Tuesday, 17 August 2010

All Camped Out

Back home for good now after nomadic couple of weeks camping in France, and then in my stepmother’s field for our annual family get-together (aka the Olympics). However, joy of waking up this morning between clean sheets in a proper bed is somewhat mitigated by feelings of utter despair at the overwhelming amount of washing, sorting out and putting away of kit required, so have retreated up to my office to comfort-eat pistachio nuts and catch up on emails and computer stuff. Alas, now feel completely overwhelmed by that too.

France was lovely. We went with friends and, unwilling to squander precious holiday driving long distances, decided to go no further than Normandy where we set up camp on a site in the grounds of a fabulous, crumbling chateau. We were right on the shore of a huge lake, where the children could canoe and fish for the giant carp we glimpsed in its olive green depths (and which would occasionally leap up, as if laughing at their efforts.)

We were in the lush heart of Calvados country, and it was absolutely beautiful…

This was the setting I chose for Taken For Revenge, Bedded for Pleasure and it was every bit as luscious as I'd pictured it. In many ways, with its fields of cows and orchards and timbered buildings it was a lot like Cheshire, but distinctively French and ergo more stylish. I repeatedly got us lost by failing to read the map because I was so busy gazing out at the glorious countryside and shrieking with excitement as I caught glimpses of fairy-tale castles behind ornate wrought iron gates, and farmhouses, looking like film-sets and displaying the kind of effortless distressed elegance that I constantly fail to achieve at home, which appeared through boughs of ripening apples.

In the evenings in our lakeside camp the seven children turned our tent into a gambling den, obsessively playing Black Jack for mini Mars Bars while we sat outside conducting comprehensive taste-tests on the local cider and wine and spotting shooting stars. One day we went to Honfleur and took refuge from a torrential downpour in a pavement restaurant for a long, boozy and memorable lunch (which sparked off lots of inspiration) and another we drove up and along the coast to Arromanches, soaking up the D-Day history with avid fascination. Faded, fabulous Deauville was another place where inspiration was everywhere (although sadly tall, dark, handsome James Bond actors were nowhere to be found...)

I don't think we would have managed to drag ourselves home at all if it hadn't been for the lure of the Family Olympics a few days later, and the necessity of putting together fancy dress costumes. This year each team was given a letter of the alphabet to base their theme around: as Team G, my nephew (pictured below - how cool?) came up with the idea of Goths, which gave me the perfect excuse to give my corset another outing. (Had to let the laces out at least an inch from last year though. Oops. I blame Cristiano.)

The weekend flew by in a warm blur of wine, nostalgia and laughs interspersed with the odd game of Swimming pool Egg and Spoon and Lawn Darts. I enjoyed an unprecedented level of success in the games this year (demonstrating particular finesse in the Spud Tossing event, though I say so myself) however, I have to admit that the fact that the Goths brought home bronze medals was largely down to my competitive, competent alpha-male team-mates (Thanks boys!) No room to bask in glory though as Gold went to Daughter #3 in Team C (Circus) and Silver went to Daughter #1 and my sister-in-law in Team M (Military - showing that you can be killer competitors while also looking like Cheryl Cole in the Fight for this Love video. How is that fair?)

Anyway, now we're home and they've returned to languishing in their bedrooms like consumptive Victorians while I trail around sorting out the aftermath of two camping trips like a below-stairs skivvy, I'm wondering if introducing some kind of competitive element into household chores will induce them to help? Speed Ironing, perhaps. Or Hoover Relay. Or how about The 'Pick up all your Stuff from the Floor before I take it to the Charity Shop' Challenge? Think this might be my only chance of getting back to my poor neglected book...

So, what's been happening while I've been away? Fill me in on all the news!


Rachel Lyndhurst said...

News? NEWS?!

How can I possibly concentrate on such trivia now that I've seen you in a corset!!!!

Don't ever mention that extra stone again, madam. You look utterly fab and I would hate you if I didn't love you so much.

SOOOO good to have you back!

Lots of love,


Morton S Gray said...

Hi India,

Goth suits you!

Is it me or are these summer holidays going very fast?

Don’t know if it will work for your girls, but I used to have a jobs = pocket money schedule. James used to have to work to get any cash; i.e. £3 for full house vacuum, £2 for emptying bins and putting out the dustbin, £3 for mowing the lawn, etc. Be warned he financed his first car on the proceeds as his grandma said she would match his savings when he was 17. He ended up with a brand new Clio. It stopped all the battles over trying to get him to help out though and he is now very competent around the house.

