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Why camping is a holiday horror

PUBLISHED: 11:28 14 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:20 20 February 2013

It's muddy, wet, bone-numbingly cold and your six layers of clothing are soaked through. Andrew Clarke fails to understand his family's enthusiasm for camping

Its muddy, wet, bone-numbingly cold and your six layers of clothing are soaked through. Andrew Clarke fails to understand his familys enthusiasm for camping

Camping. I hate camping. I always have but every year I always go. My family and I are regulars at campsites at Dunwich and Rendlesham as well as several locations out of the county but even after 15 years of enduring a summer under canvas, I have to admit that I just dont get the appeal of it.
I cant understand why reasonably sane people would want to pitch camp in a muddy field, happily forgo all home comforts in fact, I would go further and say forgo the essentials of life and slum it in a vain attempt at having a good time.
The weather is invariably cold, wet and blustery. I have lost count of the freezing, miserable days I have spent wrestling with a tent canvas as a howling gale rages or sat shivering in a thick woolly jumper, which I have pulled on over a sweat shirt, which was already over a thick shirt which was over a T-shirt. We sit around lamenting the poor weather, clutching steaming cups of alcohol-enhanced coffee trying to persuade ourselves that this is all very character building and is actually enjoyable, in a triumph over adversity kind of way.
Can this really be July/August/September? We trot out the same incredulous exclamations about the weather every time we set out on one of our ill-fated expeditions.
I have lost count of the days we have spent huddled together, several families sharing bodily warmth, playing charades, telling ghost stories or playing Just A Minute or Call My Bluff.
They say it sounds much worse inside a tent than it really is. That, my friends, is an old wives tale. I have stuck my head outside the tent flap and I have experienced the full horror of a storm on a camp-site. Its not pretty.
Its the mud, and hammering in twisted and bent tent pegs into sodden earth while the wind wants to recreate the flying house scene from The Wizard of Oz with your tent. Thats the reality.
Youre wet, the tents wet, theres nowhere to cook, you and the kids are traipsing mud inside every time you return from an expedition to the toilet block which is always at least seven miles from where you have pitched the tents.v
Then there are the disasters. I will come clean here and say that my long-suffering friends have a nickname for me, Conan The Destroyer.
On one single trip to Dunwich I managed to soak my best friends wife while pushing rain water off a bulging and straining tent porch. I thought I was being helpful but didnt realise that Anna was standing quite so close, that she only had a T-shirt on and the water didnt all flow in the same direction.
The following day we decided that wed had enough of the primitive cooking and needed a properly cooked meal to build up our reserves and protect us from the chill night air.
I volunteered to drive into Woodbridge to collect our phoned-through Chinese meal.
I jumped into the car just as my son had returned from a bike ride around Dunwich, he leapt off his bike letting it fall to the floor just behind me as I was reversing backwards. That wheel would never turn again.
Just 30 minutes later, I returned with hot, nourishing food. My wife Helen served it all up, the kids were greedily tucking into their rice and sweet and sour pork. I urged my daughter to move along and let her old father have something to eat, I plonked myself down beside her on our portable, folding picnic table and there was a terrifying crack, I continued down, towards the ground, while the opposite side of the table flew upwards launching the mostly untouched Chinese meal high into the air.
So why do we do it? Well my wife and kids love it. Our friends who we go with love it. And I enjoy the camaraderie when the suns out and temperature creeps into double figures. What I dont enjoy are the sleepless nights, the cold, the lack of decent toilets (once I found a chicken in the mens loos). I would much rather hire a farmhouse and sleep and cook in the warm.
Hey guys, Ive a great idea, lets leave the tents at home next year.


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