Ah, camping. The Marmite of holidays. For some people, the thought of sleeping in a tent is about as appealing as walking barefoot over broken glass. For some it’s bliss; a chance to enjoy the great outdoors and forget about all the white noise that goes with life.
The latter category is where you’ll find me. Happily pitching tents in the dark, sliding down uneven ground in my sleeping bag and blearily waking up with the sunrise, despite my best efforts for a lie-in.
So finally, at the end of a summer that didn’t ever seem to start I found myself camping in the beautiful setting of Exmoor. There was nature by the bucket load to make use of and Pool Bridge Campsite, not far from Porlock, was the base for a weekend of hiking, exploring the coast and generally taking in the fresh air.
And yet, it wasn’t the peaceful surroundings, nor the great weather that really made the trip. The most satisfying thing was forgetting my phone charger and knowing that for the next 3 days, I was unbeholden to the little silver and black box that rarely strays far from my right hand. The knowledge that I was far from a plug socket and the necessity of being connected to anything other than what was in my immediate vicinity was relaxing on a level I haven’t experienced in a long time.
But what really was a pleasure, which I hadn’t anticipated, was that I didn’t see a single child within 50 yards of an iPad or a smartphone for 72 whole hours. I can’t remember the last time I saw that! It was genuinely uplifting to see children running around, climbing trees, playing on rope swings, paddling in the stream, and generally being let loose on Mother Nature rather than roaming Google.
It’s shocking to think that it takes a trip away – where there’s little phone signal even if your phone does have juice – to notice how dependent we are on our mobiles. For all the positives of technology, that surely has to be one of the most depressing aspects of our hyper-connected lives.
So whether we find ourselves in a tent or not, perhaps if we all did a little more disconnecting, we might discover something about ourselves or our surroundings. And maybe it’ll be a pleasant surprise.