Sunday, 8 February 2009

In the bag (eventually)

This morning I spent a good half-hour employed in such strenuous exercise that by the time I was finished sweat was pouring into my eyes and I was saying a lot of rude words through gritted teeth.

I was not doing stomach crunches or even jogging up a hill.

I was stuffing a down sleeping bag into its cover.

The first time I removed the sleeping bag from its cover, it unfurled from its tightly rolled state like a hibernating animal waking up. It puffed up gorgeously and provided a night of warm, comfortable repose.

For which I paid a heavy price the next morning, when I rolled the thing out flat on the floor, and tried to squash all the air out of it and simultaneously re-roll it into a neat, tight curl so I could put it back in its cover.

I gave up trying to squash the air out of it bit by bit because as soon as I’d squashed the air out of the top, the bottom filled up again with a contented sighing sound. Finally I lay down bodily on top of it and, making swimming motions with my arms and legs, got all the air out of it that way. (My children laughed. Oh, how they laughed.)

Then I leapt up and quickly began rolling it up… contented sighing sounds filled the room as the bloody thing puffed itself up again. Clearly, this wasn’t going to work.

I wiped the smile off my daughter’s face by telling her she’d have to help me. ‘You press the air out of it and I’ll come behind you and roll it,’ I said.

This we did with what appeared to be some measure of success – only, on trying to fit the now rolled-up sleeping bag back into its cover, we discovered the cover had shrunk to about half its original size in the night. That, or the sleeping bag had magically doubled in volume.

I said the F word several times and then decided that sheer force would have to be employed. It took us a combined 20 minutes of huffing and puffing and getting our fingers trapped in tight folds of slippery fabric, but finally it was done. Far from the sleek, neat thing of beauty I’d purchased, it was now a nasty-looking, lumpy, bumpy object.

This monumental struggle put me off using the sleeping bag at all, but of course sometimes needs must, and the next time we extracted it from its cover, it rewarded our efforts by looking as creased and dejected as I might have felt had I spent a few months stuffed into a cover that was several sizes too small for me.

The other bit of camping equipment that similarly comes in a bag that shrinks the first time the contents are removed is tents. Some time ago I bought a lovely three-man tent that came complete with a double groundsheet, a nifty little interior section made of ‘breathable’ fabric, and a small verandah section. This miraculous mobile home was relatively easy to erect, requiring only three snap-apart bendy poles and a bit of ingenuity. Taking it down was equally effortless.

Putting it back in the cover it came in was entirely another story. Once I’d carefully flattened and rolled the double groundsheet and put it into the bag, there was no room for anything else – scattered around me lay several metres of snap-apart bendy poles and enough fabric to make shell-suits for a family of six.

I couldn’t understand it. I knew the tent had come out of the bag because I was the person who’d taken it out; how, then, could there be so little space for everything to go back in again?

After several false starts, force once again had to be employed, and even then, there was no space in the bag for the bendy poles, which now live strapped to the cover with bungee cords. And of course the tent, on those rare occasions I now use it, emerges looking wrinkled and tatty.

I would love it if the manufacturers of the covers for tents and sleeping bags would make them just the tiniest bit bigger to start with. I’m not asking for great wads of room – just enough space to get the damned things back in without practically having a coronary doing so.

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1 comment:

meggie said...

These things are a bit like babies really. You can't stuff them back where they came from either!