Wednesday, 20 May 2015

tent nostalgia

We are getting ready for our first camping trip of the year. I am terribly exited, I always am. I do love camping. Do you love camping? It is a love a acquired late in life, when I was traveling Down Under. Sleeping under canvas was so much more pleasurable than sharing a bunk with other backpackers. We didn't go camping when I was a child. There was no need, we had use of a house in Northern Italy with a very big garden. The house was ramshackle, built around a courtyard over three floors with no internal stairs. The bathroom was down a few steps around a corner next to a neighour's hayloft. I hated going to the loo at night because there was no light in the hayloft and you just never know what is lurking in the dark, don't you? It does sound romantic but in reality, it often rained, the house was cold and it must have been a pain for our parents to look after us. Still, I have fond memories of the place. We sometimes put a small tent up in our back garden and slept out there. It was quite scary (with all those ferocious house cats roaming around the neighbourhood). I went camping once with school, on the shores of Lake Murten (Switzerland), not too far from home. It must have been when I was around 14 I think. I remember it cold and miserable and not fun at all. But my memories are hazy at best. 

We have been family camping for years now. We started going to France with one the companies that provided fully equipped tents on site. Then we took the plunge and started our UK camping adventure. At first, we went to the Lake District with our Tesco Value tent. This was long before James and Alistair came to live with us. We always went to a National Trust campsite in the Great Langdale. National Trust campsites are always equipped with drying rooms because they often cater for walkers. Perfect for drying children's clothes and towels. There is a reason why there are so many lakes in the Lake District! 



After a couple of years we invested in a more upmarket tent. It was a pod tent which had a central room, a 'hallway' and two sleeping pods on on the back. It was a fab tent that served us well but one year when camping with friends up North, the tent was destroyed during a freak storm. The weather was great but the winds were unbelievable. I think only two tents of a group of about 10 remained intact. We fixed our fibreglass poles with duct tape (as you do) and went on camping with the tattered thing for a wee while longer.
 




Then James and Alistair came along and we (I) decided to upgrade. We now have a mansion. Our tent even has a wardrobe! Because we always take our evening wear when we go camping, for those Highland Dances you know. Well, it is just a metal pole for hanging up coats really. Being a little obsessive, I studied the market for weeks, unable to decide on a suitable tent. I wanted one that would withstand high winds and heavy rains but I also wanted a large tent so we could huddle up inside and wait out the storm. Did you know that many tent brands give you a wind rating, as well as a waterproofing rating, and so on? Needless to say that I am a member of the Camping & Caravanning Club.... I am not only obsessive but also tend to catastrophise. Our current tent should withstand winds up to Beaufort 10. The tent poles are solid 22 mm stainless steel. We've not had to put it to the test but I have watched the video of the wind tunnel tests. Quite scary, winds like that. The tent has three bedrooms but we usually keep the 'walls' unzipped and create a cosy family bedroom. It sleeps seven but honestly, you could fit at least 12 in. Comfortably. There is also a big living area, big enough to host dinner parties (if you are prepared to sit on the floor with your plate balanced on your knees). We've had about 24 people crammed in once for a curry, when it was too wet for the most hardy to eat outside. Then there is the porch. It is absolutely fabulous. You can cook in it, store wet shoes and keep other assorted mess in one place. You can sit in it with the doors closed watching the rain roll down the plastic panoramic window. On hot days you can open it up completely without having to move the mess. Tent envy anyone? :-)





There are disadvantages with a large tent of course. For one, you really need a trailer to take it anywhere at all. I suppose if you had fewer children, it would fit in the boot. But then, a smaller tent would do. Also, it takes two adults a good hour to put the tent up. It is hard work and arguing is almost inevitable. In fact, putting the tent up is a real test for any relationship and if the relationship survives this particular stressor, it is probably one for the long run. We often go camping with friends and help each other. It is a bit like a factory workline. Arguments between couples are less likely, too. This because of course it is important to keep up the pretense of coping really well and of having a great time.

At the end of the day, our days of wild camping are over and we might as well enjoy the relative luxury of a mansion tent. 

