30 Apr 2012

The Great Outdoors - Under Canvas

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When I was a little girl I belonged to the Brownies and then to the Girl Guides "I promise to do my best, to do my duty to God and the Queen, to help other people at all times and obey the Guide law".  I remember the motto after all these years (at least 50).  The best part of belonging to these groups was going camping every year.  We didn't go far - just a mile up the road - but I loved the camping experience.


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 I remember sitting round the camp fire singing songs whilst waiting for our potatoes to cook in the fire and the burnt blackened skins.  Sharing a bell-tent with half a dozen other giggley girls, making up ghost stories in the dark with just our torches to make things even scarier.  We had to make fires with just one match and undergo all sorts of identification tests - all this to acquire our 'Camping' badge.

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The love of camping stayed with me and when I became a teenager I acquired a little tent of my own and the basic equipment that was needed and went camping with my slightly taller giggley girlfriends.  I loved waking up in the morning and walking on the dew-laden grass with bare feet and cooking breakfast on a little stove.  It was great fun and such an adventure to be doing stuff without my parents spoiling it.

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When I first got married our holidays were under canvas in Wales and Cornwall in bracken-filled fields full of cows, no toilet blocks or running water, collapsing fold-up beds and rain-soaked canvas, that when you leaned against, let the rain in and soaked your bedding.  Ah - happy days.


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My love affair with camping carried on well into my thirties, but with the advent of cheap package holidays, it was abandoned, except for one camping holiday abroad near the Pyrenees.  That wasn't so pleasant - all the equipment was provided we just had to buy food from the camp shop.  But the weather was so hot that the tent became unbearable and the insects were three times as large as any in England.  And so my love affair faded - I'm not sure now that I could put up with the discomfort and inconvenience - but it has given me some great times to remember - and if I were a good few years younger - I would do it all again.


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