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Well it wasn’t to be. I didn’t win The Guardian’s short story competition. The fact that I was blogging about my entry whilst the issue featuring the winners was sitting beside me, unread, is quite amusing. Still, at least it means I can now publish my entry here.

A camping trip? I wasn’t convinced this was a good idea. Particularly as the friends we were planning to go with are seasoned veterans who’ve been taking their kids camping since they were tiny. They even take them to festivals for goodness’ sake. We on the other hand hadn’t been since long before our child was born. Still, I swallowed my reservations and we started to put some ideas together.

A soft launch. That’s what was needed to initiate our return to camping. A soft launch. So we chose a site close to a small Wiltshire town, about an hour’s drive away. That way we could easily get supplies, but also jump in the car and get home if it all went wonky.

We’d go for a long weekend and our friends would use that as a springboard for their two weeks down in the West Country.

It sounded like a plan, but two things worried me, one slightly, the other much more so. Would Little Boots enjoy camping? And how would we fit everything in the car?

The first question was probably redundant. All children love haring around outside with the freedom that not being bound to a house brings. No, it was the car-packing that was wrinkling my brow. In the past we utterly filled the car with kit. True, it’s not a very big car, but even scaling back we now had to fit in another person, albeit a small one, with their gear. What’s more we’d chosen the site specifically because it had on site fishing. So we also had to squeeze a certain amount of tackle in.

Eventually after some planning and some cramming we were off. Not for long though because we had to stop for provisions and bait, which were somehow winkled into the car.

It was a glorious morning and we were very soon sailing through Wiltshire.

Though highly excited our sprog nevertheless accepted with good grace my attempts to bore the pants off us all with discourses on burial mounds, standing stones, Silbury Hill, white horses and ancestral racehorse grooms who worked on the Marlborough Downs.

On arrival we found our camping comrades had been on site a short while and were busy unpacking. I envied them their trailer and topbox as I looked at our car oozing people and belongings like an over-ripe tomato.

It was, I guess, a soft launch.

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