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26/07/2015

Pegs, Pegs, Pegs!

It's common sense to have a few different types of pegs for camping to cope with different soil conditions and to cope with the stress put on the peg by stormy weather. In most cases the tent is actually standing upright only because of pegs. I cannot stress how important they can be especially in bad weather conditions, where they could potentially save you from injury or worse! (Edit: what could be worse? Well your tent could blow away, and for me that would be a fate worse than death)

A tunnel tent for example, is not a self supporting structure. A dome tent is, but a Tepee or Bell Tent only has one pole, and the pegging points give them their shape. So pegs and guy ropes are essential. 

My advice is to have a selection of wire pegs, yellow plastic pegs, V pegs and Rock pegs at the very least. Add in a couple of Delta Ground Anchors and you are ready for anything. You also need a rubber or wooden mallet, and a claw hammer. 

Here are a few different types and their uses:

Wire Pegs

Wire pegs are flimsy and bend easily. They come with your tent when you purchase it and although they vary in quality they are mostly good for spare pegs, or lending out pegs. They are not suitable for guy ropes unless used in mild weather wth no wind but you can use them to peg down the main tent, although best to use something a bit heavier like a V peg for the corners of the tent. You can sometimes get away without using a mallet, as you push them in with your hand or drive it home with the sole of your shoe (needs must!). You can buy replacement packs for a few pounds, and discount shops like B&M Bargains will do a pack of 10 for 99p.

Rock Peg

Rock pegs are like very long nails and you need a claw hammer to bang these in to the ground. They are designed to go through stony or hard ground and come in a variety of colours, most commonly green but also a glow in the dark yellow. They are very good in stormy conditions and are a must have in my opinion. They are a bugger to get out though, so keep that claw hammer ready as the back of the hammer is great for levering these things out. A pack of 6 will come in around a fiver. In Halfords they are called 'Ground Hogs'. There is also a screw in version which you can insert in to the ground with a drill and Blue Diamond and Kampa both make screw in versions. 

Plastic Pegs

These pegs nearly always come in yellow, and they are made from a rigid plastic. Because they are thicker they have a lot of  grip on the ground and are ideal for soft muddy ground. They are also the peg to use on sand or sandy ground so if you are pitching a windbreak on a beach and need to add guy ropes to the windbreak, these are the ones you'll need. In soil you will need a mallet but in sand you can probably push them in. They are cheap at about £3 for a pack of 6. 

Steel V Pegs

I use Steel V Pegs in the corners of my tent, and also on guy ropes. They are wide, which increases the surface area that is in contact with the soil. They will power, with a good amount of whack, through stony soil and hard ground. Some tents will come with a few of these as part of the pack. They also come in Titanium for weight conscious backpackers. You will need a mallet to insert these into the ground, and either a peg puller or the back of a claw hammer, to get them out again. A pack of 5 if currently £4 on Amazon Uk

Delta Ground Anchors

These are the life saver pegs. These Delta pegs come in to their own in windy conditions. In soggy soil, they are wide enough to provide some grip. They are designed in such a way that the more pressure that is put on them from the guy rope, the further they embed in to the soil. There are metal versions of this peg as well. A few deltas, particularly on the windward side, could seriously save your tent. An additional bonus is that they sit flush with the ground so they are much less of a trip hazard, and the bright yellow means they are still visible in the grass. They are sold individually from Camping World at £2.49 each. I got a pack of 10 direct from Delta Ground Anchors. You will need something strong like a peg puller or the back of a claw hammer to extract them from the ground. 

Wooden Pegs

These are the pegs that Bell Tents often come with, and they are stronger and sturdier than most pegs. They appeal to bushcrafters and with a little bit of effort, you can make them on the go out of found wood as long as there is a notch to hold the guy rope in place. Great for windy conditions, they are also good for very churned up 'pea soup' ground as they are driven in to the ground further than most pegs. Free from any forest or about £10 for a pack of 6. 




