This weekend I am facing a challenge.

Possibly the toughest challenge I’ve faced in a long time.

It’s time for Vintage at Goodwood, and, due to my (permanent) lack of funds I will be spending the weekend in a tent. Just a one day ticket and spending money will have already cost me the price of an off season week in Tenerife, it’s been a challenge to afford it, but I was very keen to go for the first of what promises to be a fantastic event if it’s even HALF of what’s been advertised.

* Quick note, I didn’t even bother applying for press accreditation, figuring I quite fancied the chance of enjoying the event without the pressure to report (not that I won’t naturally!) I hear many bloggers have been denied press passes, so I’m glad I didn’t. I don’t think my fragile little ego could have stood the rejection!

For me normally camping is about keeping as clean as possible so that when I return to civilisation I don’t scare people and making my campsite as much like civilisation as I can. In fact I camped last weekend.

Yep, that’s me, preparing dinner in a headscarf in the middle of a wood. I wrote last year about some excellent essentials for camping in comfort.

This is different.

Whilst most of those things are still very handy to have, camping at Goodwood is like civilisation, but with added risk of mud, rain and bugs. I won’t be wearing bin bags strapped to my legs like I did at Glastonbury in 1997, I promise you that. I not only need to remain clean and comfortable, but also achieve full on glamour for a 3 course silver service dinner at the Tanqueray Torch Club.

I hear Goodwood has excellent camping facilities in the way of showers, toilets and actual running water, so that’s one load off my mind. A lot of logistical planning has led me to make some slightly odd packing decisions this weekend. They are informed decisions of a woman dedicated to the maintenance of a glamorous lifestyle, but who has also spent some time under canvas, often in places without running water.

These are my tips for maintaining glamour under canvas at Goodwood this weekend.

  • A Suitcase – Just a small one. I know it’s traditional to take a rucksack camping, but for the life of me I don’t know why. I wouldn’t take a suitcase HIKING, but as far as I’m aware all I have to do is carry my very small suitcase from the car to the eventual site of my tent. Once it gets there, instead of falling over, hiding all my precious possessions in it’s unfathomable depths and generally being a useless waste of space my suitcase will become a small table to keep things off the buggy floor. It’s contents will remain organised, easily accessible and neatly folded and it will still fit compactly at the foot of the tent. I did it last weekend too. I KNOW this works!

  • A Headscarf – I often sleep in a headscarf to cover my pin curls anyway, but if you are sleeping in a tent and want to look civilised the following day I heartily recommend this for keeping the smell of camping stoves, bugs and bits of twig out of your hair. Next morning pop to the shower block, take off the scarf and comb it out while applying your make up in the big mirrors they alledgedly have at Goodwood. I won’t be attempting to wash and dry my hair on site as my plan is to make a sponge roller set last 4 days……
  • A Lint Roller – In the absence of an actual iron, as long as something has been ironed before (this isn’t going to work straight from the dryer!) I find that a lint roller can make a good emergency flattening device. Upon removing your pencil skirt/cotton summer dress/high waist trousers from their neatly folded home in your suitcase you may find fold lines or the odd crease. Lay them flat on your sleeping mat and give them a good roll. Really tough creases might be helped by dampening slightly with warm water after you’ve made your morning tea. It’s not as good as an iron, but it’ll do in a pinch.
  • Blankets & Scarves – As many as you can fit in. Blankets, camping rugs and pashminas are perfect for laying over ground sheets for a more comfortable experience when sitting in a tent. They are also easy to pick up and shake the dirt off to keep the tent, and by extension you and your clothes, clean (do remove your shoes before you get in the tent though!) When they’re not being used for this purpose they are also, among other things, pillows, towels, cardigans, blankets and coats. Seriously, I have packed 4 pashminas, a mohair wrap, 2 plastic backed picnic blankets and a bamboo mat.
  • Ditch the Nailpolish – Or choose a neutral shade. Camping is worse than train travel for instantly chipping any manicure. Even if you persuade someone else to put up the tent while you watch from the sidelines (clever you, tell me how you do it!) your nail polish will still chip the minute you crawl into the tent. I promise. You will look more glam with neat natural nails than with chipped scarlet talons.
  • Large Sunglasses – A good nights sleep and clear skin is an essential component of a glamorous look.  Drinking cocktails before sleeping on a thin layer of foam rubber under a thin layer of net inside a thin layer of rustly nylon is not condusive to either of these. Make up will deal with the clear skin, but those pesky dark circles can be hard to hide. Wear huge sunglasses until it’s dark and just pretend you’re Dita Von Teese. Even if it rains.

Having covered the issues of greasy, knotty hair, creased clothes, dark circles, chipped nails and grubby feet essentially the rest of my plan is to hide in my tent in unattractive leggings, which are comfortable and warm to sleep in while camping. In the morning I shall change into something more presentable (even if it’s just pyjama bottoms!), drag myself to a washing facility and return to my tent with my hair and make up mostly done before changing into my miraculously uncreased clothing in the tent (a challenge in itself!) and putting the finishing touches to my make up.

Do you have any more brilliant tips for maintaining a civilised appearance whilst sleeping in a tent?

All suggestions MOST welcome!