The impetus for acquiring a firepit began on a camping trip to North Wales a couple of seasons ago. We'd left it late to book and couldn't occupy our favoured pitch, which is sheltered and serene, and instead found ourselves pitched on a windy headland overlooking the beach.
A day or so later we were joined on this blowy little promontory by a couple and their two young lads. Chris and family. As they began to set up we could see that they were serious campers. From their van they produced, amongst a myriad of home comforts, an industrial barbecue, a full set of garden furniture, bicycles, pup tents, a gazebo, firepit, and a partridge in a pear tree, and all enclosed within a rainbow stockade of windbreaks. Soon there stood erected an extensive and thoroughly well-appointed compound, and we were full of admiration.
As the evening closed in, the wind really began to whip up. Before turning in for the night, I had the presence of mind to deploy the internal bracing system our tent boasts. The girls slumbered on through it all, but at 5 in the morning I was awakened by the howling storm and opened my eyes in time to see the tent wall, pushed in by the wind, topple the cooker over. I leapt out of bed and deftly managed to catch it before it crashed to the floor. Unbattening the hatches and stepping outside, I surveyed the damage.
I was greeted with a scene of complete devastation. We were allright Jack, but next door's once-impressive homestead was gone. The small field was littered all over with clothes and games and kitchen equipment and dirigibles and all manner of camping stuff, a tent hung broken and torn in a far hedge, and in the middle of this desolation lay four sad piles. Chris and family. I gathered up their stuff as best I could and woke Chris up. "We'll be needing a new fuckin' tent, then" he observed.
We were about to invite the family for a hearty breakfast by way of consolation, but in no time at all they'd gathered up enough pans and plates, retrieved the bacon from down the beach, mushrooms from behind the toilet block, set the barbecue on its legs and fried up a full english. A couple of hours later, we helped them pitch their new tent, bigger and with better weatherproofing credentials.
The rest of that day had a celebratory feel to it. The wind abated, and it turned into a scorcher. Minty spent the entire day on the beach, in a succession of swim suits, clambering over rocks and investigating rock pools with the other kids, whilst we swapped beers and camping stories with our neighbours. That evening, Chris carried his firepit down to the beach, sparked it up, and a party was born. Everyone came, all the kids had a great time chasing about and collecting wood for the fire, until they fell asleep one by one, the booze never ran dry (eh Nelly?) and it was light before we turned in.
We'll be taking the new firepit with us camping this week, and hoping the weather's mild. It occurs to me that firepits might attract wandering acoustic guitarists - we must be on our guard.