This post is part of the 30 Micro-adventures in 30 days of lockdown series. You can find all our microadventures so far, on that page.
Sleeping outside divides the population. Some think there is nothing better than every hour spent in the comfort of our own bed, snuggling up and keeping warm. The alarm is our enemy. On holidays we tolerate other beds. Comfort rules the roost.
But for others, comfort is nothing compared to the freedom of the outdoors! For the feeling of being close to nature. For the thrill of falling asleep looking up at the stars. To slow down the rhythms of life, and forget the hum-drum of life and the rush that we seem to have got our minds into.
What do I mean by sleeping outside?
Well although I have occasionally slept outside with nothing but my clothes on (most occasions this was not an intentional choice I made hours before – I just happened to fall asleep and stay there all night – I’ll keep those stories for later), I wouldn’t recommend it. Instead, 2 main ideas come in to my mind:
- Camping in a tent
This is probably the one that appears the most expensive option, but one that over time, is actually far cheaper than hostels, Airbnbs, or wherever else you or your family like to stay. I’d recommend you still have a roll-mat for
- Sleeping outside in a Bivvy bag
Sleeping under the stars in a waterproof layer (as well as a sleeping bag) may sound ludicrous in countries like Ireland where it always seems to rain as soon as you consider such ideas. But there’s more opportunity for this than you might think, and it’s cheaper, more flexible and more inconspicuous too, away from the public eye. If being up close to nature and the stars is a big seller for you, yet you’re still in a rainy country, then you might consider adding on a Basha to your kit to keep the rain off.
For me last night, I was a little too scared of the overcast skies to go for a Bivvy bag idea, but a little too bored by a tent to simply go for that. So I went for a third option: the pop-up festival tent!
Bought from a mainline supermarket in Ireland for a little over €20, transporting this tent to other countries has cost us more than the actual tent cost! As festival tents often don’t have the two layers of material, to protect you from the rain (touch the material in a festival tent, and you’ll often get soaked, if its wet), I’ve rarely used it in anything apart from hot countries like Tunisia! But tonight, with only light April showers forecast, I thought I would get it out and see if it still was surviving!
Although I camped in my garden of the house I’m renting, you wouldn’t need grassy gardens necessarily for such things. I’ve tried front pathways to houses, balconies of apartments or even when I was really stuck – a hammock inside a city house (ok, I may as well have taken the sofa!)!
The advantage of starting in your garden is that it is most likely private, and if anything disasterous happens, you can quickly bolt back to your warm comforts inside the house. It’s a great place to introduce kids to camping, and during a time like this, one or two families I know have even exchanged their real holiday they’d booked (before Covid19) for a “camping holiday” in their back garden, just to give themselves a change from normal life, and a bit of an adventure!
My sleep was a little shortened at the start of the evening by a call to join a “Houseparty” app conversation with friends involving a glass of wine (or two), but after that, and a short time reading some more of old Irish adventurer Dervla Murphy, the stillness of the night ensued, causing me to rest from my frantic thought patterns, and sleep soundly through the showers, til 6am. When, unbeknownst to me, at this hour each morning, our heating boiler machine starts making a racket in the back garden, along with the more pleasant twittering of the birdsong as they sense dawn coming. There are some disadvantages of the garden!
But as I stumbled into the house for a final couple of hours sleep before work, I was already thoroughly happy and had a deep sense of peace at having slept an evening part-way into nature, re-finding my place in the world and enjoying re-living the memories that have come from that small, orange tent across the world. And for the rest of the day, I’d a feeling that I’d made more of the last 24 hours than I ever do waking up on a normal morning.
If I wanted to learn a moral lesson too, I might think of all those in the world who sleep in far worse conditions each night, in other lands, or even on our own streets as the southern housing crisis continues for many. Shaping our perspective of the world by sitting with others who have less materially than we do, round the world, can indeed be done in our back gardens (though perhaps not escaping indoors part way through!). Waking to a new day, I sense a small piece of why such people who have materially less than I do, still may wake each morning far happier than me. My comfort, I have tragically elevated to immovable status – might a night camping helping with this?
We thank you for the world you made – awesome, diverse, fun;
And ask your forgiveness when we isolate ourselves from elements of it in bubbles of comfort, in western spheres;
And look to you to shape our perspective, to help us explore and enjoy;
And to lay down our heads, knowing that you are in control, even as we sleep.
In Jesus name,