Ireland, Camping and The Great Outdoors

The August Bank Holiday weekend is looming quicker that you might actually realise and there is a mild buzz in the air as suggestions and possible destinations are dissected, travel plans are made and lists of not to forgets are concocted and overly examined. Of course one could book into the El Fancy Dan hotel for some pampering and what not but in case you didn’t already know, it seems that camping in Ireland may just be the new rock und roll.

Mary….?! where did you leave the….. did you actually put the tent pegs in the car….? Well they should be there then, shouldn’t they….. shouldn’t they ?

camping irelandSome may shudder at the thought of the potential chilly night and the fact that the neighbours, now just two sheets away can hear every air movement and whisper. But unless you own the Partridge Family bus, there was and always will be an element of egg shell trampling with any family holiday. It is, with hindsight what makes them fond memories.

In favour of the properly roofed accommodation brigade is the reality that our hotel prices are cheaper than we have ever seen them before and most recently we have seen Irish Value Added Tax on restaurants dropped to nine per cent encouraging us all to eat out… well, in, if you know what I mean.

In the camping camp, it doesn’t bode so well as the media pundits continue to report the usual economic related tag-lines as potential reasons for the camping resurgence. But it is of them that use the RTE Prime Time misnomers, that I wonder. I wonder if they have ever actually camped, more than once. The naysayers aside, I personally wouldn’t swap cooking and sleeping Al Fresco for the world.

I almost forgot to add the fact that Irish weather is just a little unpredictable.

The reality is I’m proud to boast, that we do live in such a beautiful little country. But I’m still wondering why and what it is about this element of the Irish great outdoors that makes so many others want to sleep in a tent.

According to Camping Ireland, figures from the Central Statistics Office show Irish people made 309,000 camping trips at home in 2009. They also noted the Irish Caravan and Camping council who said that altogether, Irish people and foreign tourists spent 2.4 million nights on Irish campsites in 2009, contributing €96m to the local economy. And figures are rising….

But why, you may be asking, is the Dublin gardener yabbing on about camping in this weeks article.

Gardener. There. I said it. Gar-Den-Er. Gar-Den. Get back to the garden, ye big Donegan head the ball…..

There is a point where, lets say in cooking, were one must cross over into the gardeners world and at the very least understand where and how the food is produced, grown and developed. One must as some point, get their hands dirty, even be it just fresh herbs. From this gardeners perspective, I’ll go back to the reasons and thinking behind the non-gardeners group I set up two years ago.

How does one encourage the next generation to become interested in gardening….?

The answer, in part, is quite simple. Step one ? One needs for the people to be outside first. And there in lies the key. Because, when one goes camping one doesn’t stay inside the tent for forty days and forty nights. One is outside, in the great outdoors and one develops a feeling, almost an understanding, not of how all the elements work, more how to work in tandem with them.

That may sound a bit silly, but every male will tell you there is an art to picking the perfect place to pitch for the night. It is a primary trait, followed in no particular order by mans preprogrammed function to source food and water.

My wry wit aside, the last place I went camping in was sited just by Lough Ennell. Surrounded entirely by woodland and right beside a stunning lake. So picturesque, at the time in audio, I wondered if in fact it was the most beautiful place on earth. Eamonn O’Malley, the sites owner told me how after weekends he wanders through the woods to do the various checks and tidy-ups. He explained how visiting children and their imaginations rearrange minute segments of the woodland in such varying guises en route to making their own fun. He commented how, even with the advances in technology how the game consoles are so quickly forgotten.

In Lough Key, near Boyle in Co. Roscommon where I stayed last year the campsite was set within the forest. My friend George and his family travelled with mine and similar to, within hours of arrival the elder son [5] had laid and rearranged some branches and stumps now known as furniture. The invisible living room was of course where one went to listen to the invisible radio. On one occasion I forgot to use the door and walked through an invisible wall.

There is a point where gardening and camping meet and appreciation for what surrounds takes reign. The fruits of recently made elder flower champagne for example were tasted just this week and no longer I should admit do I see this plant as a weed. Quite the opposite. Three weeks ago, I was thought how to eat a nettle leaf and I in return explained how when my hair goes wavy it is based on the theories behind the old hydrometers. It is how I predict that it is going to rain.

For the next generation, the nations schools have seen gardening become part of their everyday playground, at home, community gardens are becoming as logic as a hall door and plant life is something we are all beginning to instinctively watch out for.

