reader report

A reason never to camp naked

TWILIGHT TEMPTATION: She'll be right, it's getting dark. But was it dark enough for the Hungarian farmer?
TWILIGHT TEMPTATION: She'll be right, it's getting dark. But was it dark enough for the Hungarian farmer?

It was just too hot to carry on. With oppressive temperatures reaching into the mid-30s it was time to cool down in the twilight.

Earlier in the day we'd parked up on the outskirts of Hungary's Lake Ballaton and taken the therapeutic option on offer: a leisurely long swim.

But now, after almost a full day by the water, necessity led us away to a quiet and narrow single lane road, flanked on either side by rows of corn. This was the spot we'd settle for - a tour cyclist's home.

As the sun dipped slowly on the horizon, we worked quietly and routinely to push our pannier-laden bikes into the landscape and establish a small camp.

The density of the corn meant we couldn't get far off the road, but after a quick run back and visual check, everything looked pretty discreet among the tall autumn crop.

After six weeks of travelling, and with the daily packing and unpacking of our worldly possessions, we'd evolved over time; a smooth and meticulous operation which enabled us to quickly establish a base on occasions like this.

Within 20 minutes, all was complete and our lightweight nylon house awaited us.

As the heat lingered, and without any wind, all forms of clothing were shed to allow for a more natural process of cooling.

Outside, the sound of cicada song filled the night air as our bodies and minds slowly succumbed to the trickle of melatonin in the lazy moments before sleep.

In the distance, a vehicle interupted the sound of insects.

"What's that noise?" my wife asked.

"Probably just a car," came my sheepish reply.

We lay there, our senses momentarily heightened as the sound got closer.

"It's getting louder," she said, this time with more conviction.

"We're in a cornfield right?" I mentioned anxiously.


"It sounds like a tractor or a combine harvester, get the hell out now."

We panicked and we screamed as the roar growled over the top of our small dark home.

I remember being disappointed with myself by the thought, that the last thing I was going to see before I died, wasn't loved ones sitting around weeping at my deathbed, but instead, the partially illuminated zip of a two-man Kathmandu tent.

In the commotion, we managed to throw open the entrance way and jump out, just in time for the combine harvest driver to see us both stumble from the inner bowels of our tent and into full view of his cab, naked and petrified.

Only he wasn't in the field. He was on the road some three metres away. We'd escaped with our lives, but from this encounter came the most valuable lesson of our trip: Never, ever sleep in the nude when freedom camping.

Read more from Dave Monk's travels.