The glint of a teardrop!

In our last post we mentioned seeing the glint of the tops of campervans at Pit Hill Farm and going to explore. Not only did we find campsite but a friendly farmer who invited us to come and try out the site sometime.

We also found a friendly camper and proud owner of a beautiful new teardrop camper. I’d never seen anything quite like it, so I had to take some photos for you.

So compact and yet everything you need! And stylish with it.

We everso nearly went camping at Pit Hill recently, but a bout of COVID put a rain check on the plans. Hopefully we’ll try it out soon and of course we’ll let you know how we get on.

L

Netting a nettle

When you are camping it can be fun to supplement your menu with a spot of foraging. Stinging nettles are good to forage for as they are easily recognisable… if not so easy to pick! I collect them with scissors (even the small ones on my swiss army knife will do the trick) and I snip them straight into a bag. A net bag is ideal – the sort that they now sell in some supermarket to discourage you from using plastic. The bag is lightweight and compact, closes to stop the leaves escaping and you can just hang it up when you get home and also use it to to dry the leaves. Just don’t cram it too full so that the air can circulate well to dry the leaves.

It’s best to harvest the young nettle leaves as they are more tender, and obviously you want to avoid the ones with caterpillars or other insects. Take them from the top of the plant, you don’t want the tough stalk or old leaves.

Freshly picked nettle leaves make excellent nettle tea, which is supposedly very good for you. If you look online it would seem there wasn’t anything that nettle couldn’t cure! I’m not sure about all those claims, but there seems consensus that they are rich in vitamins and minerals and are good for reducing inflammation.

Don’t worry – steeping in boiling water or cooking the nettles gets rid of the sting!

You can also use them in place of spinach in cooking – below is a picture of a tasty breakfast we made frying up bacon and mushrooms adding nettles.

Happy foraging!

L

Sometimes it’s fun to hang out in a herd!

We’ve just had a long Bank Holiday in the UK to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Two days off work seemed like an ideal opportunity to go camping… but a different sort of camping this time. Rather than a jam-packed car load, I managed to pack light:

Normally I only camp in small campsites, but this weekend I stayed in a massive temporary campsite with 36,000 others at the Big Church Festival .

It was great fun – I can’t think the last time I went to a big concert! The weather was very mixed, but Rend Collective and Melissa & Jonathan Helser still sounded great even in the rain!

I haven’t camped at a festival like this before, but as a beginner hear are my tips:

  • how will you transport your kit? If your car is parked 3 fields away how will you get your stuff to where you are pitching? My big backpack was good for this, but a trolley would have been even better.
  • where are the toilets? You don’t want to pitch too near the toilets as they might smell and you’ll hear people banging the doors all night. On the other hand you don’t want to have to walk miles to the toilet or to the water tap.
  • pack emergency loo roll. I didn’t think of this, but fortunately my buddy did. It’s unfortunate if the portaloo runs out of toilet paper just when you need it.
  • remember a water container. You’ll need something to carry water from the tap back to your tent.
  • take bin bags. Always handy to have a black bag with you for your rubbish or to double as a waterproof rug when the ground is damp… or your chair has been rained on. Little disposal bags are also handy for a little in-tent dustbin and because portaloos often don’t have bins in them.
  • remember your waterproofs. I got good use out of my waterproof jacket and also it was handy to be able to wear my waterproof trousers to sit on the damp grass in the morning when cooking and washing up. We also found a big umbrella useful for sitting under at a concert in the rain!!
  • do you want to be able to sit in comfort? We took our folding chairs and enjoyed being able to sit in comfort at the concert… but maybe you’re more of a raver than me and will be dancing at the front!
  • always pack emergency food. The first night the food vans let us down – there only seemed to be one open and naturally it had a mile long queue!! Fortunately we’d packed emergency pasta, stir-in sauce, tinned sweetcorn and tinned rice pudding. So we got out the trusty trangia and cooked up some dinner.
  • collapsible gadgets come into their own in this sort of situation. In the picture above you can see our collapsible washing up bowl doubling as a mini table! It was also very useful for washing up in, along with a tiny bottle of washing up liquid and a sponge scourer that I’d cut in half (to make it smaller & to make me feel less bad about throwing it away afterwards)
  • a battery pack to enable you to recharge your phone is very handy. Also remember to put your phone on aeroplane mode overnight – I forgot and the poor phone spent all night looking for signal and drained the battery!
  • to avoid getting lost take a flag & flag pole, so you can pick your tent out of the vast expanse of tents stretching in all directions!

