I have a confession to make, I have never been camping. Even in my younger days, when everybody else was heading off to festivals and sleeping in fields, the closest I ever came was youth hostelling and that was more than basic enough for me, thank you very much. I need a certain level of comfort to function and this has only got more so as I have got older.
In years gone by, had it been the only way to travel, I would have put up with the communal horror of a youth hostel or a budget hotel that only had the one bathroom between what could seem like an army of guests. Whilst it never felt ideal, the discomfort and lack of privacy would have been offset by the pleasure of the jaunt. I would have reasoned that for the small amount of time spent in a hotel room the lack of facilities didn’t really matter. My base line though has risen sharply with age and, frankly, if it’s not en suite, I’m not going.
My friends often think I’m joking, they see it as a bit of a challenge, imagining that they will be the one to make me see the error of my ways and join them on their ventures into the wilderness. It’s just not going to happen though, for a whole host of
reasons. First off, I need electricity and running water. There is no way on God’s earth that I am going without a shower for days on end and I would be bereft without my hair straighteners.
Next up, I am too old to even be thinking about sleeping on the floor. It was bad enough as a sprightly young whippersnapper, crashing out at some drunken party and waking up covered in bruises and wracked with pain. At my age I am just as likely to slip a disc. I have specific bedtime requirements and I’m afraid a comfortable bed is non-negotiable.
Then there is the type of place where campers usually stay. I suppose the very nature of the experience dictates that it is somewhere remote and rural and that’s just another mark against it; the very thought of being away from civilisation is enough to induce a panic attack. If there are no shops and cafes I start to feel displaced with flash backs to the longest week of my life when my sister and I spent a week in a log cabin in the middle of a forest. It pretty much cured me for life of any of that foolish back to the land nonsense.
Another horror is the thought of being that up close and personal with people sharing a tent. I am not the most tolerant of people and other people’s habits in such a small confined space could push me over the edge. I am still scarred from my student house sharing years. It’s funny how you never realise how irritating somebody is until after you have moved in and classmates who seemed perfectly harmless can suddenly inspire you to want to bludgeon them to death.
Over the years I have had some amazing adventures in what can only be described as basic conditions. I spent a month in LA sleeping on a friends two seater sofa and genuinely thought I’d broken my neck, my friend and I stayed in a death trap of a hotel in New Orleans where the dividing wall between our room and the next stopped about two feet shy of the ceiling and we had to share an infested bathroom with eight backpacking Australians. It was all good fun at the time but I couldn’t do it now.
It would seem then that although I can see why my friends enjoy camping and all of its merits, I won’t be joining them. Call me a snob but I’m afraid as far as I’m concerned it’s city life and boutique hotels all the way.