Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Rice and Cat in the Bag

Excitement is mounting for the Great Camping Trip which begins tomorrow!

Okay, a frisson of anticipation is mounting for the Great Camping Trip - excitement would entail the promise of slighty better weather than we've been experiencing of late, but hey, we've got wellies on the list, and the forecast looks hopeful.

Into town today, then, to amass 'supplies'. Last night, we made a list of what we thought we'd need to take with us. But once you get mooching around the shops, you start thinking, 'Oooh, shall we need one of those?' and 'Perhaps I'd better get one of these, just to be on the safe side.'
Top of the list were long matches and kindling wood. The camping pitch has a fire pit, and Andy is very keen to be lighting fires and, in his words, 'toasting crumpets.' I am making sure the blow-torch is staying at home.

And I've gone off crumpets, so we're having muffins instead. Not the giant fairy-cake bun-style muffin, but the flat, looks-like-a-roll-that's-been-sat-on type English muffin.

And I also got a plastic chopping board, a slotted spoon (I'm thinking - that'll double as a colander), a saucepan, a washing up bowl and a set of very cheap cooking knives. Actually, all these items were very cheap. No point spending a fortune on items that will likely be used only a few times a year. I'm particularly pleased with the washing up bowl because it's exactly the same shade of aubergine as the new sofas, so if I should ever need to do any washing up in the living room, I'll be perfectly co-ordinated!

Andy has been fretting about bedding. We've got an airbed, and I was planning to top it with a fitted sheet, a duvet and a couple of blankets. Andy is worried that July, although proving damp, is also going to develop sub-Arctic temperatures and that we'll get cold.

'Not a chance with my hot flushes,' says I. But because I know he is worried, I also purchased two sleeping bags.

At home I hummed and ahhhed about taking one from its packing to test it out for size and comfortability. My reticence was based memories of the many sleeping bag wrestling matches I encountered with Chris's sleeping bag on his return from camping trips with the Scouts. Oh, sleeping bags look all very neat and compact in their little carry bags when you first buy them, but once you release them - 'POOF! - they increase in size tenfold and you never get them back to their original packed size. Sleeping bags, I've learned, are deceitful items.

Well, I decided to let one free and 'POOF' it went. I got inside. It was very warm, but that's possibly because it had been toasting in my little blue car for a couple of hours in a rare burst of July sunshine. It was also quite snug. 'Hmmm,' I thought, 'no danger of waking up with a stray badger in here. ' (If Sarah is reading this, she will be laughing now - we've had a mini-banter across the interwebbly today concerning Adam Ant, leather trousers and badgers). Pandora immediately climbed aboard the bag and settled down.

'You can't stay there,' I said. 'I'm getting out now I've performed a preliminary test drive.'
'It's very comfy,' said Pandora, stretching out across my legs in a very proprietorial way.
'Yes,' I said. 'And also very hot. Get off now.'
'I don't think so,' said Pandora. 'I think I'm here for the afternoon.'

And so the sleeping bag is still spread out over the living room floor with a tiny cat lolloping across it with legs akimbo and half an eye open in case I try to turf her off in a surprise attack. So I can't tell you if it will go back into its bag or not. I suspect not. And if it does, there will likely be a cat attached.

I have discovered, however, that when one is considering cooking a la camping, one views the aisles of a supermarket in a different light. The main question to ask is, 'Can I cook this in a pan of boiling water with the minimum of mess?' and if the answer is 'YES!' then you buy it. Hence, I have stocked up on pasta, noodles, boil-in-the-bag rice and eggs. And tins of beans, jars of passatta, bags of crips and packets of bicuits. Obviously, the crisps and biscuits are not going into a pan of boiling water, but they do tick the 'mimimum of mess' box. As do apples, strawberries, peaches and cereal.

I'm in a bit of a quandary about bread. Yes, I have muffins, yes I have oatcakes, but toast is a goes-without-saying camping requirement so must be given thought. Now, since we bought our bread-maker oooh, what, four years ago now, we've baked all our own bread. Which emerges as a whole loaf, and not neatly sliced as in the supermarket offerings. And having perused the bread aisle today after a long absence, I am appalled at the prices. It seems you can either have cheapish floppy flimsy bread or expensive bread the quality of which we bake for half the price at home. My quandary is in the sliced element. Do we a) buy floppy flimsy pre-sliced bread b) make our own and take the only bread knife we own with us which means Heather will be without bread slicing equipment for four days c) take our own bread and just karate chop it with our razor sharp hands into a vague approximation of a slice for toasting and sandwiching d) pre-slice a homemade loaf and risk it drying out or e) have the faff of going into town tomorrow to purchase another bread knife?

It is all, as Lady Catherine de Bourgh would say, most vexing.

And there was me thinking camping was going to be a simple and relaxing way to holiday!

1 comment:

LynneFtWorth said...

It is great work that I experienced with family from a young age. That is why I now no longer camp at the campround but at a motel. It makes the crankiness and mess clean up a whole lot easier on my husband.