Tuesday, 19 June 2007


Now it is Glastonbury Week it takes my Mum's mind back to camping.

When they first got together my Mum and Dad had a tiny two-berth tent and they took it to Scarborough. It must have been very early in the season as my Mum remembers primroses being out. They camped on a cliff and it was howling a gale all night and they awoke to feel the tent roof touching their noses. Such was the wind the tent had been flattened though it popped up again once the wind had abated.

When we were little they didn't have much money so still used the tent though a fishing umbrella was added at the front by way of an extension. Once on a holiday in Wales we spent most of our time under the fishing umbrella, alternating with the site laundrette, as it rained the whole time. It also rained in Cumbria and we were quite small and played around in the mud a lot. On a visit to Blackpool on the same holiday my Mum noticed red blotches appearing all over my body. Highly alarmed she took me to the local casualty who diagnosed impetigo, which is a disease got by grubby little Victorian urchins who lacked basic sanitation. The mud, combined with difficulties in reaching the shower block in the pouring rain, had had the same effect.

My Mum and Dad's golden rule when it comes to camping is 'Go Down South'. The weather is always better and a few years ago during the hottest summer on record being on the beach at Combe Martin felt like being in the Med, with packed beaches and people partying until the early hours. The exception is when we go to my Dad's Landrover trials and we camp overnight. Once we camped on a cliff at Robin Hoods Bay and when you looked out of the tent you could see the line of the edge of the cliff and then the blue sea and it felt like being on the edge of the world.

We have been to Dorset,Somerset, Suffolk, and Oxfordshire. At the latter camp site I picked up a wild rabbit because nobody had told me I couldn't. I held the rabbit in my arms for a moment while it must have frozen in disbelief and then it sprang away. That was also the site where we saw a water snake.

The site in Suffolk was next to a pond and every morning a mother duck would bring her ducklings while we were cooking the bacon sandwiches. She would stand back while me and my brother would throw them bits of bread and never have any herself which is a fine example of maternal devotion.

This was also site where we had to walk a long way to the toilet block and for some reason I thought that my towel was like a vampire's cape and I ran along the track baring my teeth like a vampire, pink cape flapping behind me. I didn't see the car coming but the bloke in it chewed his fists like he was really scared.


Sweet Irene said...

Dear Eleanor,

Do you know something? I have only gone camping twice in my whole life and I really enjoyed it, but now I wonder if I am too old to do it again. It would be fun if I had a really nice tent, I suppose.

Eleanor said...

There is all sorts of equipment nowadays that can make it a very civilised experience. It can be very cheap (we have had a week's holiday for £70 plus food and travel)and it is very nice sitting outside your tent with a glass of wine on a summer's evening watching the sunset!

Sweet Irene said...

Yes, and then thinking about getting all cozy inside the sleeping bag. Would they let us take the dog with us? That would be worth looking into. A nice bungalow tent maybe...