Like most kids growing up, we liked to ‘camp’ outside. In the early days, our tent was a couple of towels draped over Mum’s wooden clothes horse on its side and a blanket on the ground, where we’d sit and have our tea of sandwiches, cake and fizzy pop.
As we got bigger, the tent progressed to being a sheet thrown over the washing line , but we still had our special blanket and our picnics with our friends.
Obviously, this was only on sunny days, and we never slept out overnight.
In the 60s, Dad took the family camping with a 2 man tent and an old ambulance. This ambulance was great, because the dark windows let us go through red lights, and on one occasion we brought goldfish won at the fair back in the blood bank. On this occasion, us kids slept in the back, and Mum and Dad slept in the tent. It was usually only for a weekend, but to young children, it was an adventure. In those days, farmers didn’t mind if you camped in their fields so long as you respected the land, didn’t disturb livestock and didn’t leave a mess.
In the 70s, the family went to Scotland. We didn’t have the ambulance any more, so Dad had hired a large frame tent, sleeping bags and airbeds, and it was my job to pump those up using a foot pump. In a way it was an introduction to step aerobics as I had great muscle tone at the end of the week!
That first night, Dad picked a field and we set up camp. Mum prepared supper as Dad put the tent up. The dog took one look at it, got in the car, and refused to get out. Mum did the same, so it was just Dad and us girls that settled down for the night under canvas.
I awoke the following morning to find a cow blocking the entrance. It was a pretty, and big, cow. It was also very inquisitive, and took a bit of shooing and shushing to get it to back off before it deposited a cowpat on the groundsheet.
Dad was outside looking slightly perplexed. The structure we had slept in resembled a long tunnel, and the groundsheet had tabs on it that obviously connected to something. It also had a zip in it, which explained the small bruise on my hip. Dad admitted that it didn’t ‘look right’, and nothing like the guy in the camp shop had indicated.
‘He told me you could stand up in it,’ he said.
On closer inspection, ‘the groundsheet’ was actually an inner tent, and in the dark, Dad had put all the poles together incorrectly, thrown the canvas over the framework and pegged it down. We spent the next 2 hours learning how to put the damn thing up, and used sticky tape in strips of 1, 2 and 3 to identify which poles went with what. The end result was indeed a very nice tent that you could stand up in, there was plenty of room in the outer section for cooking, and our airbeds and sleeping bags fitted nicely inside the inner enclosure. Even the dog was happy, nesting in the middle of it all, and going to sleep.The next day, we drove up HardKnott Pass, a pass that carries a minor road in the region of Cumbria in the Lake District National Park. The road approaching the pass vies with Rosedale Chimney Bank in North Yorkshire for the title of steepest road in England with both achieving a gradient of 1 in 3 (about 33%) SOURCE: WIKI
The view may have been spectacular, but the narrowness of the road was terrifying!
We didn’t use a single camp site, travelled a fair distance, and spent an enjoyable week in tune with Nature. We had a cooked breakfast every morning (thank you Mum), plenty of exercise and fresh air, visited Inverness, Glasgow and Oban, and saw a variety of sights from Edinburgh’s Princes Street and the Scott Monument to Loch Lomond and Loch Ness, the River Forth and the Wallace Monument.
It was exciting to do things other than watch TV, to see things not surrounded by concrete, to hear babbling brooks instead of blaring music in traffic, to smell nature at its aromatic best (cows permitting) instead of petrol fumes. The wildlife was terrific too, and I carried a water vole in my hands to Dad and asked him what it was.
As a child, it didn’t matter about using a bucket for a loo, or washing from a small bowl of water boiled in a kettle. We went to warm beds with full tummies when the sun went down and got up with the sun in the mornings. As a child, I had the easy bit. As an adult? Hm.