Born to Camp – Grab Your Tent!

Camping is in the blood. As a child, I went camping to Scotland. Dad dug trenches around the ridge tent, adjusted guy ropes day and night to avoid flooding, tricks learned as a boy scout in the 1930’s. DDT was used to kill the bugs. Cooking was on a one- ring burner. Milk came in cartons from a machine on the main street of Fort William. The equipment we needed fitted neatly into a Ford Prefect. Every year the same ritual: set off at 5 a.m. to avoid the non-existent traffic, breakfast at Lauder consisting of traditional Scottish mutton pies and onwards to Pitlochery, singing, ‘Over the Sea to Skye’. This was in the days before the Forth Road Bridge, reliant on the ferry from Queensferry.

When my children were young we decided to take them camping – experience the good life. We paid a mere £100 for a second-hand frame tent and all of the equipment. Yes, a frame tent! We could only dream of one of these luxury items when I was a child. Yet again, setting off at 5 in the morning, breakfast at Lauder (although husband refused the mutton pies), disappointment at having to buy milk in a shop, equipment fitting neatly into a Renault 11. But this time, as a parent, immense satisfaction at introducing the offspring to the wonders of nature, instilling in them a passion for the outdoors.

Oh Diane! What have you started. One simple statement,

“Guess what, we’ve bought – a tent and we’re going to start camping.”


A few months earlier it was a Harley Davison. This is Diane who only ever travels 5 star. This is the Diane who has weekly facials and manicures. How could Diane possibly be going camping? Diane does not camp! We camp… well, used to camp. Let’s face it. Lots of people used to camp. Say what you like about the outdoors and getting back to nature, when you can afford to give up camping, you give up camping. I like my 5 star luxury hotels, with waiter service, en-suite complete with toiletries, maid service, mints on the pillow and complimentary champagne and fruit.

Imagine then the panic! Camping! Diane had invited us to a camping exhibition. There should have been a warning sign – no males over 50!! I saw the gleam in his eye, the excitement as he prowled from tent to tent. And there it was… it lured us in – ‘The Bear Lake 4′. The Rolls Royce of tents. No simple, lightweight, cheap, ‘don’t mind if you’re never used ‘ tent. This tent begins at £500. It has breathable fabric with holes that close when it rains! It has windows with curtains and tie backs and mosquito nets, its own doormat and matching windbreak. Irresistable to any man over 50. I could sense his return to youth, the excitement, the outdoors, back to nature, shed the trappings of modern day life. The money was handed over so quickly. The return to camping had begun. But, we have no equipment!

Oh, how times have moved on. We are now the proud owners of an electric hook-up, an electrically inflated air-bed (double height), high tech cooking facilities, a camp kitchen, matching crockery complete with tray stored on shelving unit, an electric cool-box, electric kettle – no more whistle – I miss the whistling kettle. All of this for a mere £500.

And now, the latest addition – a new car to put it in! Not any car but a carefully structured piece of engineering that was longing for owners to take it camping. This is the Rav4. The cheap holidays that we can have as we move into retirement….has now cost us a further £24,000! Not quite the £100 of days gone by. At these costs we will have to use it!

Scotland, mutton pies at Lauder are beckoning… can’t wait.

Hope there’s a hotel nearby in case it rains. I’m sure I can fit the hair straighteners in….television……en suite bathroom……..