The People’s Friend and The Great Outdoors

The People’s Friend has published a 150th anniversary special containing excerpts from the “Friend” through the years – including this selection on caravanning in the 1930s!


Writers at the “Friend” had always been staunch advocates of a bit of time outside. Poems celebrating the joy of being outdoors and country life had appeared since the turn of the century, as urban life grew increasingly pressured and more people flocked to the countryside for a change of pace.

The prosperity of the early 1920s was flagging by the end of the decade, but the great camping and hiking boom was an affordable way for everyone to holiday.

International travel was still beyond the reach of most, but a trip to the country was to return to simpler things. Throughout this age, the magazine returned time and time again to the subject of wandering the highways and byways.


I seek no house when the sun sets red, I carry my lodging; its weight is light. A wisp of canvas over my head, moss for a pillow and turf for a bed, supply my needs at night.


Planning for the trip began with the choice of companion.


Two is the right number, so choose a kindred spirit, with some endurance and a good sense of humour.


Away from the heaving seaside resorts, Britain was just waiting to be discovered, but proper preparation was required.

What to pack, what food to take and whether to sleep under canvas or in bed and breakfasts – the “Friend” advice for those wanting to try holidays on their own under the stars was unpatronising and pragmatic.


Don’t overdress the part! There is no need to wear those dreadful hobnailed boots that usually accompany some extraordinary hiking costume.


You could get your belongings sent to your next stop on the trains, or why not try a caravan? They were still rare on the roads as it wasn’t until after World War II that they took off. They had to watch out for the wildlife, though.


Do watch you are not parked with a lot of cows. They are the most inquisitive animals going, and at times given to demolishing such things as tea towels drying on the grass, to say nothing of using your caravan as a means of alleviating itching. To be inside when a cow is butting it is most unpleasant.


Unsurprisingly, the subject of food was high up on the list of priorities. Camp food might not have been the most sophisticated cuisine, but the art of making it didn’t always bring out the best in people.


It will be found there is one of the party who believes that he or she is a heaven-born camp book, but they should be judiciously restrained.


Usually it turned out that those who boasted the least were the most capable, and food could – of course – make or break the holiday.

Ultimately, though, the “Friend” couldn’t recommend the great outdoors enough.


At the end of the week you will have forgotten all the dust and grime of city life, and remember only the beauty of the countryside and the charm of the simple life.



With the shadow of war hanging over the country, it would be a while before life would be simple again.




To read the full article and loads more, pick up the 150 Year Anniversary Special Collector’s Edition of The People’s Friend – click here! 






Will Battle