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!
Dry bags are great – little water tight bags that you can used to both organise your stuff in your backpack and to keep it safe and dry. I have these ones from sea to summit in a variety of sizes:
The different colours are helpful, but once you’ve bought more than one of each size, you might know something is in a bag, but which one?! We are super proud of this nifty tip – a bit of ‘decoration’ with a permanent marker and there’s no more confusion. Particularly if the doodles match the thing in the bag eg the footprints oneonce had clean socks and change of shoes in, the one with the spirals had things like charger wires and headphones.
Hope this tip helps you pack for your next adventure.
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!
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.
I know you’re keen to know about the new campsite we tried out last weekend.
It certainly scores well in terms of an attractive setting…
Situated in a bend of the river Thames in Oxfordshire, Barefoot Campsite certainly is pretty. We were fortunate to have riverside pitch. Somehow the white noise of the weir was oddly calming, distracting us from the normal campsite sounds of what was a pretty busy campsite.
View from our pitch
And not only can you enjoy the view of the river, you can swim or kayak too. We hired kayaks from the campsite and paddled upstream to the pub for a drink.
Kayaking on the River Thames –
This is a well organised campsite, but unfortunately that means it comes with quite a lot of rules! They were enforced in a friendly manner, but I was asked to alter where I’d pitched my gazebo and move my car 6 inches to the left (someone over-estimated my ability to park with any degree of accuracy!!). The booking process was hard work and for a campsite that is clearly fully booked every weekend of the summer, they could do with more toilets…but they get away with it, as it really is a beautiful location!
We thought you might like to know about our latest camping purchase. Every camp set up needs one – a rubbish bin!!
You need a designated place to put rubbish and you don’t want the rubbish bag to blow away or for the rubbish to blow back out of the bag and escape… so what every campsite needs is a ‘Snap Together Eco-Bin Excel’!!
We think it’s great because it packs flat, can be pegged down so it doesn’t blow away and has a lid so that the rubbish can’t escape. It’s also useful to be able to separate recycling from normal rubbish and this model allows you to fasten two bags in the one holder!
Every campsite should have one!
We weren’t initially convinced, but after trying it out we decided it wasn’t a rubbish purchase after all!!
Following our recent experiences, we have lots of opinions on gazebos & we thought we’d write you some posts to share them!
Things to think about when purchasing a gazebo
Wind is the enemy of gazebos! Look for a design that will stand up well to the wind, both in terms of a good pegging arrangement so it doesn’t blow away and a frame with some flexibility in it, so it isn’t damaged if it bends a bit.
It’s a pain to have to keep ducking to get in and out. And particularly if you are a tall goat you want to be able to stand up straight inside.
They are always smaller than you think! Before we purchased, we marked out the size in our back garden and placed chairs around in a circle to see how many people we could fit in. Would be sad if you were the goat left out in the rain!!
There are different levels of waterproofing available. If you are after something that’s tough and hardwearing, look into this.
Doors/sides. In the UK the rain doesn’t just come down – sometimes it’s horizonal! The option to be able to add a door or a side can mean that you are able to use the full area of your gazebo in the rain. It is also useful to shelter from the wind.
Gazebos can be quite a challenge to put up – a 3-dimensional jigsaw requiring several people with Mr Tickle length arms to complete! If you are going camping on your own, or if your fellow campers are child-sized or arriving later, an inflatable one could be a good option.
Some gazebos have floor straps which are trip hazards, watch out for this.
Ok we admit it, we have become camping snobs. But if you’ve got to look it all day you don’t want it to be a jarring colour – tan, grey, pale green are all acceptable. Blue, red, multicolour are not. Feel free to disagree, but just don’t pitch up next to us & spoil the view!!
Light attachments. This isn’t a deal breaker, but it is lovely to be able to attach the fairy lights to the gazebo!!
They are expensive, so think about your purchase carefully!