I grew up camping, nearly every weekend. Outdoor family activity came under the doctor’s instruction who insisted it would cure my childhood asthma. It didn’t but made for a splendid set of early memories.
Our tent then was a mighty, heavy canvas affair, with high peaked living area and two bedrooms off on one side – an unusual arrangement for the time and akin to modern lightweight tents. This beast was anything but lightweight.
This past weekend, I headed off to a remote farm just south of Liskeard. Just me and the urge to sit and do almost nothing for the weekend. I like a tent with a large living space, particularly in the often inclement British weather. This is where I draw the line on camping discomfort: I’m not going to spend all day cramped-up in a space designed for little more than a small stove and one’s wet walking boots. But that requirement comes only with larger capacity tents, and the pain of pitching and striking them.
It’s been a while
Well over ten years since I have spent a few nights under canvas; I cannot remember precisely. All I know is that the tent I owned previously – a lovely, uniquely designed 2-man backpacking Vango – had seen the tail end of its 20-year life (the receipt was still inside).
I selected a farm site with a low-capacity, pitch-anywhere field, and limited facilities – also, no children. There was one other tent there when I arrived, a young couple who spent most of their time zipped inside their small tent to surface only to grab some sustenance, and sit, hand-in hand to watch the sunset.
That is what struck me above all: the scent of camping. The morning after arrival, waking up to a dew-covered field and employing the trusted Trangia 27-2 stove for the day’s first cuppa. Despite the very different environment, equipment, and company, he scent was no different to my memories from early childhood.
The aim of my trip was to sit around and force myself to relax and do very little, so took very few photographs, but tore through a large chunk of my latest read, Doctor Sleep.
The highlight of the weekend came when I was rushing to strike camp before the forecast mizzle headed down from Bodmin Moor. Up marches the farmer with a bucket overflowing with field mushrooms. “Want some mushrooms? There’s plenty more down in the other field.” he says.