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A garden sleep-over

Friends hinted at my questionable mindset and I even pondered the validity of doing it on a school night, but it had to be when the weather was fine. My two daughters and myself were to spend a night camping in our garden.

Here’s how the evening went!


7:30 pm

It's a beautiful evening, one of those early summer nights that make you forget how long the winter felt.

This was only going to work if the rule was 'no going into the house' and honestly this rule was more to convince myself than my children.


Awesome swallows


I feel the chill in the air, have I really thought this through? I push visions of flu from my head and plough on with evening’s dining on a camping stove.

In search of vegetables to balance the diet, we find the first crop of early peas in the polytunnel on a walkabout and then spend a while watching the swallows swoop to the eaves on the last hunt of the day.


Kids shout 'This is Awesome' as they bounce on the trampoline.


9 pm 

Disaster! I didn't pack the wine! Well that house rule was stupid anyway.


Burnt sugar and birdsong


Flambé marshmallows over a camping stove. The smell of burnt sugar in the air.

The birdsong has changed now dusk is upon us; the lonesome feathered friends begin their mating call. As the light fades I can feel us moving into the more magical part of the evening.



We spotted the first star.

We walked to the beach in the half light and I realise how unusual it is for a 5 year old to be out walking in the wild after dark, they’d always be in a car or on a pavement in a town. But here in the countryside with just the stars for entertainment it’s a whole new experience.

“I just can’t help it, I keep seeing more and more stars,” she says.


The epic moon


The moon rises, and Oh what a moon it is.

“That is EPIC,” exclaims my 7 year old and I smile to hear the unfamiliar word, nothing inside the house is ever ‘epic’.

“Are the moon and the sun friends?” they ask. “They are brother and sister” is their own conclusion.

I prompt little to the conversation now and just let them enjoy the experience. We are sitting in darkness counting the stars as they appear, overshadowed by the moon and its magnificent halo in the sky.



After the usual fight over cushions and blankets we are settled to sleep. I listen for a while as their slowing breaths fall in and out of sync with the waves on the shore nearby. And I lament again that I didn't pitch the tent that bit closer to the house so as to avail of the WiFi.


Forget the washing up

“This is the best night ever,” my youngest had said as we disembarked the trampoline in darkness. In that moment, leaving aside the washing up and the predictable morning rush, as I bounced higher and caught glimpses of the phenomenal moon rise over the rooftop, I was inclined to agree with her.


For more activities on nature and geometry in a new online magazine go to www.thesmarthappyproject.com

Lisa Lillywhite