Land Rover 110 camping in the Hautes-Alpe region in southern France

It’s dark so I assume I am still asleep and the sound of birds chirping is a dream. It is quiet and the temperature is nice and fresh. The bed is comfortably cosy so I turn over – and put my face into the canvas.

This is not quite what I had expected and I sit up and try to figure out where I am. In the dim light, it slowly dawns on me that we’re ‘not in Kansas anymore…’

I reach out to drag the zip, to open the tent flap and an intense shaft of sunlight makes me raise my arm to shield my eyes. I attempt to leave the confines of the tent, and nearly end up in a heap on the grass. It seems we’re in a roof-tent then, over a metre off the ground…

Slowly I get my head around the fact that we’re in France on a campsite. The thick canvas of the tent and the darkness inside makes it a struggle to become aware of my surroundings. But once I am at ground level the crisp early morning air and a hint of sunlight spurs me into action.

The first mission of the day is a cup of tea. Except for the soft snoring of someone somewhere and a distant zipper of a tent being closed it is very quite.

The birds chatter excitedly as I fire up the tiny burner and delicately balance a pot of water over it. A quick check on the time and a smile creeps up on me. It is only seven a.m. And the sun is shining bright already. What a way to start the day…

You allow the world to ever so slowly catch up to you and gradually become aware of your surroundings. The birds have become slightly more vocal and excited, the sunlight catches the early morning dew. A gust of wind rushes through the treetops, the smell of the grass… The temperature is cool and the invigoration of being out-of-doors is refreshing.

Your endeavours at making a drinkable cup of tea are seriously below par, but it doesn’t matter. It is blissfully quiet whilst you assume that everyone is attempting to get a few more minutes of sleep.

You try and stretch the moment as much as you can but inevitably the first sound of a tent zip is the catalyst for a cascade of movement. They’re awake! And the moment is over…

The avalanche of human activity snaps you out of your distraction. Breakfast appears, trips to the ablutions are made and the camp is slowly dismantled.

Chaos ensues as each person has their own particular approach and level of speed in doing things. It can’t help that most are not quite awake yet which means that the single most important enterprise – packing the trailers – descends into disarray.

How is it possible that you can never get it all in again? It went in yesterday and looked rather organised to boot. “Why are we now stuck with three bags and a tent that will simply not fit?”

Serious discussion ensues, along with the removal of almost the entire contents in a bid to reorganise it in the hope that it will all go in… The moment has passed and it is time to hit the road!