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18/04/2010

Reflections on seasons first trip

What a brilliant trip! I learnt however that no matter how comprehensive my list was, it didn't include ear plugs (for noisy neighbours) and a football. I learnt that my new bells and whistles double height airbed just about fits into the sleeping pod lengthways and no more! The new Intex air bed was comfortable, but took a little bit of jiggling around. The first night it wasn't firm enough, the second a little too firm. I must take a 'reading' of how many minutes and seconds it takes to inflate to get it just right, and write it down somewhere. I didn't feel any cold from under the airbed as I usually do, but then this one is so much farther off the ground, and also I had a roll mat underneath.


The first night I put my air bed, and the boys two 75cm ones into the sleeping pod, with the dividing curtain separating them from me. We all had roll mats underneath, and there was a picnic blanket down as a 'carpet'. Elan quickly figured out that he didn't like having his camping gaz airbed covered with a bedsheet, as it made it too slippy with his sleeping bag. Cormac did like the sheet, so they had their airbeds the way it suited them. The pod was pretty much filled up by all of this, the two airbeds had a 5 cm walkway between them, and I had a narrow strip too where I put the clothes bag.


Elan slept in the Teen Tent the 2nd night, and our sleeping pod looked much better. I got rid of the dividing curtain, I put the rug right in the centre with edges tucked under the airbeds, and it was more airy, comfortable and I swear I slept better and warmer! Elan seemed to get on fine that night, he didn't have any problems with cold or the wet leeching through except the next day when a little Westie came along and cocked the leg on the corner. When we left he packed his little tent away by himself which for a pop up tent is a challenge in itself!


Verdict on using picnic blankets instead of a tent carpet


I didn't really like having the picnic rugs as carpet in the main tent. I did like having a carpet, it really was an asset, but having separate rugs didn't really work out. They kept getting rucked up and it's not really practical to keep dog and kids out - it's not a show tent we have to actually use it. I put an eco mat over the joins but that just created more rucking. I think there's no substitue for an actual made to fit carpet. The only positive side to having separate rugs was that it was easy to lift one and shake all the new mown grass off it. You couldn't do that with a carpet.


Noisy neighbours


We had noisy neighbours on our first night. A couple and their two small children in their 'Halfords Special' and obviously not hardened campers. The Mum arrived over to me after dark looking for large batteries for her camp light, but although I do carry spares for my own lights I didn't have the correct size for hers so I lent them my spare UFO light. I was amazed and horrified to see she'd been using her cigarette lighter up until that point - naked flame, in a poly tent! No way!


Anyway most of the noise came from their baby, who screamed like a Banshee from 3am onwards. On three different occasions they turned the ignition on their car and kept it running for about 20 or 30 minutes, probably to warm themselves and the baby. In fairness I recognise that babies do make noise and I would never hold that against anyone, but that was hard to bear in mind when I didn't get much sleep. The problem for me (as well as them) was the cold which I probably wouldn't have noticed much if I'd slept through it.


They were to stay until Sunday, but I wasn't much surprised when I woke up about 9 on Saturday morning and they were gone. I was saddened that being so ill equipped will probably put them off camping for life. When they talk about camping, they'll relate the horror story of their terrible night without the basic realisation that they had a bad experience because they weren't prepared.


Camping with dog was more successful than ever we've tried. I think the crate was an invaluable piece of kit which was well worth the packing space. I was able to contain her when we were sleeping rather than have her raiding the kitchen bag and spreading dog hair all over the tent. I was able to control her when Mum and Dad came round so she wasn't (as much) of a nuisance. In the evening she nodded off rather than being on high alert (I'm so impressed with this I'm keeping the crate in the living room!). It was a pleasure to have the dog with us. I think a successful camping trip is evident when I've got a younger (and of the two, more reluctant) son who says on the way out, Mum can we do this every weekend! I really enjoyed getting away, especially seeing family who all came to admire the new tent and see how we were. My sister took us for a walk around an amazing and for me, previously undiscovered piece of coast line, which took us eventually to Portbradden and the smallest church in Ireland, St Gobbans.


We really enjoyed our first camping trip of the season, and it's actually the earliest in the season we've ever gone camping. On this occasion I didn't have the patience to wait, and with the advice from UKCS forum I felt better prepared for the colder nights. I just wanted to say a big thanks to Mum and Dad for the new football and the scones and doughnuts!

15/04/2010

First trip of the season

The car is half packed and the spag bol is made, and tomorrow, straight after the kids get home from school, we're heading off to go campin. It'll be interesting to see how my new tent works out!

I test pitched the tent last week and was really disappointed that there was a little bit of damage to the groundsheet. I considered going through Vango to get a replacement, but the reply to my email was to take it back to the retailer. I rang the Scout shop and they said the process could take weeks. The damage is small, so i'm going to repair it myself.

I'd like to take enough things with me to be comfortable this weekend, but at the same time I don't want to take too much. It's always the same old quandry. I'm only going for 2 nights, but our needs are the same as if we were going for a fortnight. Food, warmth and entertainment!

My sister and co are joining us for an afternoons walking followed by a takeaway, so I really only need the suitcase stove for heating up the Spaghetti Bolognese for the first night, and heating the kettle. We won't have EHU which is a pity because I'd have liked the use of the heater. We have got a gas cartridge heater but you can't leave it even for a second, never mind go to sleep with it going.

Of course we need beds and bedding. It's April so we'll need extra blankets and warm things to wear in bed, as well as socks and hot water bottles.

We need chairs to sit on and I'll only take one table which we can use to cook and eat on. I'll not take the cupboard because I'll only find things to fill it with.

I need to buy Washing up Liquid.....and I think.....that's all!

05/04/2010

introduction

I always have to start somewhere. It might not be the most informative post but at least it gets me going. Apparently I can add photo's and video to my new blog, but I've no idea how. (I'll get there though)

I've been camping for 6 years, but it's more accurate to say I've been camping on and off since before I was able to walk. In days gone by, camping took place in a huge canvas tent with brown and orange curtains that took two people turning the air blue to put up, and needed a trailer for transportation. I hated the process of 'going'. I prefered it when we'd got there and everything was in place, then I could start the serious process of widening rabbit holes with my plastic spade in the hope of catching sight of one or two of them.

Camping nowadays take place with two fairly reluctant male children who would rather stay in a 5 star hotel. Now they have a radio instead of games consoles, and the loo is a five minute walk away. If it rains (which it invariably does) they're miserable, bored and hyperactive.

This year, camping is going to be a whole new experience. We've got a new tent on order from the Scout shop. It's a Vango Icarus 500, part of Vangos new weekend range but for me it will serve as a longer stop tent.

We've also got new sleeping systems in place. No more sleeping on a cold, flimsy Readybed. It's double height, stable edge airbeds with layers underneath and sheets on top and a 2 season single XL sleeping bag on top of that again! Well all that is for me. The kids are on new 73cm airbeds, with mats underneath and new Royal Mummy sleeping bags. Elan might be in his own 'teen' tent too, in which case there'll be all the more room inside for all the camping gear which seems to be on the 'must have' list this year!
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