Two in a Tent by Molly Brett
1969, The Medici Society Ltd., London.
I’ve been away for a while, partly due to busyness, but also because we went on holiday! We rented a car and drove down to North Devon, where we stayed in a tent. When it came to what book to bring, Enid Blyton was a little too obvious, so I brought along Two in a Tent.
Two in a Tent would be suitable for children of all ages. It tells the story of Susan, who goes to visit her cousin David in the country. They are allowed to sleep in a tent in the orchard by his house, they encounter lots of animals (which Susan invariably either misidentifies or is afraid of), and they even have an adventure when the orchard floods.
Susan and David learn a lot about the animals they encounter. The text includes a lot of information, so that it could be very useful in a unit about animals, biology, ecosystems, the countryside, etc. It was published in 1969, so some of the information is not correct (don’t give hedgehogs milk! And don’t take in baby deer!), but much of it is still factual, and the illustrations are extremely accurate. Molly Brett’s artwork manages to be sweet, whimsical and yet almost scientific. On the back cover of my edition, there is a guide to some of the birds and flowers in the book, if you have not identified them already.
We two in a tent did some of the things David and Susan did (although we spent most of our time at the beach). We didn’t make our own fire, but we did cook sausages.
We didn’t go on a “midnight march” (although we meant to), and I for one really enjoyed the “hot baths and supper” we had when we came home!
In Devon I was excited to buy copious amounts of clotted cream, which we had with yeast buns and jam.
Once home, I was looking forward to using it in various ways. However, I’m not sure how easy it is to find clotted cream outside the UK. You could use extra thick double cream instead, or shake double cream in jar for a couple of minutes until it thickens up, but it wouldn’t be exactly the same, so I thought I would put up a recipe for those of you who can’t get ahold of it. Clotted cream is traditionally made by heating cream on very low heat for a long time. I looked around and found this recipe, which uses a slow cooker. Ingenious! I cut down on the amount of cream, because I already have two big tubs of clotted cream in the fridge!
3 cups heavy or double cream
Pour the cream into the slow cooker and leave on low or warm for 8 – 10 hours. It is a tricky business because you do not want the cream to go above 180 degrees F (82 degrees C). My slow cooker tends to be quite hot, so I left it on warm. Then, transfer the whole thing to the fridge (you don’t want to disturb the crust on top of the cream!) for at least 4 hours. When it is chilled, scoop off the top layer, which should be thick, not runny. I found that there was still some runny cream, but it tasted fine, so I scooped it all into a dish and then added the crust part of the cream back on top.
After a few more hours of chilling, the cream should all set up to proper thickness.
Enjoy in a traditional cream tea with scones and jam, or eat with a spoon (that’s what I did!).
Even if you don’t have an orchard, if you have a bit of garden, sleeping out in the tent is a fun activity for kids and adults. You could make a fire and cook some sausages, and have a “midnight march”. And if you can’t get to the beach, you could always set up a paddling pool!