Santa knows what goats like!

Somehow you don’t need to write a letter to the north pole for Santa to know what to get you for Christmas. I received these lovely camping related gifts!

When I’m sitting in my armchair warmed by my pretend fire, this cushion helps remember where I’d rather be!

A COVID camping essential…

And best of all I highly recommend this book as essential reading before embarking on next seasons camping trips!! Needless to say Mr Strong’s camping trip doesn’t go smoothly and we can all learn from his disasters!!

Happy New Year!

L

Be sure to label the body bag!

I have been enjoying making use of the gazebo in the garden to enable me to meet up with friends but still be compliant with lockdown rules.  I don’t have a garage for storage, so in the boot of my car I have what looks suspiciously like a body bag that contains the gazebo!  (I’ve never actually had the mis-fortune to need to see a body bag, but it’s what I imagine one to look like!)

We’re realistic, we know our limitations… and we know that we will never manage to fold up the tents neatly enough to get them back into their original bags, so we buy oversized ones and don’t worry about it.  We fold them how we fancy and pop them in.

Thing is that it means you can then easily forget what’s in each bag.  Especially if you rearrange your packing system and the bag you used to use for one thing now contains something else!  So, what we needed was labels.

And here’s what I made:

Brightly coloured in a variety of shades to aid recognition and laminated to make them waterproof!

It’s a bit of a shame not to be able to put my groceries in the car boot because it’s full of gazebo in an oversized bag… but who knows, one day there might be a gazebo-based emergency?! It’s never happened yet, but if it does then I’ll be just the woman for job!

L

Equipment Storage

In the last post we talked about the end of season sort out.  But once everything is cleaned, dried, repaired and stocks replenished then what?

Having dedicated place to store camping equipment is helpful.  It keeps everything in one place, making it easier to pack and unpack – and as a result hopefully you are less likely to forget something (having a list also helps with this!).

Be mindful of what you are storing.  It is better to store things like sleeping bags inside the house.  And generally you are advised to store them loose, not tightly screwed up in their compression sacks to help preserve their loft (that is their fluffy-ness) and warmth.

It is also ideal to store tents indoors, particularly if they are canvas.  However, not many people have space for this and ours live in the garage.

We’ve found the best way to store things is in plastic storage containers.  We particularly like the ‘Really Useful’ boxes as they have proved to be sturdy and durable.  They are also made in the UK and can be recycled in the rigid plastic section of your local tip… although I’m not sure we’ve actually broken any to need to recycle them!

It’s helpful to store items in your in categories.  For example, we have a. kitchen box, a peg box and a lighting box.  This makes it easy to find things… especially if the next time you are looking in these boxes is in the dark in the middle of a camping field!!

Be careful where you store food supplies.  Animals are good at getting into lofts and garages.  Only keep tinned items in these places and then in a plastic box to make sure they don’t get damp.  One winter a squirrel tried to gnaw its way through a plastic box in the loft to get at our supplies!  Since then the sleeping bags are also in a roomy plastic crate in the loft – imagine getting your sleeping bag out for your first trip in Spring and finding that baby squirrels had also decided it was a warm place to sleep!!

If you are storing in the garage, it’s probably worth investing in some shelving.  These metal mesh shelves in my garage keep everything organised and easily accessible and also keep the tents off the ground and with the air circulating to avoid them getting damp.

Hopefully the kit won’t be in its Winter hibernation for long… counting down until the camping season begins again!

R

Picture of shelves made of metal racks with storage bags and boxes.
Storage shelves in the garage
logs stored in a plastic rubbish bin
Got to keep the precious wood supplies dry!

End of season sort out

I love the fact that even though the days are short, it’s getting chilly and the weather is generally blowing a gale, every single week someone asks us whether we’ve been camping!!

We hate to disappoint, but actually our camp gear is tucked away waiting for the new season to start!

After the last camp of the season is a good time to take stock of items that need to be replenished or replaced.  You may even get good deals in the sales! It’s also good to have items before first camp of next season – the UK weather is unpredictable and you want to be ready to go at short notice should we get a mild Spring!

