Monday, 25 October 2010

On The Great Outdoors

I am, and always will be, a townie. While I appreciate that the countryside can be beautiful, peaceful and calming, it's really not for me; I much prefer the bright lights and loud noises of the city. So when N decided to arrange a camping trip for his birthday, I was decidedly underawed.

It wasn't, forunately, as bad as I thought; I had a fantastic weekend and I think I managed quite well without the internet, TV and...walls. Actually, that's a complete lie, and I respect you too much to lie to you. I'm sorry. The truth: I was completely rubbish and should not be allowed out of the concrete jungle. Bear Grylls I am not. Setting up tents, for a start, is a chore - especially when the ground beneath is so muddy you can hardly stand. That's something I like about houses; they generally come pre-assembled, ready and fit for habitation. Not so the tent, which requires assembly then reveals a sizeable insect community that has somehow survived those long months in the garden shed.

The first night was rainy, cold and dark and I was incredibly, stupidly inebriated. Towards the end of the night, the end of my night anyway, the group realised that I'd been missing for 25 minutes, and a search party was sent forth. N found me in the toilet block, hugging the hand-drier for warmth and escorted me back to the tents. I went to bed - not to sleep, just to lie with eyes wide open wondering what exactly was walking around outside. I wasn't expecting a bear or anything, but when you're out of your comfort zone, even badgers start to seem menacing.

The second night was less rainy, less cold and less dark. This was mostly because we figured out how to turn the electricity on and so the 'get back to nature' element of our camping trip went straight out of the window. Electricity gave us light. It gave us heat. We stole a picnic bench and installed it in our gazebo. We even, in the true hunting and gathering spirit of our country-dwelling ancestors, ordered a Chinese takeaway. In short, we may as well have booked a hotel.

I'm not meant for the great outdoors. I'll never be able to do without walls, a bed, central heating. I'm too attached these creature comforts and little luxuries to find sleeping on the floor enjoyable. Give me supermarkets that don't close, a mind-boggling transport network and brick, glass and steel. I don't care if I can't see the stars or see through the exhaust fumes. Just don't make me sleep outside again; the badgers might get me.


  1. That's funny Tom! When I was a kid my parents took us camping every summer and while my brother has decided to embrace this and continue the tradition in his adult life, I however wish to never camp again!

    Tell me how I can have a TASG button on my blog!

  2. While you and I completely differ on this subject, I WILL suggest to you that it is MUCH more fun when its NOT raining and cold.
    In all fairness, you only gave it TWO days out there. Transitions are a scary, tricky thing. But for something to really show its true colors and true beauty (or in the case of relationships, their true HORRORS) it takes more time than that. Initial reactions are never really all that fair.

    Here are a few examples of how amazing it can be if done correctly, and in the right place. ;)

  3. Camping at the end of October... Really?!

  4. I can't believe you huddled until the hand dryer for warmth. That is so hilarious/adorable. I'm totally with you on the camping thing. I don't really see the fun in sleeping on a hard surface or being smelly/damp/smoky/cold for long periods of time. At least you had toilet facilities and electricity by the second night. Peeing in the forest, if you're a girl, is no easy task.

  5. *under, not until. I'm still drunk from last night, apparently.

  6. My heart is saddened greatly by your lack of love for the great out doors. What's cool to me thoug is that when we say townie here in the states we mean someone who lives in a small town and isn't going anywhere. It has to be a town with another population, like a torist trap or a college town. Very cool.
    cough, have a nice day!

  7. Haha! So THAT'S where you disappeared to last weekend. That sounds terrible.

    I'm like you - I hate camping. I don't mind taking day trips into natural locations, but I draw the line at sleeping in a tent.

  8. Triple Transatlantic High Five for not liking camping!

    Don't listen to these outdoorsy people TbR - stay true to yourself and keep warm under that hand dryer!

  9. I *hate* camping as well. I never found it comfortable. I like to travel but like you, I don't like to sleep in a tent. I just can't live in campsites and sleep in tents. I need a bathroom. I need a bed. And I need a huge mirror. :p

  10. haha...I love the idea of camping, but I'd rather be in a big fluffy bed. Always.

  11. Dude. Camping is awesome. Not so much the bugs, but still.

    Also, where did you go camping that you have a hand-drier!? What!

    Chinese takeaway?! I'm not sure I want to say this, but I've never been one to turn down new experiences: "Can I come next time?"

    Also, a townie? Really? Do you mean that in a The City types sort of way, or a white trainers and burberry sort of way? I'm assuming you mean the City types.

    I'm a city-girl, I've been a city girl for a vast part of my life. But I spent a while in the back-end of nowhere, a tiny village surrounded by the woods and the fields... and I've been ruined. I love getting the hell out of town and being able to breathe. I love camping and hiking and sleeping in a tent. I miss it terribly when there's nowhere I can do that! :(

  12. @ Allison - I thought maybe my aversion to camping was due to never camping as a child, but if you're experience is anything to go by, I see that's not true. I'll have to dig deep to find another reason that sounds more impressive than 'I like beds'.

    @ Tallbrunette - I take your point. It was a ridiculous idea to go camping at the end of October, but seriously, two days was enough. Enough of cold October camping anyway. However, I will say that I did have a fantastic time despite the temperature and discomfort, and my sleeping arrangements didn't detract from the beauty of the scenery around me. I'll try again, one summer.

    @ London Girl - IT WASN'T MY IDEA. Honestly, I was dragged, kicking and screaming.

    @ k-money - I wish the people I was with found it adorable. I was mocked for it, mercilessly. This is going to sound disgusting, but you're the one that started the toilet talk, we had a conversation while we were away that men generally need a tree, or a lamppost, or a wall. Odd no? It's even more odd when you consider that once you find a place, and you're going to be in the vicinity for a long time (a festival perhaps) you always go back to the same place. It's like marking territory. Told you it was disgusting...

    @ Traveler@Large - Townie is either what country bumpkins call urbanites, or what most people call 'chavs' - google it and you'll see what I mean. I do love the woods, from a afar. They're very pretty to look at, and skip through and do all sorts of other things in, but they're not meant for sleeping. UNLESS YOU'RE A BEAR.

    @ Lauren - Exactly. I have endless respect for nature and think it can be incredibly beautiful. Beautiful, awe-inspiring, humbling...and really bloody uncomfortable.

    @ Allison - I'll try. HIGH FIVE BACK.

    @ Gnetch - cuz, you're so vain. Joking. I'll admit to making sure my hair was ok in car wing mirrors. It wasn't. It looked just like I'd slept in a forest.

    @ Adria - 'the idea' of camping. That's it. Terribly romantic and exciting in your head, not so in real life.

    @ Risha - to a campsite?! You mean there's a kind of camping where you don't even have that?! Perhaps I should count myself lucky. You're more than welcome, if Chinese food in the dark and freezing cold floats your boat, you could even go instead of me. They would probably jump at the chance to have someone more enthusiastic there. Especially seeing as you have such an urge to camp and hike and sleep in tents.

    Re: the word 'townie', well, I remember going on a family holiday when I was little. We stayed in a cottage in Derbyshire and a farmer shouted at us for walking our dog (WHICH WAS ON A LEAD) too near some sheep. After venting his spleen, he then muttered 'fucking townies'. I think if you're from the countryside, a townie can be anyone who lives anywhere urban.

    Then there's also the white trainers and burberry type, the chav. I'll let you in on a secret; a long time ago, a very long time ago, I may have sported that look. It was cool then. Honest.