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8 Beautiful Campsites for Finding Wildlife

These beautiful and picturesque campsites are set deep within the countryside allowing an abundance of wildlife to flourish. If you want to recharge your batteries amongst stunning scenery and catch a glimpse of a wild animal or two, then have a look at these 8 beautiful campsites for finding wildlife:

1. Red Shoot Camping Park

At Red Shoot Camping Park within the beautiful National Park of the New Forest, you can explore the rare and diverse wildlife habitats of the centuries old landscape and are highly likely to spot some of the famous wild ponies. We aim to help protect and enhance our local environment and are proud holders of the Gold David Bellamy Conservation Award.  We boost biodiversity by managing existing habitats within our park and adding new habitats where possible. Within our park you will find hedgerows, wildflowers, trees, grassland and nesting/overwintering boxes and houses for birds and insects all attracting a range of wildlife. We have signed up to the David Bellamy Honey Bee Pledge and provide a home for several bee hives in a quiet corner of one of our private fields.

Surrounded by nature at its best and with a choice of camping, caravanning, glamping or a holiday cottage, the Red Shoot Camping Park is the perfect place to unwind, relax and escape the hustle and bustle of modern life.

Find out more here: Red Shoot Camping Park

2. Gorsey Meadow

Gorsey Meadow is at the very heart of Norfolk.  Having kept it to ourselves for so long we now hope others will enjoy it as much as we do. Our wonderfully secluded meadow allows adults to escape the hustle and bustle and children to enjoy space and nature in a safe environment. Book individually or hire the meadow exclusively as part of a group of family and friends and have your own slice of Norfolk to build memories that will last a lifetime. We welcome camping, campervans or glamping within one of our five sumptuous bell tents.

You will share the meadow with an abundance of nature from inquisitive rabbits and strutting pheasants, songbirds in the hedgerows and tawny owls in the oak trees.  We even have our own bug hotel! You are very welcome to picnic in the beautiful woodland glade and explore the surrounding area but take care with children as there are natural dangers in the woodland such as ponds and inedible mushrooms.

Find out more here: Gorsey Meadow

3. Forest Glade Holiday Park

Forest Glade Holiday Park in Devon is surrounded by 300 acres of forest and we are proud to hold a Gold David Bellamy Conservation Award.  This is one of the longest running green tourism awards in the UK and we aim to preserve the environment around us so that it can be enjoyed by future generations. We manage our land as a haven for wildlife and have a self-guided nature walk on the park – Our leaflet at Reception or from the Tourist Information Room suggests plants and wildlife that you can look out for throughout the seasons including deer, hares as well as a variety of birds and wild flowers.

You can choose from camping, caravanning or motor homes as well as glamping in our camping pods or staying in one of our self-catering caravans to enjoy the tranquillity of these beautiful surroundings on the Blackdown Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Find out more here: Forest Glade Holiday Park

4. Walton Court Caravan and Camping Site

Walton Court is a small working farm in the heart of the welsh countryside. Our pool, which you will pass as you enter Walton Court has an abundance of wildlife.  There are 2 mute swans that visit, moorhens, wild ducks, a kingfisher, woodpeckers and herons.  During the spring the pool is filled with frogspawn.  It is fed by natural springs and the Riddings Brook passes along the perimeter.

Choosing from camping, caravanning, our static caravan, glamping in our lovely shepherd’s hut or staying in our luxurious cottage, you can enjoy the fresh air, wildlife and fabulous views of the welsh countryside.

Find out more here: Walton Court Caravan and Camping Site

5. Porlock Caravan Park

We at Porlock Caravan Park are delighted to welcome you to our family-run, multi award-winning camping, touring and luxury Caravan Park, set in the beautiful vale of Porlock, in the National Exmoor Park. Our aim is to make your stay as relaxing and enjoyable as possible. We are passionately committed to conservation and wildlife, including our Bellamy award-winning garden, and maintain our grounds and facilities to the highest standards to ensure you have a great and memorable holiday.

Exmoor is one of the most tranquil National Parks and offers some of the best star gazing in the country as well as being home to the tallest tree in England. There is an abundance of wildlife from the largest herds of Red Deer in England to the famous Exmoor Pony – the oldest breed in Europe. We offer the perfect location from which to experience and explore the stunning scenery of Devon and West Somerset.

