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

The camping season is far from over

The camping season needn’t end with the school holidays! So far, the weather in September has been lovely for camping and we took the opportunity to try out another new site, Cedar Valley.

It’s a small site, so it felt a bit crowded, but we quite liked it – see how we scored it.

Some pictures from our trip:

We have plans to squeeze in another September camping trip to another new campsite – we’ll keep you posted how we get on!

R & L

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!)

Camping with COVID

Since the lockdown has eased, we’ve been making up for lost time and camping once a fortnight!

Clearly if you actually have COVID you need to stay home! … but otherwise what is it like camping in a panedemic?

Book ahead

Everyone is having staycations and camping is an attractive option as its out in the fresh air.  You’re also sleeping in your own tent and bedding using your own crockery etc, so it feels a lower risk option than other holidays.  Thing is that the world and his wife have all realised it’s a good idea, combined with campsites reducing their capacity to manage the risk, it means that sites are getting booked up well in advance.

Pack what you need to stay safe

Pack your hand sanitizer, your mask so that you can support local shops, perhaps some anti-bac cleaning spray for your table/equipment and you should be pretty safe.

Think it out

As with everything these days, just think about the contact points that could be a risk and then make sure you are careful about those.  Where is it that everyone in the campsite will touch with their mucky paws? …the water tap.  Better sites will provide sanitizer at the water tap, but if not, just make sure you wash or sanitize your hands after fetching water.  Apply the same logic to other contact points such as the doors, handles and taps in the communal facilities.

Think about who you are camping with.  If you are one household that’s easy.  If you are several, then maybe you need to pack separate tents and travel in separate cars.

It’s a good idea to wash your hands when preparing food anyway, but things which are simple at home can be tricky on a campsite.  A collapsible bowl for the cook and some soap and water for the cook to be able to wash her hands easily and frequently is a good idea.  We always have pre-dinner snacks in the form of crisps.  Usually we’d have passed a big bag around.  Shaking them out into individual bowls is probably a better idea to avoid sharing germs.

Look for recommendations

If you’re feeling nervous, look for some recent reviews or ask a friend where they’ve been and whether it felt safe.  We will list our COVID reviews below.

It’s wonderful to be able to escape to the countryside again, and with a bit of thought hopefully it will be just the lockdown tonic you need!

R & L

 

Rowbury Farm – this campsite is very well thought out.  The facilities are new, which probably helps.  But there were sanitizers in sensible locations eg by the water tap, the toilets were being cleaned very regularly and there were cleaning materials available for you to undertake further cleaning yourself if needbe.

Weekend campfires – this campsite is very basic.  As you will have seen from our review, the toilet facilities left something to be desired, but they did provide hand sanitizer and cleaning materials in each cubicle. There wasn’t sanitizer by the water tap nor were we convinced by the cleanliness of the ‘screwdrivers’… but once you’ve identified these contact points you can of course take your own precautions if you’ve packed some sanitizer.

Hook Farm – there was sanitizer in the toilet cubicles, but there were not cleaning materials available.  There was no sanitizer available near the water taps either.

Cat Inn – while we were at Hook Farm, we called in at the Cat Inn for a cold drink and were very impressed with how they had thought through their COVID prevention.  There was no need to book, but we did have our temperature checked and log our details on an app.  There was sanitizer available on arrival, staff  wore masks and had thought through little details like single use menus.  We sat in the garden, but the inside had been carefully partitioned.

What do you actually do when you go camping?

“When you’re camping, what do you actually do?”

That’s something we’re often asked.  In reality we do very little – by the time you’ve waited for the kettle to boil, had your cup of tea, trekked to the toilets, lit a fire, cooked your breakfast and eaten it, it’s about coffee time!  Then you realise you’re still in your pyjamas!!

So basically we cook, eat and poke the fire.

Occasionally we manage to fit in a little adventure between meals – usually a walk to explore the area.

Our latest stay was at Hook Farm.  We’ve been there loads of times, but we can never remember where we walked the time before.  So we’re going to start keeping a note of good things to do near West Hoathly.

We’ve also updated the Hook Farm campsite scores.

R & L

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

Our latest campsite find

You’ll have read in our last post that we had slighty too many adventures on our last camping trip!  But how did the new campsite score?

Considering our experiences earlier in the year with weather warnings for high winds, we were a little apprehensive about trying out a campsite called ‘Freshwinds’!!!  But it was recommended to us by a friend, so we thought we’d risk giving it a go!

Here’s how it compares to our other favourite campsites:  campsite scores.

L&R

Freshwinds campsite

Camp kitchen and compost toilet block

The highs and lows of camping!

We tried out a new campsite at the Bank Holiday weekend – and I think it was fair to say it was a trip of highs and lows.

The first ‘high’ was the temperature – the hottest August Bank Holiday ever recorded.  Fortunately we had our gazebo for shade, as it really was very warm.  A bit too warm maybe… but certainly better than our experience in May of camping on the coldest May Day Bank Holiday ever!!

The first ‘low’ was also the temperature – clear blue skies meant no cloud cover and the contrast between daytime and nighttime temperatures was huge.  Sadly this meant some of our camping buddies didn’t sleep so well because they were cold.

In general, we liked our new campsite find.  We were particularly pleased that we could walk through the shady woods to the sea at Pett Levels.  We were disappointed that the pub and ice-cream stall had closed down, but the teeny tiny church on the beach had its doors open and allowed you to help yourself to tea and coffee for a donation – perfect!  Swimming & paddling in the sea was a definite highlight!

There was general consensus that the compost toilets were a low point of the trip.  Our newest camping recruit was not keen on them at all, and to be fair to her they weren’t great.  Firstly you had to climb some rickety stairs to get to them – definitely a need for another hand rail, plus the door for one of the cubicles could potentially knock someone down the stairs!  The toilets were a bit smelly – probably a combination of the end of the season, the hot weather and the fact they didn’t have urine separators on them.  The toilets themselves were probably clean enough, but sadly the cubicle areas weren’t cleaned, so they were cobwebby and dusty… it wouldn’t have taken much to make a trip to the bog a much more pleasant experience, and less daunting for our novice camper!

One of our campers was a vegetarian – which provided opportunities for a whole new avenue of recipes.  Sitting round the campfire eating freshly prepared food was another high.

On Sunday evening we sat round having eaten our fill of stew and beer bread and cinnamon swirl cake with custard discussing the highs and lows of our trip.  Our novice camper was even beginning to imply she might come again sometime.  And then disaster struck!  A simple thing, she went to adjust the fairylights on her tent (yes, we camp in style!) and tripped on a guy rope.  But sadly, it wasn’t a simple little trip and she was in agony.  Fortunately we could get the car to her and take her to A&E, where we discovered the reason for the pain – she had a spiral break in her leg.  This put the compost toilets into perspective and established a record low point for all of our camping trips.

Thank God for the NHS and A&E departments open in the middle of the night and X-ray machines and clever doctors! Distressingly we had to leave her behind in Hastings to have surgery, but 5 days later we are pleased to report she has had her op and is on her way home.

R & L