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I’m turning my children into workers

PUBLISHED: 08:09 10 August 2018

I wonder if the Harlequin Fayre building team had as many battles with their tents as we did? Picture submitted

I wonder if the Harlequin Fayre building team had as many battles with their tents as we did? Picture submitted

Archant

Turns out the hard work, wasps and ants are worth it, writes Jo Malone

I guess with everything from tables to beanbags and bunting, tent building was going to take a while. Picture submittedI guess with everything from tables to beanbags and bunting, tent building was going to take a while. Picture submitted

I have a new plan to ensure the girls properly help me put up our tent – currently known as The Beast as it’s such a battle to build.

It’s definitely due to a lack of know-how, but I struggle working out which pole goes where and in what order, and pushing in those finger-aching push-pin pole locky bits, which hold metal poles together. Lugging the canvas cover over without bending the frame alarmingly has yet to happen, let alone working out a build that doesn’t involve undoing some poles to thread through the cover once it’s on.

It is, I’ve discovered, impossible to manage single-handed and with no helpful nephew and his fiancée on hand this trip, the extra hands have to come from the ten and eight-year-old.

Thalia was delighted to finally complete the tent build. Picture submittedThalia was delighted to finally complete the tent build. Picture submitted

But the eight-year-old gets sidetracked, a lot. She’s aimed to help before, and will hold a pole as requested but only until she thinks of something she is supposed to be doing like finding her sloth, or getting a drink, or following a butterfly, or swinging on the pole she’s holding or having a wee. The latter is definitely the default answer if I say ‘hold this Thalia please’ as she, without fail, will say ‘yes, in a minute’ and disappear for ages.

Keola is more patient, but building the tent with just the two of us always involves a few injuries.

So this time I have a cunning plan, which is probably dreadful parenting. I promise them 10 pence for every pole they properly help with – and it works. It takes a while, but three hours after arriving in very hot sun the tent is up, the beds are made, all our clutter is inside and we can enjoy a Norfolk weekend at the Harlequin Fayre.

The fun with friends at the festival made up for the effort building our home. Picture submittedThe fun with friends at the festival made up for the effort building our home. Picture submitted

Friends arrive and somehow put their tents up in about an hour, I’ve no idea how.

We have a superb weekend of circus, music, river paddling, crafts, cycling - and wasp swatting and sweltering in the tent – before it’s four hours of tent dismantling in baking heat.

We arrive home grubby, shattered, and with an invite for a family night away of fun and pampering for the August Bank Holiday from a brilliant hostess friend. I’m imagining the great company, the super comfy beds, good games, wonderful food and brilliant showers in her wasp-and-ant-free beautiful home.

The battle with the Beast tent over and Keola could relax with her friend. Picture submittedThe battle with the Beast tent over and Keola could relax with her friend. Picture submitted

‘Or we could go to another festival, but we’d have to build and unbuild the tent again,’ I mention, feeling sweaty at the thought of it but thinking of Trunchonbury near Mundesley from August 24-26, a family weekend of arts and music.

“Trunchonbury,” they both say, excitedly.

I need to start saving 10 pences.

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