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25/03/2012

Camping in a pod - yes...me!

Well, it was sort of unintentional. I turned up for some solo camping to a place called Drumhoney Caravan Park and being so early in the season by the time I got there in the early evening it was practically dark. The family who run the site must have taken pity on me and offered me the use of one of their brand new camping pods, only launched that day! It was very good of them to offer me the pod for the same price as the pitch which I'd already paid, and so I couldn't really say no. I did have a twinge of regret at not being able to pitch my tent which was something I'd really been looking forward to doing. But I knew in the wee small hours of the morning I could well be glad of the slightly warmer temperatures the pod had to offer.

By the time I got the kettle on it was more than twilight, it was pitch dark. The harsh electric strip light in the camping pod was an annoyance so I dug out the fairy lights I'd intended to use on the tent and was pleased to see the ambient light made the pod look very pretty. I've never seen a pod before, but I have read about them and seen pictures of them online, and so I did have an idea what to expect. I believe some pods have sleeping platforms inside them but this one didn't, so it was a matter of setting up my bed on the floor. There was a nice little deck outside for putting my stove on, and the enclosure in which the pod was in included a long built in seat and a picnic table. 

I did feel a bit disconcerted at sleeping on the floor of what is essentially a glorified shed, I felt quite isolated in there which is something I don't feel in a tent even if I'm camping alone like I was on this occasion. On the up side though, I could have the ipod docked in it's speaker and listen to some podcasts and even an audio book quite loudly, without disturbing anyone at all. 

This was my puppy Tobys first camping trip, and I elected not to use the crate as we were 'indoors'. Well, that was a mistake, I spent all night defending the little space at the back of my sleeping bag from a little wriggly body and after evicting him the first time, he proceeded to sit an inch from my face most of the night. So every time I opened my eyes he scared the wits out of me! I can honestly say I didn't sleep well, it was very cold even in the pod and I was glad at that point I wasn't in the tent instead.

I was up very early on the following morning, following a very strange sound outside that I just couldn't account for. It turned out that there was a fully grown stag in the field adjacent to the site who was amusing himself by rolling a plastic barrel with his antlers up and down the hill. A bit more investigation and I discovered that there's a whole animal farm in the valley beside, and belonging to, the campsite. There were goats, wallabies, minature horses, rare breed chickens that looked like Rod Hull, and some very strange short eared Rabbits! 



Games Room

Looking down from the site to the animal enclosures

who are you?

I'll just have a scratch of my - um - belly

Billy goat gruff

Coco and Toby would love to chase those animals


The campsite was very nice, clean and well tended. There are a lot of statics but some spaces for tourers and tents as well. I would go again, especially to bring my two boys to see the animals. I liked the pods but having done that once I would prefer to use my own tent. One of the things I learnt was that when I was packing up it still took me an hour or so to put everything away in the car. Thinking about it I realised that it's the emptying of a tent that takes all the time, not the putting the actual tent away. Once a tent is emptied it can be taken down in minutes. It's getting all the stuff out of it that takes time!

23/03/2012

Memories of past seasons and saying goodbye to a faithful tent

Feeling a bit nostalgic about past camping trips I thought I'd look up some old camping photos, so here goes:

Following pictures feature a Royal Tarn 4, my two kids and one loopy dog (see if you can spot the dog)


An oldie, taken in France 2006. I took that particular tent to a car boot sale yesterday, and asked for £20 for it. I ended up bringing it home again :(




Same tent, taken in Benone in 2010, can't believe how much these two boys have grown since then! Both of them have overtaken my height, and it's no wonder we started to feel cramped in this tent when the only place my eldest son can stand is right in the centre.




Most recently this tent was used at the Sunflower Festival, August 2011. Not a bad pitch considering I did it single handed, in complete darkness, by feel. And that included trampling down the wheat (which was the designated camping area for the festival, I don't make a habit of trampling down farmers crops).

That trip convinced me we'd finally outgrown the tent. I thought I'd hold on to it for a 'borrowing' tent but as no one has borrowed it for one year I think it's time to get rid of it. It'll be brought to the next car boot sale, where I may or may not get a tenner for it.

The boys have outgrown our old tent, time to say goodbye to an old friend.

17/03/2012

List of items needed for camping (modifiable)

One of the most frequently asked questions on camping forums and in real life, from other people, is WHAT DO I NEED WHEN I GO CAMPING!

So here's a starter list, which can be modified to suit you as you become more experienced.


  • Tent
  • Groundsheet/footprint
  • Pegs
  • Rubber Mallet, more than one
  • Claw Hammer can be used for stubborn pegs and also for taking them back out again.
  • Sleeping bags (3-4 season) per person
  • Airbed and PUMP (capital letters because this is so often overlooked!)
  • Foam mats or equivalent for under an airbed
  • extra blankets
  • pillows from home
  • hot water bottles


2 folding crates or clear plastic boxes (If you buy a lidded plastic box they used as a low table.)

Crate 1: (think of it as kitchen box)


  • plates, mugs, cutlery
  • tin opener/corkscrew
  • dishwashing kit (ziploc bag with sponge, scourer and sm. bottle of dishwashing liquid)
  • nesting pan set (or a lidded pan and a small frying pan from home)
  • tongs, sharp knife, peeler, chopping board
  • tea/coffee/sugar in airtight food containers
  • dry food, such as crisps and biscuits and cereal packets
  • MARSHMALLOWS
  • wooden skewers
  • tin foil
  • hand sanitiser


Crate 2:


  • torch/head torch
  • battery operated lights (such as a string of fairy lights or even solar lights)
  • first aid kit
  • baby wipes
  • spare loo roll
  • matches or lighter
  • books/pack cards
  • roll of bin liners
  • collapsible water carrier
  • ear plugs
  • picnic blanket



Clothes bag:


  • soft holdall bag, one for each person (even little people) containing clothes, toiletries and undies.
  • toiletries to include sun cream and meds
  • travel towel, preferably bath towel sized


Cooking:


  • Stove (lots of options from single burner to camping oven!)
  • Folding barbecue
  • Cool box (tip freeze milk, sausages, pre-made dinners etc beforehand)


Optional:


  • 2 handled Trug, £3 Asda, perfect for washing dishes in. (Alternative: washing up bowl from home)
  • Kettle (or you could use a lidded saucepan)
  • Chairs (or you could sit on a picnic blanket
  • Table (for eating at and playing games etc)
  • Folding kitchen stand, not essential (for example you could use one end of your folding table) but it is safer with young children to have everything confined to one place. Avoid the concertina type kitchen stands, they are unstable and prone to collapse.


If you're taking EHU (Electric Hook Up) you can have:



  • fan heater or electric oil filled radiator
  • electric kettle
  • table lamp from home
  • chargers for devices such as cameras and phones




Having EHU extends the camping season earlier and later in the year.

For a more simplified version of this list check out The Never No More Packing List




01/03/2012

New Puppy/camping buddy

Meet my new camping buddy! This is Toby, he's a rough haired Jack Russel and he's super cute. I now have two dogs and one cat, and luckily they all get along with each other swimmingly. Toby is very easy to look after, until night time when he cried for two weeks solid! I was trying my best to crate train him but the crate is consigned to the shed and Toby is in the same pet bed as my other dog Coco now. No whining, crying or going mental, sleeping all night, bliss! Just wish he'd stop piddling on the floor now!




So any tips or ideas you have about how to get a little 12 week old puppy to poo outside instead of inside would be gratefully received. 

The mop is permanently in a bucket of bleach outside the back door, and although we're using puppy pads he seems to think they are an optional extra. Also, he leaks slightly every time he's picked up! 


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