How strange, I had different things in mind when I started writing this post. Ach well. I must now return to the FB conversation with our camping pals. It is rather heated. Some of the blokes (!) have pre-camping anxieties regarding the weather forecast. It might rain (in Scotland, who would have thought). The forecast appears to different when using different apps.... I have ordered tropical temperatures with refreshing lunchtime showers but we shall see, the Highlands are quite unpredictable. Keep your fingers crossed! xx

27 comments:

  1. Oh I am so in love with your mansion tent, it's divine. My middle boy is SO obsessed with camping it is just cruel not to take him. But, no tent at the moment, although I'm sure we have a small one somewhere, I just can't put my hands on it. I spent six months camping once, as we cycled down through France, Spain and Morocco. Many, many opportunities for arguments when you're putting it up and down almost every day. I hope you have a wonderful time and that the sun shines on you. CJ xx

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  2. I am so not a camper, but am very impressed that you are and with your very wind and rain resistant tent!!! Perhaps I would be a camper if we had such a thing, but I grew up camping in an old canvas thing with wooden poles that leaked and was not resistant to anything! Hope that you have a great time and that the weather is perfect!!! xx

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  3. Reading this post, I really wish I liked camping. We only ever had camping holidays when I was a child and my memories are of always being damp. I stopped going on holidays with my parents when I was 14. I did try once when I was older but it rained the whole weekend and trailing through mud everytime I needed the loo was not my idea of fun. Perhaps I should try again?

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  4. I've never camped but I've always wanted to. I always say this is the year but it never happens. I'm very impressed with your tent, I hope you all have a fab time x

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  5. Oh Christina you sound so excited! Your mega-tent sounds fabulous, I bet the children love it! I laughed at your description of arguing when putting up the tent, I know Derek and I would be on the point of divorce if we tried to put a tent up together! My main experience of camping was 5 weeks in France after college when I was 20, in a tiny tent. Many adventures, and I enjoyed it, but it didn't leave me with a taste for camping. When the boys were younger, I used to put a little pop up tent in the back garden during the summer months, which they often talked about sleeping in overnight, but never really did! Have a fabulous time, I hope you tell us where you camp, I am very interested, having loved in Argyll, Sutherland and the Western Isles at various points in my life. X

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  6. Your post made me smile, no laugh actually a real belly laugh. It brought back so many memories of us camping every summer with the girls when they were younger and the arguments putting up the tent. So don't worry we are still together. Hope you have a wonderful time, the tent sounds amazing, my youngest daughter would have tent envy she likes to go camping, but my camping days are long gone.

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  7. We love camping! We have a mansion tent too but not quite as big as yours, we have had it for ten years now and it seems to weathering well. I love the idea of a wind rating as well as a waterproof one. We are supposed to be coming up to Scotland to camp next week, I say supposed as my husband is so unenthusiastic about it that we have nothing booked or planned yet. If it weren't my daughters birthday and camping is what she has requested to do I wouldn't bother with it. I have rememebered why I don't try and organise family holidays any more.....hope you have a lovely weekend :)

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  8. Hi there, your tent and camping holiday sound brilliant. Made me want to come along too :-) I keep thinking of camping but the tent purchase totally puts me off. Do you mind me asking what make your mansion tent is?

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    1. It is an Outwell Vermont XL. There are several sizes in this tent range. They are not cheap tents but I think well worth the investment. I bought ours in the end of season sale.

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  9. Hey Christina,
    We are gearing up for our first camping trip in Betty this half term. We are staying local (Bodmin). I am very excited. I love camping. Although I insist on a sit with a shower block. I need to have clean hair every day. It looks as if we have similar camping kit too. We bought a hob and grill unit last year. It changed my camping cooking life. Now Alfie can have spaghetti hoops on toast every day.
    Leanne xx

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  10. What an awesome tent! We had a smller 3-roomed one a few years ago but recently bought our first travel caravan. It is only 14 feet long but fits our family of 5 perfectly. I have been doing renos on it and now it has a new roof, new tires and new brakes. I have spent the last few weeks decorating the inside too. It has newly painted walls, new floors and new curtains. We were supposed to camp this past weekend, but had to cancel due to thunderstorms. I've rebooked for the first weekend in June and the Kids can't wait!!

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  11. Never camped as a child, my Mother was definitely not the camping kind. We camped a lot when my husband was in the Army and we were living in Germany. Did most of our camping in Spain, though we did some camping in the Netherlands. I enjoyed it, but my camping days are long gone, I need a bit more luxury now.

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  12. Your tent is awesome, Christina. It looks like it will be very comfortable for you all for a while to come. We have a 4-man tent with a separate vestibule area for shoes and such. We haven't actually camped as a foursome yet, though. We've been waiting until our daughter got a little older but she's six now and I think we could go at any time. Have a good trip!

