Aged 11. Check out the Y-fronts on the washing line!!

Aged 11. Check out the Y-fronts on the washing line!!

HELEN SPENCER is the Founder of Club partner

For me, it is one of those 'go to' memories from childhood, and since I am in the business of memory-preservation, it seems rude not to encourage you all to think hard about whether you are doing your own memories justice?

Camping was a regular presence throughout my youth, presenting discomfort and unbridled freedom in equal measure. Having a Cub Scout leader for a dad contributed to the gradual demise of the cottage-based family holiday in my family. The 'Two Nans' passed away and my parents became more and more thrifty with our holiday accommodation, feeling less of a need for the comfort and luxury of a roof or a door. They gathered more and more camping equipment, and eventually invested in a large frame tent. I can clearly recall the noise of us chewing up the miles on the UK's A roads with a trailer tagging and bouncing along behind us and a tightly sprung sleeping bag cushioning the whiplash at the base of my neck (threateningly waiting to decapitate me at the next major pothole.

The big memories:-

  • The comedy hee-haw squeakiness of the plastic foot pump as it made its pathetic attempt to inflate the air beds.
  • Hooking up the black and white portable TV to the car battery, so that we could watch the Royal Wedding in the tent, 1981.
  • Zipping together two sleeping bags (in the days when they were actually rectangular) and making a 'double' bed. My mum had carefully machine-stitched old sheets INSIDE each sleeping bag, for extra warmth!
  • Clever stacking saucepans with detachable (usually missing) handles.
  • Hurricane force winds ripping the camp site apart. Waking at midnight to help our neighbours remove their tent from the bushes and pack up their twisted poles into the car. Holiday over, 1975.
  • Playing swing-ball with my brother. It was always competitive and he always played to injure. I believe there may have been an unfortunate swearing incident when I called him something unsavoury, very loudly. The ensuing maternal chastisement was clearly a good one, since I can still remember it 35 years on. If only I'd known what the swear word I had selected actually meant....
  • Cooking. This got more and more sophisticated over the years as my mum acquired more and more outrageous camping gadgets. We had an oven. Yep, an oven. Corned beef and tinned potatoes were still common fodder, however.
  • Drying towels – everywhere.
  • Needing the loo after bedtime. If you've camped, you will understand.

We have a tent now. It's big, it's great and it's still a fabulously economical way to spend family time. We are fully signed up members of the Club, and the kids love it. There is, however, a tiny bit of me, just at the base of my very old spine, that finds it hard to love sleeping on the floor.

Are you a camping family? How did you spend your holidays under canvas as a child and more importantly, are the memories tucked away safely for posterity? is now partnered with The Camping and Caravanning Club, and if you are a Club member, you can find an exclusive offer that gives you extra usage of the SaveEveryStep website for free. Just follow this link to find out more. The website is specifically designed to enable you and your family to capture and preserve the memories of your lifetimes, chronologically on a timeline. It's completely free to get started, so hunt out the old holiday photos and give it a whirl. Your children and grandchildren will thank you for it!