Monday, 18 May 2009

Loitering Within Tent

This is what we've spent a large part of the weekend doing. Following the bankrupting Paris experience at Easter, this summer will see us holidaying on English shores (I use the term 'holiday' very loosely) beneath a thin layer of polyester. Our current tent-- a huge blue thing that looks endearingly like the hill where the Teletubbies live-- is definitely nearing retirement age, and hasn't been quite the same since the night that is remembered in family legend as The Great Storm of Robin Hood's Bay 2006 so, feeling slightly disloyal, we went to look for a replacement.

It seems tent technology has moved on quite a lot in recent years. Once considered at the cutting edge of camping cool, our Teletubby dome now seems embarrassingly primitive compared to the interior-designed, pastel-hued polyester palaces in which people don't sleep for a week these days. Or that could just be because my luxury radar is very finely tuned when it comes to anything camping-related, and suddenly the slightest concession to comfort seems almost indecently indulgent. 'It's got storage pockets,' I breathe in awe as we stand inside this tent. 'And a little hanging-rail thing. And flower patterns on the roof.' (as opposed to seagull poo and dog footprints, like ours) Already I am already so won over that I have totally forgotten that a night beneath 'mocca'-coloured polyester is every bit as chilly as a night beneath blue polyester (though it might look warmer on photographs; in all our camping photos our faces are blue-tinged) or that the five-star hotel price tag doesn't actually include an ensuite bathroom, room service or central heating and will still involve traipsing over wet fields to brush my teeth in a grimy portakabin.

Return home with armfuls of brochures (tent porn, my husband calls it) and while we pore over them in a happy wine-haze on the sofa (from which vantage point all the sunny photographs of well-adjusted families in the kind of very clean clothes my children might wear for parties look perfectly plausible) the children-- firmly in the camping spirit by now-- put up His ancient, beer-and-mildew scented two man tent on the lawn (aka the Glastonbury tent, for obvious reasons) and disappear into it for the rest of the weekend. Every now and again one of them emerges-- wild-haired and smelling slightly mouldy--to forage for supplies, but other than that no-one seems to miss the comforts of home (approximately twenty metres away) and are only too happy to exchange soft beds and nagging about dropping crumbs for damp sleeping bags and lawlessness.

Suddenly paying all that money for fitted tent carpets (yes, really) and walk-in wardrobes seems a bit daft. Camping is essentially about getting away from the need to tidy things away into storage pockets, hang up clothes and avoid getting mud on the carpet. Come to think of it, the Teletubby Dome might just see out another season...


Rachel said...

Oooh, India, you are so inspiringly brave...

I still recall those utterly wholesome, solidly christian, childhood holidays under canvas in the UK. Grimy portakabin? Pah! A standpipe and Mum's only luxury-a camping loo(it had it's own tent).

Loved it all until I got to about fourteen--the thought of all that dry shampoo still makes me itch!

Love the way the poppies match the tent!

Lots of love,

Nell Dixon said...

I did my share of camping in tents but three children in four years and trekking across the field in the rain to the toilets was more than I was prepared to cope with so we upgraded to a touring caravan.

India said...

A camping loo, Rachel? What kind of lily-livered southern softie are you??? In our tent it's an orange B&Q bucket. (Which is probably where the wholesome part falls down, unfortunately. And that's before we even mention His language when he's hammering in the pegs...)

SO glad you noticed the co-ordinating poppies! It's my Chelsea entry for this year, and is a comment on homelessness and drug addiction via the medium of gardening. Profound, eh?

Nell, you are the people who we gaze at wistfully in your warm, properly lit caravans as we sit outside the tent of an evening, wearing every item of clothing we've packed and holding our hands out to the embers of the disposable barbeque. (Don't want to scare you or anything...) A couple of years ago daughter #1 very cleverly positioned her uncomfortable folding camping chair right where she could see into the window of a caravan with a television and watched Eastenders every night. *sigh* So much for family bonding time.

Michelle Styles said...

Currently I am wondering about who is so silly to get carpeting in their tent. We have an earlier version of the ten man tent because let's face it -- when they say 10, they mean 10 children. It has a big central area and the a way to put up on awnings. It has been on several holidays that we went on by mistake. BUT the floor always gets covered in dirt and mud.
Unfortunately with my back, I now can't camp. But we used to make sure that we had a night in a posh hotel to round out the experience.