Birth of a new tent:
The preparation for our French Adventure began way back in January when I decided a new tent was required. To be honest our old Ebay special would have been fine but it was cold, January and I was in need of some retail therapy summer stylee. Once the other half had been convinced of the need for a new tent by some very persuasive, if slightly exaggerated, arguments and once I had researched, discussed and compared the market, we set off for JR Leisure Camping Shop in Leicester. I am a strange creature, having never quite escaped my childhood love of dens and tents, I become excited as soon as I enter a shop full of fully erected tents. Other half does not in any way share this sense of excitement and even the kids soon tired of running in and out of canvas, polysomething and poles. We looked, tested and discussed tents until the other half almost expired and was unable to contain his general disinterest any longer (but full marks for humouring me for a while) and just before the 4 kids did any lasting damage we made a decision – The Wynnester Marseille 9 with footprint and carpet it was to be. Other half had reservations about bent ferrals and thin poles but I argued that these tents had been thoroughly tested. We walked out with our new tent in hand and looking forward to warmer weather.
Our first one night test pitch at a local site in March was a great success, we all loved the tent as we cosied up on our carpet around the electric heater. We arranged to meet my brother and his family at the same site in June – how bad could the weather be for the Whitsun Bank Holiday? Read on……
The weather was pretty gruesome – drizzle and strong winds – but we pressed ahead pitching the tent regardless. The kids made parachutes from their emergency ponchos (I found these plastic wonders in the Co-Op, upon seeing the word “Emergency Poncho” I laughed out loud and continued giggling about what sort of emergencies could possibly require a poncho all the way to the check out!) and our sister-in-law provided coffee from her warm and weatherproof luxury caravan. Eventually we finished pegging out the last guy and the oldest boy took charge of blowing up the air beds. Then it happened…..a cracking sound, a loud rustle and half a collapsed tent.
A gust of wind had twisted the poles and bent the feral (the ones other half had pointed out as a weakness). This twisting had a domino effect and caused other poles to bend and split. The outcome was a collapsed sleeping pod whose poles were unrepairable.
We tried in vain to repair the damage but there was no way we could strengthen and repair the poles. Luckily enough we were camped not far from the shop from where we bought it so with heavy hearts we dismantled the tent, bunged it in Fugly and zipped off to JR Leisure. Initially there were some attempts to point the blame our way – storm damage was indicated. We suggested he looked out of the window to see if he could see a storm – windy yes – storm force no! Eventually the manager intervened and offered a replacement. We went for a smaller 4 berth tent with living area and sewn in groundsheet – our reasoning being all 6 of us could sleep in it for a stopover – 2 in the living area – and when we pitched for longer periods our teens preferred there own smaller tents. I had read about Outwell tents and their good reputation so we bit the bullet and went for an Outwell Nevada M.
We pitched the new tent in the wind using our new rock pegs (also purchased at JR Leisure). We were pleased with how easy it was to pitch, other half was delighted that there were no bent feral (I hope I’ve spelled feral correctly, I have not a clue what he is talking about but I’m happy he’s happy). The tent endured a very windy night with heavy rain far better than I did, sleep evaded me until the early hours of the morning. This is one of the tents we shall be taking to France and I have confidence it will survive anything the Mistral has to throw at us – watch this space.