Thursday, 12 April 2007

Camping it up

Jenny has always had a yen for camping but ever since my hellish camping experience as a teenager, I've been dead against it. Once bitten, twice shy, as they say.

My grim memory surfaced when I heard of the sudden surge in the number of UK campers - up by 7 per cent, particularly among women - which is reflected in the growth of camping and caravan sites here in Northern Ireland. In fact Millisle on the Ards Peninsula is quite disfigured by the acres of caravans nudging the shoreline.

But nights under canvas aren't for me. As a tender 13 year old Boy Scout, I was persuaded to spend two weeks camping in Yorkshire, and what a mistake that was. It rained non-stop for a fortnight so we were squelching around Glastonbury-style in thick mud. All the tents leaked and kept us sodden. The food was inedible and impossible to cook properly. There was nothing whatever to do. And the scoutmaster was lurking in the background looking for dishy boys he could cuddle up to. Was I glad to pack up and get back to civilisation.

Yes I know tents and caravans these days are supposed to be quite luxurious and element-proof but I'm just not going to risk it. I'm used to hotel bedrooms with all mod cons and en suite bathrooms and I won't give them up without a fight.

The problem we have here is that most of the roads are still single carriageway and in the summer it's common to be stuck in a long line of cursing motorists following a nonchalant caravan that's trundling along at a steady 30 mph. Of course caravan buffs are entitled to their holiday of choice like the rest of us, but maybe if they hit the road at dawn (or midnight) and not at midday it might boost their public image a little.

But really, why spend your well-earned holiday leave roughing it in a field when you could be standing on the balcony of your 4 star hotel room gazing at say, the Mediterranean? I'm sure such spartan, rough-and-ready living is very environmentally sound and does Margaret Beckett a power of good, but it's just not my cup of tea.


  1. Aww come on Nick where's the adventure in ordering room service and having access to your own mini-bar?

    Now being all outoorsy that's where it's at. Apart from the dirt the, the rain and the wildlife, but technically they are defined as 'fun' challenges.

    The only camping I ever did was at music festivals. My tent always leaked, people continually bumed into it and there's was generally too much noise to fall asleep with out the assistance of alcohol. Oh, and at the Leeds festival in 2004 there was a riot so bad they had to get police helicopters out. Where was I? Fast asleep in my damp tent. I Guess growing up in Northern Ireland does have it's perks!


  2. Sorry, I can't quite see mud, rain and wildlife as adventurous myself - my idea of adventure takes the form of clambering round the Mourne Mountains (see Mountain Fever), visiting other countries and doing things that shake up my life. But that reminds me, I also camped out at one of the legendary Isle of Wight rock festivals and judging by your experience it doesn't look as if anything's changed very much....

  3. My worst and only camping experience was the plan to walk The Two Moors Way, camping as we went and we happened to set off the w/e of the Fastnet Disaster back in 1979 (I think).So wet in one night under canvas the dog's collar went rusty and that was me and camping finished for ever.I've even got through bringing up three very outdoorsy children and always managed to avoid camping,give me hot water and electricity any day of the week.

  4. Lucky you being able to opt out after one dreadful night (though I could have run away from scout camp I suppose). And was the dog known as Rusty after that?? Hot water and electricity - absolutely. Not to mention a comfortable bed and even room service if you're totally self-indulgent. Love the pictures on your blog - it almost makes me want to take up knitting (but not quite).

  5. Kaffe Fassett would welcome you with a set of size 10's and some four ply at the ready Nick!

  6. Good grief! I had to google Kaffe Fassett to find out who or what it was!! Stop blinding me with science!