Today, on FREECYLE, we gave away our tents, our old camping mattresses and other equipment we no longer need. The people who took them (one is still to arrive) seemed grateful. I was grateful too, for not having to take them anywhere to get rid of them. But sorting them out was a headache and was accompanied by flashbacks of times when we went to Morocco, Turkey, the Belgian coast, Spain, or Wales (not necessarily in that order!) when we were child free.
Erecting tents and taking them down again has always caused friction. There are never enough pegs, the tentpoles are missing one section, a bird has shat on the entrance flap, it’s been erected on top of an ants’ nest, a thunderstorm makes sleeping in a thing with metal poles a bit of a lightning rod. Once, we found a scorpion under the sleeping bag, once again tension was created when thieves slit the side of the tent and made off with my camera and pajamas, and I considered never sleeping in a tent again. I have very few really happy memories of tents. Well, happy perhaps, but not relaxed as well. Even in Ireland, geese came into the tent and we both found ourselves with large ticks which had to be very carefully removed.
Camping with The Brixton Holiday Venture, a small charity we helped get going in the Sixties, we were all so tired at the end of a day that by the time we’d downed a bottle or two of beer, sleep was inevitable. I don’t recall arguments about taking down the tents on those trips. What I remember instead was the newness of the experience for the children, most of whom had never been outside Brixton in the UK, though they remembered the dangers that had lurked back home in the West Indies – doppies in the woods, stinging insects, poisonous fish… and the child who saw the sea for the first time and pronounced: ‘It don’t half pong, Miss’. Happy days.