Camp Pain

The start of the season is the time when many British GP fans will start discuss amongst themselves as to where they are going to stay when attending the British GP. The argument will be prolonged and eventually they will opt, as they always do, for camping. What could be more romantic than getting up at first light and wandering the few tens of miles to the circuit?

Those new to camping at the British GP might benefit from the experiences of a seasoned campaigner.

Weather

It is always either too wet or too dry. It can sometimes be both. It can sometimes be too windy. The only constant with the weather is that it is always too. I remember having to remove my socks one morning in order to wring out the rain from them. I put them over the back of my chair and then had a quick kip. I woke up with sunburn on my toes. Sort of sums up Silverstone weather for me. If it can get you it will. If it can get you twice, it will go for a third.

Equipment

There are as many arguments as to what to opt for in a tent as there are types. For instance, the one universal truth accepted by all campers is that it is best to have a tent to yourself. However, if you go for a bit of luxury and bring a two man tent then you will be expected to take Colin who, for various reasons, the main one being how thick he is, will have forgotten his.

There is a problem with this argument as if everyone in your group opts for a single man tent then each of you will have to accept Colin as a guest at some point during the weekend and then he will turn over on top of you. This is exacerbated by the fact that by Sunday everyone will smell.

Don’t be fooled by the chap in the showroom who erected a tent by throwing it at a wall from which it rebounded fully assembled. Every tent, be it a massive frame tent, those igloo types or the latest one that is named after a mountain, takes at least two hours to put up. This doesn’t apply to the bivouac style sheet of plastic that the scary looking chap with what appears to be an AK47 in his bag put up with his toes whilst staring around him.

Don’t take the instruction sheet with you. Firstly, it will not apply to the tent you have and secondly, even if you put it in a special little box that you hang around your neck, by the time to get to the camping ground you will have lost it.

Tent pegs disappear as well. It is a bad move to get even one bit of your tent taut as this is a signal to all those who arrived at the site sans tent pegs that you have some. It is best to view tent pegs as rather like bats. They should only come out when it is dark and should be back out of sight by morning.

Don’t buy an expensive tent. I borrowed a one man, super light, easily erected, four seasons-type expedition tent. It really looked the business. It impressed everyone, especially the bloke who took it down during the race

Before you go practice sleeping on a hill. It is a very underrated skill.

Leave a light on in your tent at night. Whilst this tends to be a beacon for various stinging flying things, there are worst things that could invade your tent. Such as the drunken fan making his way back to his tent. Sometimes whilst driving.

Toilets

It is not a good idea to spend any longer in the toilets than is strictly necessary. Building greater lung capacity that a pearl diver is the minimum preparation.

Do not let any bare part of your body touch any fixture or fitting inside or outside any loo in the camping area and at the circuit. For this reason do not eat the bergers as these will increase the number of visits and your speed of entry. Indeed, when spectating try and pick a spot some distance from the toilets as you can sometimes be fooled into thinking a car has just started.

Thinking laterally, I opted one year to take my own porta potti with toilet tent to Silverstone. I was somewhat shocked to find a queue outside it at 1 am. The look of bewilderment on the face of the chap I dragged from inside still haunts me. It seemed that in his opinion I was the one acting unreasonably.

One-upmanship

Do not try and be too flash. There was one chap who parked his twin axled caravan amongst the tents and then proceeded to erect an awning. He was treated as a pariah. In fact so much so that it reminded me of when expressed to the crowd I was with how sorry I was that Italian driver Patrese’s Williams expired during the Italian GP at Monza allowing the Ferrari through into the lead. A basic error that I am not likely to repeat, even if the Italian secret service hadn’t noted what I said and classed me as an enemy of the state.

The chap made the mistake of sitting in he recliner outside his awning with alcohol with ice, a fry-up and, worst of all, an attractive women beside him. Some say that the fact that the two tyres on one side deflated proved that he must have driven over something sharp but many were sceptical.

Which brings us onto food

When inside the circuit don’t buy anything that purports to have meat in it even if you have access to your own toilet and have a lock on the door. Avoid shellfish like the plague as it is like the plague.

Go out for your evening meal and stock up. It needs to last you until the following evening with just a top up from a loaf or two of bread.

Do not try and remember where you parked your tent by its relationship to any other tent. When you return there will be many more tents. Except that is after the race when there will be lots fewer including, as I mentioned earlier, one year a tent I borrowed. A very expensive tent.

Use permanent features as markers like, for instance, one of the many waste dumps. They will probably have been there since the previous GP so will be impossible to move.

Au revoir

When it comes time to leave, you’ve got no use for the gubbins so throw in all into the boot of your car, including Colin, and head for home. That gives you something to do when you stop at the motorway services. You can spend endless hours looking for your wallet. Be frightened if you find the chap with the AK47 hiding in the boot.

And then promise yourself that you will never go camping again.

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