From as early as I can remember I have always gone camping.
My wife and I have travelled the length and breath of Britain to many a different campsite. From the most basic, a field in the middle of nowhere, with absolutely no amenities, to the grandiose village style campsite will everything at hand including showers, shops and even a clubhouse. We have camped in all weathers, from the rare but glorious British sunshine to depths of snow covered ground. We have gone through many changes in tent design. The humble beginnings with the most basic of ridge tent, progressing to a multi bed-roomed full fame once the family started to grow with the arrival of our children. Finding our way back down to the more simple “Pop Up” format of today’s lightweight, flimsy polyester, with the ground sheet, flysheet, pockets and even windows with curtains all sown-in. Over the years we have also accumulated various acquisitions to our camping kit, upgrading sleeping bags, stoves, lighting, tables, chairs, inflatable beds, pots, pans, heating units, windbreaks, washing lines, even wine glass holders. A top box for the car was purchased to aid the carrying of all this kit. And to think we use to go with whatever we could carry on my motorbike.
Then, three years ago this all changed for me. I damaged my knee that made it difficult to walk let alone any bending needed to occupy a tent. So we have still been traveling over the length and breath of Britain, but using Bed & Breakfasts or hotels. Until last weekend, when my wife was insistent that we rekindle our “over canvas” away breaks (I was quick to point out that it is no longer canvas, but…). Anyway, knee problems had all been resolved, so the car was packed with the basics, plus the dog and off we went.
Forecast looked good and it was a lovely sunny day as we pitched the tent. Friends and family all gathered to the same location and so we commandeered a large area of the well furbished site that overlooked the coastline.
All was fine. With the days events over, we all reassembled for food and drink. The late afternoon slid into evening as we all sat and talked, drinks in hand, planning the next day’s agenda.
As the sun set the air changed. Bringing a cold blast to the proceedings. I found my self starting to shiver. The Polo top was no longer enough for warmth. I quietly donned a sweater, then my rain mack in an attempt to ward off the chill. With my legs aching for the cold, I retired for the evening, wondering why I was the only one effected by the change in temperature. I was beginning to regret the return to camping.
After constantly waking up cold throughout the night, dawn finally came. I reluctantly wriggled from my cocoon of sleeping bag and added blankets and made my way up to the shower block for that early morning pee.
The day break felt calm compared to the night before. The chill factor had gone. As I peered over towards the sea, I realized what it was I used to love about camping…..