Beating the lock down rush

I was very excited to hear that campsites could reopen from 4 July 2020. But finding one with availability was tricky!

The usual suspects were either booked up or not open…but on the pitch up website it shows similar campsites in the area…. and voila new options were found!

In my excitement, I almost booked one without toilets or running water – so my advice is to double check facilities before confirming your booking!!!

Our first two campsites of the season will be ones we’ve not been to before. Can’t wait to report back!

R

Wood storage

In the last post I was saying I bulk bought Heat Logs at B&Q.  We also never waste wood.  If we buy some when we’re camping and don’t use it all, we take it home and squirrel it away to use another time!

But I don’t have a lot of space at home, so where to keep it?  Well, here’s where it’s lived very happily all through the winter:

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An ordinary black dustbin!  Our council moved over to using wheelie bins, so my old bin was going spare.

It doesn’t look so pretty , but the flowers help a bit!

L

 

Fuel for the fire

A good fire is very important.  Especially if cooking your dinner relies on a getting a good blaze going.  Dinner is also VERY important!

Usually when we go to a campsite we buy whatever wood they sell us.  Indeed some campsites insist that you burn their wood.  But as you’ll have seen on our campsite reviews not all the sites sell good wood.  Sometimes it smoulders and smokes rather than burning nicely, I guess because it hasn’t been seasoned long enough and isn’t properly dry.

We’ve tried various different other types of fire fuel – including ones made out of coffee grounds and made out of newspapers.  However, our favourites are these:

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According to the packet they are made from recycled sawdust and shavings, which are dried and then tightly packed together after being compressed at high temperatures.  No additives or chemicals – just compressed wood.

You buy them in B&Q.  Well, when they are in stock, which seemed to be pretty much never last year!! This year I saw them sitting there before lockdown and although I  had no plans for camping or fires I bought a couple of packs, just because I could!

They always burn nicely and are a good to suppliment any substandard wood you’re made to buy!  Not only are they very dry, meaning they light easily and aren’t too smokey, but they are designed with a hole through the middle, which lets the air through, getting a good blaze going.

They are also a good size for putting on top of the dutch ovens for when I’m using them for baking.  Previously I used charcoal briquettes for this, as in the picture below, but that didn’t last long as I was forever losing the little lumps in the fire!

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Now I just stick burning wood on the top.  It can be a bit precarious and I need to swap them around as the logs on the top tend to go out. These regular sized, little logs with their holes to help them burn, work well for balancing on top.

L

There’s no rule about fires…

There are lots of rules these days, and we’re trying our best to stick to them… but as far as we could tell there’s no rule stopping two goats sitting by a fire in a garden eating some fire food!

Last night it wasn’t raining, so we enjoyed a relaxed evening looking at the fire and eating.  Not only were we the regulation 2m apart – we had a smoke screen between us from the fire.

We tried out a new recipe – coconut vegetable curry.  It passed the test of being easy to cook on the fire and also tasty, so that will be added to our camping repertoire!  Hopefully not too much longer now ?!?!

L & R

In training…

Sadly we can’t go camping yet.

(Well not anywhere other than our own gardens … and I’m afraid my garden isn’t exciting enough to be worth the effort!!)

… but I have started getting in training!  I put this up in 15 mins – all by myself!!!

Super fast inflatable gazebo!

Super fast inflatable gazebo!

 

 

 

I can assure you that Snoopy dog was no help at all… he only came out afterwards to inspect my work!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow morning my neighbour is hosting a socially distanced prayer meeting in her garden… and there’s a chance of rain.  Hopefully now it will be able to go ahead whatever the weather!!

It did make me nostalgic for camping trips… hopefully not long now.

L

PS you can read our review of our much loved inflatable gazebo & the other gazebos in our lives here

I’d rather be…

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As the mug says – I’d rather be… camping.

Wouldn’t we all in this glorious spring weather?!

Instead this is a picture of me trying to perfect my campfire recipes by turning them all into tablespoons and cups – in the hope that one of these days I’ll get to do some more campfire cooking!

L

Caught in the head lights!

I’ve never had a headtorch that I’m really happy with.

Having a headtorch when you’re camping makes life so much easier.  Not only can you see where you’re going, but if you are cooking or eating or pitching your tent or searching for your toothbrush after dark, it’s useful to have both hands free.  It makes a trip to the compost loo in the middle of the night less scary and when you’re not wearing it you can use the elastic to strap it to your tent pole like a little hanging light.

I’ve owned both Petzl and Black Diamond ones, but never been very satisfied with them.

The other goat recently left hers behind on a trip to a youth hostel, so she purchased some new ones to try out.  Headtorch purchasing is always a bit confusing as you can pay anything between £4 and £40 and not really understand the difference.

The assistant manager in our local branch of Blacks was very helpful and tried his best to explain about checking for the battery life as well as the lumens.  Apparently ‘CREE’ is a good word to look out for.  We would add that the bulky ones are annoying to wear and if the button sticks out too much you can easily accidentally turn it on in your bag and waste your battery!

Is red light worthwhile?  Possibly – it can allow you to read without attracting insects to your lamp.  It can also be handy if you want to read while your tent buddy is trying to sleep as it is less bright.

Anyway, on this on this occasion the little goat got overwhelmed and ended up buying two – on the justification that our camping guests never remember their torches, and so a spare would be handy!

Purchase 1:  Eurohike 6 LED headtorch20200110_202114

Only 30 lumens, beam distance 10-12 metres battery life of about 8 hours.  White, bright and red settings and a bargain at only £4 (in the sale, normally £6).

So far it’s only been tried out in the loft – need a camping trip to try it properly, but so far so good.

 

 

 

 

Purchase 2: Technicals 150L CREE head torch

This one cost £10, which is still reasonably priced. It has an optional strap for top of your head, but this can be removed.  However, when turning the torch around to try and fit the straps on for the first use, a little nut dropped out!  It’s from the hinge which allows you to move the angle of the torch…  Needless to say, we will never find out how this one performs as it is going straight back to the shop!

R

More than a breath of fresh air?

I know some of you will think we’re mad, but we were contemplating starting the camping season early and going camping last weekend!

The overnight temperatures were forecast to be very mild, so we thought it might be worth it.  But from our experiences last year (see here and here), we’re learning that the wind is also important!  Thing is, when is a breeze more than a breath of fresh air?!

We’re all familiar with roughly what temperatures are cold and which are pleasant and which are scorching, but windspeeds are less intuitive.

I found this website with the interesting name of ‘Willy Weather’, which gives really clear forecasts and also tells you how that compares to the average for that month. You can search it really easily by just typing in a place name.

The met office also produce a graphic, but it is much less detailed.

Suffice to say, last weekend was windy and sadly no good for camping!

L

Tents on Christmas day?!

Don’t worry we weren’t camping for Christmas!!  Although one of us was in a Youth Hostel on the top of South Downs listening to the wind howl and whistle!

And the tent in questin wasn’t outside… somewhat bizarrely it was inside a church!  We rocked up at Bishop Hannington church on Christmas morning, not quite sure what to expect… and one of the preacher’s illustrations involved erecting a tent!

tent in church!

tent in church!

I think he was explaining that Christmas marks God coming to earth as Jesus – but that he wasn’t here permenantly, just pitching his tent for a while until it was time for him to accomplish his salvation mission at Easter….anyway, I couldn’t resist grabbing a quick snap for the blog!

HAPPY CHRISTMAS!