You might remember a ridiculous song about Alice the Camel having five humps that you sang as a child? (If not here’s a demonstration we’ve found you on YouTube!!!)… well our Alice also has five humps!! Or at least sometimes – other times she only has 3 or 4!
In this picture she has all her humps – the main tent which comes with a sort of veranda, an additional canopy extension and a vestibule. The additional bits all just zip on so you can add them or not depending on the space you need for that particular trip. Just as in the song, Alice might only have 4 humps sometimes!!
In theory you could probably just keep adding more & more canopy extensions – but we tend to think that 5 humps is big enough… especially when there’s only usually 2 people sleeping inside!!
In the post about our recent camping trip, we promised to introduce you to Alice properly. Well here she is in all her beauty at Pit Hill campsite:
Some of you might actually remember her arrival. She is a Kampa Hayling 4 Classic in polycotton. For a large tent, she is pretty easy to put up as she is inflatable and we have an electric pump and battery pack, so we don’t even need to pump manually!
What’s with her name? Well, of all our tents she is by far the most luxurious. We found ourselves describing her as a palace – so when we were trying to think of a name for her we decided Alice the Palace had a nice ring to it!
We’ll look forward to introducing her more fully over the next few blog posts.
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!
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!
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!
PS this post was written last month (when it was still wintery) – sorry for the delay there was an issue with uploading the photos.
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.
Camping can be a ‘green’ way to holiday, but your choices can make a difference to how eco it is.
I was pleased to see this advert in my local Cotswold Outdoors store.
The man workng there explained to me that good stuff is reused by charities and other stuff is broken down into it’s constituent parts and recycled. Apparently shoes become that spongy surfacing in playgrounds!
I’ll have to have a rumage in my loft and see what I can recycle!
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!