This morning at 6am, I stood in the field outside my tent with the sunlight through gaps in the trees, almost no wind, and a balloon from the nearby Ballooning Festival high above. I was blissful. I was In the Now. Om Shanti.
We had our camp social on Wednesday evening.
-Are you camping here?
-Yes, I said, pleased at the surprise. I decided to look as if I were not camping, in a dress and tailored jacket, silver high-heeled sandals and beautiful jewellery. The effect was lessened, later, when a man brought out his “rocket stove” and I put on my woolly hat. Sparks can ruin a wig. The rocket stove is a cylinder of insulation with a metal grate supporting the wood above the ground, and a chimney leading to the hob. The air flow makes kindling burn quickly, and all the heat goes to the pot, far more efficiently than open cooking fires.
Who wants to look as if they are camping, in jeans and shapeless hoodies? I was fed up with my alleged two person tent, which would only fit two people if they had no kit. Fed up with balancing on my shoulder-blades to pull up my jeans, I got a tent I could stand up in- the Vango Icarus 500, which sounds like a Harry Pooter broomstick. It’s last year’s model: this year’s has shorter sleeves for the bendy poles, and more hooks. Honestly. I mean to say. Tents are practical things for practical people, who go back to nature, and Vango attempt to make us buy the latest model. Fashion, in tents! What is the world coming to? Still, I got it with a reduction. Canny enough.
The chemical loos were disgusting. I heard one desperately pumped twelve times, and thought sententiously “What a waste of the chemical. You will fill the thing up.” Then a woman emerged, disgusted, mortified and distressed because her turd refused to fall from the flap. After a little thought I went to get a stick to push the matter off the trap-door. Several people are burning wood, it can’t be too difficult. However the man I asked wanted to know precisely why I wanted it, then explained that he was not the organiser, and introduced me to Rob, who co-ordinates Quaker camps. Rob had a stick, and the man started a verbose complaint, putting great eloquence into a trivial matter.
Our gas-powered shower, when it turned up, needed an electricity supply which we did not have. I showered in the sports centre. Bath university takes athletics seriously, and there are pictures of medal winners and Inspiring Quotes. I felt inferior and invisible among the beautiful people congregating by the door.
All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. TE Lawrence! Back to the Empire!