Assemble your Marvel Team of campers: ‘Fun Girl’ who will bring fairy lights and margaritas and commit resolutely to getting very drunk and having a good time no matter how shite the weather is. ‘Fleece Man’ who will bring his pen knife and one of those tent mallets and can identify badger poo and has spare water-proofs and will know all about outdoor survival and things like that.
Leave London on a Friday night - screeching right out of your house and into rush- hour - with a boot full of perishables slowly breeding bacteria and salmonella, a tent you already know you’ll never get back into its 5 x 5 bag, a yoga matt for ‘back support’ and ten people in the back (including ‘Mystery Boyfriend’ - someone’s hopeful summer fling that won’t survive the weekend).
Buy some good tequila. Black out tequila. You will need it to knock you out so you can sleep on the tree stump you’ll pitch your tent on by mistake that will dislocate 3 spinal discs.
Secure your outer sheet to prevent an unintended ‘sleeping under the stars’ experience.
Bring 1 disposable BBQ to cook your Roman meat feast for 15 (only 3 of them brought tents cos, like - I thought you were getting that one from your mum’s house?). Forget that after 8pm that disposable BBQ will be your only source of light and heat. You’ll need 5 disposable BBQs just to find your way back to your tent after brushing your teeth with your fingers. Use all your phone battery instead.
Savour the 13 minutes where the campfire is lit, you have a three beer buzz, it’s not drizzling, you don’t know about the tree stump yet and you’re all round having a jolly time. This is exactly what you imagined camping would be like from the Getty image you googled. This is what it looks like.
Make sure you don’t forget to bring tea and coffee making equipment so that you’re spared an 8am trip to the nearest petrol station for some piss-poor Costa impersonation water that leaves you not caffeinated enough to clear out the tequila hangover, but just caffeinated enough to need a huge poo.
Don’t need a poo. Cancel your bodily functions, reschedule your bowel movements for another day.
Give up cooking after the first night of undercooked sausages and flame-grilled grass and head to the nearest chip dispensary. Get a huge steaming bag, cover with salt, sit on a damp wall and enjoy the hell out of some good safely cooked food you didn’t spend 7 hours teasing into an edible state under a single flame emitting barely more heat than a wet fart.
Make sure you cancel all your Sunday plans. You’ll need the morning to try and work out how to fold your tent back into the 5 x 5 bag. At midday you’ll then need to hold a Viking funeral for your tent which will never ever again fit into that 5 x 5 bag. Cast it out into the lake, on fire, cursing its maker and all who sail in it.
Screech out of the campsite 4 people down, damp to your bones, stinking of acrid sausage smoke with grass in your pants just in time to catch the traffic coming back onto the North Circular.
Written and illustrated by Jess Bird