Find out more here: Porlock Caravan Park

6. The Lost Brickyard

Photos By Trail Camera

The Brickyard Campsite is a unique spot secretly hidden on the North Norfolk coast. Set in an area of outstanding natural beauty you’ll feel like you have the whole place to yourselves! If you love owls hooting, deer grazing and stoats racing this is the place for you.

We offer a mix of bring your own camping and full-scale glamping; you can even have friends pitch their tents next to your glamping tent. All our camping areas are secluded and private with trees and shrubs – it is truly wild camping. All pitches have a fire pit and we have a communal, wood fired pizza oven for everyone to use.

We are walking distance from Holkham Hall, Holkham beach and you can explore our beautiful scenery from the SUSTRANS cycle route system as well as the North Norfolk Coastal Path.

Find out more here: The Lost Brickyard

7. Haw Wood Farm

We are delighted that our passion for the environment, conservation and nature has been rewarded with a David Bellamy Gold award for conservation for a 3rd year running!

Here at Haw Wood Farm in Suffolk, you can bring your tent, caravan, motorhome or campervan and enjoy the beautiful rural scenery and wildlife. From our newly planted woodland of over 3500 trees, and dedicated dog walking field, you can weave through the wild grasses and feast your eyes on a magnificent array of flora and fauna. In the late spring and summer months you will see our wild flower meadows in bloom. We have a strip for the birds and a strip for the bees and butterflies. As a bee-friendly site, as well as planting lots of flowers that we know bees love we also have our own bee hives. We make sure we leave the little lovelies plenty of honey for themselves but any extra we extract, and you can buy in our shop.

Find out more here: Haw Wood Farm

8. Chapel House Farm

Welcome to our hideaway at Chapel House Farm in the little village of Craswall close to the book town of Hay-on-Wye. Our camping pitches are spread over 15 acres of wildflower fields bordered by ancient woodland. Children can make dens, run in the woods and play games in the long grass. You can bring your own tents or stay in our beautifully furnished bell tents or yurts.

The pastures are a spectacle throughout the spring and summer with a show of bluebells and a host of other wild flowers. Watch out for the Red Kites and Buzzards that wheel over the campsite and listen for Curlews on the road to Hay where you might also spot a Fallow deer or tiny Muntjac deer crossing the road.

Find out more here: Chapel House Farm

6 of the Best Campsites to Keep the Kids Entertained

“I’m bored!” is what you will NEVER hear at these campsites, handpicked for their range of facilities designed to keep the whole family happy. So, take a look at what we consider to be six of the best campsites to keep the kids entertained:

1. Woolacombe Sands Holiday Park

Woolacombe Sands Holiday Park in Devon has fantastic facilities to keep everyone out of trouble including heated swimming pools, kids’ club, crazy golf, children’s play park, bouncy castle, arcades and UV Disco bowling, licensed clubhouse and food bar with great nightly children’s and adults’ entertainments.

In addition to all this, they are the closest holiday park to the UK’s Number 1 beach – Woolacombe, and you can easily access it via their dedicated footpath through National Trust countryside within 10-20 minutes (thus avoiding parking charges). A wide range of accommodation options include touring caravans, motorhomes, static caravans and chalets as well as plenty of space for camping.

2. The Farm Camp

The Farm Camp in Wiltshire offers something a little different where the family can become truly immersed in countryside living. They have dedicated staff to offer experiences in farm craft and sheep herding as well as archery and well-being activities. You can go wild swimming nearby and be entertained by live music. You could learn more about their organic vineyard or simply hire a bike or boat and go exploring. This is prime memory-making time for the whole family as you relax into the beautifully furnished bell tents with wood burning stoves to keep you cosy.

3. Smytham Holiday Park

At Smytham Holiday Park, take a relaxing swim in the heated outdoor swimming pool or play table-top games in the purpose-built games room. There is a volleyball/badminton court on the lawn for you to enjoy along with a large open space in the valley which can be used for games such as football or cricket. For the younger ones there is a large play area complete with swings, slides and climbing frames!

Smytham Holiday Park has direct access onto the world-famous Tarka Trail – an old railway line converted into a foot/cycle path where there are stops along the way to refresh yourself with a drink and a bite to eat in the beautiful Devon countryside. There is a selection of holiday accommodation to choose from: from traditional camping and caravanning pitches to timber lodges, camping pods, and holiday homes.

