How Come Big Birds Are Only Fun on 'Sesame Street'?

While we were eating our first meal in the tent, I suddenly realised there was a smell of poo nearby. When I asked why, our eldest daughter rather worryingly informed us that she needed the toilet.

As I was wiping squashed bits of egg from the tent floor, I was wondering whether camping was really the best idea we had had this year. Our normally fairly calm and occasionally sensible children, apparently thought camping was short hand for "run around screaming and giggling". As for the egg bits - how did they always manage to spill all their food everywhere? Worse, as showering at the camp site cost 20p for four minutes, I was going to have to severely downgrade my normal shower routine: Goodbye groomed goddess (at least let me dream) - hello hairy yeti! As we had four shower cubicles between about 60 people, we were going to have to shower in the evenings in a, perhaps vain, attempt to avoid the morning rush. As it was fairly chilly, I was definitely not moisturising either, so I couldn't even feel good about myself - apart from the smug warm glow of giving our girls an exciting holiday of course, ahem... At least we remembered the towels this time. Two years ago, we resorted to using my linen skirt. Something like that will quickly wipe the smug smile off anybody's face.

While we were eating our first meal in the tent, I suddenly realised there was a smell of poo nearby. When I asked why, our eldest daughter rather worryingly informed us that she needed the toilet. This was quickly followed by her saying she didn't need it any more. If you know of any finishing schools still in existence, I should be grateful if you could pass their details on to us - I think we could do with one. As for the smell, we chose to ignore it and it disappeared. Luckily.

Although I have my doubts about camping, our eldest daughter nearly convinced me, simply by saying how excited she was to be in a lovely warm, cosy bed and how it is nice being with your friends, but cosier being with your family. Incidentally, using the word cosy here may be due to her being half Danish. As any Dane will tell you, they will use the word cosy in almost any context (I am excluding myself slightly here, as I do not say it as often as my countrymen, but it means having a lovely time with family and friends).

Anyway, I digress. So, I was almost sold on the whole concept of camping, but was still unimpressed by the fact that going to the toilet and showering requires an, albeit minor, walk. Why can't we have a camper van? Probably because you would have to go on holiday for about three weeks every year for nine years before it has paid for itself, that is why. Speaking of money, in order to save ours, I forced the family to eat a delicious packed lunch, minus the burnt quinoa, which was generally considered unfit for human consumption.

Of course, by the time we found the beach and sat down, it was raining... again. On top of that, vicious sea gulls were circling the crowds. "Don't be stupid', I heard one rather unsympathetic mother tell her child, "they won't bite you. You haven't got any food." This didn't bode well, as we were obviously laden with the stuff. Laughing in the face of danger, we settled down on a wall by the beach. Well, at least, my husband and I were laughing. The children were nervous - possibly influenced by an unfortunate encounter with several greedy and intimidating geese a few days earlier (note to self: Next time your friend suggests feeding the geese in the park, just say no). Back at the beach, I was laughing at the stress of it all and said how this just added an element of danger to lunch.

No sooner had I said this, than a seagull plumped onto my head, prompting me to scream and drop my precious almond butter sandwich. The gull flew off but my sandwich had disappeared. The girls were of course more nervous than ever now, with the youngest manically squeezing her sandwich to death and panicking about us not letting her put it back in the plastic box. Meanwhile, I kept wondering out loud where my sandwich was. Just then, our eldest daughter jumped down from the wall and said she had found some bread on the pebbles. "That's my sandwich!" I exclaimed, triumphantly. "I just stepped on it." she replied. Ah. We left it there. Of course, as soon as we left, some damned seagull swooped in. I hope he has an almond butter allergy, I muttered angrily. "What a great idea to bring a packed lunch", my husband offered, sounding unnecessarily bitter.

We finished our lunch further into town, away from the gulls, but unfortunately close to our youngest daughter's other great fear: Dogs. Still, at least we got to eat in peace, once we had balanced the food, water bottles and newly bought bucket and spades. The seagull incident was the most fun I had had all day :o Later on, sitting in a bar by the beach, my husband tried to allay my fears of being cold if we chose outdoor seats, by saying we would be fine, to which our youngest daughter retorted "unless a seagull pecks my ear."

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