#55 Loitering within tent

In holidays on August 19, 2010 at 11:46 pm

Hey! I thought camping was supposed to be a cheap holiday option.

I’ve just been to kit myself out for a long weekend in Dorset and on a pound-to-use basis, it could all work out quite pricey.

Luckily I bought the tent last year for a festival, which is why we now need to get our money’s worth out of it. But then there’s all the ‘gear’.

Some of it, I’ll admit, is pretty ingenious – the pop-up washing up bowl; waterproof matches; micro stoves; an electric cool box that’s like taking your fridge on holiday; wind-up torches; and top of the range  self-inflating mattresses that looked really comfy. If you’re not careful you might find yourself accidentally buying some of it just because it’s clever.

Some of it – the mini cooker (£31), the bottle of gas (£40! but most of that is a deposit), and the campsite itself – is unavoidable.

Some of it is plain ugly. I understand the folly of, say, wearing red when walking through fields of bulls or birdwatching, but where is it written that you can only wear badly-cut khaki when in the countryside? Do outdoor clothes have to be so ugly?  And why could I only find one rain jacket that I’d contemplate wearing in public, and even that was £80?

Some of it – sausage and beans in a bag – is just disgusting.

Don’t worry, we’ll be eating well. No sausage and beans in a bag for me. I’ll be stocking up on kebabs and venison burgers from the butcher to grill on my new Bodum portable barbeque that looked so pretty in the Observer magazine (a rare impulse buy sort-of justified by the camping trip and the fact that the weather was still hot when I bought it) and have filled most of the boot space with a polypin of Wandle ale.

Far from camping being a back to basics holiday, there are people trying to tell me I need to replicate my entire home under canvas. That would be fine if Arne Jacobsen had done camping furniture, or tent colours conformed to a Farrow and Ball paint range (and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t – their ‘Breakfast Room Green’ isn’t that far off some of the stuff in Millets). But neither the conjoined fold out plastic table and benches, nor the brown canvas umbrella chairs with built-in drinks holders tempted me to part with £14.99 (though doubtless that was a bargain). Instead we’ll be sitting on the ground on our pear-print oilskin tablecloth, and I’ve spent the money on a gadget for charging my Blackberry in the car.

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