Things you should know by now: how to camp

Is it just me? Does everyone else know how to camp?

Having forgotten to marry one of those men who knows his way around a ground sheet (my husband only does en suite), I seem to have missed out on the recent camping craze. Preparing for a long weekend camping near the Jurassic coast, I’ve been on a steep learning curve.

Things I really should know by now:

* how to light a fire (tip: use firelighters. and matches)

* how to barbecue  (tip: buy kebabs from local free range/organic butcher, and colourful portable grill from Bodum)

* how to put up a tent (tip: take 11 year old with you – young people are quite good at this sort of thing)

* what to take on a camping trip. Other than pétanque, cricket, a football, kite, a polypin of Wandle ale, venison burgers, a gadget for charging your Blackberry in the car, I-spy at the Seaside (yes they still make the, but they really aren’t the same, and Big Chief I-spy seems to have hung up his headdress), solar-powered garden lights, and the latest Tove Jansson translation.

* how to fit it all in the car (as well as the children)

* the correct pressure for my car tyres

* how to work the machine at the petrol station that pumps tyres up

* that the machine only takes 50ps

* that after the third time of having to go into the shop to ask for change, you really should have worked out how the machine works by now

* the best route from Peckham to Battersea, avoiding the traffic jam in Brixton and police incident tape at Goose Green

* what kind of gas you need for a camping cooker

* where you buy this gas (hint: it’s not the camping shop that sells the cooker, amazingly)

* the best real ale pub/fish and chips/ice cream/tearoom in Dorset (if you know, then please give us your tips)

Incidentally, here’s some useful advice from the BBC (who else?) on how to cook while camping

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About JCT

JCT was Deputy Editor of weekly London arts/listings magazine Time Out but left to freelance in 2007 – just before the recession. She writes for a number of publications and has edited 'London Calling: high culture and low life in the capital since 1968' (Time Out/Ebury 2008) and 'The World's Greatest Cities' (Time Out/Ebury 2009). She is the co-author of The Midlife Manual (Short Books, 2010).
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