The middle class have ruined camping – here are 31 signs you're part of the problem

glamping camping UK camping holidays – sturti/Getty / E+

“I’m just going outside and may be some time,” said ‘Titus’ Oates as he heroically sacrificed himself on Scott’s doomed mission to the South Pole in 1912. History doesn’t record the next words spoken, but we’re pretty sure they weren’t: “It’s just that I want to try out my new extendable marshmallow-toasting fork.”

Camping meant something rather different in those days, you see – and, arguably, something rather better. Oates, Baden-Powell and, um, Swampy would all be turning in their graves and/or sodden cotton sleeping bags to see the damage ‘glamping’ has done to the national backbone. Hell, even modern-day mockeries like Bear Grylls would think twice before deploying a multi-armed ’mallow prong.

So here — just in case Oates should be discovered, defrosted, and want to know what the hell has happened to camping in the last century or so — are 31 reasons why he might not like the 21st-century version…

Shoe heaters

These clever little battery-powered devices are perfect for drying out wet footwear overnight. But it’s only the damp that makes our old-style leather walking boots flexible enough to contort our feet into. And a bit of trenchfoot never hurt anyone, right?

GPS

Getting lost because your destination was right on the worn fold of the OS map: no fun. Eating the Kendal Mint Cake you’d brought along as ‘emergency rations’ in case you got lost: worth it.

Beds/bedding/bedmats/pillows/duvets/four-posters

We’ve seen it all — these days you’re not even a glampsite if you haven’t got a four-poster with chandelier swinging gently above — and we like none of it. Repeat after us (think of it as a mantra; that will be an extra £55 per night for our ‘mindfulness package’ please): ‘It’s not camping if you can still move your neck in the morning.’

The middle class have ruined camping – here are 31 signs you're part of the problem

Camping glamping UK – SolStock/Getty / E+

Fairy lights

Camping is about the bare necessities, not decorations and ornaments. Such fripperies as fairy lights have no place on a tent. (Unless you’re camping at Christmas, of course, in which case good luck to you sir! We’re pretty sure none of the other luxuries on this list apply to you anyway…)

The middle class have ruined camping – here are 31 signs you're part of the problem

Camping glamping UK – Oleg Breslavtsev/Getty / Moment RF

Portable speakers

Do you think everyone wants to hear your ‘THROWBACK DISCO PARTY MEGAMIX!!!’ playlist? Correction: Do you think anyone wants to?

Wine coolers

The proper way to chill drinks on a camping trip is by placing them in a river, while fruitlessly dangling a line in the water and sucking the end of a long grass in the manner of Huckleberry Finn.

Wine

In fact, why have you even brought wine? It’s strictly beer, cider or some unholy concoction of both when camping, please.

Prosecco

And it’s definitely not Prosecco. You might as well bring along cushions with ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ written on them.

The middle class have ruined camping – here are 31 signs you're part of the problem

Camping Glamping UK – Enrique Díaz / 7cero/Moment RF / Getty Images

The distinct lack of angry farmers

Pitching a tent in whatever fallow field you found yourself in come nightfall — and thus playing Russian Roulette with the mood of the farmer next morning — always added a certain thrill to proceedings. Not any more, mind: he’ll be beaming in at your tent door as soon as you unzip your flysheet in the AM, and pressing ‘organic locavore free-range’ eggs on you. At £15 a half-dozen.

The distinct lack of Barbara Windsor doing chest exercises in an unreliably-secured bikini

We’ve checked the archive footage, and it seems pretty clear that all camping trips pre-1970 had this.

Composting toilets

Because nothing taught kids to appreciate the comforts of their own home like having to brave those old long-drop latrines — especially after their elder brothers had told them the apocryphal story of the small child who fell into one and died down there. (At least, we still tell ourselves it was apocryphal…).

Mega-tents

‘…and through here is the dining area, then beyond that is the sitting room.’ One tent currently on sale at Mountain Warehouse has an ‘inner zone’, ‘outer zone’, ‘living area’ and three bedrooms, the ‘master’ one photographed with not just two beds in it, but a bedside table complete with pot plant. (Pot plants? You’re camping! If you want plants, just go out of the tent).

Yurts

Same as mega-tents but even more annoying. ‘Old-school rustic vibes’, you say? Well we’re pretty sure the nomadic Mongolian steppe-dwellers of three millennia ago didn’t accessorise theirs with Elemis toiletries…

The middle class have ruined camping – here are 31 signs you're part of the problem

Glamping camping UK – Mike Harrington/Stone RF / Getty

Global warming

The only thing worse than waking in a tent at 4.34am with the condensation from your breath forming tiny icicles on your A-frame is waking in a tent at 4.34am with the sweat from the small of your back pooling on your bright-yellow foam Karrimat. Tents are like greenhouses when a heatwave sun strikes them in the early morning (perhaps why it’s called ‘the greenhouse effect?), and it’s all your dad’s fault for making so free with the Brut 33 spray every day of the ’60s and ’70s.

