Friday, March 27, 2009

Set up Thy Tent and Camp

“It’s pretty good for four euros, though…”

George has always thought positively. And one couldn’t quibble; the Amazing Promo! price, an assembly time of three minutes – this Tent was a good buy!

A flimsy pale blue dome of compact dimensions, it has a mosquito-net lining, an aeration window on its summit (knotted orange hanky provided for closing), tiny tent pegs, guy strings, and a Floor! I was particularly thrilled at the latter, being averse to uninvited critters...

I’d forgotten we had this tent. George bought it years ago as a fun-filled spare room for visiting small children. Disappointingly, they always plumped for the futon, and the tent was relegated to the Not Much Use cupboard.

However, George’s current revitalising of his Musical Passions brought it back to mind. This summer promises a multitude of festivals; whether he’s playing at them or attending in Devotee capacity, what handier accoutrement could there be? Apart from an instrument or two...

He painted the Tent of his Youth with stars; it was that sort of an era and offered some hope of spotting it in a field full of quite similar ones. In fact this tent, too, could only benefit from decoration of some ilk…

I’d never been tempted to camp before – lack of loo and hairdryer seemed insurmountable hurdles. Yet, sitting inside this cosy island edifice, surrounded by lawn, bird song, fresh air and the foothills of Mole City, I felt strangely enthusiastic at the prospect.

After all, we could both fit inside it at the same time - lie down even (although George needed the full diagonal). “It’ll be great!” he urged, “inflatable mattress, roomy sleeping bag, torchtoweltoothbrush… what could be better?”

The first festival is at the end of May; exciting music, stalls offering food and Stuff of every variety, a chance to commune with Nature for a blissful weekend… Will I discover an unexpected passion for Tenting?

Hell No!

Luckily there’s a pleasant hostelry close by.


Expat said...

Oh, I am with you on this one! My idea of roughing it is a hotel with only two stars. I have never had any desire to sleep under canvas, even in my hippie wannabe days, and fortunately married someone who feels the same way. I will sit around the campfire, sing along, drink too much and all that good stuff provided I can stagger to a nearby room with a real bed and en suite flushing facilities.

And in this country there's BEARS and SKUNKS and other nasty things. You never know what youll wake up next to!

Dolores Doolittle said...

Hi Expat! Yep - Bears and Skunks are definitely scarier than a centipede or two. And not even much cuddlier...

Glad I'm not alone in Just Saying NO to Tents

Canary said...

School Camp in the springtime was supposed to be wonderful fun. For me, at the tender age of eleven, it represented a dream about to come true. A week away from the city, in the depths of Surrey! An open-air life by an old medieval Mill House, in a field of tents, with camp fires, sing-a-longs and midnight pranks!

But all good things have their downsides. In my case, it was the Palliasse. In case you don’t know, a palliasse (which was pronounced by the teachers as “Pally-Ass”) is a straw-filled canvas bag used as a mattress. It made me sneeze.

My sneeze is off the Richter Scale. It has been likened to the noise that might be made by a herd of erotically aroused bull elephants experiencing a sudden and unexpected mass circumcision. None of the boys in my tent could sleep with that, nor could the boys in the fourteen other tents, and most important, neither could the occupants of the Prefects Tent (occupied by seventeen to eighteen-year-old hugely muscular sadists).

So I was evicted. That was fairly typical of many of my early experiences of life as a First-Former in a Grammar School run on the lines of a Public School, but with serious pretensions of being a Military Academy. So what would you do, shivering on the edge of the field in the cold night air, where you had been left by an angry mob?

For the second instalment of this heroic struggle against the despair and hopelessness of homelessness, please respond with huge dollops of Kind, Womanly, Loving Sympathy…………

Dolores Doolittle said...

Oh Canary - how I'd love to hear that sneeze - tell me when you're on the verge thereof and I'll open a window...

But CURSE those Palliasses! And those evil Prefects and Ghastly school!

I can't wait to hear the Second Instalment, so am exuding Masses of sympathy in exceeding kind & loving manner...

All we need now is Expat!

Expat said... needing to feel loved.

Oh, go on then...

I feel your pain! I empathize with you!

Or, in English English, gosh what a rotten time you had. I am so sorry that you had to suffer like that. Please tell us what happened next! Pretty please.

Dolores Doolittle said...

Perfect, Expat - I can HEAR you saying all that stuff!

You Must be feeling better now, Canary...

Canary said...

Oh – if only we could have these conversations in real time – to hear your instant response, see your cheerful smiles, and experience the cut and thrust of witty banter with you both!

Yesterday my world was taken over by a HUGE influx of family visitors complete with two little boys whom we took on a Grand Island tour. Great fun – and hence the delay in posting this second instalment.

