Sitting on a stool in front of the tent, cooking dinner on a portable gas cooker (which I managed to light with a match after three attempts). Then being a bit too clumsy while draining the spaghetti, which leaves me with more than half of the pasta in the grass… Clearly, not everything about camping is ideal. But I’ll tell you why I enjoy it so much.
Perhaps that’s what I really like about camping: improvising. Being forced to do everything just a little bit different that you’re used to. Being able to get by with little equipment, brightly colored plastic plates and cutlery, the adjustable table, the foldable chairs which are always a little hard to get out of, eating outside and finally doing your dishes in the toilet building. Camping is one of my most enjoyable moments. Some small talk with other campers, a conversation with the person you’re doing dishes with and walking back to your tent feeling satisfied and with a box of rattling clean dishes in your hands. After that there’s time to play a game, to read or to just enjoy the good life and the company of a nice glass of wine.
Back to basics. Would that be it?
For the ones who don’t like camping…I understand that you don’t have a clue of what I’m talking about. But it’s true. I’ll elaborate. Being proud when you’ve managed to put up the tent and all the herrings are in place. After spending a day outside, feeling nice and rosy while you bundle up in your sleeping bag. The sound of the tent’s zipper. The sounds of nature waking you up. Having breakfast outdoors in the sunshine. Fresh baguette from the bakery. Hiking, sport or relax. The sound of raindrops on the tent. The quiet walk to the toilet early in the morning, when everyone’s still sleeping. Finding your way in the dark with the flashlight.
Still no recognition?
Maybe it’s because I grew up with it. My parents are true campers. As a little girl we often went to the Belgian Ardennes. I remember them bathing me in a bucket instead of at team in a bathtub. The bucket disappeared, but spending weekends in the Ardennes continued until I was about 15 years old. It was tradition to drive up there once a year and spend the weekend with my parents’ friends and their kids. We all camped out on a large field next to the river, a big circle of tents. A great atmosphere! “Mom, I’m at …” I love it. Playing soccer, games, building dams, swim in the river, hiking, canoeing, walking through the dark forest with flashlights in the evenings and of course playing music and singing at the campfire. Fantastic memories!
Besides our yearly weekend in the Ardennes we went camping for four weeks every summer. From Turkey to Iceland, from Ireland to Norway, from Spain to Poland. We always made a round trip. This meant that we had to pack up every three to four days. This might sound like a lot of work, but we developed a very efficient system. Everyone had his own task and in no time we were packed or unpacked. I can still picture the order of the tent sticks.
My parents are adventurers. They’ll never pick a camp spot between other caravans or a nicely barricaded campsite unless there’s no other option. They always search for spots more out of the ordinary.
We’ve seen a lot of special places. But the most beautiful place they found was in Iceland, looking out over the icebergs. After we’d transported the luggage by walking back and forth with a wheelbarrow ten times we were able to fully enjoy it! Opening the tent with a view like that… and that while you’re only 7 years old… WAUW!!
I can look back at a lot of wonderful camping trips! This also explains why I am so happy to travel and do not need a lot of luxury on travel. Always on the go, learning to entertain yourself, playing self-thoughtful games with my brother, walking through the mountains, visiting villages, picking flowers.
The most difficult thing for me during these trips was the lack of friends to play with. Even since I was a child, I’ve been very social. Due to the fact that we didn’t stay at a campsite for a long time and because we often were away during the day, there was little time to make new friends. If I did make a friend, my parents often stayed a day longer than planned… Just for me. My best friend at primary school lived really close by and we saw each other daily. She was the one I missed the most during those trips. After four weeks I really wanted to go back for a play date with her. Now, that friend is living abroad. Fortunately I can handle being apart from her a lot better 😉
And then I didn’t even tell you that we were travelling though whole Europe in a Citroën 2CV (deux chevaux). That often drew a lot of attention. How come? You’ll read it next week.