Festivals

All the fun of camping but without… any of the fun of camping. Noisy, smelly, cramped, crowded, terrible acoustics, unidentifiable slurry sucking at your wellies — and all that, of course, is just the portaloos. Being stuck in the same place as a load of drug dealers and one-weekend-a-year hippies is exactly what camping was invented to get away from. You might as well bivvy down in the middle of Camden Town.

Bestivals

See above, then add ‘with sleep-deprived toddlers’ to the mix. Dante would need another nine-to-eleven Circles of Hell to do the idea justice.

Guy-ropes

Not, technically, new — but somehow more annoying now than they ever used to be. It’s 2022, over half a century since we put a man on the moon and 15 years since the geniuses at Twitter invented a way to be horrible to over 330 million people through your phone, so why hasn’t someone invented something to replace guy-ropes? Do they want us to trip over every single time we enter or leave our tent?

Wild swimming

It’s just… swimming.

The middle class have ruined camping – here are 31 signs you're part of the problem

camping glamping UK wild swimming

Wild camping

It’s just… camping.

Wild toileting

It’s just… well, you can probably work it out. But when even ‘going for a poo behind the bushes’ has been rebranded by the marketing executives, what next? (Please don’t answer that).

Gas barbecues

Essentially the same as staying at home and cooking on your hob. Except that, even when you’re just going away for the weekend, the boot is always so full that the Calor cannister has to fit between the legs of whoever’s sitting in the passenger seat like a great big cartoon genital-targeted timebomb. Also pizza ovens and fancy coffee machines. You’re supposed to be communing with the wild, not opening a branch of Zizzi’s.

The middle class have ruined camping – here are 31 signs you're part of the problem

glamping camping UK – Five/Moment RF / Getty Images

4G

“Come and make some ’smores with us round the campfire, kids?”

“Sorry Dad, we can’t. We’re streaming Love Island on our phones.”

Hampers

If you’re eating better than you would at home, you’re either camping wrong or living the rest of your life wrong. The only times when wicker is acceptable on a trip within the British Isles are: a) the Henley Regatta; b) the Glyndebourne Festival; or c) when you’re burning Edward Woodward in a giant mannikin made of it to placate the pagan gods.

The middle class have ruined camping – here are 31 signs you're part of the problem

camping glamping UK – Matthew Wiiliams-Ellis/Getty

Other people

It’s bad enough having to make polite chit-chat with strangers (or, worse, becoming new best-friends-forever-for-a-fortnight with them) on any holiday. But it’s infinitely more unpleasant on a campsite, when you know your new neighbours heard every expletive word of your whispered-shout argument with the other half last night, through the barely-there canvas ‘walls’ of your tent. Never used to happen in the old days, of course, when a brisk ‘Good morning’ was the only interaction you’d have with the neighbours you’d spent the entire last week within 12 feet of.

Other people’s children

Spoilt, sulky, rude, hyperactive, malodorous, inconsiderate and uncouth. Of course we were never like that when we were kids (unless, of course, we’d had one too many Panda Pops, in which case we became all of the above, to the tartrazine-crazed power ten).

Your own children

See above, only you have to share a tent with them.

The middle class have ruined camping – here are 31 signs you're part of the problem

glamping camping UK – Clare Mansell/Moment RF / Getty

Technical fabrics

Breathable, wicking, self-drying, climate-controlled, comfort-engineered, microfibre, Bluetooth-enabled smartwear is all very well, but it will never feel as good as that ‘Campers do it on the cold hard ground’ t-shirt from 1982 that still very nearly fits, thank you very much.

Mallets

We liked having to push the tent pegs in with our bare hands. Made us feel like we’d achieved something, even if it did lead to weird stigmata-ish marks on our palms for the next couple of months.

Pétanque

There’s a reason 5 billion people will be watching football’s World Cup this winter rather than pétanque’s. The bastardised boules derivative is France’s worst idea since Agincourt, and only Britain’s most pretentious middle-class snobs would ever consider its silly little silver balls worth the boot space.

Deliveroo

Behave.

Marshmallow-toasting forks

We weren’t making these things up; they actually exist. And while it’s true that leaning over the campfire with those pillowy pink and white treasures impaled on a short twig has cost us a few singed eyebrows over the years, we swear they taste better with a bit of burnt wood still stuck to the inside. Disagree? Fine, you can get the telescopic multi-pronged version from Amazon. Price? About £15 and your dignity…

Do you think ‘glamping’ has gone too far? Tell us in the comments section below.

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