In extreme circumstances, you may want a marquee peg. These are the pegs used to hold down Marquees (funnily enough) but also used by the bouncy castle industry. When would you use these? Well, possibly when you are trying to hold down an awning with a storm strap (wide webbing strap), or when you have extremely poor soil or extremely bad weather. In which case I'd have to question your sanity of camping in the first place. I saw a pack of 4 (38cm length) on Ebay uk for £14. 



Mushroom Peg 
Groundsheet Peg 

Both these pegs are designed to be flush with the ground, and are ideal for holding down the footprint or builders tarp underneath your tent. They are designed so that you do not trip over them. They are supposed to pushed directly down into the soil, and not at an angle as all the other pegs I have featured are. The Mushroom Peg usually comes in grey. I picked some Mushroom pegs up for 99p in a discount store. 



Pegging Methods:

You need to insert your peg in to the ground at roughly a 45 degree angle from the ground to ensure it does not get pulled out by the guy rope as the tent flexes in the breeze. 


Cross pegging is a method to increase the strength of your pegs in windy weather. Put the peg slightly sideways on and hammer in. Then insert another peg through the same loop, and in to the same ground surface but turn sideways in the other direction before hammering in. It is incredibly difficult to remove both pegs at the same time as the base of the pegs are spread far apart underground. 



21/07/2015

Festival Camping List

With only a fortnight to go before the Sunflower Festival here is my guide to packing for a festival. Please comment below with your own suggestions.

This could of course be used as a basic camping list for an occasion when you want to travel light or may not have access to your usual transport.

The Sunflower Festival is on at Tubbys Farm, Cabragh Road, Hillsborough from the 31st July - 2nd August. Tickets available on the website.

The Sunflower Festival Website


Festival Camping List 

General

Tent of choice – choice of big (stand up height) or small (easier to carry) and don’t forget pegs and mallet
Bed of choice – foam mat or airbed or self-inflating mat
Airbed pump if using an airbed
Pillows, inflatable or from home
Three season sleeping bag
Waterproof backed Picnic blanket for sitting on and use as an extra overblanket at night

Eating

Cool box, non-electric and cheap. Fill with ice from supermarket and a couple of 1 litres of frozen milk. Use as an extra seat or use as a table for putting stove on (carefully)
Single stove with fuel canister
Collapsible water carrier or 5l sized bottled water from supermarket
Pan set with optional kettle
Tin opener/bottle opener
Mug per person
Disposable cutlery and paper plates
Roll of bin liners (tip – do not take a whole roll, take a used ‘thin’ one from home – bin liner can also be used as emergency poncho)
Tea/coffee decanted into a clip top plastic box
Leftover sugar, salt and pepper satchets from your local eatery in a Ziploc bag
Small Hand Sanitiser (lidl, 79p)
Matches or Lighter
Pot Noodles, rice crackers, breakfast bars, fruit, fruit loaf, bagels, plastic jar of peanut butter etc etc.

Personal

Lightweight back pack for day use (day pack – Decathlon do a lightweight one, £2.99 range of colours)
Ziploc bag with your phone inside it
Travel pack of wet wipes
Wad of toilet roll
Paracetamol / prescription meds
Smidge or other insect repellent
Sun cream
Camera
Head Torch
Wallet with one card (pre-paid credit card is safer) and cash
Ear plugs

Clothes and Toiletries

Wellies / second pair of resilient shoes such as trainers
Poncho or pack a mac
One change of clothes
Lightweight comfy clothes for sleeping
Jumper or warm jacket
Sun hat
Sunglasses
Dry Shampoo
Travel Wipes
Toothbrush/toothpaste

Optional

Folding chair, preferably one with a carrying strap
Toilet seat liners, ebay £1.30 for 10

Tip – if taking a car keep a clean change of clothes and shoes for going home in as you may stop off somewhere for a bite to eat on the way.

Tip 2 - check the weather and if there is any windy weather forecasted, take a smaller tent preferably a pop up tent which will be much more likely to survive gale force winds. The bigger the tent the more surface area which will just pull the pegs out of the ground. Take a selection of different types of pegs especially rock pegs which are longer and stronger than most. 