4. Campsie Glen

Campsie Glen in Stirlingshire boasts a fabulous set of facilities for family entertainment including a heated swimming pool, indoor hot tub and small children’s pool. The stunning Scottish scenery forms the backdrop to an adventurous children’s outdoor play area and putting green and when the weather turns, they can retreat into the indoor games room. The whole family can enjoy seasonal weekend entertainment in the lounge bar and there are a wide range of accommodation options from glamping pods through static and touring caravans and of course, beautiful camping pitches.

5. Forest Glade Holiday Park


Forest Glade Holiday Park in Devon is proud to boast a fantastic range of facilities to keep the kids active and entertained. These include a free covered heated swimming pool, children’s play areas, a games room, tennis court and forest walks. In fact, the park is surrounded by 300 acres of forest so there could be no end to the adventures to be had!

Accommodation options include touring caravans, motorhomes and glamping pods as well as plenty of space for camping. All are well-provided for with free hot showers, family and parent and baby rooms, washing up facilities, a laundry room and a campers’ kitchen.  There is even a shop with off-licence and take away so everyone in the family will be happy.

6. Quantock Orchard Caravan Park

Quantock Orchard Caravan Park is perfectly situated in an “area of outstanding beauty” in Somerset. There, the children have access to an exciting adventure playground which has slides, a climbing frame, seesaw and swings as well as a safe environment within the park to play to their heart’s content. Adults might prefer to use the well-equipped gym but everyone on the family can enjoy the swimming pool in this five pennant park. There is also bike hire available to explore the Quantock Hills where you might spot the native ponies, red deer and a host of other wildlife.

Accommodation options include touring caravans, motorhomes, static caravans as well as well-appointed pitches for camping.

7 of the Most Picturesque Glamping Sites

The sun is out and spring is most definitely on the way! If you’re not quite ready for the vigours of camping but fancy some outdoor living, why not try the luxury of glamping? We have identified 7 of the most picturesque glamping sites for you to drool over – places where relaxing is as easy as it gets.

1. Wild Mountains Glamping

As the names suggests, Wild Mountains Glamping offers stunning views across its peaceful, rural site. Situated in the village of Cwmdu, West Wales, you are free to explore the hills, river and woodland and return to the home comforts of the beautifully furnished bell tents. If you are dreaming about escaping and reconnecting with nature, family and friends then this is the adventure you need.

2. Valley Yurts

Valley Yurts sits upon 10 acres of wild Welsh countryside, on the border of Herefordshire and Powys. You can expect 360 degree views of the beautiful Welsh countryside and all home comforts with a touch of luxury. With a firm focus on peace and relaxation in the countryside, you can explore the stunning surroundings at your own pace with your family and friends. From your beautifully hand-crafted yurts, you can stargaze at night through the crown in the centre, without any light pollution.

3. Eco Retreats

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If you want to experience a real retreat off the beaten track, then Eco Retreats is just that! Situated 25 minutes off the tar road on a working organic farm, this eco-friendly site within the heart of Dyfi forest offers well-equipped accommodation in beautiful yurts and one tipi. With minimal noise and light pollution you can make the most of peaceful days and beautifully starry nights. You will feel far away from the stresses and strains of modern day living as you relax into the rhythms of the forest.

4. Moor View

At Moor View Luxury Canvas Camping, you are surrounded by stunning rural fields, woodlands and gorges within the area of outstanding natural beauty of the Mendip Hills. Enjoy long lazy walks through wild flower meadows, endless views over the Somerset levels, hammocks, camp fires and huge canvas bell tents fully kitted out for the ultimate luxury camping experience. Moor View is the perfect place to spend a relaxing weekend with friends and family.

5. Chapel House Farm

Chapel House Farm is hidden away in the little village of Craswall, close to the book town of Hay-on-Wye. The delightful site is spread over 15 acres of wildflower fields bordered by ancient woodland. In the spring and summer, the pastures are a spectacle with a show of bluebells and a host of other wild flowers. You can choose from exquisitely furnished yurts or a bell tent to relax and unwind, taking in the views of the Black Mountains nearby. Children are free to make dens, run in the woods and play games in the long grass.

6. Whitlingham Broad

Whitlingham Broad Campsite offers a relaxing countryside break in the stunning setting of the Norfolk Broads National Park. With scenic views over the country park and to the Broad, you have immediate access to woodland walks and beautiful waterways. With the choice of fully furnished and funky bell tents or cosy yurts complete with log burner or even a boutique shepherd’s hut, you can relax in true luxury whilst admiring the beautiful Whitlingham countryside.

