A small group of good friends
Lots of children
A quirky campsite that welcomes groups
Campfires and plenty of wood to burn
Food & drink
After a long drive through the middle of nowhere, diverted by badly signposted road closures, rattling along the tiniest of country roads with our squeaky trailer and entertained by squabbling children we arrived at Balloch o'Dee campsite in the Galloway Forest Park. Mind you, we did ok considering that some of our group took a detour to England.... There was some stunning scenery along the route, making the journey enjoyable rather than tedious.
Balloch o'Dee was a new campsite to all of us and it was well worth a visit. It is on the quirky side, lots of animals roaming free, pony riding in the morning, a trampoline, play saddles, wilderness to explore and finally, a shower block illuminated by candles and fairy lights, decorated with a large number of rather intriguing items. Candle light is very flattering for campers actually. The toilet and showers are unisex, which is a little weird but ok.
It is a bit strange to find a pony licking out the empty pot of tomato soup, but funny, too.
We usually camp with friends. It is sociable, fun and it is great to have help for pitching our ridiculously huge tent (and theirs). This weekend we pitched around a large fire pit complete with tripod for cooking. This I used for drying towels and children's clothes. In a way, we created our own little village complete communal kitchen and shared front gardens and uninterrupted view of the surrounding countryside.
We are a well oiled group, having several shared camping trips under our belts. There is no need to feel awkward when the carefully coiffed heads turn into messy bed heads or are moulded into helmets by nights wrapped up in sleeping bags, blankets and hats. It doesn't matter if you don't take a shower every day because we all share Eau de Camping with a note of smoke and fustiness. The camping routines are simple and centre around the campfire: gathering wood, keeping the fire going, toasting marshmallows, keeping warm. A bit like cave people I guess, except the marshmallows. Some go for walks, other for bike rides and others still prefer to read a book, or do nothing much at all. Everyone eventually gravitates back to the fire to enjoy a coffee, or a bottle of beer, depending on the time of day, to discuss worldly matters and being a bit silly, too.
Like the adults, the children have their own routines involving mostly exploration of the campsite and the immediate surrounding countryside. There is always something to do and like the adults, the children are drawn to the campfire, poking sticks into the flames and being a bit careless. This weekend had the added attraction of pony riding (free of charge).
Food is important and there is always plenty. It is simple, BBQ on day one, curries on day two etc. Fried eggs, bacon, tattie scones and black pudding for breakfast, soups and rolls for lunch. Cakes and cookies, crisps and nuts in between meals. There is even the occasional apple and a salad or two.
The campsite is in a low light zone and the night sky is absolutely amazing. It is a shame to miss out on all those stars in the city. Clear skies in late September unfortunately bring with them cold nights. Big tents don't get cosy like small ones do and sleep doesn't come easy when limbs are shaking and teeth are rattling. The first night was quite frankly torture, even with my fancy down sleeping bag and generous fat insulation. I put more and more clothes on as the night progressed and eventually, I wrapped myself in my woollen blanket and worked myself back into the sleeping bag. I couldn't move but at least I got some sleep. My bladder did for once not terrorise me. Apart from the real hardy ones, everyone was cold in that first night. The second one was better. Generally, sleep comes more easily the longer the camping trip lasts.
We stayed all day Sunday and packed up towards the evening. On the way home, we enjoyed a fish and chips dinner in Girvan on the way home, followed by a few minutes of frolicking on the local playground. We arrived home at about 9 pm, exhausted but happy. Today was a Bank Holiday in Glasgow. We call it September weekend. It was good to have a day of recovering, washing and sorting through photos.
I'll leave you with a photo of all our children. They had a great time, too. Even the teenager. It is amazing what 24h without Wifi can do! It was great to see Sam happy and joining in with the fun.
What did you do last weekend?
Now of course I have to prepare mentally for my trip to Turkey on Friday. I am exited and nervous but I have been assured that all will be well when I am away and that the bathrooms will be spotless upon my return. I am tempted to leave a list of essential things to remember, football, ballet, homework, feeding the children etc. But I won't. Have a great week! Cx