19/07/2015

Mannix Point, the Return

Details: Mannix Point Camping and Caravan Park
  1. Address: Ring of Kerry, Cahersiveen, Co. Kerry, Ireland


It would be fair to say I am very keen on Mannix Point Campsite. The fact that this is my third visit is testament to that, but it is also a bit of an epic journey for me to get there. It's really an eight hour journey which is not something I have got used to. As per my previous post we decided to break up the journey by stopping overnight in Adare which is a five hour drive, and then we did the last three hours the next day. 

The last three hours of this journey are the worst. Gone are the good roads and along come driving through towns again. The roads are fairly good but you have traffic in every town, and there seem to be quite a few of them. The last major town before entering the 'Ring of Kerry' is Killorglin. From there on the roads are narrower but the scenery more dramatic. A final push on to Cahersiveen and Mannix Point is on the outer edge of the small town, right on the sea front. 

The weather in Adare had been gorgeous, and we set up in Mannix Point in glorious sunshine. Then the weather started to be a bit of a problem. I was completely unprepared for it as I'd assumed (hoped!) that the great weather we'd had the previous two times was how it always was in this part of South West Ireland. The following morning we woke to gale force winds and heavy rain, and for about 9 or 10 days out of our 13 days (supposed to be 14 but we went home one day early) it bucketed cats and dogs, and blew a gale. 

I had no coat, not even a brolly. I had a jumper which I promptly lost two days in because although I was using it as protection from the rain, it was really too mild for a jumper and every time I was inside anywhere I took it off. I think I may have left it in The Blind Piper (pub) or in Derrynane House (historic house) or in a coffee shop on Valentia Island. Or it could be in the Skellig Michael Visitors centre or a myriad of other places but one thing is for sure, it wasn't at Mannix Point either in the cottage or my tent or my car. 

Thank Goodness for the facilities at Mannix Point. I often say this is the best campsite in Ireland, and this is why. The campers kitchen and dining room is the best I've ever seen. The sitting room has a turf fire set every day and instruments for all to play and as a warm, dry place to escape the weather this couldn't be bettered. The staff are fantastic, they are so welcoming and like a family more than staff.

The campsite even won the Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence this year for the third year in a row which just goes to show I am not the only one with a high regard for the place. 

new, outdoor eating and sitting area under cover
Dining Room

Kitchen Area 
  
Raincoats 

We set up our Bell Tent in pitch 6 of  'High Field' which is an all tent section with no hardstandings. We had Electric Hook Up (EHU) and set up our tent so that we both had a sleeping area each with low chairs and a table to hold a light and a radio and other bits and bobs. We had a clothes bag each which were kept adjacent to our own bed area and I dressed up the outside with a bit of bunting. I initially set up a cooking area outside but due to the bad weather we packed up most of our cooking stuff and food into one plastic box and kept it in the main kitchen. There, I was able to use the campers fridge with my name written on the milk etc and many other campers took to doing the same thing. So in terms of breakfast and meals, we went to the cottage to cook and eat and we ate out a bit too. I had my own dishes and pots and kept them clean with my own dishclothes and drying cloths even though these things are provided as well. It worked great in the main but the weather being so bad meant that there was some competition for space in the kitchen at peak times. The kitchen isn't really meant to be used for so many people I suppose, but due to the bad weather everyone wanted to be in it! 

We ended up pitching a tarp low to the ground on our pitch to act as a shed, because my chairs, tables etc were getting wet and in parts starting to rust. 

photo taken on our one glorious day, showing our 'shed'. 

It dried up a little bit and on two nights we managed to barbecue and then one day we had a whole day of glorious sunshine where we went to the beach at Caherdaniel and got burnt to a cinder. On another dry(ish) day we went kayaking and then the King Scallop Festival was miraculously saved with pretty good weather as well. 


