That Ole Chestnut Camping

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Originally posted on my previous blog on Saturday, 31 March 2018

Camping is a great way to get out and about back to nature and reset that body clock.If you are attempting camping for the first time and feel that your heading in to a mine field then don’t despair .  Some of the best advice I can give you is to make sure that your main priorities are to buy the best kit you can afford . You need to stay dry and warm and your main bulk of money should go on a decent tent and sleeping equipment as much as everything else can be done cheaper and there are many shops now that you can buy good quality bits and pieces
Where ever you decide to camp most campsites will have rules it won’t be a free for all I’m afraid and some are more lenient than others and it also depends on what type of site you stay on, many of the larger holiday parks will have many more facilities than the smaller quieter sites and this is something that you will need to decide on when start to choose where you want to go . I have never been a fan of large commercial sites with lots of activities and club houses.  For me I could do that at any time camping for me especially when the children were small was all about getting them out in to the fresh air doing the things that they wouldn’t normally do especially in this new age of technology.  My two loved running around campsites meeting other children, walking in the forest looking at the birds and animals or just pond dipping and generally getting muddy and wearing themselves out.  I am pretty much in the same frame of mind now they are young adults. I still prefer that quieter site the site where you can sit around a campfire have a few drinks enjoy some great bbq food or something a little different, a favourite of ours is curry and rice , I’ve even been known fo cook up a good British roast dinner with all the trimmings.  Camping can be as simple a you can make it with very little equipment and back to basics or you can go all out and glamp it up….
When I initially got into camping my son was nearly 2 years old. We were going to borrow a trailer tent off a neighbour but when they opened it up it had gone all mouldy so with the holiday already booked and nothing to sleep in I wandered In to a local shop called Famous Army Sores and bought a four man dome tent for £100. With very little money we borrowed a cooker, some air beds, and other camping essentials like lanterns etc, my father lent me a car battery so we could charge items on, we had some sleeping bags but threw in some duvets and headed down to Cornwall.  None of us had been camping before and we had no idea how and if we would like it and having a hyperactive toddler made the trip even more daunting we stayed at beachside holiday park in hayle Cornwall we didn’t have any electric there and it was pretty much a quiet site it had an outdoor pool and small clubhouse , we were pitched in the sand dunes not far away but the weather at the time for September was nt that great, it was warm at midday but come evening it got cold but that didn’t stop us. At the time the tent was a cheap way to have a holiday little did I know that it would lead to much more than just a roof over our heads
That occasion was probably the basic we had ever got, pretty much on getting home we were looking for a bigger tent and more equipment and with money being very tight it was going to take us a while to get what we needed.  It soon happened and the first thing we changed was the tent. I can’t remember where we got it from but it was definitely second hand it was an old canvas frame tent, it was pretty huge large bedroom areas and living section but the poles were really heavy and it took a lot of space in the car to the point I didn’t know if I’d be able to get my son in the car. So again we went away with slightly better tent a few more items like fold up chairs and a table but pretty much that was it, the borrowed cooker and other bits from the time before were given to us so that saved some costs.  Again we headed down to Cornwall this time with a dog too as a last minute addition.  I must have been mad.
We had that old frame tent for a year or two then I decided I wanted a new one I bought another frame tent but this time it was of the newer materials it was freedom trail 8 man it still had heavy poles but it didn’t matter as we saved on having got rid of the heavy canvas and replaced with the nylon.  By this time we also had another little person to factor in.  This tent lasted quite a while I even bought another canvas frame tent later on as well and depending on where we were going we decided on what tent we took , the freedom trail had a slight fault on the zip it was bought from a catalogue and I was basically stuck with it but it was a good tent and even my sister used to borrow it for her and her family.  Over time as my health deteriorated we swapped  camping in a tent for an old folding camper and then after a hot sticky weekend and a blow out on the trailer on the way back we sold that and bought a caravan and I think that is where the need for much nicer home camping comforts has come in to my game, once the caravan had been bought money was spent on making sure we had better lighting for awning, the top of the range gas portable cooker for outside eating, newer warmer sleeping bags, better comfier chairs to sit on, we added in a washing line, a firepit , table and chair set for eating dinner, all this stored great in the caravan while touring, after a few years of touring we decided to site the caravan at our favourite campsite it was only just over an hour away and we were able to leave work and school on a Friday and head straight there, every weekend this would happen and pretty much every school holiday.  It became home from home
Years was spent doing this until life changed again and I had a break from camping and caravanningThen about 4 years ago I decided I would like to go back to it so I started to plan to rebuild as I had literally nothing.  This time round though with the explosion of so many bargain buy shops like Home Bargains, B & M and the likes of supermarkets selling items cheap it was a lot easier to source good quality cheap bits and bobs and I started with the smaller items first.  Mallets, plates, cups, cutlery, torches, lights, basic airbeds, sleeping bags fold up chairs, the tent was a worry I didn’t know what to get and whether I could afford anything decent but with a GO Outdoors just down the road I went for a gander and there in the display was what was to be my next roof over my head.  The Hi Gear Atacama 4 a three pole dome tent and as it was out of season I got it reduced from £200 to £45 bargain.  This tent has been our weekender for the last few years now and it is a bit of a pain to put together as the two poles cross I think next time I wouldn’t go for something like this but its done me proud, again my equipment has been boosted by bargains from tesco points and other places to the point people say I glamp rather than camp lol.  Last year I bit the bullet and bought a small 3 man air tent the Easy Camp Tornado 3 , this tent is so easy to put up on your own and it is my travelling tent for when its just me and the dog, I have added a tarp to the front as an extension and im looking at adding some windbreaks , I do have now given to me by a cousin a huge HiGear Corodo 8 this tent is like a mansion its probably bigger than some peoples houses and this it the family tent there are plenty of bedroom space which is needed with two young adults as well as a puppy plus it has enough room in the living are to stretch out and sit in bad weather and with the canopy to keep wet clothes and shoes in there is no need for them to be trapsed through the tent and carpet in the living area will keep that area warm and dry for cosy nights in with the board games. Is there anything I don’t have well yes there is the next stage of my camping development would be a better cooking area I think I would say I have enough cooking equipment but it def needs some type of kitchen cupboard to keep it all tidy and possibly a multi cooker frying pan I do fancy seeing what these can do. 

Would I recommend camping?  Yes 100% I would I think the best times away ive had have been camping and caravanning and if I could do it all year round I would but id probably freeze to death in the winter. As soon as the spring comes the itchy feet to travel arrives it’s a great way to travel and do it cheaply and to see parts of the country you would probably not ever see that often , some of the best people I have met have come through camping and the love of camping, when your setting up and have issues and the campers next door make you a cuppa or grab a mallet and help you get set up quicker it’s the type of hobby that is friendly and mostly respectful.  Don’t get me wrong there have been some sites ive been on and they have been the pits, some have had the most awful people on them but the majority have been amazing places, at the end of the day it is what you make of it but I do recommend that at least everyone tries it once

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