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  13. Yes - I completely have tent-envy! I love camping but my other half hates it. In the past we've had a 6-man tent (it's still in the garage somewhere) but it has been little used. I still browse Millets' pages wistfully and contrive plots where I trick him into going camping, but I don't think it's going to happen. Since my boys have all got much older they've gone off the idea too. I think one day I'll just have to get a spacious 2 man tent and go off on my own to camp. I even have an "I would love to go camping" board on pinterest. You are very very lucky!

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  14. I have a serious case of tent envy. That is the most amazing tent ever. Honestly, I didn't know these kinds of mansion tents existed. I'm quite sure they didn't when our kids were young and we used to go camping. We were crammed in like peas in a pod. And often it was a wet pod full of unhappy peas. :-)

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  15. Everything is crossed here. I loved camping when it was just me and him, going the pub to keep warm, minimal fuss, eating out of the pan etc. - with children, I went twice in a tent and we camped 3 times in the trailer tent at the farm - that has been plenty for me until they become more useful to take camping rather than making more chores (harsh I know) Hence we built the cabin. Jo x

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  16. I camped as a child in a camper, but I hated the trips out to the bathroom before bed, it was so scary. Now at the ripe old age of 50 I can't even think about sleeping on the ground.
    Hugs and have fun,
    Meredith

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  17. That's a stunning tent, Christina! We have one like the one on the right in your top picture - slug-shaped - but we haven't actually used it for any other than birthday parties in the garden since we got the dog. We can't decide whether he would love camping or hate it and be on constant alert all night for those wildlife sounds that suddenly seem to get inexplicably louder as soon as you turn the lights out! xx

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  18. No matter the weather, it still sounds like fun! Happy holidays in your fabulous tent - enjoy! Xx

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  19. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you all, Christina! My husband suggested the other day that we go camping in Derbyshire this Sunday. He's been wanting for us to camping since last year actually but I've never done it before so I'm not too sure if I'll like it. And I heard it will be raining down here this weekend so we'll have to see. Anyway, I'll show him your tent mansion-- he'll definitely have serious tent envy!! X

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  20. That's an excellent tent, Christina. I hope the weather plays nicely for you on your first trip of the year! xx

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  21. When I was a child all our family holidays were camping holidays. Lots of great memories recently reignited by looking through and scanning hundreds of slides. We used to drive down to France in a VW Variant, three children, a roof rack, a big frame tent and a small two-man tent for my brothers. And the sun always shone. Later on I used to do a lot of wild camping which I loved. Sadly my husband will not camp and therefore our
    children never experienced a camping holiday. Have a lovely holiday in your super duper tent.

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  22. wow. your tent is fab! I used to love to camp, and the teenage boy loves it too, but the girl not. ever. ever. in a million years. there are bugs.......................

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  23. I love camping but haven't been for a few years! I'm like you I think (even thought childless!) and I like a some level of luxury when camping really (it come from my OCD!) - I can cope with basics (but there must be a shower block!) but I like space and need to keep everything organised so in the past we've had enormous tents for two of us with several rooms e.g. bedroom, dressing room, storage etc!! (It got a bit out of hand if I'm honest!) We bought new (smaller!) tent two years ago but I've not put it up yet - we really ought to actually take it away somewhere. I've kept thinking of doing a similar post when we finally manage another camping trip - documenting pre-blog trips and the evolution of my tents!

    I hope you have a great time

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  24. I have to say I am not a gifted camper, as much as I wish I could be. I took my daughter camping overnight last summer, and found it pretty hard going. Getting the tent up by myself in the misty rain (she wasn't well enough to help me) was really tough, but I was only swearing at myself. Then it was nearly impossible to keep the flame on our little campstove lit in the wind and rain. I was very envious of the people who had huge tents with porches, where they could cook. I'm not sure I would enjoy camping, truly, even if I did have a big tent and - just for the sake of argument - a nice mattress to sleep on so that I didn't wake up sore and soaked. My idea of a good time is to look out at the rain from inside a window!

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  25. Wow, you really know your tents! And that is some tent, I am quite jealous. We were given a tent and lots of camping equipment by some friends recently who moved to Australia, and have our first camping break planned for next month. We're going to have a practice session of Putting Up The Tent in the back garden first... x

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  26. It's amusing how your tent also grows as the members of your family increases. And it’s great that they are also into it, and enjoying the outdoors alongside you. Yeah, you should continue to embrace camping for as long as you can do it. You've got the whole of Europe to explore, and then some. Anyway, here’s to more camping trips in the future. Cheers!

    Andrea Wilkins @ Getaway Outdoors

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Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, I love to hear from you, I really do. I sometimes reply by email but I am not all that reliable... Christina xx