CAMPING FOR FUN!
Here we are: a nice and tidy bit of twenty-first century camping!!!
Yes, Dorothy and I are on holiday in the caravan again. But when I was knee-high to a grasshopper and the skies were always blue my brother and I made a tent in the back garden. We used some sticks (I can't remember much about those sticks except they were invariably the wrong length for our exact purposes) and maybe an old sheet or worn-out curtain to drape over them, but whatever it was would have been very old because any kind of material had quite an extraordinary value back then. Why, the war hadn't been over that long and just about everything was in short supply.
Then we were given the tent.
It had been used by my mother and her very best friend during the pre-war years for adventures and all sorts of holiday fun, so it wasn't new, and it had been used during the dreadful years of international conflict by the two women and this was evidenced by the fact the brown daubs of dung-coloured paint all over it were intended to be camouflage against the sharp eyes of the hun. I wish I had a photo of it in that camouflaged state but I don't, and the tent itself hasn't existed for untold ages. But the image here shows my mum standing next to it some time in the thirties before the paint-brush came out. And, years later, my brother and I played in it!
My mum and the tent my brother and were to inherit years later
During those same years we were taken on an annual holiday to the seaside by our lone parent (my dad had already been dead for years, killed by a lung disease that was attributed to his smoking), and we always went into a caravan parked either near Skegness or near Great Yarmouth according to which year we're thinking about. And I do have an image of one of the caravans we stayed in! I took this photo when I was a boy of eight or ten. I remember (or think I can remember) taking it!
That caravan was quite primitive. It had gas lighting (it wasn't wired into the electricity mains and it didn't even have a battery supply), but that lighting always struck me as really efficient and bright in a cosy kind of way It also had a simple hob for cooking on and a bucket for weeing in during the night. There were toilet blocks on the site, but at night... if those shabby building were lost in the darkness? No, we had that bucket!
I took this picture in the 1950s, when we were on holiday, possibly at Skegness.
Looking back, it was all very primitive, but we didn't see it like that. Back then it was a strange and wonderful kind of luxury, being able to sleep away from home in a kind of inferior and lovely little temporary home of our own. Just for a week, but magic!
So things had evolved, from the tent made of scraps of this or that to a caravan with its almost permanent sophistication.
Now as I write this I'm sitting in a modern caravan. It has all mod cons. There is a fridge with a freezer, a cooker with both hob and oven, beds for two, a bathroom complete with toilet, shower and hand sink. It is centrally heated (even summers can get cool in England!!) and we can choose whether we use gas or electricity for cooking, cooling or heating! And there's a microwave oven built in, storage for all the bits and pieces we can't live without. It is truly like a home from home. I'm even on broadband!
So the journey from the tent has been quite a long one â€“ until you notice that we've built a blasted tent against one side of the caravan! We call it an awning, but it's a tent all right!
I've just nipped out and taken this photogaph. A caravan with a tent stuck to its side!
Â© Peter Rogerson 19.05.12