“This isn’t going to work. I think we should separate.”
Words more than capable of sending a shiver down a spine and a relationship down the drain. Words, that uttered on a cold, wet night in the depths of the Swiss Alps, signalled a chilling and sleepless night ahead.
We’d given it a go. We’d managed eight stormy nights in a tent. That’s pretty commendable in my book. (My book of warmth, pillows and private bathrooms.) This time, though, the tempests had got the better of us. And it was time to part.
It was time to part the sleeping bags.
Altogether during our European road trip Ed and I managed about 23 minutes of quilted unity before he called it a day. Apparently my hair was in his face, choking him. My body heat was melting the skin cells off his upper torso. My restless twitches feeding his despair and anguish.
Then, those fateful words.
Ten minutes later, after berating Ed severely for not accommodating me in his love nest and making me seriously question his commitment, whilst trying to untangle my hair from the zip, we were apart. As I shivered myself to sleep and tried to log onto the campsite wifi in time to download Tinder and find someone else to keep me warm I got thinking.
About boyfriends. And girlfriends. And relationships. And holiday photos. And Facebook. And how things are never what they seem. So before I wrote a proper blog about driving through five countries in ten days in our little car, Hans Polo, smashing mountains, lakes, cities and carbs along the way, I wanted to write about the reality behind camping holidays, to break the social media idyll, so that no one sits in despair wishing they looked as sexy as we did in our pac a macs.
It may come as a surprise to you that camping for ten days in the Alpine wilderness is not necessarily a fairytale. There are mountains both literal and metaphorical to conquer that make two divorced sleeping bags pale in comparison.
I was expecting things to get turbulent at times, what with Ed driving and me being chief navigator even though sometimes I forget which way is left and right and spend too long trying to play Countdown with car registration plates. But nothing could have prepared me for the battle that is getting through a trip in the European outback with your other half whilst, for example, trying at the same time to appear attractive, when dehydrated contact lenses and unbrushed hair make you look like crazy frog, or constantly trying to hold in a poo.
On that note, IBS got the better of me about half a bowl of pasta into Italy and there’s nothing more violent than dairy intolerance to take your relationship to the next level. I also had a bizarre reaction to a new brand of contraceptive pill I was trialling in the form of horrendous breast pain, so that whilst thankfully no children were conceived in our two-man tent, I did spend over half my trip massaging my chest, refusing all upper body contact and swearing at my bras a lot.
As more and more beautiful holiday snaps appear on my timeline I feel somewhat reassured with the knowledge that behind every sexy sunset, romantic kiss on a bridge, expensive meal on the beach or first-class flight upgrade there is definitely at least one stomach virus, one snake in the water (it happened) and many, many out-takes.
I mean, hello…
I discovered though, that love comes in unusual and more invisible forms. It is bigger than breast pain and stronger than a severed zip.
Love is working together to discover the many functions of a sports bra. Love is someone encouraging you to relieve yourself on the side of a mountain and rewarding you with Haribo. Love is no judgement when you’ve spent the previous night bent over double in pain definitely refusing sex only to order an extra pizza the next day. Love is sharing ice cream so you get more flavours. Love is ditching the hot spots and sharing supernoodles under the stars. Love is a night of therapy over beer and strudel when you convince yourself you have melanoma. And extra therapy when a cyclist wheels past you with his testicles hanging over the seat.
All in all we did have a fun little holiday. I’ll tell you the official side of the story next time. Hope you liked the out takes. Ta ra for now!