Things I’ve learned from our Country House Hideaway weekend.
It takes a mighty long time to warm up a hot-tub with a log fire, but once hot it will stay that way for a mighty long time. Mum and I were aiming for a glamorous G&T in the tub while the male members of the party sorted themselves out for a while. However, by bedtime the tub was still hot enough to cook eggs.
Rinse out a hot-tub before filling it. I emptied the cauldron in the end after a weekend of splashing and dipping and the gunge I found at the bottom really wasn’t very nice.
Being without a mirror is liberating. There wasn’t even one and I had taken the huge step of leaving my handbag – with lipstick mirror – in the car. By the power of thought alone I was slimmer and healthier looking. Then, on a quick trip to nearby Jedburgh for supplies, I caught sight in the rearview mirror of a huge muddy smear on my cheek.
Boy Three has a sense of occasion. He waiting until both his parents and his grandmother were watching before taking his first proper unsupported steps across the wooden floor of the tent.
Beetroot is marvellous. Wrapped in tinfoil and roasted in a barbecue. Oh yes, I urge you to try it. But hypocondriacs must remember it makes you pee pink.
A morning cuppa isn’t that important until you have to wait for it. The tent – I use the term loosely as it had a floor, lights and a flush lavvy – cooking facility was a wood-burning stove. A fabulous piece of equipment, but not one you can rush from cold. It’s approximately two hours from that ‘I fancy some coffee’ moment to actually pouring out a steaming cup.
Cold feet can be cured by sleeping beside your eight-year-old. One night Boy Two ended up in my bunk and, while everyone said they felt slightly cool, he and I were toasty.
Rudyard Kipling’s If can be relied upon to raise a lump to throats. In the discovery tent – among the wholesome and entertaining paraphernalia was a copy of Conn Iggulden’s Dangerous Book for Boys. A fabulous tome and one that should be compulsory reading for everyone.
Everyone loves a den. When they spotted the bed in a cupboard in the ubertent, Boys One and Two elbowed past each other to dive in while Boy Three looked and sounded decidedly miffed to be left on the floor.
Tables, generally, should be flat. The Countryhouse Hideaway tent kit comes, presumably in a fit of rustic enthusiasm, with a very distressed table and kitchen work-top. We spent all weekend mopping up spills and picking up things that had fallen through the holes.
Somewhere within this, ahem, chic and coolly groomed exterior is a pioneer woman just waiting for her moment of glory. I had a ball picking veg to cook, lighting fires and trying not to let them go out, fixing things with string, improvising and generally getting good and grubby. Oh yes, the Little House on the Prairie had nothing on this. All I needed was a long faded calico dress and a bun.
In 1968 Piet Derksen bought some land and put up some tents on it – so families could have their own encampment. The idea evolved into Centre Parcs. Derksen went back to the woods again to bring the world Countryhouse Hideaways, only this incarnation doesn’t have flumes and cabaret.
Families and friends are marvellous institutions. Do you knew we got through the whole weekend, under canvas of sorts, within earshot of all lavatory action, cooking on a range and minus TV for distraction without anyone falling out with anyone else? Thanks to you all.
Forgot to say – we were at Chesters Estate in the Borders