Camping Day Seven: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Diary: Thursday 16 July

“One Thursday lunchtime the Earth gets demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass. For Arthur, who has just had his house demolished, this is too much. Sadly, the weekend’s just begun.”

Here at camp, things are not so dramatic on a Thursday lunchtime.

The only threat to our happiness is more washing, this time in the form of over 50 tea towels which needed to be washed by hand.

In Douglas Adam’s book*, first published in 1979, the character Ford Prefect carries in his satchel

a device which looked rather like a largish electronic calculator. This had about a hundred tiny flat press-buttons and a screen about four inches square on which any one of a million ‘pages’ could be summoned at a moment’s notice. It looked insanely complicated, and this was one of the reasons why the snug plastic cover it fitted into had the words DON’T PANIC printed on it in large friendly letters. The other reason was that this device was in fact that most remarkable of all books ever to come out of the great publishing corporations of Ursa Minor – The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The reason why it was published in the form of a micro sub meson electronic component is that if it were printed in normal book form, an interstellar hitch hiker would require several inconveniently large buildings to carry it around in.

The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has a few things to say on the subject of towels, and what follows is a whole page on the usefulness of the towel in all sorts of interstellar travel. It ends by saying:

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have ‘lost’. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

In the Kit List for camp, besides a towel, each Scout has to bring two tea towels. Like the towel in the story, having a tea towel has immense psychological value. Nothing demoralises the boys (and leaders) more than not having a clean and dry tea towel when there is just so much washing up (of pots, pans, plates, cups etc) to do.

There being no washing machine on the campsite, over 50 tea towels were hand-washed and hand-wrung, then hung out to dry on the washing lines. Unfortunately there was then a downpour in the afternoon which drenched the towels through. On the plus side, this gave the towels another rinse. We had to wait until Friday afternoon before the towels were dry enough to be folded and handed back to the boys.

The whole exercise was so time-consuming there was not much time to take pictures today, but to cheer everyone on, here is a photo of a pile of clean tea towels…the thing to dream about at camp.




Activity du Jour: Cycling

Cake du Jour: This afternoon I baked another round of Brownies.

Breakfast duJour: Bacon and Eggs with Green Tea Latte





Dinner du Jour: Pork and Apple Casserole. This is one of the best meals I had on camp on account of its simplicity and depth of flavour. Heat some oil in a large pot, fry some chopped onions and a bit of chopped garlic. Add the cubed pork (shoulder is more tender but fattier, loin is fat-free but tends to get dry) and fry until it is browned. Add some apples which have been cored and quartered, along with a tablespoon of Dijon mustard and a litre of long-life apple juice. Simmer until the pork is cooked and the apples are soft, then season with salt and pepper. Finally add in a small tub of crème fraiche, reduce the sauce a little if you wish, then serve with rice, tagliatelle (flat ribbon pasta) or new potatoes.


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, is available through Amazon and all bookshops.