The Joy Of Tent
Our first night under canvas passed so quickly and smoothly, we hardly knew it was there. The only thing missing was power – we went to bed with the sun because, basically there was bugger all else we could do.
For our second night we spent so long driving around looking for somewhere with power to offer us that we ended up having to check ourselves into the last campsite we discovered, as it was officially closed for the night.
Not to be deterred, we pitched our tent with the last of the light and settled down to cook in total darkness. It was about now I wished I’d brought a decent torch – all we had was a tiny wind-up key ring thing which Roo had bought for £1! For some reason it just hadn’t occurred to me that we’d be camping in the dark. What is this, the middle ages?
It then emerged that the other thing we’d forgotten to bring was any food. Oh, we had plenty of snacks – a crate in the back of the car filled entirely with crisps and chocolates, Pepperami and Snack-a-jacks. Sadly, a close investigation revealed nothing remotely resembling dinner. Then, just when all seemed lost, I discovered a small stash of tins I’d stolen from my Mum’s kitchen. What can I say? They were on the top shelf, so it’s not likely she would have been able to eat any of them before I got back.*
(*My mother is a gnome. She can only reach the bottom shelf if she stands on the phone book)
Amongst the tinned horde were beans a tin of Spaghetti Bolognaise – ASDA’s finest. The two seemed destined for each other, and for our bellies, so without further ado Roo mixed them together in a pan, blasted it with our bunsen burner and that was dinner sorted. It made me quite proud to think how well we were looking after ourselves in the wild.
We’d pitched the tent under a group of trees, without realizing just how many birds were living in them. The dawn cacophony was magical and deafening at the same time, and utterly impossible to sleep through. A few ducks added their over-enthusiastic quacking, and were joined by the deep bass rumble of what Roo tentatively identified as a T-rex.
The rumbling got closer and more threatening, right up to the point where we cowered in our tent, sure that the rapture was approaching; in fact, it was this beast:
which the campsite owners, in their infinite wisdom, had decided to unleash upon us all at 7am. What was it doing so volubly, that simply couldn’t wait another hour? Why, it was trimming the hedgerows of course. And then dredging the streams that bordered the site. Obviously a full day’s work had been scheduled for the 300 decibel behemoth and we were eager to get out of it’s way.
And so to the toilet block! For those not familiar with camping, this is the communal toilet/showers facility for them wot’s not got their own. Rocking up to one first thing in the morning, toothbrush and towel in hand, is a bit of a ritual – and not quite as wholesome as you might imagine. For starters, most of the other male campers are OAPs. Most of them are fat, hairy and distinctly unashamed about it. And most of them eat more baked beans during a week’s caravan holiday than they do in the rest of the year. So, as I queued for a shower cubicle behind a sizeable portion of body-bearded man-blubber, it was to the tune of seventy-plus seventy-plus-year olds, taking it in turns to void their irritable bowels explosively. Never before in the field of human history have so few toilets taken such a beating from so many bloated backsides. The seats had become uncomfortably warm by the time my turn arrived…
(I have deliberately chosen NOT to illustrate this experience with a photograph)
The shower seemed more welcome by the minute. Feeling much less violated once the hot water began to flow, I hummed a half-remembered song. I’d hardly even noticed I was doing it, until the bloke in the next cubicle took up the tune. This scared me a little. Then, as someone a few stalls up joined in, the memory clicked – God knows why, but I was humming ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, a Catholic hymn from my childhood. Oh no. I suddenly wanted to leave very quickly, before a half-naked octogenarian could tackle me about my dedication to Jesus. I showered at high velocity, and luckily there wasn’t anyone waiting in a towel outside my cubicle to ask me for a ‘Hallelujah’…
So, notes to take on board for the next few night’s camping include:
- Find a camp with fewer birds
- Find a camp with fewer
- Find a camp that isn’t a Bible Camp
- Find a campsite with power
- Find a suitable way to harness said power
- Find a camp with fewer diggers (None at all would be nice)
- BUY SOME FOOD!
I’ll let you know how we go on.
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