Hot, sticky camping! Orrible!
The camping season has been in full swing for a while now…and campers at all levels of the food chain have been digging out their mouldy tents from the attic or purchasing those throw away pop up festival tents…because getting back to nature is the buzz word of the season. However…how many people actually like camping especially when the weather is piping hot and unrelenting too?
Let’s face it, going by weather models of yesteryear, the British summer should have been done and dusted by now apart from occasional fine days that would flutter their way into our consciousness until late September. But it’s been dry, hot and prolonged…which means that everything becomes a little bit messy and tiresome when all you really crave is a bit of shade or for it to drop back down to a comfortable 18 degrees.
Let’s not forget that camping can be great fun too, but it’s also a bit of a sauna in this heat…so strategically placing your tent to be sheltered in the shade at certain times of the day is a must consideration. However, once you’ve half cooked your tin of beans and burnt your egg on some old ration tins whilst using a stove you’ve only used once in the last five years…it soon gets old and you’re likely to want to rush home for a cold shower, a deep clean and a meal that doesn’t come out of a tin.
Festival and rally goers will strap their tents to their backs, vehicles or possibly even drag them behind on a wheeled sledge to access the camping areas. Will erect with fervour, get hot and flustered when the poles get mixed up and the material gets snagged as you force one of the poles through the loops. Then the real fun begins as you try to secure the tent to the ground with some spindly pegs that came in the pack. There is not a hope in hell of getting those stuck in the sun drench ground that’s as hard as iron…so you manage to bash them about an inch into the topsoil with the heel of your shoe or boot until you figure, “What the hell, that’ll do!”
Then all is well with the world. Time for a drink or six, dancing, head bopping, more drinking of cider…which you never really drink but everyone else seems to be, so it would be rude not too. You get a bit peckish but really can’t be bothered to traipse all the way back to your tent…so you find a food outlet from a caravan with a serving hatch. Pay the mortgage over for your chilli and jacket potato and try to gobble it all up with a plastic fork and spoon that’s almost melted in the searing heat too. You’re hungry so you eat with gusto, but it’s really bloody horrible and you end up chuntering to yourself about how crap the food was and how expensive too. Rip Off central!
Then it’s back to the drinking and trying to pretend that you’re really into the music that the current band on stage is playing. It’ll usually be some cover of a song from years ago, that’s been rehashed about a million times before. You thought you liked it once, but now it all sounds the same but is vaguely entertaining and reminiscent of a youthful life long forgotten.
Much chatting, laughing, staring aimlessly at the sky, faces or the ground…wobbling to the bar for another cider and waiting for the sun to go down…at least it’ll be cool then. But then it dawns on you that you’ve got a face like a paprika lobster and the sweat that had been gushing out of every orifice has now left skanky salty sweat stains around your pits, back, chest and nether regions too. Your hair has turned to straw and you stink of odours unfathomable and of unknown origin…but what the hell, everyone looks exactly the same and possible smell worse too!
As the sun disappears behind the horizon and dusk morphs into a starry night, you begin to get that feeling that the party may have had your presence for a bit too long and it’s time to return to the castle fortress you erected earlier in the day. Surely it has withstood the monsoons, hurricanes and the size tens of passing traffic? However, the main act is about to come onto the stage…there is more drinking to be done, more musical appreciation and dancing like a jellyfish…because somebody convinced you it was cool as fuck…but we all know better don’t we!
Finally the time to call it a night and you gather your fragmented wits to make the return journey back to the tent…if you can find it in the pitch black that is.
You activate your homing beacon and you follow your signal back…running the gauntlet on snorting, snoring or shagging occupants of tent city. Trying to navigate your way through the matrix of tent ropes, snag a few, get shouted at for almost pulling down a home or two, stub your toe on another spindly peg, trip over another, face plant the floor…before finally finding your way home to your mass erection.
Ah, at last you can unzip the front door and slide into a comfy sleeping position. But nobody told you that getting into a sleeping bag when you’re half cut is a cumbersome exercise at best. You end up half undressed, half in the sleeping bag and one leg sticking out of the tent too.
You nod off to sleep eventually after the snorting, snoring and shagging has died down from other tents…not to mention the rallying cries from the party stalwarts who don’t want the party to end and insist on keeping everyone else up because they think it’s a good idea. But then you wake up in the middle of the night, freezing and you try to rearrange the tent and your body in a vague attempt to insulate yourself but it’s a pathetic attempt…so you lay there shivering and wishing yourself to sleep to no avail.
As dawn breaks, so the temperature outside rises to a warm glow, however inside your tent it’s like you’re the turkey that needs basting.
You wake up in a sweat all over your body, you’ve got the sniffles, you’ve got the hangover from hell and your tongue is like 40 grade coarse sandpaper. Your face has morphed into something resembling the elephant man and yes you really pen and ink too.
Then to top it off you get the urge to go to the toilet and brush your teeth. After struggling with the tent zip and shedding the mesh of clothing and sleeping bags, you venture out of the sack, like a joey emerging from the safety of a kangaroo mother’s pouch.
You stagger to the portaloos and brave the open sewer presented before you. It could’ve been the cider or the chilli, but something is not happy inside you and it needs to get out. So with sweat dripping from your eyes, and dribble from your lips…you empty your bowls whilst trying not to get any splash back. It’s not a pleasant experience but needs must.
After surviving the portaloo, you venture back to the tent to assemble your life back together. A good stretch, a yawn and a wry smile to loving neighbours…and you’re reading to push on for another day…we’ll so you think!
After all is done and you’ve repeated the day, you finally get the opportunity to make your journey back home. Sunburnt, dehydrated, a mild case of food and alcohol poisoning and not to mention the irritable bowl syndrome. You are a wreck of a person, a wretch of a human being and you will envisage a week long recovery before you start thinking you might like to do it again sometime soon.
Camping isn’t always a wholesome experience and in rising heat, it can be positively unpleasant too. However, there is something endearing to slumming it for a weekend and testing how low you’re likely to go in the search for entertainment.
Will you do it again? Of course you will! Because being alone or with friends in the great outdoors and enjoying yourself…in part…is what the summer is all about after all!
Say no to glamping!