It was my birthday the other day. I had a lovely time, but did receive one rather unwelcome present in the form of a kidney infection that has seen me do quite the unfathomable and lose my appetite. For the first time – possibly ever – the thought of food makes me feel quite sick. This is a deeply unfamiliar territory, and suffice to say I hope it doesn’t last. I have ingredients in the fridge for a mean peanut curry which I’m longing to make, not to mention a half-eaten birthday cake…
…Anyway, on a brighter note and ultimately the point of this post, is that I also received a tent as a gift. And this excites me no end.
I have only ever camped out in a tent once in my life, a few years ago at a friend’s birthday at the Kent County Show. We all got hammered off toffee vodka, ate burnt barbecue grub, and passed out on the grass. I lost a sock and, the next morning, couldn’t wait to get home and into a proper bed.
I won’t claim to have ever been a big lover of camping and right now I probably wouldn’t have the first clue on how to do it properly, but what excites me are the kind of travel options my new piece of apparatus will arouse. As soon as I have the opportunity to, I plan to spend a couple of weeks just driving around the UK, sleeping out underneath the stars in various areas of natural beauty. How much more free can you be? Not bound by boarding times. Nor a fixed itinerary. Able to travel to the villages that maybe wouldn’t make the guidebooks but still have plenty to offer. Saving the pennies by foregoing the mattress, hairdryer, bog-standard bar menu and unnecessary daily changing of sheets. Just you, and nature. The simple things. The way life should be.
The older I get, the more I realise how much more flavour you can taste in life by using fewer ingredients. Wanting less, feeling more. Filtering out the experiences and acquaintances that cause us concerns and anxieties we can manage without. An inextricable desire to devote time only to what and who are real and transparent. Shedding the unhealthy, blubbery layers of a need to please everyone and the personal objectives we let society write for us when we were younger, hungrier and more impressionable. Stripping nude in front of everybody in the peaceful knowledge that those who still stand with you are the only people you want and need in your life.
It’s funny, when I was younger, say up until the early/mid-20’s, I didn’t really care much for nature. I wanted to be in cinemas, bars or shopping malls. I wanted a lot of things – a new stereo, a new jacket, new CDs, hundreds of friends. I hated the idea of sleeping outside in the cold and dirt, and would only have done so if a centrally heated building was within close range so that I could make an emergency retreat if I needed to. And I probably would need to.
Now, at the age of 31, I just want more feelings as opposed to more things, and that’s probably why the recent ideas for a kind of travel I would never have been interested in before, appeal. I haven’t learned to love the cold, it’s just that the priorities surrounding it have shifted in size over the past few years.
To feel, to be, and to appreciate, rather than to want and to rue.
Thank goodness for the natural reverse.
Song of the Day: The Divine Comedy – A Lady of a Certain Age
Saw these guys in Folkestone the other night with a friend. One of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. Theatrical, engaging, plenty of dimension. Neil Hannon with the audience captivated by his every word.
This song was one of the many highlights.