Happy camping!

L

More cakes from a tin

As well as using up out-of-date tins on our camping trips, I’ve been taking my out-of-date ‘rewards’ for helping at the food bank home each week and turning them into a snack for the food bank volunteers coffee break the following week.

I’ve made a Christmas-cake style fruit cake with out-of-date tinned pineapple, hungarian peach cake, low-fat brownies with out-of-date prunes, chocolate crispy cakes with out-of-date strawberry flavoured rice crispies! None of which would be particularly suited to cooking on a campsite.

One week however I was rewarded with a tin of out-of-date raspberries and I made one of my favourite fire recipes for them & made them guess the mystery ingredient! It was a raspberry & thyme cake.

This particular one was baked in my oven at home, but it works well on the fire. I invented the recipe myself, so I can share it with you here:

Raspberry & Thyme Cake

Mix together:

2 1/2 cups self-raising flour

1/3 cup dried milk powder

pinch of salt

Stir in:

Juice from a 300g tin of raspberries

1 egg

1/2 teaspoonful dried thyme

Gentle stir the raspberries through the batter.

Put into a lined, greased 1 lb loaf tin.

sprinkle the top with 1-2 tablespoonfuls of chopped mixed nuts.

Cook for about 40 mins or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. (If using a domestic oven, go for something like 170C. If you are using a dutch oven, use a trivet to raise the tin off the bottom of the oven, have fire just licking the bottom and have as much fire as you can on top of the oven.)

If you try it out, let me know how you get on!

And if you donate to your local foodbank, please make sure your donation is well in date, so it can help a hungry person!!

L

Goats have strong stomachs!

I’ve started volunteering at my local Trussell Trust foodbank. A lot of the food they give out is tinned and the foodbank is always grateful for donations of cans of food. Although tinned food lasts a very long time, it does eventually go out of date. Sometimes people clear out the food item lurking at the back of their cupboards and give it to the foodbank even though it is out of date by the time it reaches us. The foodbank’s policy is not to distribute out of date food – but the volunteers are encouraged to make use of it, so as not to waste it.

Goats have strong stomachs, so I’ve been making good use of this!

On our last trip we used up out of date tinned tomatoes, pineapple, evaporated milk and stock cubes. But the piece de resistance was trying a new recipe for pudding out of Jack’s tin can recipe book. It worked super well as a recipe to cook over the fire with only 5 ingredients – out-of-date condensed milk, out-of-date tinned prunes, eggs, flour, baking powder. Jack bills it as a sticky toffee pudding…. it comes out quite different to a normal sticky toffee pudding, but it is delicious and easy to make.

Pudding cooking – spot the condensed milk tin at the front of the fire & the recipe book on the chair!

I’ll be making this recipe again – I assume it will come out just as well with in-date ingredients!

L

PS I can’t find this particular recipe on Jack’s blog – but she has lots of other bargain recipes available if you want to try them out.

Gary’s trip to A&E

Firstly, don’t panic – Gary isn’t a human! Gary is the name of our gazebo! (Yes, we know we are a bit odd – maybe that’s why we like sleeping in fields when we have perfectly good houses with beds?!).

Gary join our camp equipment family in 2019. You can read about his arrival here. He has worked hard over the last few years – he’s been a sunshade and a rain protector, he’s been battered by the wind at many campsites, been dusted in frost, held puddles of rainwater on his roof and once got weighed down by a pile of hail stones! Over lockdown he put in extra hours turning gardens into outdoor rooms hosting dinners, lunches, tea parties, beers round the fire and even a hen party. Every time he gets bowed down, he bounces right back up – literally! Although we don’t leave him up in high winds unnecessarily, it is fun to watch him be pushed right down by the wind and spring back up a moment later!

Hard work takes it’s toll and Gary developed a tiny hole along one of his seams. We hope he has many adventures ahead of him this summer, so we wanted to repair it as straight away before it got worse.

Step 1: purchase some ‘seam grip’ and some ‘tenacious tape’

Step 2: working on the inside, clean the affected area with hand-sanitizer

step 3: cut a little strip of tenacious tape, just bigger than the hole. Peel off backing and smooth over hole, pressing down firmly.

step 4: now clean the outside with hand sanitizer.

