Last summer Jennifer and I took our three kids to Newquay for a holiday. We borrowed her mother's car (because there is no way that our clapped out old banger would have made the journey), packed the six, eight and 10-year-old in the back and proceeded to make the near seven hour journey from our humble Lancastrian surroundings, to the peaceful asylum of a Cornish holiday park.
Surprisingly, despite my feelings of terror at the prospect of a week in a tent with my 'peskies' and the missus, the entire experience was one that I would be happy to repeat again this year.
The park was clean, had all the commodities that you could ask for (running water, somewhere to one and two, a fishing lake, etc) and was conveniently situated around an hour's drive from everywhere that Jen and I had spent weeks planning on visiting in the run up to making the trip.
We had meticulously planned everything expertly, cos that's just how we roll.
We got very lucky with the weather too, which - as anyone that has been camping with my missus will tell you - was a blessing beyond any you could ever wish to get in any walk of life. Thanks to the heavenly powers that be for that there turn up for the books.
We proceeded to visit various Cornish landmarks, like Tintagel Castle and the inimitable Eden Project, and ended every evening with either a visit to the local McDonalds (some kids just won't take NO for an answer) or a barbeque; the latter of which I insisted upon even if there was the odd spot of rain (that's what those really big umbrellas were invented for).
It was the perfect getaway for our young family and, as I say, one I would happily repeat should the opportunity present itself this year.
However, there are a couple of things that I would do differently. And, in complete honesty, a couple of things I most certainly will not be doing again - my life, and those of my wife and kids could well depend upon it.
In my job we do a lot of research about various aspects of legislation and the law and when you have the t'interweb at your disposal, you do come across a wide variety of different stories pertaining to a plethora of different subjects.
One such subject shocked me right out of my skin upon our return from our idyllic little holiday trip.
Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
I think, in my almost typical male, 'I know what I am doing' kind of way, I just assumed that CO Poisoning was something that happened in your house, where there is a boiler or a gas fire or whatever. It did not for one second cross my mind that there might be a risk from me using a barbeque or a little gas stove to heat the tent of an evening.
As I said, Jennifer is a cold-blooded animal and as well as wrapping herself in her sleeping bag (and mine too), she also insisted on us having a little heater on during the evening to keep the tent cosy and warm before we went to bed.
Apparently, and somewhat shockingly, that is a huge risk to take.
Carbon Monoxide is produced when there is not enough oxygen or ventilation to help fuels burn. So in a tent we were running the risk of doing ourselves no favours at all. I was shocked to read stories of people that had gone to bed at night and never woken again, and not just when they were camping but even in a holiday resort hotel.
The entire thing shook me and Jen to our cores.
There we were putting our lives, and those of our children, at risk just because we didn't pack enough warm clothes for the night time. I showed Jen some of the facts and figures surrounding CO poisoning, some of the websites like The Silent Killer and videos that explain the dangers and she was close to tears when I explained how lucky we had been.
So this year we are better prepared. We'll not run the risk of killing ourselves just because we thought we knew better.
We're going to try the Isle of Wight this time, and there will be no place for Carbon Monoxide in our tent! I've decided that having two sleeping bags each is ample warmth for us both and the only fire we'll need to worry about is the stirring rumble of our pulsating holiday loins.Suggest a correction