We are just returned from three days camping in the most bosky, dappled, dingly dell of a site tucked in a fold of the Yorkshire Moors. Three days of weather more suited to the south of France: glorious, long days of sunshine and light and warmth. Three days of listening to the beck that intersects the campsite, watching butterflies fluttering through the ferns and slipping into that timelessness that good camping always brings, where the hours between waking and sleeping slide into a blur of eating and dawdling.
The site was filled with children, and provisioned with a playground under the tallest trees which overspilled into tame tracks along the banks of the beck. After the first few hours, our three fell easily into the rhythm of camping life and played for hours with new-found friends; complicated versions of hide and seek among the trees and frantic joyful water fights long into the warm caress of the evening. Awake hours past their normal bedtimes, we’d eventually prise them away to the showers and hose off the mud before walking them back to the tent, suddenly blinking with the realisation of sleepiness, and tucking them up for the night.
We have come home tanned (or freckled to the point of human Dalmationhood), with three days’ worth of clothes stand-up-stiff with dust and suncream and sweat, and with memories cast in that particular beautiful light that will last a lifetime.
Hearing the squeals of all the children playing, seeing them run, carefree and confident in the knowledge that even their unwonted freedom was safely contained, was the essence of the innocence of childhood distilled. I have not the heart for the whys and wherefores that take that innocence away from so many. I just know that my memories of this weekend, glowing as they are, will forever bear the shadow of knowing what else was going on while we were lucky enough to escape.