Posts Tagged ‘staycation’

First rate camping

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Vaude Odyssee XTWith all the recent media hype accompanying the pronouncements of financial meltdown, austerity for the next 10 years, influenza pandemics and parts of my home county of Norfolk likely to disappear beneath the waves within my lifetime, I’ve become rather more introspective than usual. Holidaying at home in the UK (why do they have to use that ghastly description “staycation”?) has seen a big increase this year, and camping and other outdoors activities are enjoying a mini-boom.

But isn’t it a shame that so much of this appears to have come about because people feel that circumstances compelled them into it? I consider myself lucky. My parents camped, and by the time I was 10 I’d slept under canvas (it really was canvas, too!) in England, Wales, Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Italy. So I already knew that camping was nothing to be ashamed of – rather it was something to be enjoyed, and something which gets you on much more intimate terms with wherever you are than you’d ever achieve staying in a hotel or resort. And even though my own circumstances brought about a hiatus till my early 20s, I’ve camped ever since.

It would be no lie to say I’ve stayed in five star hotels where the welcome has been less friendly than that of a good few camp site wardens, and while admittedly a room in the former does have the advantage of ensuite facilities, you can still end up having your lie-in ruined because you forgot to hang the “Do not disturb” sign outside your door. And that’s the beauty of camping. You’re not restricted to other peoples’ timetables. You can have breakfast in bed – dinner, too, if you like. I’ve even had one or two tentmates daft enough to leave a small chocolate on my sleeping bag at bedtime! And on camp sites, you know there’s a good chance of striking up a friendly conversation or two, simply because you both happen to be camping.

My great love is wild camping, not because I’m anti-social, but simply because I’m not a great one for being organised. Out in the wilds, not only am I far away from crunching credit, virulent viruses and global warming gloom, I can pick and choose where I pitch my tent within reason, when I have my meals, and the only sounds to keep me company are the gentle (hopefully) murmuring of the wind, and a babbling stream nearby.

So my answer to all the purveyors of doom and gloom is that there’s nothing second rate about camping. It’s a liberating experience, and once you’ve discovered it is possible to do it without loss of comfort or dignity, you have a different take on all those “hotel” people who look down their noses at you.