The Great British Pastime – Camping

I have always loved camping, but rarely do I get the chance. In fact, I’ve never camped in the UK. Camping is one of the great British loves, which seems strange considering our more than unpredictable weather. Not exactly tons of sleeping-outside sunshine… But yet, here we are and a few weeks ago, my friends and I planned a night of camping on the first day of October. We thought we were asking for it. We were asking for it.

So Saturday rolled around and guess what? Heat wave. Obviously. Britain never lets us down*

Glamping time

Glamping time

Since I’m on a mission to explore more of my hometown I thought this would be the perfect way. So this isn’t about a specific site, but about that great British pastime of camping. It started with a group of adventurous Edwardian gentlemen with Thomas Holding as the founder of recreational camping.

Barbecues: essential camping ingredient

Barbecues: essential camping ingredient

These days it’s evolved quite a bit. For awhile, it’s been a family activity (don’t panic, it still is), but now there’s a whole new trend. One of the most popular shows in the UK at the moment is called The Only Way Is Essex. Trying to explain the show if you haven’t seen it would be challenging, but one thing they made into a phenomenon was ‘glamping.’ Glamorous camping. So October 1 was to be a night of glamping; bunting and all.

Heart shaped glasses. Also essential.

Heart shaped glasses. Also essential.

Over 1.2 million Brits sleep in tents every year. No doubt most of them in rain. So as my first experience, here is my list of the British camping essentials:

Tarpaulin, and ideally a way to put it up in case of rain – a very likely situation

More tarpaulin. Seriously, this stuff goes a long way – goes over tents, bags, and everything else. Get it now.

Camping barbecues. Obvious one.

Quick lighting coal. Don’t waste your time trying your Boy Scout moves out on some kindling. Also not easy if it’s raining. Or windy. Or any kind of normal British weather.

A small baby-sized inflatable pool – filled with ice and water and you’ve got a drinks cooler big enough for everyone (and it’ll stay cold longer than you might think).

Socks. No matter how hot it is, it WILL be cold at night and your toes will thank you for it. Trust me. This is Britain.

Those were my biggest lessons of the weekend. Now I’m busy planning my next excuse to put up the teepee. Yes, we have a large pink teepee. We’re really embracing glamping.

*This is entirely untrue, it freezes in July, it rains in August, and by October the sun is usually in hiding. I do not live here for the weather.

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Author McPhee

McPhee was born in London where she lived until age 11 clocking in some early travel experiences around Europe. After that, she was off to the USA with her parents, living in New York, Maryland and Massachusetts. Post university, staying in one place didn’t work, so after a summer back in London, she headed to Thailand to become an English teacher. When she finished teaching she travelled through Laos and Cambodia where she discovered her love for travel writing. In November, 2009, after getting a one way ticket for £10 through STA Travel’s Anniversary celebrations, Marianne headed to Australia where she travelled across the East Coast and at one point found herself living in the Outback. Now that life has returned her to London, she has grabbed the chance to learn more about her home country. See her monthly updates on exploring the UK here, and read more of her musings, including her challenge to run around the world for charity at http://fillingthepages.com.

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