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on 27 July 2009
I actually laughed out loud in parts over this book, which I've only ever done once before (Good Omens). That said, you have to get over the fact there is no real storyline, it is just holiday reminiscing from year to year which doesn't detract from it being a good read or good characters - you can so easily see and hear her relatives. It also makes it a good holiday read as you can pick it up and put it back down again. There were a few bits that didn't ring true - falling down a toilet in France when it's just a hole in the floor. In my experence these haven't been big enough to fall down.......but still a good laugh if you want a light-hearted holiday read while relaxing.
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on 20 March 2009
There are two kinds of people who will enjoy this book; those who go camping and those who don't.
In many ways, you might say that Emma Kennedy is an ambassadeur for camping in the same way that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is for McDonalds, but it isn't as simple as that. The book is written from the perspective of a little girl who had no option but to be taken along on what she calls "her family's disastrous attempts to go camping in the 1970s". So it is about camping then, but it is also an acutely observed social commentary on life during the decade that some people would rather forget. If you think this is rather a precocious set of memoirs from a girl of about eight years old you would be right - partly, because Emma does pay tribute to her parents, who withstood endless hours of interrogation to fill in the missing details and to interpret certain events that must have been bewildering to a youngster of such tender years.
Be warned readers, for this is camping in the raw; be prepared for tales of epic struggles against the elements; for near-death experiences; for close encounters with unfeasibly large quantities of human body waste. Be prepared to laugh out aloud until your stomach ties itself in knots.
Let's be frank - taken at face value, this book might put prospective campers of a nervous disposition off the whole idea for life, but for those who have "been there and done that", this book will make them chuckle knowingly at all the tales of misery and misfortune, yet make them keener to get out there and do the whole thing all over again.
This is a book that you can dip in to, read a chapter and then return to another day, so ideal for holiday reading, or any other time come to that.
A mere mention of this book to my parents, set off a chain of events that required the retrieval of old photo albums and dog-eared maps from bottom drawers, all to settle such arguments about where it was when we returned to the site to find a cow in our tent and which site we were on when we were flooded out in the middle of the night.
Emma might have not have been converted to the merits and benefits of camping, but it has obviously provided her with a wealth of lifelong memories that we would have been all the poorer for not sharing. This has definitely been one of the funniest and most satisfying books I have ever read, so all I can do is urge you to read it. In spite of everything, you might even feel a sudden urge to go camping, which you should do, if only for the sake of your children.
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on 25 March 2009
If I could have given this 10 stars - I would have done. The funniest thing I have read for years and all so familiar! I took it to the hairdressers to read when I was having my hair coloured and then sat and snorted and giggled for an hour. Eventually I had to tell everyone what I was reading and then ended up reading it out to roars of laughter from everyone in there! Sorry if that constitutes a public performance but a truly truly funny read - please go and buy it NOW! you will not be sorry! Poor Emma - all I can say is I hope her holidays have improved massively!
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on 26 January 2014
As someone who's family holidays also consisted of camping in the 70s I found the book brought back lots of memories. It is all very believable.

The book does have a few problems. I found the beginning very good but I thought towards the end things sort of petered out. The anecdotes started to feel rushed, there wasn't the colour of the descriptions like the beginning of the book, but I might be biased as I recognise the Welsh valley descriptions from my own childhood, whereas I haven't been camping in France.

It would have been nice if there were a few photographs to round out the characters, the paperback has a couple on the back jacket but they are very small.

Overall the book was an enjoyable read and some of the tales made me chuckle out loud.
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on 23 April 2009
This is one of the funniest books I have read in a long time. It takes you right back to the 60,s, 70's and early 80's when money was tight, the overseas allowance was £30 and "Abroad" was a strange land full of foreigners with indescribable habits and very suspect food. Despite this it is perhaps the first holiday in Wales that really sets the tone of the many disasters yet to come and introduces us to "the family"; upwardly mobile, full of the "can-do" attitude of the era and determined to experience the joys of holidays abroad, blue skies, elegant dining and foreign pastimes like driving on motorways and scuba-diving! We also get a personal glimpse of British society, housing and inter-personal relationships of the time. And so far I haven't even mentioned the joys of camping!
Anyone who has ever camped will recognise the wonderful world of ground-sheets and tent poles; the joys of camping in "weather" and visiting the campsite facilities. Ah it all floods back to me! (Never again)
The author says in her book that she has neither invented or added anything to her stories and I for one belief her. It is written in a very personal style with such detail that it has to be true. You can feel the pain.
I personally wish she would refer to her Father as either "Dad" OR "Tony" and not switch between them at random, but that is my only minor criticism.
Read it. Enjoy it. And laugh out loud.
A great read that I have bought for friends and family alike. It is too good not to share.
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on 23 March 2009
This book is brilliant. I enjoyed the first book, but this one is so much better it's like the author was only teasing. She brings the characters to life so vividly, and entertainingly, I was absorbed from the first page. Honestly, wander into a bookshop, pick it up, and try the first chapter. If you don't love it, well frankly you're not the person I thought you were, and I'm a little disappointed in you.