Yes, there I was, in the moonlight, by the side of the camping field, freezing, forgotten and forlorn, a mere slip of a lad, with only a deep and burning hatred of muscular eighteen-year-old sadists to keep me warm in the cold night air. (Cue Expat: - a sigh of empathy, a tear trickles slowly down your cheek).

What to do? I couldn’t sneak back to my tent – the dreaded Palliasse would betray my return by inducing a renewed bout of repetitive sneezing. (Cue Expat:- your bottom lip starts to quiver).

But the old Mill House -inhabited by our teachers – no tents for them (!) - was not far away, by the stream on the far side of the neighbouring field. So I hit upon a cunning plan.

I made a bee-line for the Mill House, pausing only for a slight detour to the Barn. There was straw in the Barn, and holding my breath, I grabbed a handful and put it in my pocket. No sneezes. So far, so good, and I continued on my way to the Mill House.

A slight digression – over the years up to age of eleven an important component of my self-taught repertoire of personal survival techniques was a BESEECHING SMILE – akin to the one used by Puss in Boots in the film SHREK. My smile was bewitching, a glorious blend of innocence, bewilderment, and supplication. It could melt the heart of Attila the Hun. (Note: the smile only worked on adults – not on eighteen-year-old sadists).

I arrived outside the door of the Mill House, took the straw from my pocket, held it up to my nose, sniffed in, and promptly started sneezing - and sneezing, and sneezing, and sneezing. Sure enough, the commotion attracted the attention of the teachers. As they opened the door, I greeted them with THE SMILE (punctuated by more sneezes).

To cut a long story short, it worked! I spent the rest of the School Camp week safely tucked up in bed at night in the Mill House. That was my introduction to the delights of NOT living under canvas, and how to avoid hay fever.

Dolores Doolittle said...

Utterly Brilliant, Canary! I can understand how the Puss in Boots Smile would work Wonders.

You say it was part of your repertoire up to eleven... then your teeth suddenly fell out?

No - I suspect you cast aside devious things and made do with your brilliant ideas!

Canary said...

Ah, Dolores! You can see, through me! (punctuation probably superfluous).

When did you say we are we going to get married?

Expat said...

I suspect that Canary was a small and easy to bully kid until 11, then underwent an enormous growth spurt (remember he is 6-4 or something like and kneels to pee) and in so doing outgrew his tormentors. Bullies don't pick on the big guys. So cultivating a 'look" that never failed with the grown-ups was excellent self-preservation for a little 'un.

I also suspect that he still has that smile tucked away and uses it selectively to melt the ladies' hearts and get him sympathy...and maybe his dastardly way.

Mark my words, he is the Don Juan of the Canary Islands...making hearts flutter and clothing drop all over the place!

Good job you and I are well grounded Dolores, else we should be winging to the islands.

Ah, what the hell... checking as we speak...

Canary said...

Hello Expat!

I surrender – game up – you’ve got me dead to rights, Guv. With your character profiling skills, it will be instant recognition across the waiting crowd at Tenerife Sur airport. No need for a Carnation or a copy of the Telegraph (I’ll just wear the SMILE and be on the lookout for a Feisty Midget). Our eyes will meet, the earth will move, and for a breathless, endless moment, time will stand still. Then I’ll reach out for you as we move towards each other for our first embrace (I’ll be trying to prevent you from colliding with my knees). Perfect! Let the romance begin!

And it won’t be in a tent. We are all agreed about that, aren’t we?

But I do have one more story about camping. I’d fallen madly in love (sigh, yet again) and whisked her across the Channel for a romantic car journey to Paris. We had a tent, and drove into the Bois de Boulogne to find a place to pitch for the night. We found the perfect spot, an idyllic clearing, well off the beaten track, surrounded by trees , with a log camping table and benches, and with a space for our tent that had been thoughtfully marked out for us with a long trail of colourful bunting. I remember remarking that nothing could beat the French in organising a camp site. So we set up tent, made love under the stars, and fell asleep.

Some time after midnight, we were woken by angry noises outside. Our tent was surrounded by Germans. It was as if WWII had broken out all over again.

We had pitched our tent in THEIR space, which THEY had claimed earlier by marking the area out with THEIR bunting. And they were mightily UNPLEASED with us.

But they went away. It’s handy to have an irresistible smile which you can deliver from a great height (after you’ve crawled out of the tent). Although maybe they went away because I happened to be stark naked at the time...

Dolores Doolittle said...

Canary - Oh Woe and Great Woe!

I spend all day hacking off toxic creeper that's gnawing away quite important walls of our house, I sit down here Buzzing after your comment 30 mar, 10.28pm,and what do I find?
My dreams are indeed dashed.

Oh well... hugely enjoyed the bunting story, anyway.

Expat - can I be bridesmaid, then?

Expat said...

Dolores...he is playing us off against each other!!! This man has no conscience. Next thing he will be suggesting a menage a trois.

But he is obviously attracted to the vetically challenged like you and me.

Canary said...