7. Barnutopia

Suspend reality and make magical memories in rural heaven. Barnutopia is situated in the rolling Shropshire hills, on the Welsh border and thus has far reaching, simply amazing views. With a range of luxurious and comfortable glamping options from yurts to stables and cabins, you can enjoy rural relaxation without roughing it.

7 Amazing Days Out for February Half-Term

Are you looking for some fresh ideas to try out over this February half-term with your family?  Well, we are passionate about finding great experiences for families interested in nature, animals and being active outdoors. So, we have found 7 amazing experiences to help you create beautiful memories with your loved ones:

1. West Midlands Safari Park

Mammoth fun to be had this February half-term!
From 16th February, West Midland Safari Park is open daily for the main summer season and to kick-start the year, they will once again be holding their annual Explorers Week!

During the event, guests will be invited to help onsite palaeontologist, Dr. Nock find some missing Ice Age animals. They will do this by exploring the Park’s new Ice Age exhibit, collecting facts about the animals they encounter. Once they have completed this challenge, they will be able to collect a prize. There will also be the chance to do some fun arts and crafts in the Discovery Room and be in with the chance of winning a Safari Park Annual Pass, by taking a selfie with the woolly mammoths.

To find out more click here.

2. Oaker Wood Leisure

Oaker Wood Leisure is an outdoor activity and Glamping Centre based in Herefordshire. This February half-term we have 2 great outdoor activities for children:

Multi-Activity Day for children aged 7-12 years.

Wed 20th Feb – 9 -3.30pm – £24.50

A full day of outdoor activities including Assault Course, Zip Wire, Climbing, Woodland Krypton Adv trail and more.

Teen Paintball Afternoon

Wed 20th Feb – 12.45 – 3.30pm

£15pp

For more information click here

See this video for more info about our Childrens activity days in school holidays

3. Trentham Monkey Forest

Why not monkey around this half term… get outdoors and walk with 140 free ranging monkeys!

Trentham Monkey Forest, located in Staffordshire, reopens just in time for February half term. The ancient Staffordshire woodland is home to 140 free roaming Barbary macaques. With no cages or bars these endangered monkeys live in freedom within the 60-acre forest. Visitors can walk the ¾ of a mile woodland walk to get an up-close insight into the lives of this fascinating species.

Monkey Forest reopens from the 16th February. For more information, seasonal opening times and to book online visit www.monkey-forest.com.

4. Wicksteed Park

You can expect oodles of excitement at Wicksteed Park this February Half-Term! There’s something for everyone and every weather!

Zoolab will be visiting with their creepy crawlies and furry friends and letting you get up close and personal whilst learning all about them! We have a new orienteering course ready to test your skills and our Archery course will be available too! Our amazing clip ‘n climb and play factory will be open as usual and we have a special ride wristband price of just £10 for 12 rides that will be available throughout the day!!  That’s less than £1 a ride and you can go on as many times as you like!! Wow! Even more amazing, if you book online you can get 15% discount!

Some of these sessions need to be booked in advance so head to our website to find out more and book while there’s still space! www.wicksteedpark.org/FebHalfTerm

5. The Jungle Hut

Visit The Jungle Hut – a unique jungle explorer themed hut in Earlswood near Solihull – and get up close and personal with some amazing exotic animals. They offer a Jungle Ranger 5*, value for money, unique and personal exotic animal encounter that no one else offers!

Have a family bonding adventure, share first-time experiences and make memories together, while meeting creatures that include millipedes, chameleons, geckos, tortoise, snakes, tarantulas and much more!

The young ones of the family will also receive a signed junior explorer certificate from the jungle ranger at the end of the tour. Great for a weekend or holiday visit, birthday party, educational groups and so much more, The Jungle hut also has a unique gift shop selling fair trade hand made products and gifts from around the world.

For more information or to book your visit, go to the website (no payment required on booking.)

6. The Heights of Abraham

Head for the Heights (Matlock Bath, Derbyshire), open from the 9th of February, and every day during half term. (10am – 4.30pm daily). The spectacular award winning tourist attraction takes visitors on a stunning cable car ride with views across the Derwent Valley to a hilltop 60 acre landscaped woodland Estate. Once you arrive by cable car all the attractions are free. Indoor Galleries and Exhibitions, Adventure playgrounds, guided tours through illuminated showcaves deep underground, cafes, snack bars and a fully licensed restaurant with fine views across the valley.  Visit the website for more details and purchase your tickets online for the best deal!

