View From The Downs – September 2015 – Camping
by Roger Linn
There seems to have been a surge in the popularity of family camping this summer. This is possibly because of the number of ‘festivals’ catering for a staggering range of musical tastes, activities and age groups which have been staged somewhere in the county most weekends. Or possibly it is just that families have rediscovered the fun of outdoor living. My grandchildren and their parents have spent much of the school holidays in tents, or so I thought; I only realised that camping had changed radically from my day, when, on visiting them at a large campsite nearby, I was met by a shopping delivery van on the way out.
Nor was I prepared for the tented accommodation. The last time I was ‘under canvas’, the phrase was taken literally. If you touched said canvas from the inside, the rain would immediately join you in the tent which would remain non-waterproof for the rest of your stay. Tents were small and snug and never had quite enough room for all the kit which you had decided would be essential for your comfort. They had poles in awkward positions and did not come with groundsheets attached.
By contrast, the ‘tents’ in use today are more like exotic pavilions and I was entertained in one which had two double bedrooms complete with beds, wardrobes, a living room and a porch. So much for ‘roughing it’.
I remember outdoor cooking as being a hazardous activity involving sausages on sticks held over an open fire, in the embers of which was an open tin of baked beans. Inevitably the stick would break and attempts to retrieve the sausages usually resulted in knocking over the beans. Oh how we laughed! Today’s equivalent of this campfire cooking bears absolutely no resemblance to the burnt sausage and gritty baked beans of my youth. Gas-fired barbecues of prodigious size, pre-mixed cocktails and a reliable grocery delivery service have succeeded in making camping bearable, indeed, some might say actually enjoyable!