By Stef Michalak
It’s just past 7pm on Sunday evening and I’m sitting on a little chair in my four-year-old Rufus’ room, I’m writing these words while he’s quietly muttering to himself while under his crumpled duvet.
I keep catching the occasional flash of one of his older brother Graysons Pokemon cards that he quietly stole before going to bed.
I’m praying his older brother Grayson (Seven) won't notice he’s been the victim of petty theft until at least tomorrow morning.
Because the truth is, as I sit here in this reposeful room lit only by a crack in the door and the glare of my laptop screen, I’m a man at his breaking point, I’m festering magma bubbling, hissing and spitting from the crest of a colossal volatile volcano of rage.
One more winge from these miniature fascists and I’m afraid I’ll erupt! You may be wondering what has pushed me to the far reaches of my patience.
It all started a few days ago when we received the two words every parent dreads, ‘inset day’ – I don’t know what it means, I don't care to be honest, all I know is it's a day where for some stupid reason your children are told not to come into school.
My kids' school could be on fire and the only thing I’d do differently would be pack a marshmallow on a stick in their lunch boxes that day, so this inset day bullshit is a bitter pill to swallow.
Here's the thing, a lot of us parents are still suffering with PTSD from homeschooling over months of lockdown.
We all need separation so we can emotionally recover and try to remind ourselves that we’re more than a couple of hollow-faced bitch slaves to two miniature dictators with jammy cheeks.
Inset day meant we had three long days to kill with the kids, so we decided to go camping, ok Glamping… which as most of you know is exactly the same as camping but with all the bits you really hate about camping removed.
You have a log burner in your tent, a double bed with Egyptian cotton sheets, a fire pit, electricity and even,in this case, even porcelain toilets.
But you still get to feel like you’re Ray Mears because you have to brush your teeth outside.
The glampsite we stayed at is called Marston Park in Froome. Their website says they are a playground for creativity with grown-up food and drink.
The 30ish teepees all sit around a Victorian lake and are all overlooked by an opulent-looking house at the top of a hill, called Marlston House, which was sold in 2012 for 6 million.
There's a wild pool, a hot tub, and even a retro-looking 1960s spaceship designed by the artist Craig Barnes which you can stay in for around £700 a night.
Each teepee comes with a canvas, paint, and an easel which I thought was a nice touch.
Our stay cost us £290 a night and came with a bottle of prosecco and complimentary dinner on one of the nights.
We started off our two-night stay with a visit to their hot tub which is heated by a small log burner behind it.
There's a wild pool right next to it which is perfect for jumping in to cool off. We dried off and then went to explore the area.
I decided to bring a little gas stove and some Dominican salted hot chocolate from a little independent chocolate company from Glasgow known as bare bones.
I actually supply their chocolate on Wantfeed so if you’re a chocolate lover and you’re not aware of them then click here and discover what truly incredible chocolate tastes like.
One of my favorite products they supply is their 68% Dominican salted hot chocolate and what better place to make some then by a lake with my gang.
We combined it with some jumbo toasted marshmallows.
They have a simple outdoor restaurant which has three dishes on the menu, one being vegan, the prices were reasonable and the food was hearty and better than what you’d receive in most restaurants in Bath.
There was a DJ playing some chilled techno who was flanked by a couple of swan-shaped paddle boats you could hire for about 10 quid for 30 mins.
It’s truly wonderful and I can’t wait to go back.
So you may be wondering why, with all these hot tubs, salted hot chocolate, reasonably priced tasty food and porcelain toilets, I’d be sitting in my four-year-olds bedroom trying to stifle my incandescent rage.
Well, that’s because what the lovely photos don’t show are basically the countless non-events dressed up as pointless dramas resulting in shrill, high decibel screams that we’ve had to endure these past couple of days.
For example here are a few examples of the various things that have resulted in said shrill screams from our kids over the past 48 hours.
- A food buzzer
- A 20p
- A stick ( several of these)
- A marshmallow
- A wet sock
- A short walk to a cafe
- A wheelbarrow
- A chair
- A feather
- A fruit shoot
- An empty tin of orange soda
There are just so many dramas that spring out of nowhere with kids that you end up terrified of literally every innocuous thing that happens.
A tiny robin lands on a fence post in a dewey autumnal morning and the first thing you think is ‘oh for fuck sake, here we go’.
Don’t get me wrong, glamping with kids has some truly magical moments, however, it's a bit like stumbling across a Werther’s Original while wandering around Kabul.
Here’s the thing.
When you have kids you have to make a very important choice – Are you going to be a parent or are you going to be a person who also happens to be a parent? It’s easy to tell the difference because a parent is someone who struggles to talk about anything else other than their kids.
If you try to change the subject to anything other than their kids they will look at you like you’ve just suggested they drink some petrol.
Their whole universe orbits around their kids and little else.
But a ‘person who happens to be a parent is someone who has to fight an uphill battle every day to retain any scrap of their identity.
Someone who refuses to just turn the lights off. It’s a far harder road to take but it’s either that or become one of the walking dead in Veja trainers.
I know this is just a temporary phase, there will come a day when the screams and whinges stop happening and I’ll forget all about them and all I’ll remember are the toasted marshmallows, our dog George jumping into the lake to try to get a duck, Grayson fishing with a stick and a bit of weed, the wheelbarrow rides the brushing our teeth under the stars and all the fun and quite insignificant moments we shared.
Because that’s just how it works.
Rufus is fast asleep now, after I finish these couple of sentences I’ll slide the Pokémon cards out of his chubby hands and put them back where he got them. I’ll read some of my book in bed and then sleep off this rage and be my calm self again tomorrow.
They’ll go to school tomorrow morning and after a couple of hours in a quiet house something strange will happen, I'll start to miss them & wish we could do it all over again.
Thank you for reading my blog & please don't forget to treat yourself to some out of this world Salted Hot chocolate