On a wet day we visited the Historic house at Derrynane of Daniel O'Connel, early 19th Century Irish Political force and pacifist. I found the visit much more interesting than anticipated considering we were just looking for something to do to get out of the rain. This property is run by the Office of Public Works (OPW) which is similar to the National Trust. Cheap to get in €4 for me and half that for my son with his student card. 


The grounds at Derrynane House 

We decided to come home one day early based on the weather report which saw another wave of rain and wind coming through the area. We made a straight run home this time and with no stopovers, and despite all the tribulations I am having camping withdrawals already. 

Thank you to Mortimer and Pat of Mannix Point for having me yet again and I can't wait until the next time. 




An overnighter in Adare

My son and I were taking our main holiday, 2 weeks in mid July, in Mannix Point in Co. Kerry where we as a family have been twice before. My other son was working and was staying at home with a Grandmother nearby.

To break up the long journey we decided to  stop over at Adare Camping which was on the route to Mannix Point. We took a road down the Western side of Ireland, a road that has seen vast improvements due to heavy investment by the Irish Government with the aid of European Funding. And so it was that we took a stretching legs break at Knock which is an ancient pilgrimage site for Roman Catholics from all over the world, with a huge Basilica and well kept Chapels and ornamental gardens.

The interest for me was more of interest rather than a pilgrimage and it was good to get out of the car after a two and a half hour drive. I found the buildings architecturally interesting and loved the art work in the windows. 


The campsite in Adare was another two and a half hours drive on and the roads were either motorway, dual carriageways or very good surfaced, wide roads with climbing lanes. There was no impediment and even though we apparently passed the cities of Galway and Limerick we didn't so much as see them, sailing round them whilst negotiating a few roundabouts. 

The first time we had to sit in traffic was at Adare itself, being a few miles south of Limerick. The village is very pretty, having been the village built around a large estate and the houses are mainly thatched cottages. The reason for the traffic was apparently people like to do a lot of rubbernecking whilst going through Adare and also being a busy village it's just a bottleneck for all traffic going further south. 



A mile or so past the village, turn left, turn left again and there is Adare Campsite. It is a lovely, small to medium sized campsite in tranquil countryside. The site is well tended, the grass short and the hedges trimmed. The owner, Hugh, charged me €10 each which I thought was a little on the steep side for what is in effect, a backpackers tent. I could have argued backpackers rate but it wasn't worth getting the owners back up. 

We had brought a Vango Halo tent which is a tent popular with bikers and backpackers because of it's small and lightweight pack size. It was the first time we pitched it and there was a little bit of scratching of heads as it is a geodesic tent (i.e. crossing poles) with an inner you have to attach from the inside. I have left the inner attached now and will probably not detach it again unless I really have to. The inner tent is orange and the fly is green and this tent is unique in that it has doors which are designed to be opened within one arm movement in an arc. There are one of these doors on each side so two people get their own door and this also aids cross ventilation for when the sun beats down and heats it up inside. It is also tall enough to sit up in cross legged and there is storage space for boots and bags etc outside the inner but under the protection of the fly sheet. I was seriously impressed how roomy it was inside. 

We had brought tea with us, bagels which we toasted and slathered with philidelphia cream cheese and smoked salmon. We were able to use the campers kitchen which in this case is a large tin shed, with a wood burning stove and a picnic table. Around two of the the sides are worktop and there is a kettle and somewhere to plug in your phone to recharge. There is a sink with running water. It is quite basic but more than adequate and you could feasibly take shelter in there in the rain. 

There are a couple of dishwashing sinks on the main amenity block which are under a roofed area and the loos were spotless, and the cubicles roomy enough to get changed in. I normally don't change in toilet cubicles but this time, being in such a small tent I was glad of the space and also how clean it was. 

We went in to Adare village later for a walk around and admire how pretty the village is kept. There was one burnt out cottage which Iv'e been informed since was due to an electrical fire and I'm also told it will be sorted out ASAP as it is a blot to the look of the village. 

Here's some pictures of the campsite:



Sun going down

Facilities and campers kitchen in shed. 


My son having a sleep in the following morning

Taken first thing the following morning with the Owner watering the hanging baskets. 



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