Step 5: apply seam grip over the hole. Leave it to dry a little bit.

Step 6: cut another strip of tenacious tape and apply on top of the seam grip

Hopefully Gary is now almost as good as new and looking forward to hosting many more adventures!

R & L

PS You can read our other thoughts on gazebos here.

Pitching in the wind

When we arrived at Stockbridge View recently, not only was the weather cold, it was very windy. We thought it might be helpful to share our tips for pitching in the wind:

  • choose your location well. We are actually notoriously bad at this, we always want to pitch for the best view – usually the windiest spot on the top of the hill. We are slowly learning that sometimes it is wiser to forego the view and pitch in the shelter of a hedge or wall.
  • consider your angle. You probably want to try to pitch streamlined, especially if your tent is long and thin. Put the lower bits of the tent into the wind to guide the air over the tent rather than to buffet it. You don’t want to put your door into the wind – if you do the wind will come in when you open the door and lift your tent up like a kite. Pitching with your back to the wind also means that you can sit in your tent doorway and enjoy the shelter of your tent.
  • where will the fire go? Fires are an essential part of the camping experience, but in the wind you have to be a bit careful. Firstly you need to think about which way the wind will blow the flames. A gust can make the flames lick out quite far. You need to be a safe distance from your tent which is highly flammable! Of course the wind can also make lighting the fire difficult, so locating the firepit down wind of the tent, might make it easier to light as well as making sure the flames blow away from the tent. Bizarrely as well as being hard to light fires in the wind, it is also hard to get them properly out. A strong wind during the night can relight embers that looked like they were dying. In windy conditions knocking a fire out isn’t enough, always add water too.
  • make full use of guys. Sometimes it’s tempting not to use all the peg holes and guy ropes, but in the wind you really need to. Your tent was probably designed to withstand a bit of wind, but they were assuming you put it up as per the instructions! Guy ropes should be pegged out and then tightened. On normal tents, tighten as much as you can. On inflatable tents, it’s possible to overtighten and bend the poles out of shape – moderately tight should be fine.
  • pick good pegs. Our favourites for the wind are delta pegs . We put a few on the key guy ropes of each tent. If you are using normal metal pegs, angle them into the ground – if they form a continuation of the line of your guy rope, they are the wrong way round, they need to be pointing in towards your tent and roughly forming a 90 degree angle with your guy rope. Especially if the ground is soft try to get the pegs all the way in. If you can get the hook bit down onto the ground it will help stop it spinning round and the guy rope breaking free. There are also various v-shaped pegs available which stop the pegs from doing this. A mallet is an essential tool for getting a tent up firmly. A peg-puller might also be needed to get it down again!
  • weight your tent down. You can also help your tents stability by thinking where you put your heavier items inside the tent. If the wind is tending to get under a particular corner, maybe that’s the location for your suitcase or coolbox or whatever other weighty items you have.
  • know your limits. If your camp arrangement becomes unsafe, be sensible about when you need to put the fire out or retreat to your car.

Hope you have a safe camp trip & don’t get blown away.

R & L

Stockbridge in the snow!

The camping season has begun and last weekend we tried out a new campsite called Stockbridge View . The overnight temperatures went down to -3 at the nearest weather station, although we suspect it might have been a bit colder in an exposed field at the top of a hill! In the morning we had to clear a thick layer of frost off our table and the water in our containers stayed frozen for quite a few hours (the eagle-eyed might spot the melting ice in th photo!).

We will wait until we’ve done another trip before properly reviewing the new sleeping bag – it was a bit of a extreme test. But we both slept reasonably well considering.

At one point on Saturday afternoon we had to shelter inside our tent because of a snow shower, but we were able to cook our dinner and breakfast by a fire to keep us warm. In the sunshine it was actually quite pleasant (as long as we were wrapped up!) and Stockbridge is an interesting little town to potter round with plenty of little gift shops to browse.

For more details on what we thought of the campsite see our review.

R & L

April fools!

What are we up to this weekend? This morning we’ve had two snow showers – what lovely weather for camping! This isn’t an April fools joke…but perhaps we are April fools!! Will certainly be a good test of the new sleeping bag!

We’re at a new site, so we’ll let you know how we get on.

L & R