I'll be sitting in a tipi as you read this column over your Sunday breakfast.

With the family under threat of losing half our income in the public-sector cuts, it seemed an appropriately austere way to mark another step deeper into the fortysomethings.

I was encouraged to embrace the great outdoors by Tentipi, which has leant me one of its Onyx Nordic shelters. This isn't one of those namby-pamby flowery tipis that people rock up to music festivals with. This is made of your proper plain performance fabric. Oh yes, sleeps two to six – sits eight to 10 if we fancy inviting in some fellow happy campers. And Tentipi promises it will take us only three minutes to pitch it with the help of the foolproof template ... we'll see.

What's more, it has got a special vent so that you can light a fire inside. Our Kent site, Welsummer Camping, is one that promotes fire building. Unfortunately, we'll be allowed to join in with the backwoodsman spirit only when we go down to meet our friends in one of the adjacent fields that have been designated firepit friendly. You see, we booked so late the farmer did us a favour by squeezing us into a field not normally used by campers.

It seems Britain's campsites are bursting this summer. The camping and caravanning directory, Pitchup.com, has seen such a huge increase in searches for these holidays that it has just launched an online booking and availability calendar. It says the number of searches on its site, which features more than 5,000 campsites and holiday parks in the British isles, has risen by 8 per cent in the past year.

Another British holiday tradition showing signs of a revival this year is the beach hut. One hundred new luxury beach huts have been built in Scarborough on the Yorkshire coast and some are fetching up to £35,000, as much as a small property costs in the seaside resort.

Meanwhile, the neighbouring town of Mablethorpe has commissioned some unusual designs, including the cloud hut, from which you can watch passing cirrus formations, and a hut that has been crafted to look like a gin and tonic. Down on the south coast, in Bourne-mouth, the local council has even teamed up with Ikea stores to style a hut in a child-friendly way.

These seafront shelters have become hugely popular over the past few years with their promise of retro cachet and good honest fun. But you don't always have to find the price of a second home to own one – it's all about knowing where to look, says my friend, Anthea, who bought her beach hut at Walton-on-the-Naze a few years ago for about £3,000.

"Price was a consideration, so that's why we looked in Essex, not Suffolk," she said. "We could have got an even cheaper one in poor condition. Then again, they cost three times as much around the corner in Frinton."

Anthea and her partner make the train journey from London to Walton as often as possible – rail engineering works allowing – to enjoy the beach, and eat fish and chips off real china in the hut before returning home. "Overnight stays are not allowed. We've got lovely beach-hut neighbours who live locally – they think it's hysterical that we come up for the day."

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