After much persuasion I was convinced to spend the Hemelvaart holiday with 2 days under canvas. The idea of camping has never appealed to me and the idea of camping with two small children was even more horrific to me, however a party was occurring at the campsite so I knew I could cushion the experience with a large quantity of wine!
As it turned out the weekend was glorious (until the final morning) and we had 2 days of setting up our little tented village in glorious sunshine and 30 degrees of heat. We barbecued and snacked, ran around the campsite with all the kids, played strange hybrid anglo-dutch versions of various bat and ball games and threw buckets of water over super-heated children.
The surrounding countryside was beautiful, the dawn chorus very loud, but reassuringly varied in song and I was even able to watch a pair of marsh harriers gliding over the fields in search of their next meal. In the evenings the bats came out and performed an aerobatic display for us while hoovering up the wide range of insects covering the campsite.
Unfortunately the final morning brought the inevitable arrival of rain - you don't go camping in the Netherlands and expect to stay dry the whole time! So we packed up our soggy tent and filled the car with damp garden furniture, wet carrier bags of belongings and soaked children and returned to civilisation - well at least solid walls and a hot bath!
The weekend was great fun, pity about the rain which spoiled our plans for a long luxurious Sunday breakfast and I'm still not convinced camping has any merit in a world where 5 star hotels exist. But the kids had a great time, we didn't freeze or get eaten alive and we've now passed through another rite of passage towards integration into Dutch life - after all whats more Dutch than spending a holiday weekend camping!