We’ve just had a long Bank Holiday in the UK to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Two days off work seemed like an ideal opportunity to go camping… but a different sort of camping this time. Rather than a jam-packed car load, I managed to pack light:
Normally I only camp in small campsites, but this weekend I stayed in a massive temporary campsite with 36,000 others at the Big Church Festival .
It was great fun – I can’t think the last time I went to a big concert! The weather was very mixed, but Rend Collective and Melissa & Jonathan Helser still sounded great even in the rain!
I haven’t camped at a festival like this before, but as a beginner hear are my tips:
how will you transport your kit? If your car is parked 3 fields away how will you get your stuff to where you are pitching? My big backpack was good for this, but a trolley would have been even better.
where are the toilets? You don’t want to pitch too near the toilets as they might smell and you’ll hear people banging the doors all night. On the other hand you don’t want to have to walk miles to the toilet or to the water tap.
pack emergency loo roll. I didn’t think of this, but fortunately my buddy did. It’s unfortunate if the portaloo runs out of toilet paper just when you need it.
remember a water container. You’ll need something to carry water from the tap back to your tent.
take bin bags. Always handy to have a black bag with you for your rubbish or to double as a waterproof rug when the ground is damp… or your chair has been rained on. Little disposal bags are also handy for a little in-tent dustbin and because portaloos often don’t have bins in them.
remember your waterproofs. I got good use out of my waterproof jacket and also it was handy to be able to wear my waterproof trousers to sit on the damp grass in the morning when cooking and washing up. We also found a big umbrella useful for sitting under at a concert in the rain!!
do you want to be able to sit in comfort? We took our folding chairs and enjoyed being able to sit in comfort at the concert… but maybe you’re more of a raver than me and will be dancing at the front!
always pack emergency food. The first night the food vans let us down – there only seemed to be one open and naturally it had a mile long queue!! Fortunately we’d packed emergency pasta, stir-in sauce, tinned sweetcorn and tinned rice pudding. So we got out the trusty trangia and cooked up some dinner.
collapsible gadgets come into their own in this sort of situation. In the picture above you can see our collapsible washing up bowl doubling as a mini table! It was also very useful for washing up in, along with a tiny bottle of washing up liquid and a sponge scourer that I’d cut in half (to make it smaller & to make me feel less bad about throwing it away afterwards)
a battery pack to enable you to recharge your phone is very handy. Also remember to put your phone on aeroplane mode overnight – I forgot and the poor phone spent all night looking for signal and drained the battery!
to avoid getting lost take a flag & flag pole, so you can pick your tent out of the vast expanse of tents stretching in all directions!
When we arrived at Stockbridge View recently, not only was the weather cold, it was very windy. We thought it might be helpful to share our tips for pitching in the wind:
choose your location well. We are actually notoriously bad at this, we always want to pitch for the best view – usually the windiest spot on the top of the hill. We are slowly learning that sometimes it is wiser to forego the view and pitch in the shelter of a hedge or wall.
consider your angle. You probably want to try to pitch streamlined, especially if your tent is long and thin. Put the lower bits of the tent into the wind to guide the air over the tent rather than to buffet it. You don’t want to put your door into the wind – if you do the wind will come in when you open the door and lift your tent up like a kite. Pitching with your back to the wind also means that you can sit in your tent doorway and enjoy the shelter of your tent.
where will the fire go? Fires are an essential part of the camping experience, but in the wind you have to be a bit careful. Firstly you need to think about which way the wind will blow the flames. A gust can make the flames lick out quite far. You need to be a safe distance from your tent which is highly flammable! Of course the wind can also make lighting the fire difficult, so locating the firepit down wind of the tent, might make it easier to light as well as making sure the flames blow away from the tent. Bizarrely as well as being hard to light fires in the wind, it is also hard to get them properly out. A strong wind during the night can relight embers that looked like they were dying. In windy conditions knocking a fire out isn’t enough, always add water too.
make full use of guys. Sometimes it’s tempting not to use all the peg holes and guy ropes, but in the wind you really need to. Your tent was probably designed to withstand a bit of wind, but they were assuming you put it up as per the instructions! Guy ropes should be pegged out and then tightened. On normal tents, tighten as much as you can. On inflatable tents, it’s possible to overtighten and bend the poles out of shape – moderately tight should be fine.
pick good pegs. Our favourites for the wind are delta pegs . We put a few on the key guy ropes of each tent. If you are using normal metal pegs, angle them into the ground – if they form a continuation of the line of your guy rope, they are the wrong way round, they need to be pointing in towards your tent and roughly forming a 90 degree angle with your guy rope. Especially if the ground is soft try to get the pegs all the way in. If you can get the hook bit down onto the ground it will help stop it spinning round and the guy rope breaking free. There are also various v-shaped pegs available which stop the pegs from doing this. A mallet is an essential tool for getting a tent up firmly. A peg-puller might also be needed to get it down again!
weight your tent down. You can also help your tents stability by thinking where you put your heavier items inside the tent. If the wind is tending to get under a particular corner, maybe that’s the location for your suitcase or coolbox or whatever other weighty items you have.
know your limits. If your camp arrangement becomes unsafe, be sensible about when you need to put the fire out or retreat to your car.
Hope you have a safe camp trip & don’t get blown away.
Here’s another top camping tip idea we came up with recently… pack a thermos flask to save hot water!
Nothing happens quickly on a campsite, but boiling the kettle seems to take forever! We spend a LOT of time waiting for the kettle to boil… although perhaps thats because we spend a lot of time drinking tea and coffee!?!
Once it has boiled, put any hot water you don’t use into a thermos flask. It will stay warm enough for washing up, or if you want another cuppa later, then using warm water in the kettle will save precious camping gas!!