No caveats here - this is flipping excellent. Literally can't recommend it enough.
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on 29 July 2009
For me this book bought back all my memories of holidays with my family in a caravan in France in the seventies. I did Townsend ferries, gas mantles and my sister used to check the toilets at every campsite and if they were not British we moved on!!I remember those terrible dark French motorway toilets with the big metal doors and never been able to find a light!! On the down side definitely too much poo, most people had toilet tents not buckets in the tent, and I do have to agree with other reviewers that there are many typo errors and the proofreader should have picked up the reference to the M25. The stories did get a little repetitive but if you were there, did camping, did France and owned a Land Rover you will love it.
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on 27 September 2011
I bought the book `The Tent, The Bucket & Me` for my hols - I tend to only get the time to read when abroad, life generally gets in the way at other times! I saw Emma Kennedy publicising her more recent book `I Left My Tent In San Francisco` on Loose Women & originally intended to buy that. I ended up with both. This book is going to appreciated best by anyone who has attempted camping - successfully or otherwise - and also us of a certain age (therefore over 40), because of a lot of references to the oddities of the 70`s & 80`s, in which the book is set. That said, anyone who has a penchant for slapstick will find much fun in this easy read. As a seasoned camper I could relate to so much of the content, especially the parts set in France (I was actually camping in France whilst reading it). The pace is fast & furious, with moments of hilarity & despair in equal measures - those who are offended by bad language or bodily functions should steer clear! I though, found it wonderfully nostalgic & honest & at times was literally crying with laughter, much to the amusement of my family. I am now counting down to our next holiday when I can start Emma`s next book - I can hardly wait!
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on 20 January 2015
It’s been a long time since I’ve cried with laughter, doubled-up over the book that induced the reaction. The Tent, The Bucket and Me had some absolutely hilariously-recounted anecdotes which have also reduced several of my friends into helpless heaps.

Sometimes, despite careful planning, disaster just follows the unsuspecting recipients, wherever they go. Emma Kennedy’s family’s suffering extends over many years as they attempt to experience the simplest of pleasures – a happy camping holiday, whether it be in Wales or in France.

Not only are events told in the most amusing of ways, the characterisation is brilliant, especially that of the natives of Wales. Absolutely spot on.

Without doubt, I shall be scouring the shelves for another of her books. Laughter really is the best medicine.
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on 19 January 2014
As someone who has only ever been camping twice - both of which were fairly unpleasant experiences and not something I'd be quick to repeat - I have a modicum of sympathy for Kennedy's family and their camping holiday experiences, including all the unfortunate situations they found themselves in.

Kennedy's book takes us through the whole of the 1970s, a decade where camping was the in thing for middleclass families (preferably in France or Spain), along with the prerequisite '70s orange canvas tent, bucket and clapped out old car packed to the hilt with everything they would need for their two week break. Unfortunately for Kennedy and her parents, disaster was never too far away. Whether it was being caught in gale force winds on a Welsh cliff top, falling down a squat toilet having only just stepped foot on French soil, or being subjected to the 'delights' of raw mussels for lunch (and the resulting gastrointestinal horror), the Kennedy's family holidays were never a dull affair.

This literally had me roaring with laughter! The kind where if you're in a public place, people get up and move away from you whilst sneaking suspicious glances from the corners of their eyes. Luckily I made the (wise) decision to read this at home, so the only person I had to explain my constant hysterical outbursts to was my husband.

It would be impossible to detail here all the things that happen to the Kennedys in their 10 years of camping, but needless to say if even half of those things had happened to me I would happily go without another holiday for the rest of time. But this family's determination to never give up was admirable, even in the face of wholly unpleasant events which would have lesser people throwing in the towel and vowing never to leave the confines of their house again.

The only reason for my giving this 4/5 is because of the amount of French in the last few chapters of the book. As someone who can't read or speak French, I had to look up the translation for these parts to make sure I wasn't missing anything of great importance in the proceedings, which slowed things down for me. However, based on this book I'll definitely be purchasing Kennedy's 'I Left My Tent in San Francisco', which promises to be just as funny and engaging.
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