A Family Tradition

Since I can remember, I have camped and caravanned on a field in Helmsley during the bank holiday in May (the latter one). It has and always will be known as ‘camp’ to us. It has been a Baillie tradition since my Dad was a child. If I remember rightly, I have only ever missed three, or maybe four, in my 27 years. Helmsley is a market town in North Yorkshire, home to a historic market place and old stone houses with thatched roofs. We camp on the outskirts at a farm in Harome. The family have kindly let us use this field since forever. It’s a very basic camping experience; no facilities, no luxury shower block and no other people. We are free to roam to our heart’s content. I really wouldn’t change it for the world. It is one of the most enjoyable and carefree weekends of the year.

As a child, it used to be a weekend of soaking all your clothes, welly sores and putting on talent shows for the adults. As a ‘grown up’, things have changed a little and now it usually involves a lot of alcohol, camp fires and a whole heap of barbequed food. One thing that hasn’t changed over time is the love and excitement for this place. Whilst I was away in Canada, I was gutted to miss out on the festivities.

Unfortunately over the years, less and less people attend. Not only family members, but distant relatives, family friends and ex-lovers have been involved in the past. At one time, we struggled to fit everyone around the huge camp fire. As a smaller group, we enjoy nightly camp fires and communal living. We tend to cook, eat, drink, clean and socialise together.

We walk along the River Rye into Helmsley, stop for an obligatory refreshment that rhymes with peer (and maybe an ice cream), wander round the gift shops and meander back to our camp. Helmsley is great for people watching and popular meeting point for motorcyclists. This year we tried a recommended coffee shop, Mannion and Co. The smell of the baked goods and coffee hits you when you walk in. That alone is enough to make you want more. The sausage roll was screaming at me, so I placed my order and waited patiently for it. It was huge and homemade, served with salad and chutney. It could possibly be one of the best sausage rolls I’ve ever eaten. The coffee was great and served in beautiful crockery. We sat outside on the small patio and watched the world go by.

This year, I decided to go phone free. It made me realise a few things. Phones are great for keeping in contact with your favourite people but they can also turn you a little crazy. Obsessing over a post you saw on Instagram or not receiving a text back really isn’t the end of the world. I learnt to let go a little bit and enjoy phone free moments more often. I used my camera more. I felt more present. And I certainly didn’t miss it. Here’s to more phone free moments in the future.

This May bank holiday tradition has branched out to August bank holiday too. So hopefully I get another chance to visit this beautiful spot before I head back to Canada (all being well). Between now and then, I’m going to hunt down photos from over the years of camp. Not only for myself but to share with you, so watch this space.

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