I’d rather be a ‘loner’ in a cold leaky tent any day

IF you love camping but hate the rain, you have three choices. You can (a) stay at home and watch telly, (b) go camping in a country with a decent climate, or (c) cop out and rent a motor home.

While your kids might want to do (a) and you’d really like to do (b) but can’t afford it, your other option is to try out (c).

You may thus find yourself behind the wheel of a 3.5 tonne house-on-wheels, scraping under trees and past hedges in narrow country lanes. Instead of being able to pitch your tent in any old field in the middle of nowhere, you have to go to proper campsites with electric hook-ups, to park alongside other motorhomes full of retired couples and their arthritic labradors.

If you are much too young for this kind of thing, you’ll have to drive far away until you find yourself in a sort of Craggy Island campsite so remote that you will be the only motorhome there, apart from the solitary middle aged man nearby whom crime scene reports would describe as a ‘loner’. Time to put your feet up and enjoy the great outdoors.

Except it’s bucketing rain. What a relief not to have to pitch your tent in a deluge. All you have to do is plug your van in, and make yourself at home. Except at home, you can get away from your squabbling kids. Not here. Not in this wet cold field in the middle of nowhere, where the three of you — and your two massive wet smelly dogs — are trapped together in a mobile box done out like a particularly claustrophobic bedsit. The kids have been bickering for the past 200 miles. They moan. They whinge. They tussle. Where can you go? Nowhere. You’re stuck.

To contextualise — normally while camping under canvas, entertainment comes in the form of searching for firewood, lighting the fire, keeping it lighting, sitting around it, and feeling glad that it’s there. It’s simple. This time, having chosen option (c) — which incidentally is called a Roverhome, on account of the dogs having their own bedroom — you now have a telly and DVD player to entertain you. Satellite hook up. An iPod thing. A laptop and satnav.

There is more technology in this van than in your own home. It’s not right — a fridge, hot water, electric lights, a loo, a shower, a cooker, and a cupboard full of spatulas, cheese graters, and china plates. This ain’t camping, it’s suburban-ing.

As your kids screech and hit each other over which TV channel to watch, you can’t even kick the little feckers out to collect firewood, because the stupid motorhome has central heating. You can’t shoo them away to find the nearest water supply, because there is a water tank onboard. You’re trapped in your warm dry luxury, as the rain batters down on the roof. You find yourself fantasising about being in a cold, leaky tent — alone. Being a ‘loner’ never looked more appealing.

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Saturday, June 12, 2021

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