Where it started

A list going round on Facebook, February 2016: "which of these items have you experienced" etc. Some yes, some no, some didn't interest me. However, it put some ideas into my head, and I figured it was time I followed some of my friends in committing them to (virtual) paper. And then trying some of them out. The first challenge was undertaken on 1 March 2016, and I have no intention of ever completing the list: the more I tick off, the more I'll add.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Under canvas

Camping's changed since I last tried it. As a Girl Guide (around 1974-1979) I went on camps from time to time; the tents were an incredibly heavy canvas with what seemed like an endless number of heavy pegs and complicated guy-ropes. On family holidays (in roughly the same period) we usually went to sites down the French west coast where the tents were already there for you - except on the couple of occasions when we used a trailer tent.

I decided that one of my challenges was to spend a night under canvas for the first time in nearly forty years. My now middle-aged back wouldn't cope with the lack of a mattress, so the blow-up variety was brought along. Not having the old sleeping bag any longer, I reckoned that a duvet would be enough (it wasn't!). And life was made much easier by the fact that the lovely Karl not only brought along his own spare two-man tent, but swiftly constructed the whole thing for us.

My friend Clare shared the tiny tent with me on the night before our twelve-mile hike in the Wiltshire countryside with the Mother Nature's Diet family. We were very fortunate with the weather, setting up one night and waking on the following morning to glorious sunshine. Fellow camper Jane wonderfully cooked banana omelettes for us all for breakfast, and Karl & Kerrie's little single-ring gas stoves boiled water for tea. There's nothing like camaraderie to enhance the great outdoors!

So how was it? The actual sleeping, in fact, wasn't comfortable; but that was my own fault for not investing in a new sleeping bag (even in May, one needed total cocooning). I was much too cold to sleep properly. Mercifully, I usually sleep so well that one poor night's sleep doesn't cause too much harm.The mattress was fine. I was pleasantly surprised that I wasn't spooked by the confined interior. The two-sink, two-loo, one-shower washroom was a bit cramped and spartan, but serviceable. And the experience of emerging into a quiet, slightly misty, sunny morning was delightful.

What would I do differently? Buy a sleeping-bag, obviously. Take a head-torch (much easier than trying to navigate with the iPhone torch in the middle of the night). Pack much lighter and ignore the fact that I look a bit ropey without makeup. Enjoy the world of nature for what it is and not try to adapt it to normal home comforts.

Oh, and one more thing. Having inflated the mattress using the lovely Kerrie's neat little gizmo that plugs into the car cigarette lighter attachment, we then discovered that it wouldn't actually fit through the door of the tent... quick deflation, both of ego and mattress! :)

Which implies that I'll give it another go? You bet.

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