on the subject of camping... I find it is like a day on the beach. In your head it's simple, relaxed fun. With you looking fabulous in a 50's inspired cossie, looking terribly demure as you read Blake under a large sun hat or dip your toes in a rock pool. In reality it is C and sunglasses toutrs annoying you every 5 seconds, sand is your sandwich (and other crevices!) and a annoying kid on the plot next to you who think's it's funny to throw his bucket at uyour head when his Mum isn't looking. And when you finally get down to the shore - having had to walk past many a bronzed, wonderfully bosomed, beauty the water is cold and crowded and you get nothing but splashed by frolicking teenagers making you look less than demure.
I say set up an bedroom campsite - just you and the beau - stick some of those glow in the dark stars on the ceiling and glamp away!

Counting Your Blessings said...

I'll take a cottage over a tent any day. Though there is something refreshingly beautiful about waking up on beach and falling asleep to ocean sounds. Then there's the mosquitos, sand in the food and wet sleeping bags... =)

Have a beauitful weekend, Alison. Blessings.. Polly

Seri Minang said...

Great show :)

Human resources management said...

I love to camp. In fact, it's one of my favorite things to do especially during summer.

Have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...


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