The Joys of Camping in Swanage (Burnbake)

Posted on August 4, 2012

Camping in the UK is the oddest of things; it is a unique time when an ordeal is mixed with pleasure, where fun and joviality is tempered by stinking Portaloos and showers that are no better than a dripping tap. It is also a time when relationships can get strained and even the simple process of frying a piece of bacon  is littered with obstacles such as rain, sudden gusts of wind and specifically designed camping frying pans that spot weld any piece of food that enters them. As a tip to a novice, if you are going camping and you have a bought camping kettle, I suggest that if you want a cup of tea in the morning you should put it on before you go to bed, that way it should be boiled in the morning.

When I go on trips like these, my first instinct on arrival is to seek out another male who is more hopeless than me before spending the week ensuring that I am the second worst on show and therefore out of the spotlight of wives and girlfriends who have lengthy discussions about how shit or wonderful their partners are. However on arrival this year, I saw an alarming array of practicable men going about their work with ruthless efficiency and I knew I was going to have to up my game, there seemed to be no weak link, at least until Pete arrived a full two days later.

The first evening went well and with about six bottles of beer washed down with a bottle of red wine I was confident of a good night of sleep. Wrong! Sleeping in a tent is like going to bed in Greenland and waking up in a Brazilian rain forest. On a clear night the temperature drops like a stone forcing you to put on the layers and wrap up warm but the minute the sun gets above the horizon the canvas becomes an oven, and as a consequence, a hideous accompaniment to vintage dehydration caused by a bottle of plonk. You have no choice to get up early, not unless you are a fan of bouncing around on an airbed in a pool of your own sweat and vomit.

The other thing I struggle with whilst camping are the toilet and shower facilities. My bottom has a psychological barrier when it comes to sitting on a manky toilet seat in the cubicle next door to some bloke who is shitting his brains out and it will barely let me go at all, despite all my best intentions. For some reason my bottom will only entertain a truly fulfilling ‘daily digestive transit’ on my own humble Hatch Warren toilet and only shows half hearted interest in going anywhere else, not least a camp site. I even tried the solitude of a portaloo near our tents on one occasion but when I stepped inside the stench that emanated from it was a like a living Hell, leaving me scrambling for the lock in total nausea driven panic. Then there are the press button showers that last about fifteen seconds on each push of the button, not once did I come out of them feeling clean and I am willing to pay someone to teach me how to exit them with dry feet.

However, despite all these things, camping also has so many pleasures. I can think of nothing better than sitting around fire pits exchanging jokes and ditties over a few beers and watching our multitudes of children turning feral for a week is a wonderful sight. With no electronic source of entertainment children of all age groups bond and become sociable together, creating their own games and friendships regardless of age and gender, I love that, it is a pleasure to watch. This year one of my fellow campers (Nick) invented daily Olympic camping events such as coin flipping and egg throwing which were hugely entertaining and keenly contested by parents and children (I got two silvers!) and proof that good entertainment need not be a costly affair.

All the kids enjoying the camp fire

So all in all I think I held my own, I made breakfasts, barbecues and cups of tea, and I cleared up rubbish, did washing up and assisted with the erection and dismantling of other families tents. In a week where team GB are heroically sweeping up gold medals, it is hardly time for me to be triumphant with such modest achievements, but it is all relevant and I was quietly proud of my all round success even if my girlfriend suggested that my personal hygiene was not up to the standard she expects. However, I would argue that when you are washing in a damp shack with a shower that is as effective as a dripping tap, standards might drop and leave you slightly rugged, not that it should matter that much when you are about to sit on a damp field next to a smoking fire before a night of romance on a semi deflated air bed.

When all said and done, it is without doubt that the best thing about camping is seeing my beloved bathroom again…for all manner of reasons.

No Replies to "The Joys of Camping in Swanage (Burnbake)"

    Got something to say?

    Some html is OK

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.