Bowery Mural

Marshmallows, Bonfires, Friends... and a Vango Tent

Friday, 27 August 2010

Last Saturday was to be the first night I'd spend in a tent since I left Namche Bazaar high in the Himalayas over a year ago.  Petesy had very kindly loaned me a Vango Force10 Nitro 200 for the occasion.  Find out more about it here.  Despite my questioning i was assured that it would not be coffin-like and that although small i would fit in it.  I hoped so...

Mark and Fiona had kindly invited us over to theirs.  I set off at about 5.30pm from Stirling and drove to Glasgow to pick up Ross and his lovely better half Rosie.  I managed to find his place fine and arrived earlier than i thought i would.  I'd like to point out that I left Stirling with sunshine and hitting Glasgow there were some clouds.  We packed their stuff in the boot of my car and headed out of Glasgow after a few detours.  Ross' navigation skills were great!  The sky was getting heavier and the blue started to make way for blanket greyness then heavy rain showers.  We headed down the M77 and I took the wrong early cut off to where we were supposed to be going so another detour and we eventually arrived at Mark and Fiona's about 10 minutes after 7.  The rain had followed us all the way.  (Google maps on iPhone said 22 minutes and 9 miles, more like 32 minutes and 15 miles).

Once inside we were greeted by Rex, the dog.  He was full of energy but not as scary as i thought.  After a little while we decided to put the tents up before it got too dark so supplies were gathered and we made our way to the make-shift campsite that Mark and Neil (well probably Neil mostly) had constructed earlier in the day.  Nestled underneath a few trees were two tents already and close-by was an awesome square fire pit with a huge pile of twigs and kindling for later on.

Now me being me i like to look at instructions get my bearings and then start on something (it's the same when i build flat pack book shelves from Ikea!).  But Mark very kindly waded in and before I knew it the Vango tent was laid out in my prime position, somewhere between Ross and Rosie's tent and a tree.  I had a quick shifty at the instructions which were handily on the inside of the tent bag.  Got my bearings and we started to feed the poles through the sleeve.  Pretty easy really as they too were colour coordinated, black and silver, to match little patches on the sleeves.  Now for those who are into camping you might not think much of these little details but to me who has never put up a tent before they were very useful.  Once the poles were in it was time to push them up and into place to erect the tent.  Next it was onto the tent pegs.  Quite a straightforward affair although the pegs looked like they had never been used.  I was scared in case they got bent!  I put them in the holes and after debate i decided it was quite windy and that i would peg down the guy lines too.  I did feel a sense of guilt though as I swear these brightly colour orange lines hadn't been pulled out before?  Have the Petesy?  Anyway it was starting to rain and the wind was picking up but my home for the night was out the bag and in place in about 10 minutes.  Easy peasy.  I had a peek inside and hey, this was a roomy tent.  A huge porch for my 100L North Face kit bag and my rucksack (yes i was camping for 1 night and i took both bags...).  Anyway they fitted in the porch perfectly with room to spare for a pair of boots and a stove - if i had one.  Inside the tent I unpacked my Thermarest mat and laid it on the diagonal.  Somewhere in the setting up of the tent the back of the inner wasn't up right or tight but it was too windy to try fixing it and there was plenty of room so i left it as it was.  I sat for a minute and felt at home.  It was cosy and there was no flapping noisy material, quite tight really.

I got out and helped Ross and Rosie with their tent then we headed inside for some tasty barbecue food.  Yes we ate it in the living room, the rain had come on heavy now.  Mark and Neil had cooked some burgers, sausages and Fiona had laid on a spread fit for kings.  Kings who like barbecue food.  More than enough to go around.  There was music, chatter, laughs and then the time had come for the bonfire.

Thinking on it I've not been to an outside bonfire for aaaages. We settled ourselves in around the fire and it was cosy. There was a wind blowing but when that close to the fire you didn't really feel it. A few extra inches closer made all the difference. There was chat and music all the while the constant buzz of the motorway just over the field. But it wasn't intrusive. Time was getting on and something was needed... Mars Bar cake!! I'd made some and brought it, along with some other sweeties. The box was passed around and everyone liked it. Pretty simple to make too. Then out came the marshmallows and Rosie showed us the double skin technique - you heat the mallow til the outer skin crisps, carefully peel it off and then heat the gooey layer until crisp again, peel that off and then heat the final part. It was tasty but i was rubbish so i just stuck mine in on the end of a branch freshly cut from a nearby tree by Neil. The sky was clear, the moon was out but it was not a full one, still lit up the night sky though. Time went on and before long it was a little after 3am and time for me to head to my little home for the night.

