A trip to Camp Hell – In the Garden

Hell 2010

I have recently taken an interest in camping. This is odd considering the memories of many a miserable day and night in a tent are still firmly etched on my subconscious.

The dark recollections of many hours spent huddled millimetres away from the only thing that separated us from the outside world whilst gales incessantly battered our fragile living quarters and rain thundered against the canvas centimetres from my head are difficult to shake.

Still, 30 years later, I thought I would give it another go. Bear in mind this is after point blank refusing never to sleep in the great outdoors again without at least 6 inches of concrete, a comfortable bed and a front desk for help at my disposal.

So why this sudden interest in camping? A question my wife repeatedly asked me. Well, a work colleague had been extolling the great pleasures he had had with his family on a couple of recent camping trips. Then he started talking about camping gadgets and I became intrigued. Everyone knows, like most men,  that a good gadget is hard to resist. When I realised that there was a new world of strange implements to discover and delight in I knew I would have to put a tentative foot into this new world.

But before I could get too carried away I needed to establish whether I could put the camping horrors of my childhood behind me.

I thought the best way to ease me into this old territory would be to try out my wife’s old tent. Rather than go away somewhere I thought the most straightforward thing to do would be to set the tent  up in the garden and spend the night in it. Brilliant, I thought.

So on a warm evening I wrestled with poles, canvas and guide ropes for around 2 hours until my wife came and gave me a hand and we finally had ourselves our home for the night. And no back garden left.

We gave the tent a night and day to “air” and when the night of our adventure came the excitement of us all sleeping under canvas was almost unbearable for our youngest who is 6. I bought a new super duper sleeping bag for myself and sleep mat and set up two airbeds for my wife and children.

And so our garden adventure began and oh how it was action packed:

  • Our six year old went to the toilet in the house 3 times because she knew she could make use of the torch I had let her look after – this is three times more than she would normally go and she trampled over everyone in the process.
  • She then proceeded to wake me waking me up at 3 in the morning to say she was cold. I discovered she had wriggled out of her sleeping bag which was at the end of the airbed and had a small fleece blanket wrapped around her. I had to cajole her back into the sleeping bag and to sleep.
  • At some point in the night she was wriggling that much in the night she fell out of the airbed and so I had to get her settled. Again.
  • Then came the plumetting night temperature. I could not believe how cold it became. A millimetre of skin exposed meant I could feel icy fingers burrowing under my skin. I shiver at the thought of it.
  • And the noise? Cars and people walking down the street until God knows what time coming back from nights out.
  • Then at 4.30am the dawn chorus. I didn’t realise that there were so many birds living near us and the racket they could make! My wife did say I was an idiot because we live near open fields and what did I expect?
  • One of the cats escaped out of the house on one of Kate’s toilet trips and then proceeded to sit on top of the tent. No amount of banging on the roof would remove it!
  • And to top it all? Our back garden is only on a slight gradient but it didn’t stop the kids double airbed from sliding into me. My wife bailed on us at 6 to get into our bed. I can’t say I blame her!

So my recent interest in camping is over. I will put Camp Hell behind me and move on. I tried. I really did but give me a cheap hotel any day. Throw in a few bed bugs I don’t care. As far as I am concerned all future holidays will be canvas free. Just need to make them kid free now…………


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