Tent City London

Tent City was the kind of place that grows on you. It was like a camping ground, only better. You could either bring your own tent, or stay in one of the bunk beds in the big green army tents. Showers and toilets were inside a little building, where also the reception and administration were, and where you could leave your luggage in big white baggage sacks, closed with a little chain and lock. Open from the first of June till the first week of September, it was a big summer attraction to teenagers and young adults.

The most attractive part of it was, that you could just go there, stay for a few nights or for weeks on end, and meet people from all around the world, without going anywhere. The place was run by volunteers from all around too, which gave it a very friendly, tolerant and lively atmosphere. On busy days, I remember there being over 500 visitors, whereas by the end of August, beginning of September, sometimes there would be just about 10 people, besides the volunteers. In exchange for a free night's stay, or a meal, we would help the staff clear up the bunk beds, mattresses, blankets and tents, and it always gave a strange feeling on the last day, to say goodbye to new friends.

In 1991 I spent the summer at Tent City. I had saved enough money to spend three months without getting hungry, and enjoyed my free time.

The year after, I decided to go again, but this time without the money, so I had to work. Luckily, this was pretty easy to find, as long as I didn't mind doing the packing and sorting jobs, as in London, working in the office requires wearing skirts, tights, and make-up. And well, sorry, but no can do. ;-)

I actually liked the simple jobs and the newly made friends enough to stay for longer than just the summer, and I returned to Rotterdam only in February of the next year.