Camping. Bit of a Marmite issue really, isn't it? Some people live for the one week a year when they get to abandon modern life and live under canvas, while others wouldn't be caught dead near a tent.
I've just got back from five days camping in the New Forest with The Boy, and after a lengthy bath, and my first proper cuppa since Monday, I wanted to share my new-found like for camping. Don't worry, I'm not about to go all, like, new age hippy on you, man, and prattle on about finding inner peace. But I think there's something to be said to going back to basics for a few days.
- If, like us, you end up in a 3G black hole like we did in the New Forest, it's not necessarily a bad thing (provided you come prepared). Escaping the internet forces you to find other ways to while away the time - let's face it, when else would you find yourself tearing through a decent novel in two days, or knitting as you watch the sunset? My Rory the tiger frisbee from a Haven holiday park (yeah, remember them?) had its first outing since I was about 15 years old, and don't even get me started on how much my American football skills are coming along.
- If you're really lucky with your location and conditions, star gazing may well be an option. Pitch away from other tents and lights, lie back, and hope for a clear night. One of my favourite parts of camping in Sussex last year was lying with the tent door open, wrapped in a duvet staring up at the stars.
- You tend to lose your inhibitions in the first 24 hours. I'm not talking stripping down to your underwear and dancing on the foldable picnic table. Rather, you don't care what you look like, when you realise that no-one else cares what you look like either. Those hideous trousers that you never wear at home suddenly become a very attractive option. Make-up goes by the board, and after a few days, you'll barely remember what a hairbrush is. There's something quite liberating about the whole experience.
- Everyone is friendly, like a small community. Strangers say hello to each other on the way to the shower block, a foreign concept to most city dwellers. If you've forgotten an essential (tin openers a particular favourite) head on over to the next tent and ask to borrow theirs. I bet most people don't know their actual neighbours well enough to do that.
- You might end up with an absolute beauty like this as your neighbour #vwcampervanenvy