It helps being a scout

This Easter school break saw beautiful weather, and as a teacher I'm off work during school holidays. But my husband is in the middle of a career change, and is doing his last work placement period before graduating as a qualified nurse, so there wasn't time to go off on a family holiday...

School breaks can easily make me crazy. Or, rather, having the kids 'round the house all the time, having to nag them to get off the computer, get off the TV, get off the sofa, get off the Wii, etc. All their friends seemed to be off in Thailand, or the Alps or in all sorts of exotic places.

Not very far from Falkenberg is part of the North Sea Trail, a system of foot paths connecting all the countries around the North Sea. I managed to get the kids interested in hiking with me for two days.

We took the bus from Falkenberg at lunch time, 20 minutes eastwards to a small village called Vessigebro, were we got off the bus and had ice cream in the sun before setting off through the village, past the church and onto the path, leading along the ridge above the river Ätran. The view was magnificent!

We paused for a rest, a drink and a piece of fruit or a little sweet every so often, as we all felt slightly uncomfortable in our backpacks and our feet grew tired. 5 km was just the right distance to hike with a 10-year-old, a 12-year-old and a 40+ mum, early in the season. The dog carried his own food and drink, and got slightly tired too.

At 4 pm we reached our camp site, Skattagård, and had plenty of time to rest, pitch the tent, enjoy the surrounding forest and cook before dark. We saw lots of tracks from deer, elks, birds and wild boar. Just after dinner we had a visit from a couple of the nearby farmers/landowners, who told us that they were going to hunt for wild boar during the night, so if we heard anything we shouldn't be alarmed. And could we please keep in the tent and the dog too (as if we'd be out in the dark with lots of wild boar about!)

After having read a couple of chapters in a Famouse Five book, we turned in for the night just after dark (at about 9.30 pm). We were very tired. Mike, whose ten, fell a sleep almost instantly. The dog first wanted to stay in the for-tent, but the night grew very chilly very quickly, and there was an array of mysterious sounds from the forest outside the tent, and he very soon wanted to snuggle down in between us three in the already crowded tent.

Cassandra and I lay listening to the night sounds. It was exciting and a bit scary. We wished that we had learnt the various bird's song, and got slightly worried when we heard a consistant rustling noise, just outside the tent. Could it be a wild boar? I thought I heard a slight snuffling noise too.

Suddenly, a shot rang out in the night! The dog flew up, and tried to open the tent flap, but landed his paws in Mike's face, but he barely woke up at all. The forest got all quiet, and we hardly drew breath as we were listening to the sound of a hound a little way off. Then it got all quiet. The dog finally lay down again. And the forest started breathing, and sounding. Far away a deer barked. A fox yelped quite close, and owls and other birds called out. I have never heard such music!

It got very cold during the night. I later learnt that a few kilometers away, it got down to -4, and we woke up a couple of times and snuggled closer together. Mike woke up at 6 am and wanted breakfast, but got pursuaded to go back to sleep.

When the sun got up, the warmth returned quickly. We cooked a luxurious breakfast on the Trangia, before setting off for the 6 km walk to the bus stop in Abild. The path took us through a nature reserve, on little country lanes, past farms and fields, and on the last leg, on the road.

Before catching one of the few buses back to Falkenberg that run out there, we had a nice lunch outside the mideveal church. With a lovely couple of day's hiking, aching feet and shoulders and a nice, fresh tan, we returned home just in time for an afternoon ice cream. I couldn't help thinking how lucky I am to be a scout, which makes it so much easier to get out on little expeditions like this....

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