Betty’s kitchen

Firstly, who is Betty?! She is my Skoda Yeti – and I love her because she is reliable and she has a decent sized boot. You can also take the back seats out, which is very handy to squeeze in lots of camping stuff!! But on our last trip she really excelled herself… and doubled as our kitchen!

An 84 litre ‘really useful’ box with some drawers from Ikea sitting inside formed our kitchen unit. I put a little peice of wood under the box to make sure that the drawers opened easily over the lip of the boot.

The top drawer had plates, bowls, mugs, goblets, kitchenfoil, the teapot and a collapsible kettle. I also stowed a hanging toiletry bag in there which I repurposed as an organiser for our cutlery and washing-up supplies. On arrival it hung from the Betty’s boot struts.

The bottom drawer was our food store. The square storage boxes you get from Lakeland fitted perfectly. We didn’t get round to labelling them, but the coloured lids allowed for a bit of colour-coding! Jars of spices etc also fitted nicely in there.

On top of the drawers I stowed my collapsible washing-up bowls – one for washing up (black) and one for our handwash station (grey). Our chopping boards also fitted there – we have a set of thin colour-coded ones from Robert Dyas, which we are very pleased with, plus a bamboo bread board. Down the side of the drawers, I stowed cleaning spray, salt & pepper pots and Henrietta, but at the campsite these things were in use and we used this space to store tins of food. (Spot the nice perch Henrietta found in the pictures above!)

Next to the ‘really useful’ box I put my outwell storage caddy with our pots & pans and other utensils.

It was very pleasing to set up the ‘demonstration’ table (we call it that because it’s height makes it look like you are giving a cooking demonstation to those sitting round the campfire!) at right angles to Betty. At it’s highest height the demonstration table (from lifetime) was tall enough to fit the big cool box (from iceytech) underneath and still be able to open the cool box.

Our stove (primus) sat on the table and meant we had a very practical cooking space. We had thought that the open boot would give a bit of shelter from the elements, but we didn’t get the opportunity to test that out as happily we were camping in a heatwave!

R

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

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

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.

As snug as a bug

It’s become a running joke that this goat feels the cold at night. I always wear thermals to sleep in when I’m camping, even in the height of summer. At either end of the season you might find me wearing double thermals, a wool jumper, woolly socks, woolly hat and gloves inside two sleeping bags… and it’s not as if we camp in the artic, we rarely get further than Sussex!! And of course unless it’s a super warm night I insist on a hot water bottle…but you already know that top camping tip.

The reason it is so funny is that the other goat will probably just be in her summer jammas… but cocooned in her Western Mountaineering sleeping bag. It’s so super warm that she often she doesn’t bother to zip it up!

This season I’ve decided it was time for an upgrade! I compared lots of options and in the end went with Thermarest Questar 20. It seemed a good balance of good quality down, light weight and yet not as expensive as some.

When it arrived I couldn’t wait to go camping to try it out – so I decided that I would sleep in it at home on my bed. To test out whether it was warm I put aside my winter pyjamas and slept in a summer nightie.

At first I was a bit concerned, it’s so lightweight it didn’t feel snuggly warm, but about 4.30am I woke up because I was too hot!!

There are some good features which the websites don’t really tell you about:

The thing that annoyed me most about my old sleeping bag (mountain hard wear women’s lamina 20) was that the zip always got snagged on the lining. I’ve slept in it a lot over many years, and I’ve still not got the knack of how to stop it catching. But the thing that annoys me most is that when I bought it, the sales assistant specifically told me that it had a special tape to stop the zip catching!! Anyway, I’m more hopeful about the new one as it has two thick tapes and the zipper itself has a sheath over it.

I think the website details maybe did tell me about this feature, but I didn’t understand what it was. This is a photo of the inside bottom of the sleeping bag… a special little place to tuck your toes in to keep them warm!

Similarly the web details did say it was W.A.R.M…. this label shows what that means quite nicely!

I was a bit confused why there were funny loops on the bag of the new sleeping bag – turns out it’s a way to keep the bag on your sleeping mat. Clearly I couldn’t test this out on my bed, but I’ll give it a go in the tent as it sounds a good idea.

I was also pleased to know that the down in the sleeping bag had been resourced responsibly and the ducks might have had a happy life. You can read more about it on the RDS website.

I’ll let you know how I get on when I test it out for real on a camping trip…hopefully some time soon!

L

PS this post was written last month (when it was still wintery) – sorry for the delay there was an issue with uploading the photos.

That’s handy!

Waterproof jackets are an essential and waterproof trousers are pretty useful too – keeping you warm as well as dry when you’re around the campsite. But I also love my waterproof gloves!

If you’re out walking all day and your gloves get wet, either just as your hands swing at your side or because you have to touch wet gates to open them, then you are in for cold wet hands which is miserable. Waterproof gloves are the prefect solution!

I had a pair of sealskinz a few years ago and I loved them. But I clearly loved them too much – I wore them lots, not just for long walks… and consequently I lost them! I eventually accepted they were not going to rematerialise and bought myself another pair recently.

I got them in Blacks… and made the very useful discovery, that you get a discount there if you’ve got a National Trust membership card. Very handy!

Although tight gloves feel snug and warm in the shop, if they reduce your circulation at all that won’t help with keeping your fingers warm. So I erred on the safe side and got mediums, which are actually a bit long in the fingers, but I’ve been enjoying wearing them.

L

Top camping tip #2

Here’s another top camping tip idea we came up with recently… pack a thermos flask to save hot water!

Nothing happens quickly on a campsite, but boiling the kettle seems to take forever! We spend a LOT of time waiting for the kettle to boil… although perhaps thats because we spend a lot of time drinking tea and coffee!?!

Once it has boiled, put any hot water you don’t use into a thermos flask. It will stay warm enough for washing up, or if you want another cuppa later, then using warm water in the kettle will save precious camping gas!!

R

Out of puff!

Last time I put the gazebo up the pump wasn’t working well. I remembered that when I’d last used it, before Christmas, I was suspicious it was getting less efficient, but this time it was clearly not right! I remember blogging saying I could put it up by myself in no time at all. It was now hard work and taking forever – the pump and I were both out of puff!!

I emailed outwell explaining that I’d bought the gazebo in 2019 and was disappointed the pump had stopped working – could they send me replacement valve to fix it? Yesterday I received a parcel – a brand new cyclone pump!

This morning I tried it out – and the gazebo positively sprung up!

This pump is better than the original as it deflates as well as inflates and somehow cleverly pumps both when you pull the handle up and when you push it down. So although I wasn’t impressed the first pump broke, I am very happy with the replacement – thank you Mr Outwell!

L