One for the Wombles

We’ve lots of followers in South West London – and in these days of restrictions on how far you can travel for exercise, I thought you might like to know about the Summerstown 182 blog .

The name relates to the 182 people on the memorial in St Mary’s church Summerstown which commemorates people who died in World War 1. However it covers lots more of the local history and has 25 self-guided local history walks you can do as your lockdown exercise.

Today I did the self-guided walk called Frankie goes to Collywood and it was very interesting. Learning about the history made my daily exercise walk in a familiar area much more fun.

Hope you’re all finding small ways to keep embracing your inner goat during lockdown.

L

Santa knows what goats like!

Somehow you don’t need to write a letter to the north pole for Santa to know what to get you for Christmas. I received these lovely camping related gifts!

When I’m sitting in my armchair warmed by my pretend fire, this cushion helps remember where I’d rather be!

A COVID camping essential…

And best of all I highly recommend this book as essential reading before embarking on next seasons camping trips!! Needless to say Mr Strong’s camping trip doesn’t go smoothly and we can all learn from his disasters!!

Happy New Year!

L

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

Camping at Climping

We managed to catch the last of the warm weather when we tried out this new campsite the other week.

It’s a bit of an odd set up – you arrive at a gate with the wrong name on it, and follow the lane past a pretty farm house, then past less pretty farm buildings & parked up HGVs. Keep following the little tent signposts through a timber yard, drive along the fence for the prison, through a field and you arrive at Cuckoo Camp.

The pitches are individually marked out. The provision of your own private water tap for your pitch is contrasted by the requirement to bring your own toilet.

Although we could hear the road at night, we also were able to walk to Littlehampton and along the beach to Climping via footpaths. And yes, we did have an ice-cream and a paddle to celebrate the end of summer.

See how we scored this campsite of contrasts!

R & L