Also, Valentine’s Day marks the start of a four-day Heights of Abraham special occasion celebrating friendship and family (Thursday 14th to Sunday 17th February.) Check out our video to find out more about our “Love is in the Air” special event.

7. Hoglets

If you’re heading to Amerton Farm in Staffordshire for a day out this February half-term, then join Hoglets in Billy’s Farm Barn as they ‘create a love’ for our British Garden Birds!

You’ll find them in the party room from the 18th-22nd (9:30am-4:30pm) where you can choose from a variety of bird-related activities – decorate your own bird box, make a bird feeder or create your own British bird!

All activities are priced between £3-£5 but please note that this is in addition to Farm Barn entry fees!

Once you’ve finished creating, learn some facts about our favourite, feathered friends by completing some fun, FREE educational activities!

Every participating child will receive a FREE bird spotting sheet to take home and a FREE bird glider!

For more information click here

Packing your Caravan away for Winter

When it’s the end of the season and time for packing away your caravan for winter, you might wonder what you should actually do to keep it in good condition until next year. Well, here are a few tips from our good friend, Kate, who admits to OCD when it come to her beloved “Green Windows!” (check out Green Windows’ story here: An Affordable Caravan? We Found One!)

Awning

The same as for  Packing your tent away for winter, we always make sure our awning is clean and dry before we put it away for winter to prevent any mould or mildew taking hold. We hang it out and look for any marks or tears – cleaning the marks with an appropriate awning cleaner and patching up the holes. When we are happy it’s completely dry then we fold it away putting it back in its bag. Replace any guy lines or poles that are on their way out and put some new tent pegs in also. There is nothing worse than getting it out next spring and finding half your bits and pieces don’t work, are broken or missing!

Kitchen

Everyone gives their caravan a good clean after every use, but it needs the winter special spruce before you tuck it up. I clean every nook and cranny in mine. I am obsessed about damp and mould. To beat this, you need to be really thorough:

  1. Remove ALL the food from the kitchen cupboards except for tins. I remove all the sugar, coffee, tea, salt, pepper, sauces, the lot!
  2. Give the cupboards a good hoover and wipe out.
  3. When dry, put in a few loose tea bags. These will soak up any moisture and stop mould appearing.
  4. Make sure your oven and grill are clean and empty out your toaster. We don’t want any crumbs left about that little friends might come looking for.
  5. Clean your fridge by giving it a good wipe out with bicarbonate of soda.
  6. When dry, put loose tea bags in it and leave the door open so it can ventilate.

 

The secret weapon against mould?

Bathroom

When you clean your toilet, empty and flush your waste tank.  I make my husband do this several times (I know, I spoil him). However our waste tank is never too bad as our toilet is a no-poo zone. We also don’t put toilet paper in it.  We always leave our tank in the open position over winter.

I also empty the bathroom of shampoo, shower gel and soap. The spare toilet roll also comes home because no-one wants a damp crinkled toilet roll next season!

Living area

I take all my bedding home and towels, even if it’s clean. I want everything washed, aired and packed away in the loft until next season.

It’s a personal choice but I like to leave my curtains open – I don’t leave anything in it to pinch and I take everything home apart from the plates and cutlery. I also leave my blinds open, just because they are roller blinds and she is an old van. I worry that if they a pulled down for months they might not roll back up in spring.

I lift up the cushions and stand them on their sides. Because I am obsessed!

Last few jobs before you shut the door:

  • Hoover the floor
  • Clean it by hand with warm water and floor cleaner.
  • Use a towel until it is bone dry (no mould zone please)

General maintenance

The water system – now this is not my job. But I know it always takes him ages to sort out (I think my OCD might be rubbing off…well, I can hope!) He drains the whole system and leaves all the taps on including the shower head. Remove any filters, as you don’t want any water being held in your unit. Freezing in your pipes would be a disaster darling!

Leave all your vents open and unblocked. You want your van to be able to breathe over winter. Make sure that your windows are shut properly and that any perished rub seals have been replaced. Also check the seal on your roof vents. No dripping in here please.

