Camping & Me
I’m sure I must have camped when I was a kid but, apart from one sleeping-outside occasion when I was about seven which – due to my young and tender age – must have been a planned event and not an accident, I can’t remember camping at all under the age of 22 when I attended my first festival.
Thinking about it now, my lack of camping experiences as a child must have in part had my mother to blame as, although I was on holiday with her somewhere when the above sleeping outside (is it camping if you’re just in someone’s garden?) took place but she wasn’t also sleeping outside but had packed me off with a group of people I didn’t know so she must have been averse to camping. I still have no idea who these people were or in fact even where we were. All I can remember about that particular weekend is eating lobster for the first time (delicious but fiddly).
Since then, my camping experience goes thus:
Reading Festival, 1992
If you were there, even if you remember nothing else – not even Kurt Cobain being wheeled on stage in a wheelchair – you will remember the rain. By fuck, it rained. I’d been so neat and tidy inside the tent, using a frisbee as an ashtray, only for my makeshift ashtray to be swimming around the tent the next morning in six inches of water. We de-camped to the pub at 6am for tea, shelter and a clean, dry toilet, sloshing our way past other campers who were bailing water out of what was left of their tents with saucepans.
V Festival, Leeds, 1998
My forward-thinking then-boyfriend brought an airbed to use while we camped at V Festival in 1998. He put up the tent while I moaned about missing James who I could hear playing in the distance.
The next year, I had a new boyfriend who, when we went to V that year, booked us in to a guest house. Bliss. I’ve never camped at a festival since.
That was pretty much my experience of camping until three years ago when I took part in the London Revolution. For those who don’t know what this is, it’s a two-day 180-mile bike ride around London. It started off badly with me hurting my shoulder as I dragged my bike up a narrow set of stairs in the B&B I was staying in the night before and got worse from there, culminating in me being picked up by the loser bus at 60 miles on the first day. I stayed in a tent that night and although Rachel had lent me a super-comfy, super-warm sleeping bag, I remained freezing cold and the cold kept making me need a wee and so four times in the night I had to get up, put my shoes on (I was already fully-dressed, never getting warm enough to take any clothes off), find the headtorch and trudge across a dark, muddy field to the portaloo. I got up at 5am, met up with Rachel for breakfast and said I was getting the train home.
I have never camped since.
But, look at this! A tent that sits on the roof of your car! How cool is this? If I were to go camping again, I would insist on one of these. In fact, I may even learn to drive, just so I can get a TentBox roof tent for my car. Not only are you away from the ground, away from the cold and the wet and the ants and the spiders and the beetles and the snakes and the polar bears, but it would be like sleeping in a treehouse; a car house, perhaps. It makes camping look fun and making camping look like fun needs all the help it can get, as far as I’m concerned.