Sunday, 6 June 2010
The right place at the right time - slow camping
During this half term week I took the opportunity to take my daughter Rhiannon camping for the first time. I havnt been for a few years - though was always out in a field somewhere or at a festival with my eldest children at some time during the summer while they were growing up. Camping is such fun for kids and its a really good way of having a relaxing time and being outside with nature too. Mind you this depends where you camp. Its not as easy nowadays to just pitch anywhere. Some years ago, most farmers didnt mind you camping in thier fields as long as you asked permission. These days you mostly need to go to some designated camping spot although Im pretty sure if you had the time to wander about, it would be possible to find one or two non-campsite spots to pitch.
However, with a young child, you really do need to have access to fresh water and toilets though they can be pretty basic. And I dont book ahead - I believe I will find a site that has a space for us and wherever it is we need to be at that time. (mind you peak time in summer can mean a bit of looking about first). When I used to camp a lot I often had a tent etc continuously in the boot of the car. On friday - pick the kids up from school and head off somewhere. Anywhere. Exploring new spots. Visiting sacred stones. Giving the children something other than weekend TV. And here I am mobile again. Ready to do the same with my youngest child.
So first I intended to drive over to Avebury stone circle and look for a site nearby. Its one of my favourite earth energy spots. I havnt had a car for several years and found it hard to get down there for the last few years with a small child so its been about 7 years or so since I was last there. But I remember with such clarity the feeling I get when my feet touch the earth there. It awakens a kind of memory buried deep within and I can feel a sigh from deep down inside. You know - that 'coming home' kind of feeling!
So we packed up the new 'festival' pop up tent (useless by the way - not at all waterproof and I had to get another while we were out). Sleeping bags, camp stove and a few useful items, and headed off towards the west. I like to take my time and 'amble' down to where im headed so try to keep off the motorways as much as possible. You can find so many interesting towns and villages that way. Yes it takes longer, but Im an advocate of slow living anyway so it suits me. A meander down the A and B roads, stopping occasionally for a loo break or a stretch of legs and cup of tea is part of the journey and pleasure of these trips for me.
But as I got into West Sussex, something told me to leave Avebury for the Summer Solstice and go down towards Littlehampton. Just four miles outside the Seaside town, up in the hills on the south downs I noticed a field with a few tents pitched. 'thats the place' said my inner voice and I turned into a dusty farm track and drove up the hill to the stone farmhouse. Sure enough it was a small campsite - with the luxury of a basic toilet block. Four beautiful spacious fields with a drinking water standpipe in each, and views of green. Green trees, green fields, green hills. Its one of the things I treasure, living in an urban space. The colour green. When Im in an expanse of Green, its like breathing it in....
The place was friendly - though not intrusive, calm and child safe too - plenty of room to run about, trees to climb, other children to befriend and I could be still.
I had come with all kinds of plans. some craft materials to make dreamcatchers with. Artist paints and a sketch pad. I was going to sit in a natural space and meditate while Rhiannon was playing with her new pals. Nothing goes to plan does it? Or maybe it does. I didnt do anything like that. We had a trip or two out - its nice to explore A visit to Arundel and its castle, then a cream tea by the river and a walk in its olde world towncentre. A trip into Littlehampton to walk by the sea and a ride on a merry go round.
But most of the time we spent in the fields. I didnt make anything (except a friend or two). I didnt paint. I didnt sit to meditate. But I did connect. I did feel the earth under me. I slept under canvass and fell asleep to the sound of owls. I was lulled by a dozy cuckoo in the mid afternoon. I was woken by birdsong and the call of peacocks from somewhere in the distance. I breathed in the life and spirit of the air and earth. I cooked with fire and walked by water. It was a good space, and where I needed to be.