Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Holidays - camping out

Camping Out is a form of entertainment which has lately come into fashion, and is spoken of with much enthusiasm by its devotees, among whom may be numbered a proportion of ladies. it is a little difficult to see the great enjoyment of sleeping in a tent when you can get a bed, or of being exposed to the mists and fogs which are so plentiful on the river at night and in the early morning even in the summer. It is not necessary to give any detailed advice on this subject, as the enthusiast will probably have imbibed the taste for camping from an experienced friend, who will he able to "show him all the ropes." It may be suggested that a good deal of the land on the banks of the river is private property, and that trespassing in private paddocks and gardens, as is too often done, indiscriminate wood-cutting for fires, and similar practices, should be avoided. The owner of one well-known and extremely comfortable camping-ground has been, we regret to say, compelled to close it against campers owing to the ill return so constantly made him for his courtesy. This gentleman is a man of the world, and not at all of a fidgety or touchy disposition; but when it came to cutting down valuable ornamental shrubs, climbing garden walls, stealing fruit and eggs and surreptitiously milking cows at unholy hours, it was felt that the line must be drawn. A lock- island is generally a good place for a camp. Tents should be pitched a little distance from the water, on rising ground if possible, and upon no account under the shadow of overhanging trees. It is well to be provided with a sufficiency of reasonable comforts, but the example of a party who were seen last year at Cookham, with a servant in livery laying the table for dinner, is not one to be followed. Half the fun of camping consists in doing everything for oneself, and in the perfect freedom from all conventional social trammels which such a mode of existence involves. For cooking utensils, the cooking-stoves sold at 93, Wigmore-street, have been well spoken of. An iron tripod, with chain and hook to which to hang the kettle or the saucepan, is very useful. B. Edgington, of Tooley-street, can be recommended for tents of all kinds.

Charles Dickens, Dickens's Dictionary of the Thames, 1881