Two thin layers of nylon separate me from a cold, wet and windy Lincolnshire night. The walls are flapping like sails, and the rhythmic snoring of my neighbour mingles with the shrill sound of excited teenagers to ensure that I will get little sleep tonight.
I have never understood the intrinsic appeal of camping. As a means to have unique experiences I can see that it has a place – canvas affords an experience of the Serengeti, for example, that cannot be replicated – but where there is a solid-walled, viable alternative I don’t understand why anyone would choose to sleep in a tent.
There is nothing enjoyable about having to build and furnish your house every day and dismantle it each morning. Getting dressed and undressed lying down, trying to work out whether turning the torch on will afford all your neighbours a silhouetted peep show, the total lack of privacy and having to carry towel and toiletries across a boggy field in order to perform basic ablutions; these inconveniences are wiped out in a single stroke by staying at even the most basic of guest houses. I understand the appeal of being ‘in nature’ but I can get that from a day out walking and a night in a suitably remote inn. A strategy which of course has one other clear advantage – you’re in an inn.
So as I lay here shivering, cursing the stinginess of my employer for not shelling out for one of the static caravans in the next field, I wonder how to make this experience more civilized. A raised bed, duvet and pillow would be a good start, and the bacon and eggs I’m planning for the morning will ease some of the pain caused by this inch thick mattress (apparently specially designed for women – not sure how, it didn’t come with chocolate or wine) but really the only thing that would make me smile right now would be four solid walls, a roof that didn’t move and some heating. Failing that, earplugs. And wine. And chocolate.