Five Go Camping

Is it not something short of astonishing that one can get to thirty eight without truly realising that the aching void deep in one's cesarean scarred belly could be filled by the joy that is camping?? Housekeepers, it was nothing short of wonderful. To all of those who doubted me: who laughed when I announced my yearning to go camping and sniggered when they wondered out loud how I would survive three nights in a tent with nothing but barbecued sausage and water pumped from the camp tap to live on, I say only this: It is now clear that I am made of sterner stuff than you ever gave me credit for!

Hell yeah. I am in fact made of the kind of stuff that can quite happily lie on my back on a deflating blow up mattress and watch moths dance in the light beamed from my head-torch. I relish tripping over the stringy bits that hold tents up as I muddle my way through the dark to the loo's in wellies and a nightie. I like brushing my teeth standing in a field and I can't remember ever feeling happier, than lying fourth in row of five, listening to the birds say good morning at some ungodly hour, in the giant tent myself, Richard, Finley, Helen and Gabriel all shared with more midgies than I have ever seen in my life...

Oh but it was fun!  While I rather suspect I was, as The Independant suggests, rather spoiled by the luxury of Cornbury, and may not have held it together quite so well at Glastonbury, nevertheless I DID IT. I, Alison May, CAMPED and I can barely wait to camp again...

There was bunting and citronella, butterflies and morning latte. The sun was scorching, shoulders tanned, and copious amounts of  Pimms drunk. I wandered around in a Maxi-Dress with a band of flowers in my hair, looking ridiculous and feeling beautiful and sat swooning in front of the funny, polite and oh so talented Newton Faulkner, and the not so funny, and very definitely, not polite David Gray, who's Middle England brand of fame seems to have gone straight to his head, and had him swearing in front of  a crowd stuffed full of kids. Which was nice.

We drank English Garden Cocktails at the Waitrose Bar (Gin, apple juice, elderflower juice, fresh lime and cucumber for those of you interested: I'm all about elderflower juice these days aren't I??), went for a spin on the Waltzers, blew bubbles with SamSam Bubble Man, got told off by pretend security guards on stilts, let our young hearts  run free with Candi Staton on Saturday afternoon, saw Dom Jolley eat a picnic with his family, failed to bump into either David Cameron or Jeremy Clarkson to Helen's disappointment (who would probably sell her soul or her son for the chance to converse with with either), howled every time the Dancing Nana's whizzed by on their shopping trolleys, had crazy romantic hugs standing in the crowd watching The Feeling, shivering in an emergency poncho and bare feet, and saw Finley fall head over his baby heels in love with a seven year old little girl called Danny for whom he performed a startling set of handstands and wobbly forward rolls, and spend the entire next day searching for in the crowds, only to almost cry when he saw her again. (And I still don't know what to feel about it: on the one hand my heart was bursting with pride, watching him charm her little pink flip flops off and on the other I wanted to run over, snatch him up in a ribbon trimmed blanket and keep him clutched to my sun-burnt breast for the rest of my days...)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAm4ogFeBPI&w=580&h=360]

The magical moments: arriving at the site and feeling tingly with excitement from head to foot. Eating scones with cream and jam for breakfast from a terribly English cake stand with Richard, while the rest of our little party slept. Standing in the rain watching the sun come out and a rainbow decorate the sky just as The Feeling came on. Sitting outside the tent at one o'clock in the morning with Rich and Helen, drinking wine out of a box and stifling shrieks of mirth in an effort not to always be the bain of the rest of the campsite (rowdy Scousers!). Agreeing that yes, it was time to drop out of mainstream society and join a community of festival going campers...

The not-so-magical-moments: Warm cheese. Warm water. Warm everything. Finding myself sitting on a portaloo in the dark with the rather unreasonable urge to give the business card sized mirror  the door a polish with a baby wipe. Satisfying said urge and feeling ridiculous. The not so magical moments... actually I'm grasping at straws here: there weren't any. It was a joy from start to finish, the boys were a dream, Rich a whizz with a camping mallet, Helen, hilarious as ever and me...

Me. I thought I knew myself. I thought I knew my own rather limiting boundaries and it turns out I am capable of being a whole lot more than I ever thought possible. This weekend was a lesson in tolerance and joy. It was a lesson in being more than who you are and double-daring yourself to spin cartwheels around your comfort zone. And ok, so pitching a tent in the rolling fields of an Oxfordshire manor house could hardly be considered the actions of a daredevil, but for me, little old, comfort loving, home birdy me, it is huge, and I do believe we owe it to ourselves to shout even our daftest achievements from the rooftops...

Isn't it incredible that there is always more of yourself to meet?  I do hope the best is yet to come.