A Knight’s Tale (124: A Night To Remember)

I have never been one for camping, or barbecues, for that matter.  I like my home comforts, and cannot see the fun in struggling to light, and keep alight, an outside facility when there are perfectly good ovens and grills in the kitchen. In August 2012 Louisa and Errol and their daughters were flooded out of their tents, but they think that is all part of the fun.

The last time I went camping was by accident.  I have not yet mentioned the ten nights involved in the Henley – Newark trip.  Sam’s friend James began accompanying him on the boat.  The vessel in which Sam was to spend 59 days alone rowing across the Atlantic Ocean was purpose-built.  There was therefore a small cabin on board.  Designed for one, it was going to have to accommodate both Sam and James.  As I have already stated, I like my comfort, so the plan was that wherever we stopped at night, we would find me bed and breakfast accommodation.  That worked pretty well.  Most of the time.  The two occasions on which it didn’t would have to be consecutive, wouldn’t they?

Fortunately the nights were warm.  Fortunately James had brought a small tent which he was generously prepared to lend me.  Unfortunately there was no mattress, no ground-sheet, and no sleeping bag.  Because we hadn’t considered the possibility that we might decide to stop in the middle of nowhere.  On the first occasion, we managed to find me some sort of camp-site with tents, but no bedding of any sort, and latrines which I was quite unprepared to use.  I slept on the hard ground.  Yes, I did actually sleep.  When you’ve walked as much as I had, you’ll sleep anywhere.  I thought.  Until the next night.  This time I used James’s tent.  These outdoor nights were spent in my day clothes.  The place where we had pitched the tent seemed to be incredibly stony.  One particularly sharp stone dug into my left thigh all night.  I was just too tired to attempt to move, and desperately trying to get some shut-eye.  I’ve no doubt I did sleep a bit, as is always the case when you think you haven’t slept at all.  When, early in the morning, I finally decided I’d had enough, I looked for the offending stone.  I couldn’t find it.  Then it dawned on me.  I fished in my left trouser pocket, and pulled out my bunch of keys.


  1. Camping lost its allure for me once I became an adult. I’ll bet you were kicking yourself when you discovered that the sharp stone that had caused you so much misery was your keys!

  2. I’m with you about camping, Derrick. I like my comfort–a proper bed and bathroom–too.
    I think the keys in your pocket demonstrates how tired you actually were.

  3. I have sometimes taken a nap and had the same pesky key problem. 🙂

    The last time Rick and I went camping was in the Badlands of South Dakota in late summer, many years ago. A tornado with serious hail came through that afternoon, splitting the difference between the Badlands National Park campground and the KOA campground to the south. It destroyed the tent and almost took us as well. After the worst was over, we collected our soggy belongings, threw the tent in the campground dumpster and headed for a motel in Rapid City. We could see the storm system in the rearview mirror, a towering monster in the sky colored in sunset hues.

  4. I never ever liked camping. Always too occupied with finding a good hotel. I even have problems sleeping if there is something under the mattress, like the princess and the pea 🙂
    What a pity you did not realise earlier that it was your bunch of keys and not a stone the culprit.
    I am amazed that you were able to find any sleep

  5. I think it must be 60 years since I enjoyed a camping trip — I do enjoy barbecues, but not the sleelping arrangements! In fact, a couple of years ago I donated 2 sleeping bags to a boy scout for his project of helping homeless people!

  6. The keys! 😀 HA! and Oh, my! Yes, that would’ve made for a keyed up 😉 rough night! 🙂
    These days “glamping” is the way to go! 😉 😀

  7. It gave me a broad smile too. My sweetheart keeps threatening to take me camping, but so far I have not been tried. I suspect I would be more in the Derick J Knight school of campers. I’m glad you’re all on the mend. Thank goodness!

  8. My favorite part of camping is sitting around the campfire with stars overhead. Unfortunately, the older I get, the harder the ground gets, so I don’t want to even think about sleeping on the ground.

  9. I wasn’t expecting it to end with a “bunch of keys”! I couldn’t help laughing! But how interesting this ‘walk’ of yours was. Looking forward to some more anecdotes and photographs.

  10. Your story with keys in your pocket reminds me of Andersen’s Princess and the Pea, Derrick. My husband would commiserate with you, I am sure. His idea of the great outdoors is pitching a tent in the middle of an air-conditioned livingroom.

  11. Oh dear, those keys!

    I’ve also experienced the hard ground routine when my airbed developed a hole.

    I like the idea of camping but in reality a hotel is so much more to my liking.

  12. Hah! Just when I almost had Bill convinced to do a two week outback camping tour, you come up with this experience. And actually, I haven’t done any camping since 1978, and that was definitely lying on the hard ground with the tent as your only protection.

  13. I, too, have that tee-shirt, Derrick. As sleeping aids go, bunches of keys are worse than a bed of nails!

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