Friends hinted at my questionable mindset and even I pondered on the validity of doing it on a school night, but it had to be when the weather was fine. Myself and my two daughters were to spend a night camping in our garden. For preparation tips visit thesmarthappyproject.com.
Here’s how it went:
It's a beautiful evening, one of those Irish early summer nights that make you forget how harsh it can be.
This was only going to work if the rule was 'no going into the house' and honestly this rule was more to convince myself than my 7 and 5 year old.
I feel the chill in the air, have I really thought this through? I push visions of flu from my head and plough on with evenings dining on a camping stove.
In search of vegetables to balance the diet we find the first crop of early peas in the polytunnel on a walkabout and then spend a while watching the swallows swoop to the eaves on the last hunt of the day.
Kids shout 'This is Awesome' as they bounce on the trampoline.
Disaster! I didn't pack the vodka and tonic, well that house rule was stupid anyway.
Burnt sugar and birdsong
9.40pm Flambé marshmallows. The smell of burnt sugar in the air.
The birdsong has changed now dusk is upon us, the lonesome feathered friends begin their mating call. As the light fades I can feel us moving into the more magical part of the evening.
Spotted the first star.
Walked to the beach in the half light and I realise how unusual it in for a 5 year old to be out walking in the wild after dark, they’d always be in a car or on a pavement in a town. But here in the countryside with just the stars for entertainment it’s a whole new experience.
“I just cant help it, I just keep seeing more and more stars” she says.
The moon epic
The moon rises, and oh what a moon it is.
“That is EPIC” exclaims my 7 year old and I smile to hear the unfamiliar word, nothing inside the house is ever ‘epic’
“I wonder if the moon and the sun friends?” she pnders.
“They are brother and sister” is their own conclusion.
I prompt little to the conversation now and just let them enjoy the experience. We are sitting in darkness counting the stars as they appear, overshadowed by the moon and its magnificent halo in the sky.
We check out the stargazer app on the iPad. For a moment it's brightly lit display pulls the focus as it's GPS calibrates and displays a glittering array of the constellations backed with opaque Greek mythical figures. I'm not so familiar with the app and they loose interest quickly. Yes it's nice to be able to name a few things but they are more interested in wondering if the sun and moon are friends.
After the usual fight over cushions and blankets we are settled to sleep. I listen for a while as the slowing breaths fall in and out of sync with the waves on the shore nearby. And I lament again that I didn't pitch the tent that bit closer to the house so as to avail of the WiFi as 3G coverage here is pathetic.
Forget the washing up
“This is the best night ever” my youngest had said as we disembarked the trampoline in darkness. In that moment; leaving aside the washing up and the predictable morning rush; as I bounced higher and caught glimpses of the phenomenal moon rise over the rooftop, I was inclined to agree with her.