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1956, England, Sensible Options from 'Camp and Trek' by Jack Cox

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1956, England, Sensible Options from 'Camp and Trek' by Jack Cox

Old 03-23-14, 08:10 AM
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1956, England, Sensible Options from 'Camp and Trek' by Jack Cox

I bought 'Camp and Trek' for a dollar at a 2nd-hand store and have had my money's worth in reading pleasure.

The book covers walking, canoeing, mountaineering, gear, navigation, cooking, bird and animal watching, underwater exploration and 'Special Opportunities in Scotland' (!!!!). There is a fair measure of indignation throughout, directed at, for example, hidebound campers who insist on cording off their cooking areas, or gear with flimsy handles.

Some enlightenment also: a young boy with dodgy eyesight who is 'quite useless, from a technical point of view' on some dreary expedition is allowed to go along when he volunteers to do all the washing up and exhibits sufficient 'enthusiasm and integrity'. Girls are sort of alright... 'their basic technique is invariably good and they can hold their own with boys when it come to gadgets.' Refreshing, ain't it!

Anyway they cycling section is typically chipper, with no room for those who prefer to book ahead:
Temprement is important in cycle camping. Some people simply cannot break away from the routine of home. If they do not know where they are going to sleep at night they worry about it all day! How can they be thrilled by the unknown, or the excitement of finding the unexpected, the unusual and the unconventional ways of life?
or those who eschew lubricants:
When preparing for a seven-day trek, all the metal parts except the wheel rims and brake levers need to be smeared with vaseline.


Other bits are not so ridiculous actually. All the gear, often described in this book as modern and lightweight, is heavy and either water absorbent or prone to rust, but the advice to think carefully about what to take and keep it simple is sound. (And in 60 years time people will look at our equipment and wonder how we got by using such clunky kit.) Taking time to enjoy the journey and soak up the sights and sound of the countryside is a strong and worthy theme.

Throughout the book there are strong messages of the importance of showing respect to other people and 'Nature', getting involved, giving it a go and encouraging young people to go adventuring.

Many parts of the country were relatively undeveloped, but environmental controls on industry and transport were practically non-existant. The UK enjoyed a period of post-war properity, but the poor were still poor and the welfare state (now all but beaten back and the remnants in rapid retreat) barely touched their lives. In many respects the 50s in Britain were simpler times, but the cooking sound horrid.

I attach a scan of two of the advertising pages at the back of the book, because they show a picture of the Phillips Jaguar (nice, clean cut young blokes associated) and prices for some 20kg canvas tents.


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Old 03-23-14, 11:29 AM
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I always love old cycling books like this. Especially the rosy prose from that era. I have a copy of an American book, "Bike-Ways", published in 1950. It talks a lot about bike camping and hostelling. I just love the fact that people toured back then on bikes many people on this list wouldn't even think about riding around the block, much less long distances. A three-speed in 1950 would have been the pinnacle of a touring bike, and few people depicted in "Bike-Ways" even had them.

From time to time I get the romantic notion of bike camping in an old style pup tent. I picked one up the last time I was at the local army-navy store and put it back down quickly. I'll stick with my lightweight tent for now.
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Old 03-07-17, 11:03 PM
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A c.1956 Phillips Jaguar was my first racing bike, bought from the local newsagent early 1960. Pretty heavy frame, on buckled alloy rims, and we made the bike even heavier by replacing with steel rims. Sold some 4 years later, though unlikely to have survived if only because the purchaser opined 'It's very good; I'd have been happy with a wreck.'
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