There are few sweeter sights for me than a sunny campsite being populated with a couple of dozen Tentipi over the course of an afternoon. By the time the darkness was upon us, most of the forty or so guests had arrived at the fifth UK Tentipi Camp, their tipis pimped and perfect, the fires aglow with coffee pots spluttering away and the odd glasses of grape and grain going down nicely.
Friday night is Fika night at Tipicamp (that’s Swedish for coffee and cake) and I had been busy baking shortbread and flapjacks the week before. Previous tipi camper Heather also brought a huge box of delicious homemade cookies so we were all sugared up by the time Terry brought out his guitar and played some awesome tunes. The tunes and the chatter round the fire-bowl in the big Zirkonflex tipi went on until late into the evening while the rain and wind made an unsuccessful attempt to ruin the mood.
By the morning the rain and wind were gone and the mist soon cleared to bright sunshine. Jamie Corry from the Wild Bush-craft Company arrived to entertain with a thoroughly enjoyable venison butchery class. Deckchairs at the ready, we all sat in the sun while Jamie built a wooden tripod from which to hang a 30kg roe deer he shot recently in the New Forest. Jamie’s enthusiasm is catching and he soon had children and adults alike wielding a knife and helping with the skinning, jointing and preparation for cooking. Jamie’s knowledge and love of the land shine through and he peppers his talks with titbits of knowledge and deeper insights into managing our land and deer populations. The tenderloins and haunch steaks were cooked to perfection and everyone had a taste and mopped up the juices with sourdough bread made at home by another guest, Paul.
Jamie had to disappear in the afternoon to look after his own bush-craft customers but “Roj the Oblivious Gnome” was on hand to take over with a bit of spoon carving. Everyone who wanted to was soon wielding a blank in hand and carving away merrily with varying degrees of success for the next few hours. There were some amazing results and inspired people by the end of the afternoon.
The evening brought a stroll down the riverbank for those not busy creating delicious things for dinner on their campfires and stoves. As the light dimmed we returned to hear Terry, of the Friday night guitar, strumming a banjo, accompanied by his partner Jo on her double bass! Quite how they managed to fit a guitar, double bass and banjo into their car along with all their camping gear, I’m not quite sure but I am glad they did as the amazing sounds and atmosphere were just right under the stars that night.
Sunday morning brought a little grogginess from some and many plumes of smoke from wood burning stoves getting rid of the chills of a clear night. The sun was shining though and when Ed, who lives in the village, turned up to do a gentle Tai Chi session he had plenty of takers. It was lovely to be mindful and enjoy the movement, sunshine and sounds for an hour.
It is lovely to meet old friends and make some new ones at these events and especially nice to see old friends greeting each other from previous camps. Our community grows and this camp goes down as one of the best yet. The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly and everyone brought something welcome to the camp. We had people showing off their own crafts and skills such as wool making, fly casting and pyrography, and inspiring others with their amazing tipi setups. Thanks for all those things. Thanks to those who baked and played music and especially big thanks to all those people for helping with the big clear up after I sent Peter home sick on Sunday morning!