Hello Ladies,
As soon as I typed the word “ménage” on my computer something strange appeared. It stood up at an acute angle (over the first letter “e” in the word). Is this suggestive of a French Letter? I’m sure you know about these things, so please help.
Pretty please.

Dolores Doolittle said...

Hi Expat - yeah - pernicious fiend, isn't he...

"...suggestive of a French letter?" Not any more, Canary; just a French keyboard.
(You had your chance)

Canary said...

This is puzzling.

I've tried typing the word "ménage" a million zillion times, and that weird thing keeps happening, just above the first letter “e" in the word "ménage".

Why is it that Expat can write the word "ménage" as "menage" and a Grave but otherwise Acute person like me can’t? It’s so confusing.

And Jeepers, Creepers, Dolores! Does a Wallflower deserve all this hacking? I know I don't!

Expat said...

Canary, it's quite straightforward (if I may be so bold, given the nature of this conversation). I am simply not hung up about the angle of the, accent. Hence could be an acute situation for you. It could be even be grave. But I don't think so. Dolores and I adore you just as you are. So relax and (again, if I may be so bold) take it as it comes.

Dolores Doolittle said...

"Does a wallflower deserve all this hacking?" Canary?

Oh, maybe not, then. But it's such fun!

And I may be forced to cut woefully off my Own leg instead.

Boldly Well Said, Expat!

Canary said...

Wise words, Expat! But be circumspect of the circumflex in circumlocution. It indicates LENGTH, as well as QUALITY. And fittingly, it also controls a CONTRACTION.

By coincidence, the circumflex is shaped like a tent, which is where we began. Which leads us to the question: why is that when you look at a tent from the outside, you see an upside followed by a downside - but when you are lying down on the inside, you only see the upsides? It’s a puzzle. But if being in a tent means you can only see the upsides, then being in a tent is obviously a good place be, which means we really should reconsider our earlier views about tents, especially those expressed so eloquently (but perhaps mistakenly) by you, Dolores (who started all this), and me.

Dolores? I have a vision of you, tangled in toxic creepers, dashed of all hope, and legless. Is it all right if I only flirt with Expat a teeny weeny bit from now on? Is it possible to love concurrently, as well as serially?

Q. What does a ménage make?
A. It makes men age.

Dolores Doolittle said...

Canary - yes, that's me -hopelessly tangled & legless.

But Reconsider my Tenting Views? Not flaming likely!

And yes, all Right then! While you dabble flirtatiously in other directions, I shall Concurrently and Serially seek solace in my Cadbury cupboard

Canary said...

Dolores - You have a Cadbury cupboard? Full of Chocs? Why didn't you say so before? Can I come too? I know a wonderful game we can play in a cupboard full of Chocs!

Anonymous said...

Internet problems (my home network modem died) prevented me from responding before now, so apologies all around.

Sigh... I am resigned to playing second fiddle to Dolores' French accent (cunningly acquired and fit for purpose) and in any case I cannot begin to compete with the pleasures of a Cadbury cupboard.

So I shall just get legless (hey, it worked for Dolores)and cry into my beer...but not for long. Too many things to talk about, too many roads to travel, and miles to go before I sleep!

I adore you both and I hope you will be happy together...though I do think George may have soemthing to say on that.

Expat said...


Canary said...

O Alas, Alack, O Rue the Day! Are we thus doomed? Is this our destiny? Are we to be ensnared in this vortex of unfulfilled passion, to be entrapped for all of time in this agony of unrequited love? Will we be forever joined in yearning, yet forever separated?

When I stand here alone on this island shore, and gaze up at the night-time sky, I can see three stars shining brightly down, one to the West, one to the North, and one directly overhead. And I am reminded of us, and the cosmic forces that bind us together, yet hold us apart. Yes, I see them now, three stars, quite distinct, in the form of an Eternal Triangle.

And I watch in awe as a lonely cloud appears, blown on by gentle winds from the North and the West. The cloud pauses in its journey, reforms, and I briefly see your faces smiling down on me. Then the cloud reforms again, and positions itself within the boundaries of the three stars.

And I weep, because it looks just like a tent to me.

Dolores Doolittle said...

Hello Anonymous Expat! I was indeed puzzled at how very like You, 'Anonymous' sounded. Evil Computer!

How is your fabulous book coming along by the way?

What game are you thinking of, Canary - Postman's Choc? Ho ho!

What a serene and pleasant thought... we merry clutch of cosmic stars, nudged by gentle cloud disguised as a tent. Weepeth not, Canary (You weird specimen)!

Expat said...

Heigh Ho! Off to lovely New Jersey for the rest of the week....camping out at the Hilton.

Now that's my kind of tent!

Dolores Doolittle said...

Oh Heigh Jolly Ho indeed, Expat! And I bet they even provide the Toggles.

Have a joyous time!

Canary said...

Best of luck, Expat! (Oh the delights of a business trip?!)

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