Kent Life columnist, BBC Radio Kent's Andy Garland
PUBLISHED: 18:49 11 July 2014 | UPDATED: 18:49 11 July 2014
Why the Radio Kent broadcaster and producer will be taking it easy this year on a camping holiday in Kent nicely in reach of the local takeaways
It’s that time of year as the school holidays begin, that an annual trip up into the loft is called for to rescue the camping gear from slumbering oblivion. Bedecked in thick black cobwebs, the location and condition should give you a clue that I am not a hard-core camper.
No, it’s fairweather camping for me, both literally and metaphorically, I even choose a venue that’s close enough to home so that should the worst happen and the heavens decide to breach our temporary, flimsy, nylon abode, well it’s less than an hour’s drive back to a hot shower and a cosy duvet.
Fortuitously a campsite just outside Goudhurst fits the bill perfectly. I’ve got a very soft spot for the village, having as a student in Canterbury 20 years ago helped a group of fellow media undergraduates record a promotional video for St Mary’s church at the top of the hill.
Nowadays it scores highly in that, having fed the kids pasta cooked somewhat daringly over a primus stove and settled them down for the night, us Dads are dispatched to the local Italian for some takeaway pizza.
I can almost hear the collective groans at this point from the more robust and hardy outdoor types among you; but my view is an utterly pragmatic one. Life is complicated enough as it is, without deliberately going out of your way to make things harder than they need to be.
“Strive to be happy” states the Desiderata and with good chums for company, I strive to be happy by sitting back in a deckchair, beer in one hand, carbohydrate-packed stodge in the other and, here’s the best bit, put my feet up in front of a real open fire.
This campsite, like me, takes a sensible approach to that most traditional of camping accompaniments; two up-ended tractor steel wheels, welded back to back, forms a suitably agricultural fire pit!
The mini tractor and trailer delivers bags of firewood to our pitch and forget any Bear Gryll’s heroics of rubbing sticks together or striking steel on flint, here it’s good old Swan Vesta to reliably deliver a warming blaze under the stars.
Saturday morning comes bright and early, and it’s a short drive to Bedgebury Pinetum for adventure trails with the kids.
In polite, parent conversation we might remark that it’s so the nippers can enjoy the great outdoors and get as mucky as they want.
In reality it’s a thinly veiled attempt to completely exhaust them, so that they crash out early in the tent so Mummy and Daddy can enjoy fish and chips from the van that arrives rather conveniently at the campsite that evening.
There’s even live music in a tented marquee and, if you close your eyes and imagine really hard while simultaneously ignoring a small person hanging off your right thigh, you might convince yourself that you were at Glastonbury pre-children.
Mind you, even though they are composting toilets – the campsite’s are far more pleasant than most festival loos it’s been my misfortune to encounter!
So that’s my camping experience in a nutshell, beer, pizza, fish and chips and live music. The only way this potential holiday paradise could be topped would be by the addition of the buff Greek man from the beach in Kavos, who several times a day would stroll up and down the sand where we were lying entreating us to try his “…sexy doughnuts, come get your sexy doughnuts…”.
One for the campsite managers to think about for next year perhaps? n