Friday 18 March 2022

Retirement Trip – Carry on Camping

I finally retired from working just before Christmas. My current contract expired at the end of January, but my boss had asked me to stay on and I'd agreed to continue working until my birthday at the end of April. Unfortunately, we were overtaken by events as the company was unable to obtain parts from suppliers due to the delays caused by Brexit and we ran out of work to do. As always, contractors go first and we were paid off. This wasn't a problem for me as I was paid up until my original contract would have ended anyway.

I haven't been for a touring holiday on the bike since A Trip Round the Neighbours in 2017 and had been promising myself a good trip away when I retired. I've worked out a list of places I'd like to go taking in numerous countries and lasting for about six weeks. I'll be writing more about this later.

Back in 2019, I went to the Cropredy Convention and enjoyed it so much the I immediately bought a ticket for the 2020 event. Unfortunately Due to Covid-19, this didn't take place but my ticket is still valid for this year's event.


The Trevor Horn Band


Edward II

Thumping Tommys

Fairport Convention Acoustic


Steve Hackett - Genesis Revisited

Turin Brakes

Sharon Shannon

Slambovian Circus of Dreams

Martyn Joseph

Home Service

Emily Barker

Maddie Morris


Fairport Convention & Friends (inc Full House)

Richard Thompson

Matthews Southern Comfort

Rosalie Cunningham

The Bar Steward Sons Of Val Doonican

Holy Moly & The Crackers

Seth Lakeman

(No poster for this year's event yet, but here is the line up)

My plan was as I was in the South of England, to head for the ferry after the Convention and head off of my tour. However, I found an interesting festival nearby the weekend before Cropredy, so bought a ticket for it as well. Wickham Festival

Going to festivals means camping but I intend staying in hotels for the rest of the trip and didn't want to carry camping gear on the bike for weeks. So, I planned of using camping gear that I didn't mind discarding after the festivals. I have an old sleeping bag and map that could be discarded, and planned on buying a cheap tent. Out of interest, I looked on Amazon for their cheapest tent and found this one: Link When I first looked it was only £14, so bought one to see what it was like.

Well, what did I expect for £14? The fact that the bag tore down a seam when I tried to get the tent out tells you all you need to know. It's a small, very cheaply made single skin tent. I'm 172cm (5'8”) and can only lie out in it diagonally (just)! Seams aren't sealed so would leak in the rain! My friend's children are going to have fun playing in it in their garden, it's really just a child's play tent!

(Ignore the broken fence - a victim of the recent storms!)

Next I looked online and saw this tent on Go Outdoors' website. I went to my local branch for a look at one. Due to Go Outdoors' strange pricing policy, the tent was £60 instore but £29 online??? (Plus £5 for their membership card if you don't have one) Ordered it online and it looked a lot better when it arrived.

I was impressed when I got it. Seems reasonably well made and thought out. Pitching is a bit time consuming and fiddly, even on a calm day in my garden. On a windy day in an exposed location would be a bit more of a chore. It has 3 shockcorded glass fibre poles (2 are longer than the third but they and the tubes they go into are colour coded – nice touch) and you erect the outer first. (handy when it's raining). Inner hangs inside the outer with loads of toggles and loops. Once up, it is very stable and roomy inside, easily enough room for two people. Lots of nice features like good ventilation with insect mesh, pockets inside, the porch has a proper floor, and the inside is very opaque making it quite dark inside (ideal if you don't want to be woken up at dawn).

Logo of their opaque inner

Instructions printed on a plastic sheet stitched inside bag - neat idea!

All in all a very good tent and well worth the money, especially if you buy it online. Only real downside is that it's a wee bit big for a bike when packed (54x16x16cm), but it can go across the back of the saddle.

More about the trip later!

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