Coastal Camp – The Curse Of

Our annual coastal camp is always eventful but this year’s delivered in spectacular fashion. As we sat around the table finalising plans and checking forecasts it became apparent that we’d picked a doozy of a weekend to set off, but we weren’t for turning…I mean, who doesn’t love to wildcamp in 50mph winds?! Now, we’ve camped in some pretty hairy conditions before – one particular camp stands out, where after 3 days of torrential rain we literally woke up floating – but winds of 40mph is usually where we draw the line. But what’s an extra 10mph between old friends…?

So off we went with visions of a wild and windy adventure, and the first night didn’t disappoint. We arrived at our usual spot in the dunes in time to set up before the winds really picked up; tents up, grass mats made and in place, windbreak for the fire crafted and tested, dinner cooked. Then the winds arrived, and it really was awesome. The power of nature is never so clear as at the beach, where the elements combine for an exhilarating show and tell of a force to be reckoned with. Trying to sleep that night was difficult to say the least. Lying in the dark with something akin to a very large and very angry bull ramming our flimsy shelter was scary; but it was exciting in a oooh-this-is-bloody-mental kind of way.

All told we survived the night and so did the tents, and we had a good story to tell of ‘that crazy windy camp’ to boot. As an added bonus nature seemed to have gifted us a kind of consolation prize for the rough night in the form of a beautiful, sunny morning; and we were ready to get our summer on. The children donned their swimming gear and made the most of the sea while learning about tides, flotsam and jetsam; and built sandcastles while discussing the myriad uses for the golden, grainy stuff – they were particularly taken with the idea of their castle building material essentially making their phones and tablets function, and we found a great article on techradar that explains the refining process in detail (adult interpretation was needed!) and googled high silica content sand beaches around the world.

The next two days followed a similar pattern; lounge, swim, play, learn. Then the curse of the coastal camp struck again. Remember the ‘crazy-wind camp’ we started with? Well, apparently we needed to rename that period the ‘bit-of-a-breeze camp’, because that’s what it was in comparison to the 80mph winds that battered us on night four – and there was nothing exciting about that, I don’t mind telling you! By the time we knew what was coming it was too late to pack up and admit defeat; so we battened down the hatches, moved in to one tent, and packed our nonessential gear ready for an emergency evacuation to a nearby(ish) storage hut. When the storm hit it was absolutely insane. The lovely soft sand beneath our feet became a horrendous, sharp wall surrounding us; and that bull was back, but this time it had been on some serious steroids. I’m still in awe that our tents withstood such force, though Maddy’s does now have holes from the friction of the poles slamming over each other. Not an experience any of us are keen to repeat. Ever. I’d post photos like those above showing the wind in all it’s glory, only there aren’t any because I was busy rocking quietly in the corner throughout. Honestly, never again!

The rest of the camp went well – apparently that was enough misfortune even for us – and we all had a great time continuing our fun and games. Our favourite seaside pass time is definitely beachcombing, and Brendan outdid us all this year with his spectacularly odd find of a butternut squash!

We’ve now traded sand and sea for valleys and fields and are enjoying a stint on a working farm before heading up to the Lake District at the end of the month. After the curse of the coastal camp, herding actual bulls about the place is a breeze! The children are getting a hands on, no-holes-bared experience of the food chain – the cattle and wild boar here are bred for meat – and are learning an incredible amount from their daily chores.

There’ll be more from the farm in our next post, but for now – thanks for reading!

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