Most people camp to get away from the unending bustle of city life – but for one Birmingham camper, pitching his tent right in the middle of it all is the preferred approach.
Richard Severn, 36, from Walsall, is a stealth camper, sleeping in plain sight among urban environments. He has set up temporary home in supermarket car parks, in the shadow of busy train stations and bang in the middle of traffic-filled roundabouts.
No matter the weather conditions, Mr Severn always spends the whole night there, including cooking his meals, saying the experience gives him quite the “adrenaline rush”.
The dad-of-two said his camping was a way to escape the confines of his everyday routine and embark on a “mini adventure” – which he documents on his YouTube channel.
He said the experience gives him a “buzz” and has also helped him “develop as a person”. He told BirminghamLive: “I’ve always loved camping from a young age.
“I used to go out with my dad a lot growing up – then it became something I did on my own.
“I started watching videos about stealth camping on Youtube about five years ago and I thought I’d give it a try. I love the excitement you get from camping somewhere you shouldn’t be – it gives you butterflies in your tummy.
“You get a couple of hours to yourself to unwind and relax – and it’s a budget-friendly activity – so it ticks all the boxes for me.”
He said that before he got into camping he had been in a “rut”, and didn’t have “the time or energy to go out anywhere.”
However, “throwing myself out of my comfort zone and doing something like this really has helped boost my confidence,” he said.
There is a “growing community” of urban campers on social media.
Richard also likes to challenge himself by cooking “a proper meal” instead of just relying on sandwiches.
He said he had cooked “chicken curries, beef stews, wraps – all sorts.”
His trips have not been without obstacles, with the Brit routinely facing down adverse weather conditions.
“I like getting out and really experiencing the elements,” he says. “I’ve slept completely soaked on a number of occasions.
“One time I got caught in a torrential storm. Another time I tried to build a raft to get over to a little island on a reservoir and I ended up capsizing.
“There are moments when you question yourself and whether it’s worth it, but that’s the bit that builds you up as a person – you’ve got to see it through.”
Roundabouts, however, have the benefit of providing some security against the dangers of city nightlife.
Richard said: “You feel quite vulnerable when you’re sleeping in a tent, you don’t know who’s around. That’s why I love camping on roundabouts – if you can find the right one with a lot of trees and covers then it’s safer than camping out in the wild.
“You’ve got that extra ring of security of the cars going around you.”
While Mr Severn’s family initially thought he was “bonkers”, he said, they were now all in support of his bizarre hobby.
“I think everyone I spoke to about it at first was a bit bemused,” he said.
“But there’s a real stealth camping community out there.
“I sometimes question myself and think ‘how did I end up here?’ – but then I remember I’m here for a reason which is to push myself and get out of my comfort zone. I’d go out every week if I could.”