Friday, April 17, 2009

Our First Campout

In England, in the 1950s, camping was not the pass-time that it later became. There were very few amenities.

The first time we went, I must have been six. We had a tent and a picnic basket, and something called a "primus stove." Those were about the only concessions to the fact that we were actually going to sleep outdoors. There certainly was no campground. Dad pulled up to a farmhouse and asked the farmer if we could put up out tent in his field. He must have thought we were crazy or gypsies or something, but he gave permission.

In England, even the last time I was there, there were no window screens. The bug population is pretty minimal, so nobody sees the point of cutting off 30% of your air flow to keep out three bees and two mosquitoes per year. Of course, tents didn't have screens, either. Or floors, for that matter. We had one of what was later called a pup tent. Lord knows how Mom and Dad ever figured out that it would be adequate for two adults and a small child, but that was what they bought. It had no floor, was made of nylon, and the front end just tied together.

I'm pretty sure that sleeping bags had not yet been invented. If they had, Mom and Dad didn't see the point, when one could just haul sheets and army blankets around and use them.

Organizing sleeping arrangements took some time, and some grousing about the music that we could hear in the distance. It seems there was a carnival. I liked the music, but then, I was six, and what did I know. After much grumbling and fussing, Dad was in the tent, and Mom and I were in the car.

It rained. Hard. Of course, nobody had thought of digging a little trench around the tent. Nobody had been a boy scout. Dad got soaked. We were better off in the car, but not by a whole lot, because the car leaked.

The situation was tense on the way home in the morning, and, the following summer, we acquired a small travel trailer.


  1. Martin will have to share his story of camping in Wales as a child. His mom has picutres of him in a sweater on the beach.

  2. I wore sweaters on the beach...there is a sweater named for a large Welsh bay--the Cardigan. Just because it's the beach, doesn't mean it's hot, over there.