It was an average Saturday in the summer of ’16 (haha imagine I really wrote all my posts as though they were old school stories). We woke up at around 8ish, I got up to let Phoebe out into the garden to do her thang and made us some coffee.
We were lying in bed drinking our coffee and chatting about what we felt like doing that day (the weather was quite nice), when Riaan just blurted out “I really feel like going camping.”.
My first reaction was something along the lines of “Really? Like yeah, that would be fun, but are you serious?”.
You see, when I was young my family would go camping at least once a month for the weekend. We had a caravan and a tent, we belonged to a caravanning club where the (adult) members took turns to organise where we would go each month.
I can honestly say those were some of the best and most memorable times of my childhood. I made some amazing friends, and we got the chance to be kids, play outside, climb trees, swim in rivers and lakes, toast marshmallows on open fires. It was like one giant sleepover with all your friends once a month.
As I got older it became a little less “cool”. I guess I was your typical teenager. I only wanted to go if my friends would be there or if I could bring a friend with from school so that it wouldn’t be so “boring”.
It was roughly around this time of my life that I met Riaan. He came camping with us a few times, he seemed to enjoy it, but not nearly as much as I did. The club was like an extension of our family, an extension of about 50 people who have known me since I was 7 and have watched me grow up. Looking back, I guess that could be pretty intimidating, and make the experience a bit awks.
Anyway, I soon stopped going with my parents every month because “Mom, there’s this party that I want to go to so I will rather not go with this weekend.” or “Dad, Riaan’s band is playing a gig this weekend and I really want to go watch, so is it ok if I don’t come with?”. You get where I’m going, standard teenage life stuff.
So, after Riaan dropped the camping bombshell on me, we did a quick run-through of the camping equipment we had:
– A cooler bag
– Ice blocks for the cooler bag
– That’s it.
We grabbed our laptops and started researching tents, we decided on a Vango Banshee because its small and light and would do well if we ever decided to hike a mountain and wild camp for the night. We got ready and rushed off to the shops – in our haste, we neglected to read the road signs and ended up getting our very first parking ticket. We’d only had the car for a month, flippin hell!
So, we ended up buying a Vango Banshee 3 person tent because as the guy in store explained, the 2 person tent was “made for 2 people who really love each other”. LOL. I’m not that kind of person when it’s hot. The 3 person tent was a little roomier so there would be space for Phoebe too. She is such an adventure pup!
Stopping off at Sainsbury’s to buy ourselves a little braai (BBQ) and some ribs, charcoal, wine, etc, you know, camping necessities, before dashing home to pick Phoebe up, grab a change of clothes and some bedding. By midday we were finally on our way, headed South toward the seaside, excited for our first adventure in our little car!
The trip was not without incident – it was Phoebe’s first long car trip and she got sick…all over the dash of the car. An hour or so later she was standing up looking over my shoulder and she got sick again, this time all over my shoulder, arm and lap. I was squealing at Riaan to pull the car over, but we were driving on this narrow country lane with no space to stop and it was all just a little chaotic. We found a spot a little way down the road and after a quick clean up and rinse off with my bottle of water we were on the road again.
We stopped off in Newhaven to stretch our legs by the bay and took a break for some much-needed refreshments in the sunshine at the local pub. Phoebe was very happy to be out of the car for a bit but she was not a fan of the wind.
I don’t know why but day drinking puts me in instant holiday mode, all the adulting seems to melt away when you are sipping your drink in the sunshine.
The campsites we saw in Newhaven didn’t look all that great, so we decided to carry on driving to Eastbourne, it didn’t have much to offer either though. Time was running out and we had to find a place to pitch for the night so I consulted with my trusty friend, Google, and found a decent looking campsite in the South Downs National Park area, not too far away, Alfriston Camping, their facilities were basic but clean and the campgrounds were nice and big and well kept.
We set up camp, settled in quickly and had the braai going as the sun started to dip behind the trees. Attempting to play a quick game of monopoly before the sun disappeared completely. Who was I kidding? Have you ever heard of such a thing as a ‘Quick game of monopoly?’
We ate dinner under the stars and chatted into the night about all the random things, making sure to use our “inside voices” because it was so quiet and we didn’t want to be those asses making noise. After the wine was finished we crawled into our cosy little tent and called it a night, falling asleep listening to the sounds of nature, periodically interrupted by Phoebe’s soft snores.
On Sunday we woke up to a rather cloudy grey day, it was like summer was over, just like that. After a quick shower, we packed up the tent and headed down towards the Seven Sisters Cliffs for a bit of a countryside explore. The clouds broke a little but the wind perservered.
Chatting with the locals, quite literally actually. I can’t seem to pass a sheep or goat with out involuntarily bleeting at it… I wonder what I was in my past life?!
And having a bit of a run on the beach.
When we’d had enough of the cold wind and couldn’t stave off the hunger any longer, we made our way back to the car to go in search of some breakfast and coffee to warm us up. We ended up grabbing some food at a garage cafe because it was quite late and we were really hungry.
With full bellies and a very tired puppy we made our way back to the city, feeling a little refreshed after a mini (unintended) digital detox and some good old seaside air, ready to take on the week.
Sometimes all you need is a night away from the hustle and bustle to recharge those batteries.
Until next time,