I spent yesterday in the British Library with The Campers’ Handbook by THH Holding, published in 1908. A sepia photograph shows us the author at camp; he is a chunky and kindly chap, grey at the temples and with an amenable unkempt moustache, relaxing in a straw boater and collarless white shirt with the sleeves rolled up. His pipe is tucked in the crook of his palm. I have much to write about Holding’s classic handbook but for now I will share only this alluring account of family camping:
“I have just visited an ideal family camp. It is on an island in a river. There was the eating tent, the sleeping tent, the servant’s tent, the cooking tent for wet weather, and the overboat tent. Here the family and their servants were spending a ‘savage’ holiday.”
And his observation of the enthusiasm Edwardian women brought to the pursuit.
“Perhaps I may be permitted to say here that I have seen them [women] excel men, too, in smartness and cleverness. How quickly they pick up the making and mounting of a tent and its appliances, the cooking and the tidying up, and how they take to the bathing. How the beautiful spirit of brightness and the merry ring of their laughter within hearing of the men is an added pleasure to all.”