The last time I slept in a tent was when I was 17. It was part of my Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expedition on the North Yorkshire Moors and it was an eventful trip. We reached our campsite that first night and one member of the team pulled something out of her rucksack and said with a flourish “here’s the tent inner”. Seconds later another member of the team did exactly the same. Word for word the same. Now, I don’t know how much you know about old fashioned tents, but two tent inners isn’t exactly right. Especially when it’s raining!
Luckily things improved from that point on, although it was a trip that seemed to feature sun burn, wind burn and ice. So much ice that on the last morning I recall having to use a cigarette lighter to help melt the ice on the tent zip which was preventing us from getting out at the time. I’m not sure that’s best practice though!
Fast forward a few years and I’m sat here on my laptop researching tents. We’ve decided that 2016 is the year that we finally go for it and try camping as a family of four. My mum gave the family some money for Christmas (thank you Mum!) with the instruction that it should be spent on something for the whole family. We considered the idea of a family holiday, but then thought that if we could instead spend in on camping gear then hopefully it will benefit us for years to come on several family holidays. (And privately, it might mean that I finally get to go to a festival – something I’ve wanted to do for years!) I’m also hoping to go to the WI Tea and Tents gathering in the summer this year too. The only tent we own is something we bought for £20 in Tesco several years ago that the kids play in in the garden during the school summer holidays. I’m not sure it’s gong to be big enough or sturdy enough for four of us for a whole night, let alone any longer, and I daren’t think what might happen if it got rained on.
But, it seems that camping has moved on quite a bit since the days of the old bulky three man tents that school provided us with, and to be honest I’m totally lost in all the different options. And that’s just looking at tents. Campers now have things like air beds which seem like complete luxury compared to the paper thin sleeping mat that I slept on all those years back. Combine all this with the fact that Mr C is a man who likes gadgets and researching everything properly before buying any bit of kit and it means I’m starting to wonder if we’ll be able to buy anything in time to actually go camping this year!
We spent Saturday afternoon going round a huge camping and outdoors shop in Milton Keynes and if anything it’s made me realise how many options are our there and how many little things matter. Just in that one afternoon we’re already quite fussy about the exact layout of bedrooms in terms of what will work for us. And even getting picky about how the bedrooms are physically divided – a zip or not? Mr C is all excited about new air beam technology which I hadn’t even heard of before now. Then there’s also all the other kit that you need. At this rate we might need a bigger car too to transport everything to a campsite!
However, as much as I’m ready to thump Mr C over his repeated use of the “now is the winter of our discount tents” line, I figure there must be some good deals to be had out there in the winter sales, if only I knew what to buy.