The Wayfarer

I’ve a new challenge – the Wayfarer’s Walk!

This is a 70 mile long recreational path which runs between Inkpen Beacon in Berkshire to the village of Emsworth in Hampshire.  I liked the idea that it is going to take in towns, villages, woodland, open downland.  It starts in an area I’ve never explored, the North Wessex Downs and makes its way to the coast.

Actually, I believe we’re doing it backwards and that it’s supposed to starts in Emsworth on the south coast of Hampshire and proceed north/north-west the full length of Hampshire to finish at Combe Gibbeton on Inkpen Hill, just over the Berkshire border. But I like the idea of starting at the top and making our way down to the sea.

The Wayfarer’s Walk was initiated in 1981 by Bill Bide (Principal Officer for Rights of Way in Hampshire) and at least in parts is based on old tracks that were used by farmers to drive their sheep to animal fairs held in New Arlesford and Farnham.

thumbnail_image6

Here’s how we got on with the first section.

L

The first of my finds

Last weekend we went  to the first of my campsite finds – Rowbury Farm Campsite.

It was easy to get to, not far from the A303.  I arrived early, but the site was already fairly full when I got there – all these people working from home who can leave work early!!

As the first of the goats to arrive, I had a bit of a panic about which of the remaining pitches to claim.  Turns out I needn’t have worried, all the pitches on this site are nice.  All get the evening sun and they are seperated by pretty swathes of wildflowers.

See how we scored it.

I’d forgotten how much I love camping!… but not long until our next trip.

R

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Repairing tent poles

It’s time to get your kit ready for some camping trips!!

With some of our older tents, broken fibre-glass poles are a reasonably regular occurrence.  I think it’s just that they are old and well used. I used to just take the poles to a nice man in the Cotswolds Outdoor shop who fixed them for me, but then he stopped doing it.

So, I decided it was time to save myself some money and do it myself.  If you want to fix yours, here’s how!

Here are the problems I needed to fix. On one pole the joiner had split. On the other the pole had cracked and we’d done a temporary repair with tape!

First step is to fish out the elastic that joins the pole sections together. Do this from the end nearest the break.

The first time I fixed a pole I bought the Vango tentpole kit, and it came with a nifty wire hook thing. It might be worth investing in a kit for your first repair or maybe you could fashion something from a wire coat hanger?

Since that first time I now just buy the odd pole that I need. S K Camping which is one of our favourite camping shops has a bucket of odd poles. You can take the broken one, find one that matches and buy just the one.

Once you’ve fished out the elastic you need to untie the knot.

Now take the poles apart, being extra careful to keep them in the right order!

Once you’ve located the broken pole, cut your replacement section to the right size.

 

Next you need to file the end to remove any sharp edges.

Now re-thread the elastic through all the sections – in the correct order.

Tie off the elastic at the end. You’ll want to do something like a triple knot, just to be sure it holds.

And good as new – you’re ready for your next camping trip!

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

Wood storage

In the last post I was saying I bulk bought Heat Logs at B&Q.  We also never waste wood.  If we buy some when we’re camping and don’t use it all, we take it home and squirrel it away to use another time!

But I don’t have a lot of space at home, so where to keep it?  Well, here’s where it’s lived very happily all through the winter:

20200620_180222

An ordinary black dustbin!  Our council moved over to using wheelie bins, so my old bin was going spare.

It doesn’t look so pretty , but the flowers help a bit!

L

 

Fuel for the fire

A good fire is very important.  Especially if cooking your dinner relies on a getting a good blaze going.  Dinner is also VERY important!

Usually when we go to a campsite we buy whatever wood they sell us.  Indeed some campsites insist that you burn their wood.  But as you’ll have seen on our campsite reviews not all the sites sell good wood.  Sometimes it smoulders and smokes rather than burning nicely, I guess because it hasn’t been seasoned long enough and isn’t properly dry.

We’ve tried various different other types of fire fuel – including ones made out of coffee grounds and made out of newspapers.  However, our favourites are these:

20200620_180138

According to the packet they are made from recycled sawdust and shavings, which are dried and then tightly packed together after being compressed at high temperatures.  No additives or chemicals – just compressed wood.

You buy them in B&Q.  Well, when they are in stock, which seemed to be pretty much never last year!! This year I saw them sitting there before lockdown and although I  had no plans for camping or fires I bought a couple of packs, just because I could!

They always burn nicely and are a good to suppliment any substandard wood you’re made to buy!  Not only are they very dry, meaning they light easily and aren’t too smokey, but they are designed with a hole through the middle, which lets the air through, getting a good blaze going.

They are also a good size for putting on top of the dutch ovens for when I’m using them for baking.  Previously I used charcoal briquettes for this, as in the picture below, but that didn’t last long as I was forever losing the little lumps in the fire!

IMG_20150905_192609

Now I just stick burning wood on the top.  It can be a bit precarious and I need to swap them around as the logs on the top tend to go out. These regular sized, little logs with their holes to help them burn, work well for balancing on top.

L

There’s no rule about fires…

There are lots of rules these days, and we’re trying our best to stick to them… but as far as we could tell there’s no rule stopping two goats sitting by a fire in a garden eating some fire food!

Last night it wasn’t raining, so we enjoyed a relaxed evening looking at the fire and eating.  Not only were we the regulation 2m apart – we had a smoke screen between us from the fire.

We tried out a new recipe – coconut vegetable curry.  It passed the test of being easy to cook on the fire and also tasty, so that will be added to our camping repertoire!  Hopefully not too much longer now ?!?!

L & R

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

I’d rather be…

20200309_200935

As the mug says – I’d rather be… camping.

Wouldn’t we all in this glorious spring weather?!

Instead this is a picture of me trying to perfect my campfire recipes by turning them all into tablespoons and cups – in the hope that one of these days I’ll get to do some more campfire cooking!

L