There is a time between darkness and light when for a brief moment the garden becomes magical. The morning mist clings to the earth giving the landscape a mystical feel, petals are laden with dew drops and the air is crisp and fresh. There is a stillness and serenity that quietens the soul. A new day is dawning and on Sunday 29th July this was the scene that greeted us. My little girl and I had spent the night in my old tent for the National Garden SleepOut event (sponsored by Primrose). We were now waking up to the sounds of birdsong. All that kept us from the invigorating outdoors was a thin piece of canvas.
As you can see from the photo, it is not the sturdiest tent and must be about 25 years old. Nonetheless, it was adequate enough for one night. We had put up my tired old tent the day before and my two children had a great time playing dens and pretending they were on holiday. My little boy (15 months) nearly scuppered the whole event when, after running in and out of the tent, he got his foot caught in the guy rope. He came close to pulling the whole lot on himself! I then decided that perhaps he was a little young and we would have a girlie sleepout instead. The boys would be left in the warmth of the house, with my husband enjoying an uninterrupted viewing of the Olympics.
At about 7pm we got into our cosy tent and had a great time chatting and eating our “midnight” feast. Eventually she tired herself out and fell into a deep sleep. I was left listening to the outside noises. In the darkness, the slightest sounds became intensified. Two nights ago, I saw a fox on our patio, its coat glistening in the moonlight. Whilst I love these impressive animals, I didn’t relish the thought of one wandering around outside, especially as I only had a torch to protect us.
The temperature was also dropping and the cold air was beginning to wrap its claws around us. I lay there trying to ignore that I was freezing and a bit scared. For me, one of the most frightening animals to hear at night has to be a barn owl. Its cry sounds like something out of a horror film. Thankfully, there were none around. I remember seeing one last winter, its ghostly form captivating me as it swooped down from the nearby tree. This magical bird then let out an unearthly screech which absolutely terrified me. I found myself literally running back to the car. What scary animal sounds have other people heard at night?
Eventually, I fell asleep and awoke the next day, bleary-eyed but elated. We had survived the night! My joy was intensified when my little boy popped his head into the tent, closely followed by my other half with a cup of tea. Life doesn’t get much better. My family, the great outdoors and a cuppa – bliss!
I would definitely sleep out again. The garden holds a new charm for me now. I even enjoyed the thrill of being a bit scared. The best thing of all though was spending some precious time with my little girl. Now that really was magical.