The Art of Camping: The History and Practice of Sleeping Under the Stars is out now in Penguin paperback.
Does for camping what Roger Deakin did for wild swimming. (Independent )
A delightful combination of history and memoir with a generous dollop of guidance thrown on top . . . read this gem of a book. (Economist )
An elegant ode to the joys of camping. All sorts of tips on campsite etiquette, lore, equipment, and best practice, and his advice is convincing and honest. He is a lovely writer and his history is enlivened with tremendous flashes of wit. (Daily Telegraph
)Teaming witty anecdotes with a potted history of what sleeping under the stars means sociologically, De Abaitua makes learning how to create a tented home away from home fun. (Elle
)De Abaitua will soon have you believing in this consistently engaging and enjoyable book. It’s a fine writer indeed who can seem authoritative, approachable and just great fun. (Metro
“The Art of Camping is the perfect chiarascuro of personal observation, wit and insight, with a detailed – but never over-egged – history of a stream athwart the main current of urbanised life. The entire hidden under-the-groundsheet history of camping provides such a fascinating perspective from which to look back on the follies of the permanently settled, while, in and of itself, it turned out to be a vital strand in the liberation movements of the 20th century.” Will Self.
Could there be another way of life? Can I survive with less stuff? Should I run for the hills?
These are all good questions that people have asked before, throughout history, and which have inspired people to set up camp. But now camping is part of the drive for self-sufficiency, a reaction against mass tourism, a chance to connect with the land, to experience a community, to leave no trace . . .
From packing to pitching, with hikes into the deep history of the subject and encounters with the great campers and camping movements of the past, the Art of Camping is a witty and philosophical blend of ‘how to’, history and personal anecdotes – a must for every camper.
It’s a great book, by the way. I used to be a cub scout, and now I feel like I’m a traitor!
It still makes me laugh how people cross themselves when you mention camping. I like to wild camp by myself, only because I can’t get any bugger else to join me. “Aren’t you scared in the woods”. Or my favorite; “what if something happens?”. Yet these very people are happy to get pissed out of their brains every weekend and stagger around an entire city bumping into god only knows who and what trouble.
I’ve noticed a few references in ‘The Art Of Camping’ to Sandy Balls holiday site. I couldn’t agree more with what was said about caravans and tents are two different pursuits altogether. I’d spent two weeks down there in a tent with my wife a few years ago and was appalled when we had to camp on gravel next to the grass and pay for the pegs to knock into the ground. I think, maybe, they are trying to discourage us ‘tenters’ for the more lucrative caravans. Then there was the electric hook-ups that everyone seemed to have but us, so we had to endure electric lights and tv’s. Not the great escape we had envisaged. These days I tend to look for the smaller sites or no sites at all.
So, for the benefit of the Sandy Balls site owners, a quote from ‘Monty Python And The Holy Grail’ “I fart in your general direction.”
Thanks for the kind note. I agree with you concerning Sandy Balls. I don’t want to camp next to people’s living rooms, listening to their crappy TV. Our neighbours brought their domestic disputes along with their domestic appliances.
I was a cub scout too. But did no camping with them. Just a week in a dorm in Barnston. When we’re camping remotely, I get the odd shiver but any residual fear quickly turns into a thrill.
Matthew De Abaitua
Matthew, I loved your presentation at the Wilderness Festival. Would you be willing to do a short telephone interview for The Pod Delusion (a weekly news/opinion podcast) about your book? sal (at) stodge.org