In what was perhaps the antithesis of our corporate experience on The London Eye last week, we spent a much simpler and cheaper weekend camping at The Cotswold Farm Park . Apart from a trial run in the garden, this was our first camping trip as a family (we used a borrowed tent & stove) but all round it was a success, and we’re planning the next weekend away already.
Based on this one experience, here’s a few things I’ve learned. Think of them as the ’12 Essential Tips for A Great Weekend Under Canvas’. Or don’t (I’d prefer that actually). Anyway…
- If a pan watched won’t boil, a pan on a camping stove in a strong breeze with no lid on definitely never boils.
- Picnic rugs on the floor make your tent a home.
- Packing the car is important. HA! I told you so.
- China plates & mugs and real glasses make a difference.
- You’ll always wish you’d brought something you forgot. The best you can hope for is that it’s the frisbee, not the matches or loo roll. We forgot clothes pegs.
- It’s not difficult to eat really well. With a bit of advance planning, we had fresh trout from a few miles away at Donnington Trout Farm, wrapped in foil with lemon slices and barbecued, with potato salad and a mustard & chive dressing. The next night we had burgers with blue cheese and bananas with white chocolate buttons, also wrapped in foil and barbecued to a gooey sweet mess.
- It will be hotter / colder / wetter / windier than you expect. In our case, all of the above…
- No matter what level of Camping Pro you might be, there will always be something that someone else has that you immediately covet. It could be a plastic cricket set, a kite, a wind break, funky fairy lights…
- Stuff takes a while longer when you camp. But that’s a good thing.
- Your body clock changes very quickly. We went to bed very early and got up early, but this meant we were on a fabulous nature trail by 8am on Sunday morning – spotting wildflowers and butterflies, dodging very large bulls.
- It won’t all go back in the car the way it went in.
- Try to see the camping experience in the same way the children do. Our girls and the kids in nearby tents simply ran up to each other, introduced themselves and asked ‘do you want to play?’. They didn’t form judgements based on the tent, or the car parked alongside, or whether the family were caravanning geeks.