It was Oli’s birthday at the end of May and I wanted to surprise him with a camping trip. Because he absolutely loves camping, cooking outdoors and kipping in a sleeping bag under the glow of the stars.
And even though I’m not a natural camper – due to the fact that I absolutely love things like hot running water, brick walls and oh I don’t know, a tiled roof that keeps the cold air out whilst I’m all snuggled up in my double bed – I was prepared to sacrifice my home comforts and head for the great outdoors.
But then Oli told me that he had a surprise trip booked for us that just so happened to fall across the same dates I was eying up, so my idea of a few days under canvas was suddenly a non starter.
Only, I’d already bought him a camping stove, a whole heap of gas and pimped out a camping chair for him. So I had to think on my feet. I had one day to perform a small camping-esque miracle, minus the tent and the sleeping-in-the-great-outdoors part.
And so, on our way back from seeing Oli’s family at a wedding over the weekend, I popped the postcode for The National Trust’s Clent Hills into the satnav, stopped off at Asda on the way, to buy bacon, black pudding, rolls and milk, leaving Oli in the car without a clue about the surprise I had planned.
When we arrived at Clent Hills and began to walk, I was focussed and quiet trying to suss out the best place to use a camping stove, worried about being arrested for accidentally causing a forest fire. When we reached the top, we were amazed at the beauty before us. It was quite mesmerising as everywhere we looked there was glowing greenery, against a bright blue sky embellished with sparks of sunshine and wispy smears of cloud. We found a bench and I set about handing Oli his camping stove and gas to unwrap. He was delighted and immediately started assembling it and cooking our breakfast which we were both very ready for by this point.
There was something really special about being together in an unexpectedly gorgeous setting with no one around at the beginning of the day, sitting on our camping chairs, smiling at each other over our camping mugs full of hot tea.
With the smells of our bacon and black pudding cooking away on the camping stove, we attracted a lot of dogs (I accidentally kicked one as it’s quivering wet nose appeared near our stove, thankfully it’s owner was oblivious to my semi-voluntary but defensive leg spasm!) and people enjoying a half term walk as the morning wore on. We were met with smiles and comments of “Wow, that smells great. Any for us?”
Despite the wind blowing one of our bread rolls away, Oli and I had the best time on our minute, kind-of-camping trip. I couldn’t recommend this kind of date activity enough, especially as the weather (hopefully) continues to get warmer.