City Folk Are Going Camping

New Zealand whipped a good chunk of the latte-swilling city-dweller out of my hide, but it’s been a while since I went camping.  Our 15-year old tent suffered death by mould-attack and was partially discarded and partially re-purposed to a gardening aid.

Buying a new tent displayed once again the difference in approach that K-man and I take to making important purchases like tents.   I like to walk for a while and then set up camp with a simple tent and nothing but a saucepan for company: I’m not much for the kind of camping that involves bringing a fridge and a generator with you.  The principle characteristics I appreciate in my camping gear are that it should be very small, and very light, and unfold in unexpected directions to fourteen times its original size in order to do something useful.

You know those vague conversations you have when you’re about to fall asleep, about something reasonably urgent that you’ve been putting off for three years?  That’s how it went down.  We’ve been invited camping, I whispered, which means we need a new tent.

Mmmm, said K-man, and went to sleep.

A couple of days later when I’d forgotten all about this, K-man burst triumphantly through the door following one of his thrice-weekly visits to our unfriendly local DIY giant chain store.  He was clutching a large hold-all.

What’s that, I enquired, and how much did you spend? We’re spending a truckload of cash on our new bathroom, about which more in a later post.  We will run out of cash very soon.

It’s a tent, he said gleefully.  And that’s the whole point – it was on SALE.  He loves a good sale.

Yes, it was on sale from quite cheap to slightly cheaper.  The reason being that the fucking tent weighs as much as an elephant and packs up about as small.

I would rather buy one tent that suits all our purposes and spend more on the basis that we will have it and use it often and for a long time and we will be comfortable in it, than spend less on a tent that we can’t carry anywhere on foot and have to buy another one that we can put in our backpacks without compacting our spines in the process.  Also I would have liked one that was useful for a wider weather-window than just summer, and didn’t act as a super-heated sweatbox of condensation.  There are days I’d like it if he had his one-person tent and I had my one-person tent and never the twain would meet.

I know my approach to tent-buying is initially more expensive, but we would actually have something good quality and useful.  K-man would rather meet the immediate basic need as quickly and cheaply as possible with scant regard for future needs or comfort.

The other night he was downstairs erecting the tent to check that it is in fact functional before we rock up in a field with it, and I was upstairs scraping more tiles off the bedroom floor.  After a while I went downstairs to check on progress to find him watching TV.

Is the tent OK? I asked.

I don’t know, he replied.  The tent is too big to put up in our sitting room.

Our sitting room is enormous.

Seriously? I surveyed the area with a beady eye.

Well, he said with a kind of reverence, it is a four-man tent.

Because Me + Him = 4.

What did you have in mind?  Inviting a couple of strangers in to share our bodily warmth?

So now we have an unnecessarily-giant pointlessly-heavy tent that we haven’t tested because it’s cold and wet outside, and we are going camping in a field on a farm in Cambridgeshire.  I’m looking forward to it!

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5 Responses to “City Folk Are Going Camping”


  1. 1 Cora August 13, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    ha, my husband is the same and even worse. We now have a tent for every camping experience possible. If fact, if we erect all the tents, we have more square meters than in our home…
    But at least you’ll have room to get dressed in the morning

  2. 2 Jenn @ Juggling Life August 14, 2010 at 12:15 am

    You would not like the tent we jokingly call our “high-rise condo.” On the other hand, it sleeps all 6 of us and hold all our stuff.

  3. 3 bramble August 15, 2010 at 1:04 am

    You gave me a good laugh and envisioning your man attempting this architectural wonder indoors just makes me giggle. We have had tents “drying” in our living room, across the front yard to the point neighbors asks if we have set up a tent city. I am sorry you are now married to both the tent and such a man! Regrettably at times like these, so am I! Maybe ours could meet and they could start a chapter of the Big Ass He Man Tent Hauling Club?! I’m not packing that thing, how about you?!!!

  4. 4 Jonathan August 15, 2010 at 11:26 am

    I’m very much in the same school of tent thought as you – as little as possible wins. If I had my way, we would just take several “quick pitch” tents with us camping, and have the doors face each other.

    Having said that, we did borrow my brother-in-law’s teepee a while ago, and it was pretty good – and folded up smaller than an average back pack.

  5. 5 Suzanne August 15, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    I’m with you, Nic! But I haven’t gone camping in years and years, either. I have two sleeping bags, but no tent, anymore.


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