Our boot doesn’t leak but it could when I’m not there. So, we place a great big piece of plastic sheet over the boot contents so it doesn’t get wet.

Storage

Where are you keeping your caravan over winter?

Obviously, it needs to be somewhere secure, clean and dry. We make sure we park it on level ground and put its legs down. We choke the wheels and leave the hand brake off. If you can visit your van over winter to check it and make sure it knows it is still wanted, great. I can’t unfortunately but the people who keep it in storage for me let me know if there are any problems and know to give her a little pat now and then.

As you may have guessed, there can be no shortcuts to packing away your caravan for the winter.

Remember: clean looked after well cared for caravan = great holidays 2019!

I love my “Green Windows,” and have no intention of replacing her. But that doesn’t stop me from dreaming and I love checking out camping/caravan shows to see what innovations have come onto the market and what accessories I could add to her. For a list of these check out Camping and Caravan Shows Spring 2019.

Packing your tent away for winter

So, here it is…camping season officially over! Sob!

Most of you (apart from you die-hard mighty campers) will turn your attention to packing your tent away for the winter.  There are a few jobs that need doing to prolong the life of your tent and ensure everything is ready and raring to go for the next season:

  1. Make sure your tent is dry.

Before packing your tent away for winter, it must be thoroughly dry to ensure the nasties like mould and mildew don’t get a hold of it as these affect the weather-proofing and life span of the fabric.

The ideal ‘taking down’ situation would be a lovely sunny day with a slight breeze – when this happens, we like to empty the tent of all contents, (including sweeping out the crumbs) zip up the insect doors (if you have them), unzip all the rest and let the breeze air the inside of the tent thoroughly for an hour or so.  Then, when rolling it up, partially zip up all the doors to allow extra air to escape and use towels to wipe away any mud, wet grass and damp.  This means your tent is ready to pack away with no further intervention needed.

If you have the unfortunate situation of rain when packing away, then you will have some work to do at home! You need to get it dry as soon as possible so either re-erect it in your garden as soon as you get a dry spell for it to dry and air or, if you have the continued adverse weather conditions that we had this year (see Six Things We Have Learnt Whilst Camping This Year), get the tent laid out/hung up in a large shed/garage within 2-3 days. Again, use towels to help rub down any wet patches – particularly round windows – to help it dry as quickly as possible. Make sure it dries naturally, however, and not near another heat source as this can affect the fabric.

  1. Check your tent

Whilst packing your tent away, do check for any rips, damaged seams or zips, broken poles, etc. Make it your priority to get these sorted when you get home, or the likelihood is you’ll forget about them until you erect your tent for your next holiday and you’ll be in big trouble with your family!

Most tents come with a basic repair kit and its as simple as gluing and sewing patches on. There is loads of help available online these days so if you are in any doubt, check out videos/tutorials available for repairing your make of tent.

If you have had your tent for a while, you might also want to consider waterproofing it. Again, check out any recommendations from the manufacturer of your tent in terms of products and method.

Do replace any broken poles, wonky pegs, worn guylines, etc. at this end of the season, again to avoid panic at the next camping trip!

  1. Where to put it?

The size of your tent has a direct bearing on where to store it! Most can be stored safely away in a garage, shed or loft/attic where it is dry and out of sunlight. Take care about preventing rodent damage by storing up high, or in another bag/box – also by ensuring you thoroughly swept out any remnants of crumbs when packing away to prevent the little varmints being attracted to your precious tent!

  1. Ready for your next trip?

It’s not just your tent that needs checking.

Sometimes, you get back from a camping trip and need another holiday after you’ve sorted everything out!

For me…it’s the washing mountain pile.

Living the dream

Some people just air their sleeping bags, but I like to wash them to minimise the stink of our family. All bedding, air beds, etc will need thoroughly drying and airing before packing away to again, prolong their life and keep everything smelling sweetly.

All of your kitchen equipment, food containers, etc. will need checking, cleaning and drying before packing away to make sure a proper job is done – sometimes, you can’t quite get that at a campsite. Then think carefully about storage – ideally, keeping everything together makes for an easy task when going on your next trip. If this isn’t possible, then make a note of where things are to prevent grumpiness next year.

After you have replaced anything that needs replacing, thoughts might move on to your next purchase. What did you feel that you needed at your last camping trip? What did you see of another’s set up and think ‘that’s what I need’? Do you need to upgrade your tent?