Good to have you back,
Morton x

India said...

Rach, how could you have failed to mention that in my absence the beautiful RACHEL LYNDHURST BLOG HAS BEEN LAUNCHED! Announcing the fabulous RACHEL LYNDHURST SIGNING TO EMBRACE BOOKS!!

Now, if that's not news I don't blooming well know what is. Just as soon as I've put another load of washing in you're going on my blog list side bar (if I can remember how to do that...) Congratulations my lovely!!

Morton, it's very much NOT you - I can't believe how quickly time is zipping by. Usually we hit a lovely period of down time in the middle of the holidays when it seems like ages since they broke up, and the prospect of going back is just a distant cloud on the horizon. Not this year. This year all hazy, lazy plans for days out and projects to be tackled are as ashes as the 'Back To School' date looms. A guilty little voice is whispering in the back of my head that it does mean I can get back to work though... which is a good thing when I think how expensive daughters are to run these days - and that brings me on to your idea about jobs and pocket money. Daughter 3 is all over this idea and made a fortune before we went away, cleaning out the car and scrubbing camping equipment, but the other two are about as useful as Paris Hilton. The story of your son actually translating work into a car might come in very handy indeed...

Morton S Gray said...

It did take him a good few years saving, plus a paper round and holiday job at the safari park too. I don't think any of it did him any harm.

Nell Dixon said...

Normandy is gorgeous and loved your goth look.

Catherine J said...

Lovely photos.

I think you should write a How to guide on the Art of the Sophisticated Camp-out!

(When you have a spare moment, that is.)

Welcome back.


Rachel Lyndhurst said...

Oooh much thanks for the blog bar thingy, my darling! This means I will have to update more often though, doesn't it?

Now can you fix Twitter for me? It's telling me I have no followers and I'm following no-one either. This is a rotten lie. And will serve me right for going out all day when I should be surfing the net. And doing revisions of course. Cough.

Am deluged with washing also. Longing for drip dry school uniform...

Lots of love,


Kate Hardy said...

Welcome back! Glad you had such a good time. And I'm with Rach about the extra stone. Doesn't show - and you look gorgeous :o)

Thanks for sharing those wonderful pics. That part of France looks utterly gorgeous. (And you are so brave, camping. When we go to France in half term, it's going to be a nice hotel on the Champs Elysees, cough!)

India said...

Morton, 'Holiday Job' - two words that strike joy into my heart. Hopefully next summer daughter #1 will be out earning rather than catching up on all the sleeping she refused to do in the first three years of her life. (Oh the irony...)

Thanks Nell! If the writing doesn't work out I'm thinking of taking a market stall and selling crystals, pachouli oil and scarves with skulls on. And getting my tongue pierced. (Actually, forget it. I'm way too squeamish.)

Catherine - excellent idea. It would include top tips like packing plenty of baby wipes, some solar powered fairy lights and an inflatable sofa. And Pimms. And wine boxes. And a hip flask with Amaretto in it. And then it would be apparent that the key to happy camping isn't sophistication but a whole lot of booze and no publisher would touch it. Big sigh.

Twitter had a minor tantrum this afternoon and confiscated everyone's friends I think Rach. They seem to have given them back now. Anyway, you're right and you have no business going out when you should be revising and updating your blog. Get to it!

Kate, I'm not sure if the corset hides the new poundage or showcases it spectacularly (no full-length mirrors in our tent!) I actually love camping when we get there - our faithful old tent is home from home now, and after much experimentation over the years I have now got comfortable, warm sleeping arrangements down to a fine art. It's just the thought of all the packing and unpacking that has me reaching for the hotel brochures!

Sharon said...

What a wonderful srumpet you look in your corset, India!

I LURVE camping - even though my experiences of it seem always to be marked by some kind of minor disaster (tent flooding, forgetting to bring tent poles etc etc) - but there is nothing better than that wild and slightly dirty feeling of living in the great outdoors and pretending you're starring in your very own Enid Bl;yton story!

I am just back from a place called Fuerteventura - which I thought was in the Balearic islands but turned out to be in the Canaries....sigh....life is such an adventure.

Sharon said...


India said...

Ooooh, thanks Sharon! (Secret glow of pride at looking like a strumpet, followed by twinge of feminist guilt about suffragettes, race horses etc) We've had our fair share of camping disasters over the years, including the forgotten tent poles one, but I think that's part of the excitement. It's a feeling of being slightly out of control and at the mercy of the elements that makes it fun.

Canary Islands, and therefore almost Africa?? Sounds HOT - and lovely!