The last time I slept in this tent, I was about fifteen years old. We got snowed in, just down the road from the Sportsman pub in Dentdale. My father had to come and rescue us in his Morris Traveller. Three wet, cold hungry boys have never been so pleased to hear the familiar and unmistakable noise of a Morris engine shifting down a gear. The previous day had been a sun kissed scorcher, we’d retired in the evening after a feast of three bottles of coke and fifteen bags of Seabrooks crisps from the Sportsman. The snow fell overnight, six inches of it.
Some 30 years later, imagine the wry look on my face as I opened the zip and lifted the faded orange flap to see about three inches of snow on the ground at Great Langdale campsite this weekend. I’d borrowed the Good Companion from my Dad in a twisted moment of nostalgia and curiosity. The Blacks Good Companion was the first tent I ever slept in. It was our family tent, the one in which my love of camping was nurtured. My father had bought it in 1963 and lugged it from Edale all the way to Kirk Yetholm along the Pennine way. I was curious to see how well it had stood the test of time. Meticulously cleaned down, dried and folded after each outing. Guys tied, pegs wiped, creases smoothed out of the sew in groundsheet lovingly rolled and slipped into the original bags. It was a ritual I well remember. Look after the tent Josh, it’ll look after you’ or words to that effect.
Sorry Dad, it’s got a hole in it! The 48 year old canvas flysheet died at the hand of the boy it had sheltered for so many years. I’d got up to shake the snow off as the walls were sagging in, just as they had done in Dentdale all those years before, but as I gently pinched at the seam to give it a shake, my fingers and thumb went through the canvass. I felt sick. Luckily, I know a bloke in Wiltshire who had a similar disintegrating canvas experience, but with his inner tent. If I can persuade Steve to part with his flysheet, then our Good Companion might just carry on for another 48 years.