Sunday, June 24, 2012

Camping: the lowdown


 FOR THE record, while hatching our plan to come away I was adamant about one thing. We couldn’t keep moving around because the constant packing up would drive me mad. This much I knew from the two weeks we had spent road-tripping in the US, back when “we” was just the one extra small person. At the very least, we’d need an RV or its Euro equivalent, even if that put us in the same bracket as German retirees. And there was no way you’d catch me camping. Not on a traditional campsite. With two children, including a small baby. In northern Europe, for goodness sake.

But then I dreamt up the Scandiplan. Only somehow I’d forgotten to factor in the cost of living in countries where the only reason residents get so much back from the state, such as fabulously cheap childcare, is because everything is so darn expensive due to sky-high taxation. My dreams of a Sodermalm flat swap remained precisely that, dreams, so rather than bankrupt ourselves with hotel bills, a tent was bought. Not by me, I hasten to add. That would have made me complicit in the camping part of the plan. And that might have meant I couldn’t complain when things, inevitably, didn’t go as envisaged.

It’s hard to narrow down exactly what’s worst about camping: the rain; the cold; the not having a clue where anything is; the looooooong walk to the loo in the night; the claustrophobic sleeping bag; the lack of sleeping bag as I discovered after Arctic temperatures rendered useless my plan to sleep under only an Ikea duvet; the light; the dark; the sick baby with a fever of 40C despite the aforementioned night temperatures…… Shall I continue?

Even DJ pitched in with his own bete noire this evening: the smug gaze from within a – dry – campervan awning as two wrinkled pensioners, who ran out of anything to say to each other back in the 1980s, watch our attempts to pitch a tent at gone 8pm with two feral children on the loose. That said, shortly after he said that, the Danish campervanner opposite came over proffering a thermos of coffee “because you both look so tired”. Which almost made it all worse!

Then there’s the horror of watching the battery percentage tick down on the various pieces of thirsty electronics I own. And that’s forgetting my biggest camping casualty: the Kindle I trod on while trying to locate my mobile phone so I could turn it off to save the battery. Oh, the irony.

To be fair, camping has the odd plus. But I’ll need to warm up – and dry out – before they trip off the tongue.  

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