I headed to my wee house and got into my Icebreaker thermal tights, opened up my PHD Minim 500 sleeping and got settled.  Unfortunately I managed to perch myself on an ever so slight slope so i felt like i would slide off the mat.  My feet were freezing but luckily i still have some hand warmer sachets in the big yellow kit bag from my trek to Nepal.  First things first.  I'd forgotten the Minim 500 sleeping bag only had a half zip (I'd got it in one of PHD's sales).  Once I got over that fact i maneuvered myself inside it and got comfy on the mat.  I had my head torch, iPhone and glasses inside and there was room.  I was cosy inside my tent.  There was plenty of room for two, i had my rucksack inside the inner with me and the kit bag in the porch. The buzz of the traffic could still be heard but not loudly, the wind got up but again i felt secure inside.  I'm not sure how windy it was, probably not as windy as if I was up top on a hill somewhere but windy enough all the same.  I think i finally fell asleep about 4am after i sorted the draft that was coming in.  Turns out I also forgot i had a pull cord on the sleeping bag hood but once i realised i pulled it tight and was curled up in a cocoon inside.  Cosy, toasty.

A couple of times I woke briefly to turn over but other than that i got a decent nights sleep.  My feet did feel chilly at points but that's because they were hanging off the end of the mat.  I woke feeling comfortable, not sweaty like I was inside my beloved Rab Atlas 1000 bag.  But it was too big and heavy and had to be sold (reluctantly).  I'm not sure how this sleeping bag would fare in worse weather.  I'm not that knowledgeable on the ratings on bags and downfill but i think I've got a pretty decent one.  Incidentally there's a good PHD factory visit story over on PTC's blog.  I'd set my watch alarm for 8.45 (I didn't want to be last up!).  I didn't realise it was daylight outside as i was still inside the sleeping bag but once i got out of it the tent was letting in enough light.  It wasn't dark at all (the outer is green and the inner orange).  I sent a tweet out with my view and got one back from Mark to say that breakfast was served but no rush.

 I sorted myself and headed inside for a nice cup of tea, or two.  I wasn't last up as it goes.  A wee while later the other campers came inside and we were fed like kings again, tea, coffee, bacon, eggs, rolls, cereals, fruit, yogurt, juice.  Yum, my usual start to a Sunday morning.  Once we were suitably fed and watered we headed out to pack up the tents and gather the stuff from the night before.  My tent was down in a few minutes although at one point I thought I'd lost a peg in the tufty grass.  I was playing out the conversation I'd have but luckily they are all there.  I rolled and packed the tent into the bag, a tight squeeze, and packed it into my kit bag.  Good effort Ange.

We headed back to the house and before long we were headed home after a thoroughly enjoyable night camping.  Driving around another detour off the motorway which took us back to where we came from we eventually got back to Ross and Rosie's house in a much more respectable time.  We said our goodbyes and i headed on my way.  I got caught in traffic from the the SkyRide which was taking place around Glasgow Green and then there was the traffic and crowds heading into Parkhead but i arrived home happy I'd survived my first nights camping in a ling while.

Huge thanks to Mark and Fiona for inviting us, your hospitality and company was great!  It was great to meet everyone else there too.  Thanks Neil for keeping the fire burning and thanks to Ross and Rosie for being my car companions.  Hope my navigation improves next time.  Thanks also to Petesy for the tent loan.  It was ace, this'll be mine! :o)

A good night out with friends.  Magic.

Ange x            


  1. Glad you had a great time, and the BBQ sounds amazing!

    The Boy has a tiny Terra Nova tent, supposedly for 2 people but I'm a bit dubious. I know it's a good one but can't help but get tent envy if we're at a campsite and people have mahoosive roomy things with windows and massive porches. Especially if it's raining and I can't even sit upright! :)


  2. I enjoyed reading your article.These are pretty good tents.

  3. Vango tents, mountain refuges from the family pods and tunnels. Even India tipi style tents puppy. One thing they all have in common is their commitment to serious camper. This means they are durable, easy to assemble and test all time. While your Vango tent used to find its place alongside all the tents and caravans, cottages with a large tourist park, it is necessary that these campers would never dare to go.


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