Nights Under Polyester


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…..


Weather or Not, It’ll Rain

Rain2We all do it, that quick check on the weather for the weekend, make plans around it, only to find they got the forecast completely wrong. It sounds like the ideal job, an apprenticeship with the Met Office weather and climate services, they will train you to use the thousands of pounds worth of instruments at their disposal. Learn to study clouds, use an anemometer to gauge wind speed, a thermometer to gauge temperatures, a barometer to measure atmospheric pressure and not forgetting the weather satellites, giving high definition imagery as they orbit the Earth tracking weather patterns. Hours of research using the worlds most cutting edge technology, then you get to broadcast your findings that turn out to be nothing more than an educated guess. After years of hit and miss predictions, you can collate all that data and issue a statement to say how one month compares with the same month in previous years. “It’s the dampest month since records began”, “We’ve had 139.8 millimeters of rain, the fifth wettest on record” and your job’s done. I would like to know how they can be so constantly inaccurate…questions would be asked if I got my job so constantly wrong as much as the weather forecasters. So there it is, a job that has no pressure and I think I could do it from home, I wouldn’t need all those gadgets, just look out the window.  From where I am in the East Midlands, it’s simple, tomorrow is going to be overcast with rain.