The Not So Great Outdoors

The Not So Great OutdoorsA few years ago, my girlfriend Sally and I decided to go on a weekend camping break to the the Forest of Dean. We had seen it featured in the film ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ and thought it seemed like somewhere we would enjoy exploring.

Our trip started well. The late summer weather was beautiful, the early morning drive down to Gloucestershire was straightforward and the campsite – all rolling fields surrounded by mature ferns – was as charming as could be. But little did I know, our idyllic campsite insisted all visitors – including campers – stayed on gravel pitches. While pitching a tent on gravel seemed completely against the spirit of camping to me, the park authorities maintained it was the best way to keep their beautiful looking campsite looking beautiful.

Disappointed but not (yet) dismayed, we bought some heavy-duty pegs for our gravel pitch from the reception/shop/tourist office and returned to put up the tent. This is when things started to unravel. The problem was, unlike grass, gravel isn’t overly great at anchoring tent pegs. Indeed, every time we managed to peg a corner of the tent into the gravel, it simply popped out again as soon as we pulled the tent even a millimetre in another direction to try and put in another peg. And so it went on for just under two very frustrating hours.

After consuming a less than inspiring lunch of crusty rolls, Frazzles and lukewarm tea from a Thermos flask, we decided to try and reduce our stress levels by taking a two-man canoe out on the nearby river for an hour. With our money, phones and change of clothes stowed safely away in a water-tight container and the sun shining once again, the stress of the morning eventually ebbed away as we glided gently along the river taking in the verdant scenery and infectiously chipper birdsong. After about twenty relaxing minutes of leisurely paddling, I happened to spot a rope swing hanging from a tree by the river bank. Buoyed by an urge to put some fun back into the trip, I suggested we should have a go on it.

‘You first’, said Sal.

And so we paddled over. After a bit of a struggle,I grabbed hold of the swing , pulled myself up on to the deceivingly high river bank and positioned myself for take off. One quick sprint and a jump later and I was arcing out over the river like Tarzan in his prime. Unlike Tarzan though, I was not in my prime, even then. After a few swings back and forth I started to lose my grip. Moreover, the high river bank prevented me from being able to clamber back onto dry land.

There was only one option…The Not So Great Outdoors

‘Get the canoe underneath me so that I can drop into it!’ I screamed at Sal.

Once she had stopped laughing and put her camera away, Sally steered the canoe so that it was more or less beneath me. Still swaying slightly, I picked my moment carefully and dropped, ninja-like into the canoe.

‘Yes!’ I thought; ‘How cool was that!’

Unfortunately, my shock arrival caused the canoe to rock uncontrollably. In an act of pure desperation, I shifted all my weight to one side of the boat to try and nullify the spasmodic convulsions. Big mistake. The mixed look of abject panic and blind rage on Sal’s face just before the canoe tipped over summed up that holiday perfectly. However, I think it was the barrage of vitriolic abuse Sal unleashed when she saw her purse and flip-flops bobbing away downstream which best articulated her feelings about that particular weekend break.

That water-tight container was anything but…

Author: Darren Calpin
Edited By: The CampTrip Team


About the Author

has written 35 articles on CampTrip.

Rosie is the newest member of the CampTrip team and she loves to go camping with her two lovely young daughters. Rosie is out camping in and around the UK at any chance she gets. We love her fun personality, interesting writing and useful tips and tricks!

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