As you know, I recently went to Camp Bestival and I should preface this post by saying that the festival itself is great (for the most part … although I question whether Dexter is now too old for it – at the grand old age of ten), but it soon became clear that I’m not a natural camper.
I wasn’t initially phased by the prospect of camping on my own … after all, I do everything on my own already, and I’ve been to the festival 4 times before, but I hadn’t quite anticipated just how lonely and exhausting it would be.
So, the festival itself aside, here’s why I’ve decided I hate camping:
1. THE TENT
First of all, let’s get something straight – glamping isn’t real camping. If you’ve got electricity in your yurt or proper beds in your bell tent, then basically you’re staying in a hotel. The idea of erecting a 4-6 man tent with Dexter ‘helping’ was enough to send me to my local camping shop to pick up a 2-man pop up tent.
BIG mistake. HUGE!
Firstly, when they say ‘2-man’ they mean 2 very small men … midgets (can I say midgets?) if you will. Trust me, there is no way 2 grown men can get in that tent. Believe me, I tried. I think we could have got our 2 inflatable mattresses in (just about) but it would have been a real squeeze. Luckily, my friend had loaned me her 2-man pop-up tent at the very last minute after wetting herself laughing at my optimism about only needing the one tent. When she’d finished laughing, she said: “Take my tent and never bring it back. I will never, EVER camp again.”
Did I take heed? Nope. Annoyingly, she was right.
Because we had no shelter for our food, clothes and assorted camping shit, it all had to come in with me so I went to bed cuddling up to a holdall full of clothes and a crate of beer and woke up to a camping stove and 120 wet wipes.
As for trying to get dressed in this particular tent, it wasn’t happening. Picture the scene: my head touches the ceiling as it is, I’m sat on an inflatable mattress so every time I so much as move an inch I wobble so much I fall over, so when it came to trying to take my strapless bra off I gave myself a hernia and concussion at the same time.
I decided to just wear the same outfit after that.
2. THE FOOD
You might think cooking your own food in The Great Outdoors is fun. When it’s just you that’s doing the cooking trust me, it gets tiring, very quickly. I bought a one ring gas camping stove and again, I should have known better because by the time you boil your beans (#notaeuphemism), you’ve now got to fry your eggs … and then when you dish your eggs up, you’ve got to reheat your beans … but then your eggs are cold. See where I’m going with this?
I just about managed to make a hot chocolate every day, which wasn’t particularly taxing, except … we ran out of milk on the first day, there was no shop on site and we ended up begging the Smoothie stand to sell us a pint of UHT milk for £1.
We took frozen bacon with us so we at least had something fresh to cook when we arrived but of course, with no way of chilling food, we’re left eating tinned food. Tinned food and eggs. Hot dogs, and eggs. Tinned curry …. and eggs. For four days. Nu-uh. No thanks.
And also, because we had no shelter, other than our tent for midgets, as soon as it started raining, I couldn’t cook anyway. Well, I could have but cooking in the rain is a line I just wasn’t prepared to cross.
Which brings me onto …
3. THE WEATHER
OK, so when you live in the UK you understand that the weather can be somewhat … changeable, and that’s fine … WHEN YOU’RE INDOORS AT HOME WATCHING TV BY THE FIRE. However, being outside in the rain is a different story.
I can just about manage it during the day – I’m prepared, I have my obligatory bright pink waterproof jacket that comes out once a year, but sleeping in The Devil’s Tent (see above) when it’s raining and your head is 1cm from the roof … is HELL.
There’s enough condensation as it is and you know that just one wrong move will have you soaked to the skin … and that’s just from inside your tent! Add a downpour and I’d rather having a smear at the Doctors than go camping again.
And don’t forget that when you go to bed you’ll be freezing, but when you can’t sleep and you wake in the middle of the night (see the next point) you’ll be hotter than molten lava.
4. THE NOISE
Oh God, the noise! I don’t mean during the day, even I’m not that critical … although, typically, we just happened to pitch next to a group of kids that not only went mental for those bloody loom bands, they were selling them too … to absolutely every Tom, Dick or Harry that walked past. I don’t just mean kids, but adults, groups, teengers, old ladies … no-one was off limits. We were torn between admiring their tenacity and wanting to throttle them … with their teeny, tiny loom bands! ARGH!!!
(And yes, we did buy one … 50p I’ll never see again!)
No, I mean the noise at night. And the thing is, I came prepared this year … and brought 6 pairs of ear plugs, but it still wasn’t enough to drown out the incessant crying from small kids and babies at 4am. And you know how I know it was 4am? Because they bloody woke me up.
And before proud parents of little ones tell me I’m being unreasonable, save your breath. I know I am. I understand they’re little kids and that’s what they do sometimes – don’t forget, I’ve got two of my own, but when the parents sleep through the crying and don’t do anything to pacify their child, whether they’re upset or hungry, or whatever, then I’m going to get a little pissed off. I’m cold, I’m uncomfortable. I MISS MY BED!!! Of course I’m going to be grumpy being woken up by several screaming toddlers, especially if they’re not mine.
5. THE TOILETS
I think as festival goers we appreciate that the toilets are going to be far from perfect and nothing like what you’re used to at home. You know this going in, so you’re prepared. You always take your own toilet roll and a deep breath when approaching. However, I just don’t want to put up with crappy (literally) toilets anymore! I’m too old! Nearly throwing up just before you have a wee? No thanks! It’s bad enough have to clear up the kids’ skid marks at home!
Just give me a nice, clean toilet bowl … I don’t think I’m asking too much.
I’ll be honest, I think the main reason I feel the way I do about camping is because I’m on my own. Camping can be lonely, it’s cold at night and you have no-one to keep your warm, it’s invariably wet and when you can’t share this sheer misery with another adult, you just grown exponentially fed-up. I could perhaps laugh it off a lot more if I could share the suffering with someone else, but instead I have to try and remain chipper for Dexter’s sake.
Camping is not for me. Put me in a luxury lodge or a fancy yurt, I’ll consider it … but mention sleeping in a tent again and you’ll regret it. Funny thing is, I know a lot of people who absolutely adore it! I mean they don’t just like it, they LOVE it! Perhaps they love the ‘being one with nature thing’, or maybe it’s just a time to get away from technology with their loved ones … but I’m afraid I would much rather be with my loved ones somewhere warm, cosy (preferably abroad) and almost definitely with wifi.
So tell me …. are you a camping lover or hater?