Friday, 1 July 2011
‘Camping out’ from –Life on the Upper Thames by H R Robinson. 1875
Robinson and his companions had some dire views on the virtues of camping out alongside the river and much preferred wherever possible to stay in riverside inns. He says…..’The risk of rheumatism and concomitant evils is, in our opinion too serious to be encountered for a whim….’
Whilst acknowledging that ‘….when the days are at their longest and the moon is full, then, indeed, if the weather should be perfectly fine, we will grant that the river is most beautiful after sunset. To take a boat then, and lazily drop down the river, listening to the measured splash of the oars, has given us a sense of tranquil enjoyment , in its way unrivalled.’ However the merits of camping out amongst all this beauty are not even to be considered unless ‘…especial attention is paid to the selection of a suitable piece of land (that on a slight incline is preferable), but, above all, the exclusion of damp, the forerunner of acute rheumatism, should be carefully studied. A most terrible result may arise if this be not carefully attended to.’
The author also recommends ‘…a plentiful supply of travelling rugs for coverings…’ as otherwise ‘….without plentiful covering, the (tents) occupants would possibly receive a chill that might be productive of evil results’.
The answer to all these dire warnings was of course ‘Croggan’s Roofing Asphalt’ , which it would would appear should be an indispensable part of any riverside campers kit. For ‘….although rather large in bulk, is very light, and forms, when laid down, a most comfortable substitute for a mattress, and is thoroughly waterproof.’
So the next time you encounter riverside campers carrying rolls of roofing felt along the tow path you will know that Robinsons words of wisdom are still being adhered to even today 135 years later. However a word of warning for those of you intending to try a little incautious camping for yourselves - You may be tempted to evade the carriage of the said felt to your chosen camping site, so you should be reminded that substitutes will not do for ‘…the ordinary mackintosh, though smaller in bulk, is not so well suited for the purpose.’
It seems that only Croggan’s will do!!!