1. Zeus is your master
Two weeks before camping date, make a little shrine to Zeus, God of Thunder, Lightning, Rain and Winds. Traditionally, (as in ancient Greek times), you would sing hymns, carve an altar and offer up wine and prayers. The singing and the wine bit you may wish to carry on well into your camping trip.
2. Do not rise with the lark
You’ve got Zeus onside, well done. Now you have the problem of bright, white, five a.m. sunshine. You only went to bed at midnight (see 6 later) and suddenly there’s light, bird song and annoying people who get up early (See 3 later). There are no black out curtains in a field, my friend. For your information, sunshine is measured by a Campbell-Stokes Sunshine Recorder. If you haven’t got one of those, learn to sleep face down.
3. Hunger is your enemy
You’ve been awake since five, six if you’re lucky. If you’ve taken Zeus worship seriously, you’ve got a hangover. You need a fried breakfast. You need water, badly. You need someone else to provide both. There is no-one else. There’s only you. Make friends with the annoying people who get up early and have lots of supplies and a Calor gas stove. Don’t make it too obvious. Alternatively, pitch your tent right next to the scran truck.
4. Camp flat
Even the most gentle gradient in a supposedly level field can have all sorts of implications from imperceptible nocturnal rolling to post-hangover horizontal vertigo (no idea if that’s an actual medical term but it sounds good). Invest in a spirit level (£12.99 from B&Q) to make sure you don’t wake up snuggled up to a camping partner for whom you have no amorous feelings. Or don’t…
5. Pare back
Ditch anything that makes you look good – hair straighteners, tongs, hair dryers, mascara (actually any kind of make-up), moisturizer, razor, push-up bra, heels (actually, they went with the pandemic) co-ordinating outfits, accessories, toothpaste, toothbrush, fitted tops or trousers, lie-ins (see 2 above). If, on the first day of your camping trip, you accept the real unadorned you, there is nowhere to slide and nothing to hide. Glorious freedom follows.
6. Learn to shuffle
If you’re camping at a music festival you will have your fun all mapped out but if you’re somewhere a little more low-key and basic you might want to take along something for night-time entertainment. I suggest card games. Cards Against Humanity is outrageous and not for the faint-hearted but the old, tried and trusted Snap is much under-rated, simple to learn and child-friendly. With wine, it can become both violent and chaotic. Serious Zeus-worshippers beware.
7. Kit is everything
Buy it all. Buy the blow up bed that will deflate, the mat that does nothing, the waterproof pillow, the maxi-tog sleeping bag that costs a month’s rent, wet wipes in industrial quantities, the tent for eight when there are only two of you, midge repellent, torch, spare torch, batteries, spare batteries, stove, fold-up chairs, fragile table, plastic cutlery, plastic plates, metal mugs, plastic glasses, unnecessary cool bag, fold up saucepan (yes, I know), ‘adventure food’ (that’s what it’s called), water bottle, first aid kit, cagoules, cagoules, cagoules (if you didn’t take my advice at 1 above), pack of cards, waterproof mini-speaker, money for filling the car with petrol because you will be sitting in it sooner or later running the engine trying to get warm and discussing the quickest way home and how much money you’ve wasted. Enjoy.
Kit de Waal co-founded the Primadonna festival, which takes place 29-31 July at the Food Museum in Suffolk. Weekend tickets are £85 and day tickets are £20 for Saturday – use the discount code SATURDAY20 when you check out at primadonnafestival.com/tickets.