Some mistakes can be blessings in disguise.
I kind of feel that way about the tent I bought the first summer I lived in England.
Things are expensive here and I didn’t want to pay for a new name brand tent, so I kept an eye on newspaper adverts hoping to find one second-hand.
That never happened, but I did find a garden centre that was closing its camping department and they were selling tents at what they claimed was a fraction of their original price.
Some were still too pricey for me but there was a box-shaped unit that seemed very reasonable.
It was filthy, the front zip had been left open where it was on display outdoors and there was water on the floor, but I could stand up inside, there was room for four sleeping bags and the price was right, so I bought it.
When I tried it on my own I thought I’d done quite well as it went up easily and had a sturdy hook on the ceiling that I used for a lamp… but when I took my daughters camping they were less than impressed.
As a matter of fact, I think they were embarrassed to be seen anywhere near the thing.
It has four flat dull grey walls and a stubby peaked top so it’s quite ugly, but I wasn’t making a fashion statement so I wasn’t bothered.
Then I went to a music festival and set it up in a field jam packed with hundreds of stylish, but very similar looking dome tents.
That’s when I learned why my unit was shaped the way it was and why there was water on the floor when I first saw it.
“That box isn’t a main tent,” one of my neighbours blurted out with a huge smile on his face.
“It’s an annex. You’re supposed to put your shower and portable loo in there. Hahaha.”
Suddenly my bargain felt like a mistake.
The intended purpose of our sleeping quarters didn’t go down well with my girlfriend but it did provide our neighbours with a few laughs so I endured the jokes for a couple of days.
By the end of the four-day event, however, my tent was back in my good book and the people who had set up nearby agreed it was a good buy.
That’s because the converted loo holder became a landmark.
The festival bands played till after midnight and the fields were poorly lit, so, at the end of the day, most campers struggled to find their homes.
The alcohol didn’t help, but my box-shaped structure certainly did.
It might not have been pretty but it stuck out above the dome filled horizon like a lone termite mound and my neighbours used it as a reference point… and by the time they left, many admitted they were glad it was there.
Okay, sleeping in something that was supposed to be a toilet is not exactly a blessing, but at least I didn’t buy it used so I don’t think it was a mistake.
And it certainly shows that being different can be a good thing.