Tuesday 9 August 2016

First Time Camping; The Good, The Bad, and The Snuggly!

View of Landscape from Lady's Mile Campsite Yesterday we returned from our first ever 'proper' camping trip having only ever been 'glamping' before. Glamping has become popular in recent years, but you can't beat the challenges and achievements that come with residing under canvas in a field! We had a brilliant time, but it certainly had its ups and downs and, along the way, we learned a little bit about the dos and don'ts of camping life. Read on to find out where you probably shouldn't pitch your tent and how we coped with the dramatic weather changes! 

There might be a reason why a prime pitch is still vacant...

Before you pitch your tent, it's important to think about what is most important for your stay. We were quite keen to be away from the Entertainment Complex, but felt it would be handy to be near to the toilet block and washing facilities. On arrival, the receptionist suggested we try a field a bit further away from the main camp, up a hill. As soon as we entered the field we found the perfect pitch, close to the toilet block and with an unspoilt view over the valley. Which was lovely. Until the wind got up. Then we realised that the main reason for this lovely spot being vacant is probably that, being up so high and with no protection from the elements, any tents pitched there are going to provide a very handy windbreak for all the other campers in that row! Wind is not only very noisy from inside a tent, it's also a total pain when it causes your bedroom to collapse at 2am. After a sleepless night, we learned that storm pegs are a must, as the standard pegs that come with a tent are usually short and don't have enough grip, should the elements turn against you. This was the beautiful view from our tent, as the storm clouds gathered!

Lady's Mile Campsite

It will probably be colder than you think...

When I packed for our trip, it was 26 degrees and the nights had been unbearably hot for weeks. We were very short of space, so I was glad that it was August and we wouldn't need much in the way of layers. How wrong I was. Not long after we had put the tent up (thank goodness!) it began to rain. The temperature dropped quite a bit then, although it was still warm enough to be comfortable. Once we settled down for the night, however, it grew pretty cold. After that first night, we invested in a couple of blankets, which helped a bit, but, by the third night, I was shivering so loudly, I woke Phil up! This actually worked out quite well, for me anyway, as he drove to Asda at 4.30 am and got us a double duvet, which instantly solved the problem in the snuggliest way imaginable! We learned that, particularly without a sewn-in ground sheet, the temperature can drop significantly at night, even at the hottest time of year. If you can, bring more blankets than you think you will need and bed socks are a must! Here is L, trying out my sleeping bag, before we added the extra layers!

Boy in Sleeping Bag inside Tent

Never underestimate the value of comfort... 

One thing I was very grateful for on our trip was comfortable chairs. We had a major struggle cramming them in the boot, but it was so worth it. We did consider taking less chairs and sharing them, so that some of us would sit on the air beds or the grass sometimes, but I'm glad we didn't. I know that camping is meant to be about roughing it and making do, but this is one area I wouldn't want to compromise. If you are short of space and having to make decisions about what to take and what to leave, it's worth giving careful consideration to what you will be doing on your trip. If you are spending your days out and about and just using your tent for sleeping, chairs might not be such a big deal, but if, like us, you are cooking and eating in camp, finding the right furniture is a big deal. We took a couple of different styles of chair, but the most popular was this EUROHIKE Deluxe Moon Chair, from Blacks.co.uk. It felt like an armchair, but was still small enough to be pushed up to a table for meals, and it even matched the ketchup!

Boy with Hotdogs and Ketchup

Tidyness and organisation pays...

We learned early on the value of keeping your tent area tidy and putting everything away properly. Not only does it prevent accidents, especially at night, but it also saves time. When you are only away for a few nights, you don't want to be wasting time and effort looking for your toiletries or swimming kit, when you could be doing something much more fun. In the interests of safety, it's a good idea to prioritise what actually needs to be kept in the tent and what can be left in the car boot to be fetched as needed.  Know where you can find a torch and essentials, such as a first aid kit, should you need them. We had a light that you could hang from a loop inside the tent, so you always know where it is. These can be purchased cheaply from discount stores and some supermarkets. Here is Phil looking ridiculously pleased with his labour-saving dish drainer, using the awesome EUROHIKE Elite Roll Up Table, also from Blacks,co.uk. Improvisation is a big part of successful camping! 

Man with Washing Up on Camp Table

It might actually be hotter than you think...

After the first two days, the weather began to improve and we set off to check out the local beach. We loved it so much that on Thursday we decided to spend the day there. I had planned to leave the beach by 3pm, but everyone was having such a great time, we decided to stay for a bit longer. Despite covering everyone in sun protection spray, the grown ups still got burnt. The moral of this story is that; if you go camping in Britain, there is no type of weather that you can't be prepared for. Everytime you have to find a shop to buy something like aftersun, or cooling spray, it takes up so much valuable holiday time, so you really have to be prepared for any weather. We were away for less than a week, and went through torrential rain, near gale-force winds, then sunshine to rival the Bahamas! So, while packing your umbrellas and extra blankets, don't forget the cover ups and hats! 

Father and son on beach

Lacoste Sport Cap provided by Scotts Menswear. This post was produced in association with Scotts Menswear and Blacks.co.uk



  1. Great tips, there are benefits and negatives of staying near the toilets too, of course you are close so less trying to find them in the dark but also you may hear people in the night walking past your tent to get there. I love your roll up table, that is so cool, and I agree with you comfort is key, so comfy chairs are essential. You have to be prepared for all types of weather in the Great British Summer too!

  2. We take blow up chairs and always a throw for sleeping. Fold up portable log burner that doubles as a bbq. I find writing a list then adding to it or crossing stuff off is handy as I keep it with our camping stuff for next time we go.x

  3. we got over run with ants on our first camping as a family. its always best to have Citronella with you!


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