This is also a good opportunity to do more thorough cleaning and repairs if needed.  For example, you might undertake any tent repairs or give the stove a thorough clean. Make sure everything is properly dry (particularly tents) before being stored away for the season.

At this time of year we give all our camping kitchen items a good wash – and even Henrietta gets a bath!  For those of you who haven’t met Henrietta before here’s a photo of her.  Clearly a tea cosy is an essential item of camp equipment!!

Henrietta guarding some Welsh cakes!!

We also clean out all the boxes.  These are plastic storage crates of varying sizes which we store our camping bits and pieces in.  Not only do the boxes keep things safe and dry when you’re storing them, but they make packing the car, transporting equipment and keeping the kitchen tent organised much, much easier.

Batteries should be removed from lanterns and head torches when you put them away for winter to avoid the batteries from leaking and potentially ruining your lantern.

If you have leftover camping food supplies, be careful how you store these.  Go through all the items checking their best before dates and if it’s before next Easter put them in your kitchen cupboard to get used up at home.  If you have items that you have decanted into separate containers (eg sugar and flour) it’s best to use these up and start afresh next year. 

Although it’s always a bit sad to have reached the end of a camping season, taking the time to sort through things now, means that as soon as the days start to get longer and warmer again, you’ll be ready to go at the drop of a hat!

R

Our knight in shining armour?

Ok well sadly not.  We would be very happy if a knight in shining armour did turn up to help out with the washing up, but for now we’ll just have to make do with a piece of his chainmail!

Yes, that’s right, the latest addition to our campsite washing up system is a scourer made of chainmail.

chainmail scourer

Chainmail scourers are ideal for cleaning dirty dutch ovens.  They scrape, but don’t scratch and the food residue is easily cleaned out of the chain mail cloth.

They are easily available online ( for example here ).

We are very pleased with ours.  It has been well used over the last month or so we’ve had it.  The dutch ovens are now all washed and seasoned and tucked away in the shed… although we’re hopeful there might be more fire food yet, even if camping might be over for the season.

L & R

Don’t forget…

Most camping trips we forget something.  Last time it was the coffee.  Other times we’ve forgotten less important things like a sleeping mat or the tent pole!

The organised goat learnt from this and has lots of lists she double checks.  The less-organised goat doesn’t… and it’s a bit of a worry.

When our top follower of this blog heard about this, she took matters into her own hand and compiled a generic camping packing list.  Here it is to help you pack too:

Shelter

  • Tent
  • Tent poles
  • pegs
  • mallet
  • Gazebo
  • Chair
  • Bedding
  • Sleeping mat
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping bag liner
  • Pillow
  • Hot Water Bottle
  • Eye mask

Clothes

  • Flipflops
  • Wellies
  • Pyjamas
  • Hat
  • fingerless gloves
  • body warmer or fleece
  • waterproofs (including trousers)
  • underwear
  • spare trousers
  • spare top
  • Jumper

Toiletries

  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • hair brush
  • baby wipes
  • deodorant
  • flannel
  • shower gel
  • towel

Miscellaneous

  • Lantern
  • Headtorch
  • Penknife
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun cream
  • insect repellent
  • map
  • hand sanitizer
  • face mask
  • water bottle
  • phone
  • phone charger and/or battery pack

The obvious thing that is missing from this list are food and drink… but those are whole other lists of their own!! 

Hopefully now nothing will be forgotten on your next trip either!

Happy camping

R & L (& friend!)

Good job goats have waterproof coats!

It’s a good job goats have waterproof coats… and trousers…and wellies!  We certainly needed them last weekend!!

Always, always, always pack them all… even in the middle of July. Although you can hide in your tent when it’s raining, waterproof trousers are handy so you can sit down even if your chair has got wet in an earlier shower.

Even on a sunny trip, wellies are useful to wear in the morning when the grass is wet with dew.  And being able to pull them on without worrying about laces is a bonus in the middle of the night!

We’ll tell you more about our soggy camping trip soon.

R & L

goat by kevin

Goats love adventures!

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

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