Is it really that long since I blogged? Many apologies! And thanks for the recent emails from various people asking how I am. I'm fine, it's just that summer has sneaked up on me a bit and I'm now crazy-busy.
Summer here means two things only....allotment and camping. (And a ton of school trips and activities but I try not to think about these.) April is peak season when it comes to allotmenting...everything needs planted at once and you suddenly realise that whatever you thought, no, you weren't quite ready for this. The weeds have started growing, everything else has burst into life and there's just not enough time, especially as the weather is still variable here ie when I've got time to go to the allotment, it's usually raining. Bah. but I'm getting there. And my new wildlife pond is almost built!
Secondly it's camping season. First trip of the year will be next weekend, to a campsite in Peebles only 23 miles away. We tend to camp local so that Hubby can still get to work during the week (It's a Monday& Tuesday school holiday here next weekend)and the kids can make their rugby matches and other social activities easily. Peebles is a gorgeous little place with a goood campsite though so no hardship.
All this takes organisation. The camping kit is still in a bit of a shambles from last year's final outing, I'm embarrassed to say, though as that particular trip involved six boys, Princess, three adults, two tents and an on-site birthday party I'm amazed I'm ever going camping again! This coming weekend we're tenting though, so I have to get the lightweight camping gear seperated out.
This is my definition of a "lightweight" tent, btw....a Vango Oregon 800. (2005 version.) Yeah, it's not a titchy mountain tent I admit. (Though we do own three of these too.) But it goes up in half an hour, sleeps eight comfortably or six with luxury and has plenty of room inside for rainy days.
"Lightweight" only makes sense though if you compare it to the mighty Conway Camargue, my main long term camping unit....!
This is what we take if we're going anywhere longer than a week. One year we spent seven weeks camping in France in this tent, and were very comfortable I must say. It's a fabulous piece of kit, still going strong despite being nineteen years old. Cotton canvas frame-type tents last forever.
This year? We're going to France for six weeks in the above, which is why I'm spending my less than abundant time starting to get organised for the trip. It's amazing how many planning and packing chores there are for a six week camping holiday! This one is especially complicated as Hubby will be coming home for part of the time leaving me and the kids in France alone. We're not planning an ambitious itininary because Lad isn't quite tall and strong enough to help me pack the Camargue down so we'll have to stay on the same campsite when Hubby is away...oh, the hardship! But this is a trial run for future years...we've always planned to spend the summers this way as the kids get older, with Hubby dotting back and forwards to nursemaid his students while the kids and I spend the summer abroad. Nexy year I confidently expect Lad to be taller than me, lol, so he'll be more use with the pitching. He's pretty good at pitching the lightweight tents already.
One thing I don't have to arrange for the summer is a cattery, alas. Our second cat Theo got run over and killed on the road a couple of weeks ago, only a few months after the same happened to his sister. I don't know exactly how this accident happened as basically he just went missing, we did a big search for him with leaflets and a reward offered and then he was found dead near the road. I don't think he was lying anywhere hurt and suffering for a long while though, given how little time he'd been missing and how very dead he was when we found him.
He was a nice cat...quite quiet compared to his sister, very fond of his meals and sleeping but affectionate and not above doing his share of rodent-killing...though he ate his, unlike Missy who brought them back as presents for us. (Live presents..)
Poor cats, both of them. They loved their outside life and were very happy ranging free, but we've decided that it's obviously just not safe around here for cats to get out. I don't think house cats get anywhere near as good a life, but there's no denying they live longer! Theo and Missy never even made their second birthday. We all really miss having a cat around so we will be getting more but not till after the long holiday of course. Not a good idea to get new kittens or cats, get them settled in then have to put them into a cattery for two or three weeks. After the summer. And they'll be house cats from now.