As an avid gardener and fan of the great outdoors, I am keen to support the National Garden SleepOut event which, whilst promising to be good fun, also supports some worthy charities.
There’s just one little thing I’m lacking: A place to pitch a tent or roll out a sleeping bag. I don’t fancy trying to sleep on our grassy incline (too steep) and we don’t have any other patch that is big enough to pitch a tent so we’re planning to do the next best thing and spend the evening out in the garden, cosied up in our wooden reclining chairs with pillows and blankets until the small hours and retire to the floor of our garden room that opens out onto our patio when our spines tell us we should finally decide to call it a night. If that isn’t until the next morning then so much the better.
We’re also hoping to borrow a friend’s firepit and toast marshmallows in time-honoured camping tradition. Given the size of our plot, we are hoping not to set fire to anything – plants, pergola, furry five – but my husband, in true boy scout fashion, has the fire brigade on speed dial just in case. Akela would be so proud. All we need now is the weather.
The evening for us begins at a friend’s 60th birthday garden party, so officially we will spend the evening in not one, but two gardens and it seems we are in luck as the weather is holding out. It is noticeably cooler than the last few days, which for me is a blessing. The garden is full of people enjoying the outdoors and having a good time. Chairs, cool bags and beers are out, along with a fine spread of food. The time passes quickly as we follow the sun around the garden, like a human sundial, until it is past nine o’clock and we head off home.
“Dandelion Sunset” by jeff_golden on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.
Once home, we change into pyjamas with sweatshirts over the top for good measure as it really is quite cool by now. I feel like a child again – extremely excited at the novelty of it all. Sadly, we have no firepit (another reason for the extra layers) as upon closer inspection it has rusted away, so we make ourselves a hot chocolate each and pop the marshmallows on the top of these. Perfect!
It’s amazing how being outside, so close to nature, makes you appreciate the little things. Free of all distractions (apart from the iPad I’m writing this on), you notice every small detail — Such as how quiet it is, how different the garden looks at night, how much I love the lights on our pergola that look like stars. The list goes on and on.
Even some of the furry five are excited. A night out under the stars, complete with blankets! We all snuggle down together. I cross my fingers that my rather overfed ginger cat (as the only member of the furry five who might be inclined to) will not see fit to show his appreciation for our sleepout by bringing me a thank you gift in the early hours, particularly if it is of the amphibious variety.
My husband is already snoring gently, oblivious to my concerns. I peek over to the bottom of his recliner and see the aforementioned ginger furball snuggled in his lap, snoring too. Proof that my husband truly can sleep anywhere, including standing up, but that’s another story. It’s nearly midnight and I’m feeling like I could sleep ’til morning. So until then, it’s goodnight from me, and it’s goodnight from him.