LAST WEEK I tried something I had never done before: I stayed in a tent.
I know it’s more common to start in tents and move on to caravans rather than the other way around, but I have somehow reached the age of 35 without once spending a night under canvas.
Why try camping now? Well, I wanted to go cycle touring and couldn’t find a caravan I could pull behind my bike and abide by the 85% rule. That and the urge to try something different and see if I’d been missing out all these years.
I’ve never liked to faff around with awnings, so I wasn’t looking forward to putting up the tent. However, after a few minutes looking bemused and confused by all the canvas, pegs and poles it was actually pretty straightforward. I don’t think I set any speed records getting the tent up, but I didn’t have to ask my neighbours for help either.
My inflatable mat was more comfortable than expected, I stayed warm all night and slept soundly. In the morning I was packed and ready to go again in next to no time.
I can see the appeal of camping. It’s no-frills compared with even an entry-level tourer but that’s part of the point. No microwaves, no TVs, just a back-to-basics sense of adventure.
Even so, as I tried to get dressed in a one-man tent which certainly wasn’t made for my 6′ 3″ frame, I couldn’t help but envy the caravanners around me with their proper beds, plentiful space, plush sofas and well equipped kitchens.
I’ll definitely try camping again (next time with a bigger tent!), but I won’t turn my back on caravanning just yet.