The Great British Camping Experience

When my partner suggested we go away for a weekend I couldn’t have been happier, until I found out we were going camping. Initially the idea of shopping for all the camping gear excited me probably more than it should have, but once we had acquired all the shiny new equipment my excitement slowly faded. Despite the fact that it was all clean and untainted, I couldn’t help but feel anxious about the fact that I’d be away from home, having to use all of these home from home commodities; they would no longer be all shiny and new. The plasticky smell from the nylon tent never really fades does it? It’s just the kind of smell that usually gets worse with time… Every time you get the tent out for your next adventure, there it is. Waft. Like the fragrant reminisce of your last adventure seems to linger, so does the memory of it.

If you’re clever like me, you would have bought a single skinned tent and the biggest double inflatable mattress you can find… If you’re clever like me, you would have woken up at 5am. Freezing cold. With your face pressed against a raining pane of pale blue nylon.

For most people camping can be the ultimate getaway, a real adventure. Basic cooking, log fires, walks to remote areas with breath taking views. Oh no, not for me. I like to stay in my tent as much as possible. I cower away from my country roots, and in fact anyone who associates with theirs also. The thought of running into any outdoorsy types mortifies me. Having those un-needed ‘Afternoon!’ nods. Those ‘Beautiful day’ pleasentries. Who needs them? Let me enjoy this weather without all the bullshit.

If spending 3 or 4 days avoiding creepy crawlies sounds all too familiar, then let me tell you, you are not alone. So far there doesn’t seem to be a word created for the ‘fear of camping’, but the closest we will come to it is: ‘Entomaphobia’. The fear of bugs. What’s camping with out the occasional… ‘Urgh, what the fuck is that!?’ Or the ‘Get it off me, get it off me!!!’

There’s something quite significant that confuses me about camping… The sheer amount of time you spend faffing about. Packing the car, unpacking the car. Packing the car, unpacking the car. All the things you’ll need to just survive one single night away from the salvation of your own home. And for what? What is the point? Lugging all your shit around… Having to walk almost a mile to wash out a baked bean caked pan… No. Washing and living with camping standard festival fanny the whole time you’re away… No. Why would you put yourself through so much upheaval when you could have just bought a mini city break from Wowcher and gone to Barcelona for a few days?

For me, camping is a little like flying… When it’s happening I’m hating every minute of it, but once it’s over… Well what can I say. I feel like a bigger and braver person for allowing it to happen. Camping isn’t, and won’t ever be my first choice for holidaying; nothing beats a good sturdy 4 walled room with a 4 legged bed does it?

Don’t get me wrong, some aspects of camping can be fun. For instance, on a recent festival weekend, putting up a gazebo in the wind and pissing rain because you forgot the top cover for your tent was just that… In theory this gazebo would have sheltered my little tent from the elements, while the top of the tent is exposed freely to just enough of the elements. But, as you can probably gather by now this was not to be… The gazebo, just like the weather, was unpredictable from the start. We figured we could sit, drink and babysit the gazebo all night or we could take a risk and make our way over to the music festival just across the field. Thankfully we returned, soaked to the bones, to find the shelter for our shelter still standing. Victory!! Victory was short lived when we found ourselves being shunted under its canopy, with my partner just moments before deciding to take a leaf from my book and begun urinating into a larger than normal plastic pint cup. Out of nowhere the disembodied voice of my mother in law sounded behind the pressure of the collapsed structure. “I THINK WE’VE LOST THE GAZEBO!!!” My partner still holding the half full cup of piss between her legs, tried to hold the gazebo up and also dispose of the cup without her mother finding out that when it comes to the outdoors, we lose all our inhibitions. I spent this blustery night sleeping inside our little Ford Ka. My partner refused to give up the goat and slept in the tent, even without certainty that the remainder of the gazebo would hold out long enough to shelter her from the exposed area of her bedroom. She was lucky enough to stay dry that night… But perhaps staying warm was wishful thinking.

On the second night of this occasion, I proceeded to stay in the safety of our little car once again. If anyone were to tell you that a Ford Ka is not the perfect sleeping environment, I would tell them they are a liar. Not only was the second in car stay a happy extension of the first night, but it’s safe to say the gazebo was absolutely fucked by this point. Warped and rusted. A car crash of a shelter. We arrived back from our second night at the festival, alcohol fuelled and wet, only to discover that the inside of the tent was wetter than we would have preferred. My partner gladly accepted my invite into Chateau de Ka for the evening, where we snuggled up like two caterpillars and took drunken selfies. If Trip Advisor did in car stays it would definitely be getting 5 stars from me. What more could you need? A reclining chair, perfect for a snooze. All your shit scattered around you. A cup holder for your cider. A dash board for those 4am leg cramps… Perfect.

The highlight of this specific tale is of Celine D-og. Like all good Cotswold festivals, dogs are allowed. Across the way from where we had created our Fawlty Towers of a camp, resided a family with the prettiest chocolate brown Boykin Spaniel that you ever did see. She had the most beautiful mullet. Real 80’s. Despite Celine Dion never actually having a mullet, this is what she was named for the duration of our stay. She looked rather like Bonnie Tyler if we’re going to make an accurate comparison between canine and celebrity. But Celine D-og is what she was named, and Celine D-og is what she will remain. We’ve decided that when we have a dog at some point in the near future, this is what she will be called… Presuming she is a she. Trips to the vets will be some of the the purest comedic moments of my life, which should in theory soften the blows of a heavy vet bill after all.