The Joy Of Camping….

The last time that I went camping was in 1977 when I was a fresh faced youth of 17 years of age. I went on a trip of both present and former Saint Philipians, or students of Saint Philips Grammar school. It was an extraordinary experience and I’m not exactly sure that I have recovered even today in August 2019. It was a drunken blur for 5 days that seemed to last a life time, I shared a three man tent with 4 lads and it was simply appalling but great fun.

We attended an event called the Rose of Tralee a cultural and poetic celebration held every year in the south of Ireland, the highlight of which is the crowning of the Rose herself. Not just a beauty pageant but also focusing on poetry reading and other skills, not one of the nineteen lads who boarded the coach saw any of that. (It was originally 20 lads but one got arrested by the traffic police for chucking a pint pot full of wee out of the back window, highly dangerous and utterly irresponsible, but there you go) Boys as they say will be boys.

The event itself was one long alcohol infused pub crawl that involved a great deal of singing, and quite a lot of young lads trying to chat up Irish girls. At night back in the campsite (and I use the term loosely) was when the additional hard core drinking would take place, because this was when the bands would strike up an impromptu folk session aided and abetted by the illegal potato whisky known as Potcheen. On reflection it was one big adventure and a great deal of laughing took place, however maybe not surprising it left me scarred for life, until this weekend of the summer bank holiday.

The good Doctor and I went camping in Snowdonia, it was a beautiful summer’s day and the views were absolutely stunning . To be fair we pitched the tent (well Yvi did while I went backwards and forwards to the car up the steep cliff like surface). It was actually a nice and enjoyable experience that overall I enjoyed. All was going well until just after I fell asleep a very loud and I suspect drunk man appeared on the scene. The time was ten past twelve, and this man clearly did not understand that people in tents are basically huddling under a very thin layer of nylon. He then spent the next two hours and twenty minutes basically shouting at his wife and two kids, or Natalie and Lewis (In fairness by the time he had finished I felt that I knew them myself ).

The result was that sadly I barely slept, not helped by my chemotherapy side effects. To be honest having to share communal toilet facilities was nowhere near as appealing as I thought that it would be and it was clean and tidy. The promised shower block was nowhere to be seen, so given the additional challenges of a stoma bag, one night was quite enough for me. I utterly get the attraction for people and there were many very happy families enjoying themselves making great memories and all of that is terrific. Maybe I am just too old and am far to used to creature comforts like comfy beds and not having noisy strangers shouting in my home, unannounced and uninvited. So, for now do please carry on camping but it simply is not for me.

Written by Austin Birks

August 23, 2019

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