How was your Easter? What did you get up to?
Did you go away? If so, lucky you!
I didn’t but I can’t wait to. I was bitten by the camping bug a few years ago and now regularly look forward to the few weeks per year when I can just decide to head off into the wilderness with just my tent and family for company.
Or that was the plan.
In the ever-increasing busisness of the 21st century that doesn’t actually happen any more.
First up, if you want to stay anywhere decent you either have to a) book early or b) pay through the nose.
These days it’s not unheard of to pay £30 a night for a camping pitch or, as we generally know it, a patch of grass.
That’s right, for the amount you can get a Travelodge in a number of city centres complete with shower, telly and big comfy double bed (plus walls that don’t move) you could spend the night on a bit of lawn in North Yorkshire or Derbyshire.
Anyway, before you get to your chosen destination you need to pack. But as it’s camping it’ll just be a few things slung into the back of the car, right?
Wrong. First up is the tent. Do you want a tiny thing that you put your head through in the night ala Bernard Bresslaw in Carry on Camping?
Right, you need something with a bit of heft. That means a series of interconnected poles like some 21st century mechanical spiderweb – and the chance of forgetting them.
There’s nothing better than sitting at a campsite watching a couple or, indeed, families grow increasingly frustrated as they figure out why they’ve got a spare pole and then start bickering as they realise the door’s on the roof.
Why so smug I hear you ask? We bought a big pop-up tent a couple of years ago. The only arguments are when you have to fold the rectangular tent up in order to get it into a circular bag.
Imagine origami with a 15kg 10ft long piece of paper.
Now there are tents which have reinforced cylinders where the poles used to be and you just blow them up. So no sharp implements and don’t forget your pump or it’s a long afternoon and probably an evening in A&E to get your breath back.
That’s the tent packed so now it’s airbeds or camp beds or roll mats. Then you can choose whether it’s a sleeping bag or a duvet.
What about something to cook on? Is it a little gas stove or a barbecue.
Don’t forget the kettle. Oh, and the coolbox. Plus a few supplies. Are you taking a table?
Pretty soon the back of the car, footwells and back seat are full and you’re ready to go.
Wait a minute, there’s no room for anyone in the car. A little light repacking and you’re ready to go.
Obviously, as you’ve never been there before and it’s in the back of beyond you will get lost on the way
You turn up two hours later than you intended, the car vomits out occupants and camping contents as soon as you open the door and you set to work getting your canvas home up with only a modicum of sweating and swearing.
Sometime in the early evening as you sit outside and enjoy a beer or wine you get talking to the people in the patch of grass next door.
And what does every camper always say? “Oh yes, it’s just so relaxing to get away from it all!”