It was the summer of 1989, and Hubby (though not my Hubby then) decided it was time to educate me in the camping stakes. The last time I’d been under canvas was when I was a teenager. Times had changed, and more importantly, so had I. For a start, I wanted flush loos and showers!
We arrived early in the afternoon, and found a tidy pitch quite close to the shower block (concerns addressed satisfactorily) . I looked in dismay at the tiny pup tent and wondered where the rest of it was. We were to share this for 2 nights? I am not petite at 5′ 7 and on the cuddly side, whereas Hubby is 6′ and not exactly a bag of bones either. Let’s just say it was a good thing we were friends. My GSD didn’t seem impressed, so it was just as well she would be sleeping in the car. We set up a running lead between two trees for her while we got organised, but she preferred to sit at one end. When we put her food and water alongside her, she simply moved to the other end (daft dog) .
Sitting in the car, we sat back to enjoy doughnuts and a cup of tea (made by me to prove I wasn’t useless) and watched a family as they pulled up opposite us with their caravan. I was given a running commentary of what was to happen and everything that was said took place seconds later. It was better than watching any TV comedy sketch.
The first thing to occur was a variety of manoeuvres with the caravan to get it in just the right position. This involved finally unhitching it and pushing/pulling it by hand, until settling on the exact same spot they had originally parked it in. Next was unloading the caravan and sending the kids off to get water in the roller butt. Husband opened a can of beer. Wife continued to unload various pieces of furniture and cooking implements to unearth the awning. Standing on a stool, she fed the fitment through the channels on the side of the van only to discover it was back to front. Several cuss words followed as husband shouted at wife though he made no offer to help, and opened another can of beer. Kids arrived with water butt, both soaking wet having had a hose fight while doing it. More angry overtones from parents. Husband loses it completely and throws his second can of beer on the ground, storming off in the direction of the clubhouse. Wife gets kids to change, tidies and organises their pitch, and then all three follow in husband’s footsteps.
Entertainment over, my Man proved to be a dab hand at camping cuisine. On a single burner and using just 2 billy cans and the kettle, he cooked a meal for the two of us, all of which was served piping hot. We then washed up, walked the dog for the night, used the facilities, and prepared to ‘retire’. Spreading a duvet on the ground sheet, arranging the pillows, and crawling in on all fours, we covered ourselves with the second duvet and snuggled down. I was told ‘ To be careful not to touch the sides’, and thought it a ploy for closeness. (I didn’t complain and it actually wasn’t too bad) .
Breakfast the next morning was down to me. I failed….. in spades. Cold eggs and almost raw bacon do not a hearty “start-off-the-day-well” breakfast make. The tea was hot at least. So I designated him as Camp Chef and me as chief washer upper and tea maker. It was nice to get away from the town though, and the second night was as good as the first.
Years later and now married, we took the pup tent to Cornwall. We didn’t have a dog then, and pitched on a site just outside of Looe for a fortnight. Hubby decided we needed a ‘kitchen’, so we went to a DIY store and purchased a large polythene sheet which we put over the front of the tent to extend it, not only giving us more space, but more shelter as we cooked. We had increased our kit to include two burners now, so cooking duty was shared.
We got friendly with the groundsman, and it wasn’t unusual for him to share a morning cuppa with us. Comments had been made about our “extension” and when we heard on the radio about a pending storm, we were again off to the DIY store to buy more rope and a large tarpaulin. We covered the tent, and secured it with extra tent pegs and storm lines. It wasn’t what one would term attractive, and it was a game getting in, but we didn’t care. The rain hit in the early hours, and although people had laughed at us, we were snug, warm and most importantly dry in our cocoon.The next morning, a woman was in the launderette with her young daughter tumble drying their clothes and all of their bedding. The child’s nightie had dye marks on it from where she had been lying against the walls of their tent, everything had got wet and Mum was not pleased (so not touching the sides had been perfectly legit, though I prefer my initial thoughts a better reason).
Our pillows were damp from body heat (our extra layer had made our tent too hot) so we thought we’d give them a zap in the dryer. We lay them on the car bonnet afterwards to cool down a bit where they started to smoke and then caught fire! We ended up dousing both with water to put them out, throwing them in the bin and getting replacements. Note for future : Dunlopillows do not tumble dry, read label (all labels in fact) .
We returned to Looe another year, and our second week was due to be spent on another site joining relatives. Sadly, we couldn’t have our own pitch and ended up sharing their trailer tent. With 2 snoring adults and 2 equally loud snoring dogs, we gave up and slept in the car, leaving the following day albeit on friendly terms. We went back to Looe and discovered the pitch we’d vacated the previous day was still free, so we spent the remainder of our holiday there.
Yes, our days in the pup tent were fun, but the tent just wasn’t big enough, so it was time to upgrade.