Camping is officially cool again. But before you start having nightmares about being trapped in a field with a bus-load of boy scouts, let me explain. Camping has changed a lot. Gone are the days of being stuck next to the couple from hell who can’t wait to get you under their awning so they can subject you to two hours of mind-numbing conversation about double-entry book keeping.
Today it’s about style, comfort and a sprinkling of glamour. Think Kate Moss at Glastonbury, Airstreams and T@b caravans. Drift off into a fantasy of vintage VW revolution campervans, bright white tipis stretching skywards and pretty tents peppered with flowers. Arguably, it was Cath Kidston’s delicious floral tent which kicked off the latest camping craze.
Imagine sitting round the campfire, eating delicious food and telling ghost stories. Think boys in feather headdresses and girls with fairy wings. This is today’s camping experience.
Cool camping is also about congregating around the campfire to share stories, sing songs, cook supper, toast marshmallows, or to simply enjoy the hypnotic effect of staring into the flames.
I didn’t always think like this; the first time I went camping I lasted precisely two-and-a-half hours before booking into the nearest hotel. I wrote the whole thing off as a hideous, never-to-be-repeated experience and refused even to think about it. Then one evening at dinner the conversation turned to camping and, listening to the stories around the table, I realised that the reason I hated camping was because
I had been doing it all wrong.
Used to my creature comforts, I had imagined that camping should be an experience of deprivation and that – a little like an endurance test – it was something one simply, well, endured. The thrill of camping, I’d thought, was in living to tell the tale. A few months later I decided to try again. This time, though, I aimed to make it a luxury experience and set about truly thinking of my tent as a home from home.
Rather than settling for a standard, modern nylon model, I chose a tipi instead. From the moment I stepped inside, the experience was completely different. A compulsive nester at home, I made sure that I had lots of comforting things with me and sleeping in my tent this time was a truly magical experience. There are, of course, many different types of camping and many different reasons for doing it. Maybe you’re so in love that the idea of the two of you being entirely cut off from the word in a field all alone under the stars is the motivation that will fuel your trip.
Perhaps you and a crowd of friends are looking for a cheap fun break, or maybe you have small children and can’t face the idea of a long-haul flight and a stuffy hotel, or are off to a festival. Whatever the reason, you couldn’t have picked a better time as camping’s never been so cool.
Camping is a brilliant way to recharge your batteries and escape from modern life. It’s a back-to-nature experience that allows you to forget about the phone and email, to be utterly free to do what you want and to enjoy the elements. One of the real thrills of camping is the act of setting up camp itself. Of making your space beautiful and taking some time off from your life. It should be an experience that appeals to all your senses and one that makes you feel truly alive. When you’re camping, you tend to spend a lot of time thinking about what you’re going to eat and drink next. What the weather’s going to do and how you’d never noticed before how dark it really is at night.