I have a theory. There are many things in life that we would regard a hundred years ago as genuine torture, if you asked most people if they would like to be submerged into sub zero temperature water with no guarantee that they could get out, or if they would like to run for miles and miles to the point of vomiting, they would probably look at you like you’d just said that you were an Instagram influencer on a first date. However ice swimming and marathon running are two tried and tested pastimes that our modern society deems leisurely. And this is my issue with something I have been told to enjoy my entire life as I’m sure many of you have, camping.
Camping is and will always be the suggestion I dread coming from either a new partner, family member, or friends mouths as I completely and totally despise every aspect of it. I’m frothing as I even write about it, as if someone will burst through the door with pots and pans hanging off them and launch me into the back of a people carrier. There have been literally hundreds of terrifying slasher movies that feature campsites, some of them are based on real events. Is potentially being stalked by a masked maniac wielding a machete part of the appeal? Call me a buzz kill but having a zip as my locked door doesn't exactly fill me with the type of nature loving awe that people who camp would have you believe, and I can see Orion’s belt perfectly fine from my fourth story window, thank you. I have been known to end entire relationship based on this utterly unshared past time. Nothing in the whole world would make me go to Lidl, find camping equipment and an extremely flammable polyester sleeping bag and backpack, pack tins of rubbish food that I never eat anyway, and sob uncontrollably as I try to find things that will make the outdoors less… Outdoorsy.
That’s the crux of the issue, as wonderful as nature is we as a human race have spent centuries perfecting the inside, even when camping is an imminent family imposed holiday we spent the week leading up to it trying to make the outdoors as comfortable as humanly possible, with things that cook our food just like we would in a regular kitchen, with sleeping bags as comfortable as hotel mattresses, and here's the secret, you can find all of those things in a perfectly ordinary hotel room with a fully working toilet and have a bed that is separated by more than two inches off of actual dirt.
The fact that I have never understood the appeal doesn't mean I haven't tried, I’m an equal opportunity pessimist after all. The last time I went camping was for want of a better expression, a glaring oversight. Trusting my Neanderthal boyfriend at the time to keep me in Pinterest level outdoorsy comfort was a complete disaster, and we ended up on the freezing dirt floor with snow literally caving the roof in being accosted in the morning by ducks. Not to mention a friendly neighborhood camper drunkenly stumbling over to our tent during the night and cascading a river of piss down one side of the zipped door. And that’s just the thing, to have an effective camping trip there are just too many elements to classify it as a holiday, its more like doing a bit of extra hard work after your week of hard work. Even putting up the tent proves to be a monolithic task, with one brave person invariably taking the lead and failing, leading to everyone else grabbing the directions and staring at the because “we best get the tent up now because its starting to spit”.
I should mention that I live in England, a place not known for its scorching temperatures, camping is based purely on luck and a seven day weather forecast which can change quicker than you can say “we should've brought Wellies”. When we aren't freezing to death sleeping on a hard dirt floor the summers bring us a new range of problems. I personally have woken up more than a couple of times covered in booze sweat at a festival in a tent that has now turned into a regrettable greenhouse, trying to find a bottle of water that's rolled off by someone else's clothes and into an ants nest because they found the biscuits. If you are sharing your tent, I can almost guarantee that at least one time you will be sleeping next to a person that you haven't slept next to before, leaving you waking up to tent snorers, disoriented, cranky, sweaty and oh so dehydrated. Slowly you climb out of your soggy sweat cave to find that its probably very very early, its rained during the night making leaving the tent a miserable search for boots and a ‘the floor is lava’ situation while trying to miss squelchy mud patches.
Which brings me to the most problematic part of camping. Hygiene. A wise friend once said to me, “I hate camping, how can you tell if your face has fallen off?” and she's quite right, I am a lady that loves her bathroom time, its my happy place, and what I cant abide, past no running water, is the fact that camping is intrinsically linked with looking absolutely dreadful. Now I know as a modern woman and a feminist that I shouldn't care about this sort of stuff but the fact of the matter is that I do. I don't feel ready for the day if I haven’t moisturised, and has my morning coffee in a nice robe in a nice warm room, which is not squatting in front of a little travel mirror in a dark tent trying to apply a little concealer under the eye bags which sleeping on the floor has definitely given me in order to keep some of my dignity. The last camping trip I went on had a shower block, which I wasn’t about to use considering that it was snowing and about a mile away from camp misery, but what I did see was a long line of absolute nutcases getting naked and showering in this freezing trailer as if it was nothing, no flip flops or anything, like animals.
Now I’m fully aware that I may come across as a little bit of a princess but I stand by it. When asking where the toilets are while camping the image of being handed a toilet roll and someone pointing to the trees is just too much for me to bear. The only way that you would get this proverbial bear to shit in the woods is if you paid me. I am convinced that people who do this type of activity recreationally are using it as an excuse simply to smell funky, maybe have sex in a tent, (how I do not know, while reading about camping I actually found a ‘how to’ guide for sex whilst camping), and to add a little adrenaline into eating just because you cant be entirely certain that those sausages are cooked, or whether it'll have you running for the trees whether you like it or not.
Unless there is a zombie apocalypse, (and lets face it the worlds gone mad so I may have to get over my aversions sooner rather than later), you wont catch me stuffing poles into a bag, driving miles to an open field, and freezing my ass off with no phone signal unless I’m on some ridiculous TV show, and then its just a matter of me being competitive. I much rather be exactly where I am writing this, In a bubble bath, in a hotel, next to a bottle of wine, and a fully working toilet.