It happened last night! After a replenishing dog walk in the ‘deep, dark wood’, I was persuaded that I had to do it….help put up the tent as a ‘dummy run’ for our fast approaching Camino experience, this just in case anything was missing from the tent bag…….and just in case we really had no other option but to use the tent.
I didn’t pretend any enthusiasm about this task. I was brutally honest and told my partner that I was in fact approaching this task with an excitement value of zero!
I am sure many people love camping, sleeping in a tent, being outdoors; I recently overheard a conversation in which a family were discussing their recent camping trip; as they sat outside the café on a grey, drizzly Saturday afternoon, laughing about how hardy they had become to the elements in just one week, they looked back on the joy of putting up the tent, cooking on a tiny stove, seeing the sunrise, going for a ‘comfort break’ in the middle of the night ….
I can’t see it myself. All I remember about my last time in a tent (and it was more ‘glamping’ than camping), is having a night disturbed by a fox or badger, at any rate, a medium sized mammal rubbing himself up and down the side of the tent where my head was laying! Having to drive several hundred miles after that on zero sleep, with a fast developing cold, and a back that felt it was about to split in two didn’t really inspire the camper in me!
I don’t want to sound too ‘Karl Pilkington’ about this; after all, I can join in the joy of ‘being outdoors’. Everyday, I feel very lucky that I work mostly from home and it is a flexible day. It means I can get outside with the dogs, go to the beautiful park that we have locally and enjoy being with nature. It is an small oasis in an urban landscape, actually it’s a big oasis in an urban landscape; the motorway runs to the distance on one side and 7 miles down the road is a major airport. But it is a haven! There are wide open spaces, several large (by British standards, anyway!) lakes, and thick woodland. Wildlife abounds; I have never seen so many deer and so up close, alongside the bird life that ranges from buzzards and owls to nuthatches and wrens.
But even seeing the tent last night was enough to have me booking more hostels on the Camino to insure against any possibility of having to get the tent out. I resisted the temptation of googling hostels but the tent has set up initiated a sense of panic and I can only cross my fingers that all will be well (ie no tent needed!). It’s not that I need luxury on my trip, I just don’t want to be out in the elements, even under canvas! If I want to see the sunrise, I will (as I always have) get up early and enter the outdoors from the warmth of brick walls and wooden doors, from lumpy mattresses and squeaky bunks, from running water and flushing toilets!
I may be on a pilgrimage journey but, as they said in The Way, it’s not about making it deliberately harder for that is the life of a ‘false pilgrim’.