Camping can be in-tents

Camping and festival culture are the theme for our Spring Summer 21 bag collection. Perhaps a year of being inside spurred us on to reminisce about life in the great outdoors. AC founder, Alison Lloyd looks back on her canvas clad memories. 

Are you an old-school or pop-up person when it comes to tents?  

I’ve done it all HUNNY. We lived in Ireland until I was around ten years old and I don’t remember much camping, but once we moved to Yorkshire in 1966, my parents caught the bug. For some reason their destination of choice was Holland. We packed all the food that we would need for two weeks, sleeping on baked beans tins in the car on the way there, so that we wouldn’t have to pay for meals out. Once we got set up at the campsite we realised we were complete amateurs. All the Dutch tents were set up on permanent pitches with little fences and gardens, like a suburbia in camping form.

When I was 14, we went to Amsterdam. It was when the film Woodstock was showing. I managed to get permission to go, I was already wearing cord trousers that I had put velvet flares into and suede boots that I had staples fringes onto. I pretended I wasn’t with my family, but it must have been obvious that I wasn’t a bona fide Amsterdam hippy. 

Camping tips essentials?

I would say travel as light as possible. Don’t try and change your clothes, just add or remove layers. The main thing to pack is a good torch or light, so you don’t trip over ropes if you need to go round the back of the tent for a pee in the night. 

Festival Camper or full-on holidays? 

No full-on holidays, I think that kills the fun. A long weekend is just right, you can avoid having to use scary communal showers, but still feel that you’ve been outside and away. A bit of campfire cooking is always tasty as well. 

Fondest camping memories?

I’m not sure this is the fondest memory, but I feel it’s worth a mention. I went camping with the Girl Guides a couple of times. We slept in old-fashioned canvas tents with fly sheets and heavy wooden tent pegs and they leaked. I really loved one job which was whipping some sticks together with ropes to make a tripod-like washing up bowl holder. It was a complete waste of time - but I excelled at that job.   

I went to Rotarua in New Zealand about a decade ago. I can remember camping on some very hard ground with a lot of sulphurous geysers around. It may have been basic, but the scenery and nature was spectacular.

Ground sheets and a foam roller or the whole hog air mattress?  

To date I’ve been more of a foam roller type, but blow up is very acceptable.  

Favourite bit of camping kit?

Hmmm, it’s got to be a frying pan or a flashlight worn on a hat. 

Worst camping experience? 

Our worst camping trip was when my kids were about 6 and 11. Before we’d even crossed the Thames, one of them had thrown up in the back seat of the car. We decided to go home and then set off again. Unfortunately, France that August was unbearably hot, especially under canvas. We finally made it to St Tropez. Who camps in ST Tropez? Nobody with any sense. The sea was like soup and the inside of the tent had us melting like butter. The melted butter look does not fit in with St Tropez. We left early.

Glamping. Yes or no?

I haven’t been glamping yet, but I’m looking forward to trying it this summer. I’m invited to a wedding in Devon and that seems to be the plan for our accommodation. 

All the gear and no idea, or stick with the basics, less is more? 

Well, less is more for me, but if friends want to bring along a portable loo, roll-out cinema screen, coffee maker and other entertainments, I’m not going to run away. 

Festival style and essentials? 

Warm at night, strong footwear. 

Ideal camping companions? 

Andre and Katie, who are the well equipped ones that I alluded to above and bring plenty of gear. 

I’d also like to go camping with some adventuring forager, on a very different less hedonistic few days, with a real sense of the wilderness. I like both.  

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