Wonderland n 1 an imaginary land of marvels or wonders. 2 an actual place of great or strange beauty

Outdoors n 2 the world outside or far away from buildings; the open air

More than that again, our children are being thought about biodiversity. A thinking that encourages one, in short, to leave piles of leaves and logs, to plant flowers and food to encourage bees, bats and bird life. It is a thinking that in any space allows an appreciation for the older, newer and the fallen members of the tree family. But, what if you were surrounded by it….

No matter how I describe and no matter how I enjoy it…. the great outdoors, in Ireland for me, is simply amazing. In my mind and in my eyes the only thing that changes is the size and shape of the garden, one in which I am privelidged to be allowed enjoy.

Review: Coleman Canyon 6 Tent

coleman canyon 6

This is the Coleman Canyon 6 Tent. It is the tent that I have owned and used for the last two/ three years. The worst weather it has been tested in was last year when it hit about 3 degrees Celsius and pretty bad rain [I kept a maximum minimum thermometer inside the tent overnight]. The best weather was most probably June bank holiday weekend when temperatures exceeded 25 Celsius.

It’s a sturdy bit of kit that looks quite smart when put up. Of the two bedrooms one is large enough for maybe 4 small children or two adults quite comfortably. The smaller you will get two adults in, but it would be across the lesser width of the tent. It supposed to be a ‘6 man’ tent – I say four. Men.

coleman canyonThe problem with the Coleman Canyon 6 is the bit in the middle of the tent, assuming that it’s for a family and that it may rain [This is Ireland] as there really isn’t enough room for a small table, or anything in the middle.

Bottoms on the ground, the problem is that the ground sheet is at ground level and if pitched in the wrong place [or not] it is where the boots must come off and also were you may sit to eat. That said, it’s also quite easy to drop the lesser bedroom down leaving you with a fair bit of space.

On a slightly different note there are no windows in it. The doors must be open, as such to let light or air in whilst camping. However, one can open all four sides of the tent even with the bedrooms erect, this allowing a great draught run through in order to dry/ air before packing it away.

Outside of that the tent pegs that come as standard are really not enough to hold it down in gale like winds. One may chuckle at that, but try camping around Achill island on a fair day and you’ll know where I’m coming from. The answer, invest in really decent tent pegs for the guy ropes.

Time to put it up, one parent on his/ her own can be anything up to or over 35 minutes with a little bit of practice and I strongly urge you trial run erecting it before you go away. The poles in particular around the larger dome can be a bit tricky.

All the watch out fors aside, I like the Coleman Canyon 6 and camping is what it is. My rating score is 6/10. It drops points for the ergonomics of it really and the time to erect. That said I have been very happily camping in it for the last two years and would have no problem continuing to do so.

coleman canyon 6

The Sodcast – Episode 6

sodshow, garden podcast

The Sodshow Garden Podcast – every Friday – in iTunes, all good podcast stores.

Listen to The Sodcast in MP3 – or – as always you can subscribe or/ and listen to the podcast via iTunes.

Alternatively you can subscribe to the blog and listen to them right here. Missed Episode 5 of the garden podcast ?

First Up:

WebAwards Nominated badge

The #sodcast has been nominated for the Realex 2010 Irish Web Awards in the Best Independent Podcaster category [of which is still available for sponsorship]. There are some really great podcasters in there. I’ve put a list at the bottom of this post [just scroll down….] Go tip across and take a look, applaud the sponsors and congratulate some great websites and the organisers. Well done all. That aside, as I always say….

That said – awards or not, it is because of *you* that I **write and to be simply nominated is reason enough for me to smile :)

**in this case speak

On The Blog This Week:

Images For The Podcast:

This Weeks Oddities:

And Finally:

From this report from The Wiley Online Library

This study examined the effect of definitions for organic and natural on willingness to pay a premium for organic over natural chicken. Data were collected using surveys and experimental auctions that were conducted before and after information was presented. Before information, approximately two-thirds of participants inaccurately equated the requirements of natural with those for organic. After information, nearly 50% increased their premium, while 30% decreased their premium. Logistic regression results showed that consumers who had overestimated the requirements for natural were most likely to have an increased premium after information, with significantly higher bids for organic. For those who decreased their premium after information, awareness of consuming genetically modified (GM) foods was a key variable. The non-genetically modified (non-GM) requirement of organic appears to be of low value to some consumers. Overall, consumer confusion regarding organic and natural standards may be having substantial impacts on the two markets.

Great Irish Podcasters:

Thanks to Bernie for this snapping and sharing