The days are getting slightly longer, spring is on it’s way and (with the help of our favourite Billy Goat) we have just the thing to help you plan some trips to look forward to once lockdown rules permit:
Yes, our campsite reviews are now available via a map interface! Not only does it feature our favourite ‘space-ship’ tent as the icon – but it gives each campsite a ‘goat rating’ out of 5! You can then click on the ‘full goat review’ to read our honest opinion of the site and our star rating on all the important things.
In the last post, I told you about our new toilet, but you also need to think about the other toilet accessories you will need to purchase e.g. toilet brush, bin, cloths for cleaning, extra toilet roll etc. We put ours in a little basket to keep them altogether and stop them falling over.
But most of importantly you need a toilet tent!
For us, colour was an important factor – we like everything to blend in.
After that we needed one that was in stock (there was a rush on them due to the pandemic!). We went for Kampa – the colour is good, you will either love or hate the icon on the door!
It’s pretty easy to put up, but we did break one of the bungs on the end of one of the ceiling poles very quickly. We like the little added details of a pocket to hold the toilet roll, a further pocket for storing other bits and pieces, and the ventilated roof!
Hygiene is obviously very important, and even more so in a pandemic, so we have also added a hand-washing station to our set up:
The funky water carrier with tap attachment is by Colapz. It works well for handwashing, although it’s annoying that you can’t use the last bit of water due to the height of the tap outlet. As the name suggests it packs down small, as does the shallow collapsible basin. The little table is by Outwell.
Our encampment is now en-suite – the height of luxury!
Yes, COVID spurred us on to invest… in our own camping toilet!
Previously we thought this was a bit excessive but the experience of an unpleasant toilet this last summer, combined with the importance good hygiene with respect to the virus, made us change our minds. The convenience of not having to trek a long way across a field to the toilet is also great.
After a bit of research we opted for Thetford excellence electric flush. Thetford has a good reputation, which gave us confidence to invest. This model has a larger waste tank so less emptying (although tank gets heavier in between empties!). What with a proper seat, an electric flush and an integrated toilet roll holder, it is almost as good as toilet at home!
An important consideration is that you need space in your car for transporting it. The waste tank and flush tank can be separated or there are smaller models available, but get your tape measure out before you place your order.
You need to get special chemicals and toilet rolls. I dose up on waste tank chemicals and water before the trip so that is ready. Also dose up on flush tank chemicals but Thetford advise not travelling with full flush tank so water gets added at camp site.
At the end of trip, after emptying waste tank, I add tank cleaner so that it is doing its thing as I’m driving. The movement is very good for this apparently!
New for next season will be sachets of chemicals – making dosing at the campsite easier and reducing the space needed for transporting chemicals.
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!
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!
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!!
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!