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

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!)

Good job goats have waterproof coats!

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.

R & L

goat by kevin

Goats love adventures!

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

Caught in the head lights!

I’ve never had a headtorch that I’m really happy with.

Having a headtorch when you’re camping makes life so much easier.  Not only can you see where you’re going, but if you are cooking or eating or pitching your tent or searching for your toothbrush after dark, it’s useful to have both hands free.  It makes a trip to the compost loo in the middle of the night less scary and when you’re not wearing it you can use the elastic to strap it to your tent pole like a little hanging light.

I’ve owned both Petzl and Black Diamond ones, but never been very satisfied with them.

The other goat recently left hers behind on a trip to a youth hostel, so she purchased some new ones to try out.  Headtorch purchasing is always a bit confusing as you can pay anything between £4 and £40 and not really understand the difference.

The assistant manager in our local branch of Blacks was very helpful and tried his best to explain about checking for the battery life as well as the lumens.  Apparently ‘CREE’ is a good word to look out for.  We would add that the bulky ones are annoying to wear and if the button sticks out too much you can easily accidentally turn it on in your bag and waste your battery!

Is red light worthwhile?  Possibly – it can allow you to read without attracting insects to your lamp.  It can also be handy if you want to read while your tent buddy is trying to sleep as it is less bright.

Anyway, on this on this occasion the little goat got overwhelmed and ended up buying two – on the justification that our camping guests never remember their torches, and so a spare would be handy!

Purchase 1:  Eurohike 6 LED headtorch20200110_202114

Only 30 lumens, beam distance 10-12 metres battery life of about 8 hours.  White, bright and red settings and a bargain at only £4 (in the sale, normally £6).

So far it’s only been tried out in the loft – need a camping trip to try it properly, but so far so good.

 

 

 

 

Purchase 2: Technicals 150L CREE head torch

This one cost £10, which is still reasonably priced. It has an optional strap for top of your head, but this can be removed.  However, when turning the torch around to try and fit the straps on for the first use, a little nut dropped out!  It’s from the hinge which allows you to move the angle of the torch…  Needless to say, we will never find out how this one performs as it is going straight back to the shop!

R

The real tents are back!!

The real tents are back…

barefoot campsite 3

our tent set up at Barefoot Campsite

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…

barefoot campsite 2

sunrise

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.

Barefoot campsite 1

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.

IMG-20190715-WA0011

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!

IMG-20190715-WA0016

sunset (over other people’s tents)

 

See how we scored it!

L

 

 

What was the surprise gift?!

If you read the last post, you’ll know I went on an early morning adventure to collect something exciting, but couldn’t say what for fear of ruining a surprise!  Well here it is:

 

Shepherd’s hooks for hanging lanterns…. made especially for us by James at Black Barn Forge!

We’re very please with his attention to detail – an elegant hook, good depth to the hook to accomodate a lantern, pointed ends to make it easier to put them in the ground, and nice and tall to be a good height for a lantern!

The other bit of the surprise was something to hang on the other hook:

These hand-crocheted candle holders are available for sale at the Fayre and Square shop in Wimbledon.

Will tell you more about our camping trip in our next post.

L

Embrace your inner goat

 

 

Look what I had for breakfast!

I needed to be at Horton for 9am this morning… so I thought I’d make the most of the sunshine and have a jet boil breakfast in Horton Country Park!

I do love our jet boil, it’s so compact and speedy.

… as for why I was in Horton for 9am, I couldn’t possibly say… you’ll have to wait for the next post otherwise I’ll spoil a surprise for the other goat!

L

Embrace your inner goat!

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