For us, camping holidays evoke wonderful memories of leaking tents, collapsing chairs, charred burgers and UHT milky tea. Cross the channel in 2012 and it’s a very different story; in Denmark you find what can only be described as five star luxury in the guise of camping. A toilet block on a campsite should be cold, concrete, poorly lit with the floor awash and those little rock-like soap bars that never produce any lather.
For the Danes at Ribe campsite, a 2am trip to the loo and there are night-lights in your toilet cubicle and Bruce Springsteen piped through all the bathrooms (communal of course!). The children’s bathroom tops this; a floor to ceiling fish tank behind which a huge plasma TV screen plays ‘Finding Nemo’ 24/7 while kids scrub-up in a marine-themed washroom complete with pirate ship baby bath (not that there was any mud on this site). In stark contrast the bathroom for our next nights camping looked like this.
The grass looked like it had been meticulously trimmed with a spirit level and nail scissors and each highly manicured pitch was perfectly symmetrical to the next, separated from your neighbours with a privet hedge.
Primus stoves precariously balancing a pan of beans are a thing of the past; Danish glamping has a modern kitchen with cooking stations dotted around the walls complete with oven, hob and microwave. No more wobbling on fold-out stools around an inadequately-sized formica-topped (bubbled with damp) camping table; there is a dining room with sizeable and stable furniture. Caravans still account for a large proportion of the outdoor-seeking masses but across the channel this alone is not enough. Huge awnings, marquee-sized tents and gazebos stretch out from all sides and people even erect full-scale adjoining decking terraces with garden 3 piece suites.
For Norwegians, the cabin is the outdoor abode of choice; villages of identical, twee wooden mini-homes dot every hillside with a pretty view (ie most of Norway). Complete with fridges, ‘proper’ beds and often satellite television these luxury huts accommodate swarms of tourists fleeing the cities during the Scandinavian summer months. As we head west from Europe into Asia we will be denied the option of checking in to organised camping with it’s hot showers and flushing toilets and face real wilderness survival in the great, beautifully disorderly, outdoors.