‘Our greatest victories are forged from the heat of our greatest disasters
I put that in quotation marks cos it sounds like a quote doesn’t it? Profound and timeless, from the pen of a great philosopher. Actually I wrote after drinking ALL the beers I just bought in the hypermarket, and having an epic camping disaster.
I’ll let you into a secret, there aren’t many things I do well. There are loads of things I love doing, things I’ll have a go at and very few things I’m scared of, but that doesn’t mean I’m very accomplished at any of them. Take camping, I love it, the outdoors, the busy-ness of it, the adventure. But I’m hasty, I forget things, I’m slap dash. Which is why, four days into a two month camping adventure I made a total tit of myself.
I’d just been to Bordeaux, which I loved – this blog was going to be all about it, sorry sweetheart, you’ll be the belle of the next blog I promise. I was in high spirits arriving (without booking) at a campsite in a great location – next to the largest sand dune in Europe! (Yup, didn’t mean much to me either, but as a child who loved Record Breakers, I couldn’t resist). Luckily they had space, the guy gave me a site map and off I went, looking for the perfect pitch.
This campsite is huge. I mean really huge, a bit like Glasonbury but without the music or the mud. The pitches are tiny and crammed between trees and on different levels and I can’t read a map for shit, so I’m driving down pine needle strewn tracks trying to work out what’s available and I miss driving straight into a guy by an inch, an actual inch. Him and his wife, understandably go all kinds of crazy at me in foreign and I apologise. I’m shaken but on I go, keen to find a spot with a sea view. I do, hurrah, right next to a very neat looking young German couple who watch as I get my awning out, and start the lengthy preparation of laying it out just right so I can actually get it up on my own (it’s way too tall for me, have to stand on a foldaway stool but it’s still almost impossible to do).
Getting hot and bothered I suddenly remember I haven’t put the beer I just bought in the fridge. Which in turn makes me realise my cable doesn’t reach the electric hook up. Arrgghhh. To reach it I have to turn my van round to face the couple. There’s a pine tree every seven feet or so, which makes manoeuvring tricky. My van has also started stalling a lot. And so I bunny hop, lurch and generally embarrass myself in a 15 point turn, during which I actually hit their camping table with them sitting at it. Eventually I’m in place. I plug my cable in but the hook up slot doesn’t work. Obviously I need my fridge for the beers (I’ve now drunk all of, warm). So I decide to move pitch. But I’m wedged between this couple, their van, And five trees. I tell myself I can do this and gently move a few inches forward, a few back, a few forward, a few back. Suddenly the couple jump up and start waving and shouting in German. Thinking I’m going to hit a tree I slam on the breaks. Luckily it was just the fact that I was still plugged into the hook up post and I’m now dragging it and everyone else’s cables with me.
Amazingly no one was electrocuted and I eventually moved pitch. Much to the relief of the German couple. I relocated to a lovely spot with a sea view, better than the other one in everyway. Except the sand I was worried was too soft to erect my awning in, was merely covering a dense layer of compacted sediment from the megalithic period. The German couple, and by now everyone else who’d witnessed my catalogue of distasters, watched me a) put my awning up, which even in ideal conditions is an embarrassment, and b) spend half an hour trying to hammer in pegs while taking deep swigs of lager and crying, audibly.
The point of this long, and let’s face it drunken, blog post is this: as the last peg was finally in enough to ensure success, I was hit by a wave of achievement. An understanding that yes, I had just made a tit of myself and nearly caused actual bodily harm, but you know what? I must have learnt something right? I learned to check the length of your cables and your rear view mirror before making a move. I learnt to slow down, take your time. I learnt that a pitch you can hammer pegs into is more important than one with a sea view. But, that if you’re prepared to hammer hard enough you can make most things work for you. I learnt that while cold beer is infiniy nicer than warm beer, warm beer takes the edge off a terrible situation just as well. And I learnt I’ve still got a lot to learn.