Loitering with intent – The story of an abandoned tent

Being a person with a penchant for outdoor pursuits, I have camped since a very young age. I include camping on the Cairngorms, Snowdon and Brecon Beacons in the midst of winter in snowstorms including a whiteout on Darva Moor as well as many times in France and Spain. In spite of all this and even at my great age I usually still manage to have a camping break a couple of times a year.

Since having replacement joints in both knees I have compromised and bought myself a large six berth two bedroom affair on the grounds of comfort and joy. I however still get a buzz from waking up free from the pressures of the world and if I’m lucky to birdsong and sunshine.

This year in early June I was in North Norfolk for a break bird watching and photographing in the salt marshes in a hired Canadian canoe and was accompanied by an old friend, Lee a former Captain in the South Vietnamese Army during the Viet Nam war. Lee was attached to the American Army as an intelligence officer and was left behind in the American Embassy when the Americans and anti communist forces withdrew, or as Lee puts it got their running boots on.

Lee spent the next 4 years hiding out with his thirteen men in the jungle and successfully brought all of his men out safely via Cambodia and Thailand. I was unable to teach Lee very much about survival in the wild but he appreciated the comfort of my tent and my Michelin starred camp cooking.

Came the morning for us to break camp the weather was still good but the Met Office had issued a severe weather warning so we didn’t spend too long packing everything into the car and clearing up our area. The campsite is one that I regularly use and is top class (no groups, no noise after 10pm and kept immaculate). I cleared up our rubbish and headed for the bins. Very green, separate bins for glass, paper, plastic etc., I separated our rubbish taking the cardboard packaging from the plastic carrier bags and so on. I was about to put the plastic in the correct bin and opened it up . . . . . . . completely empty except for a virtually brand new tent all roughly rolled up with its bag, poles and pegs chucked on top.

As I am a pre WWII baby I abhor waste. I looked around the site which contained a few campervans, about a dozen family size tents, most of the occupants having left for the day. The Yurts and Tepees were also unoccupied. As the tent in the bin was obviously deliberately abandoned I felt no qualms about liberating it in order that it may be recycled. I packed it into my car boot and we set off for home.

It rained for the next few days so the errant tent was left in my shed until the next dry and sunny day and I was able to examine it more closely. As I thought the tent was virtually new, it was a two man model with built in groundsheet, the telescopic poles, pegs etc., all had separate bags and there was even a new looking LED camping lantern. All deliberately discarded and looking as forlorn as an abandoned kitten. Aaah!

I have found the kit a new home and its next outing hopefully will be a much happier one, probably at Glastonbury Music Festival.

My next outing will be to North Wales next week to look at the mountains but as a professional raconteur and teller of tales I am sitting here trying the imagine the story my recycled two man tent could tell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It wasn’t abandoned after a hellish night of storms by its only just survived occupants. Could it have been dumped by a Romeo and Juliet after a lover’s tiff? If that was the case surely the tent would have just been left where it stood as one or both drove off in a huff (they came by car and left in a huff). Perhaps it was a guy on his own who had been watching Bear Grylls on the box and discovered that sleeping on the floor wasn’t conducive to a good night’s sleep.

I can’t understand why the tent was taken down and the pegs put in the bag, the poles folded up but the tent was screwed up and the lot including its bag plonked in the bin. Why not donate it to charity or to a deserving youngster as I have? Within an hour of my finding it the bins would have been emptied by the bin men. Meanwhile I am imagining so many different stories that could fit the history of the discarded and forsaken ‘Marie Celeste of a tent.

If my chum Lee had been a Major instead of a Captain I could have used the title “A Major Incident” and made everyone groan!


About Jake

Long retired travel writer, author and freelance journalist. Educated at Wolverton Grammar and Greenwich Naval College. Happily married since 1958, with a married son and daughter, a married granddaughter and an adult grandson. Hobbies rock-climbing, dinghy racing and ocean racing. Still regularly working out in the gym.
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