A fun thing to do is pop along to a camping show and check out the gigantic range of tents and accessories available. Here you can check things out thoroughly before committing to buying, compare prices, spec and just exactly what is out there. For a list of these check out Camping and Caravan Shows Spring 2019.

Chin up – only six months to go until camping season 2019!

Camping and Caravan Shows – Spring 2019

The main camping season may be over (except for you crazy extreme campers!) and thoughts have turned to log fires and cosying up next to them. But in a few weeks’ time, when you start to get that ‘itch’, that need to reconnect to your tent, caravan or motorhome, fear not! There are many opportunities in early 2019 for a darn good nosey into new products and innovations available at camping and caravan shows up and down the country. These are great opportunities to have a good look at products you have heard about, to test things out, find a good deal, stock up on items or just ogle at what’s out there. Whatever your motivation, camping and caravan shows certainly get you thinking about the summer ahead and help to shorten the loooooong winter season!

January 2019

17th-20th: Manchester Caravan & Motorhome Show, Event City, Manchester

18th-20th: Belfast Caravan & Motorhome Show, Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast

20th-21st: Adventure Travel Show, Olympia, London

25th-27th: Holiday World Show, RDS Simmonscourt, Dublin

25th-29th: The Motorhome Show, Westpoint, Exeter

31st Jan-3rd Feb: Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show, Olympia, London

 

February 2019

7th-10th: Scottish Caravan and Outdoor Show, Glasgow SECC

16th-17th: DubFreeze, Bingley Hall, Stafford

19th-24th: Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show, NEC Birmingham

 

March 2019

17th-18th: UK Spring Motorhome & Caravan Show, Newark Show Ground

22nd-24th: The Yorkshire Motorhome and Accessory Show, Great Yorkshire Showground

 

April 2019

18th-22nd: Camperfest, Chester

26th-28th: The National Motorhome and Campervan Show, East of England Showground, Peterborough

Six Things We Have Learnt Whilst Camping This Year

 

  1. After buying a new tent, test it out at home first.

This is something we know very well. But for some reason, we didn’t bother after our first air beam purchase earlier this year. Cue 2 looooong hours of tension as we crawled our way to full erection! Not advisable at any time, but definitely not with two small and increasingly grumpy children!

  1. Check the weather forecast.

We have had a simply amazing summer this time and in July, it felt that the sunshine would never end. So, when we came to the end of our planned holiday in Somerset, we thought heck, we’ve got some clean clothes left, we might never experience another summer like this again…let’s carry on for a couple more days! So down to Devon we went and the skies turned from the bluest of blues to the darkest of greys.

Great.

Two full days of rain plus a night storm of epic proportions later and we squelched our way home.

  1. Prepare your tent before a storm rather than during.

This is greatly assisted if you have done point 2 beforehand.

So, we woke up in the middle of the night to what can only be described as the stormiest storm in Stormland on national storm day. Our tent was stable but there was no denying the severe wind buffeting it and I did what anyone would do…kicked the husband out of bed to deal with it. Much double pegging later and we eventually felt able to sleep again…although this was trickier as we had two extra small people in the bed.

  1. Help the helpless.

As we arrived at the camp still full of holiday cheer and totally unaware of the storm to come, we came across a family of a lovely dad, uncle and three children all looking hopefully at some poles and canvas. It became apparent that this was their first ever camping trip with borrowed equipment and they had not completed point 1 or 2. They had been in the same position for 2 hours. So, with our travelling buddies we helped them to erect their somewhat complicated tent and they were really happy and grateful. We had that wonderful glow that comes with being useful.

Then came the storm.

Come the morning, their tent half caved in and they hadn’t slept a wink. They decided not to stay for the second night. I would imagine they will never camp again.

Perhaps we should have just left them to it and they could have found a B&B?

  1. Timing is everything.

When packing away your tent, ensure it is thoroughly dry beforehand.

When it came to packing ours away, the rain never blooming stopped. The tent was sopping and weighed the same as approximately 5 elephants, hubby and I dripped all over the Landy and it’s safe to say that we had no more spare clothes left.

The rain didn’t stop at home all week either, so tent had to be aired in a farm shed and I needed a holiday by the time we had sorted everything out.

  1. Camping with friends is the way forward.

We had two trips with different sets of friends this year and it was brilliant! The children always have people to play with, someone else always has something that you forgot to pack, there are more eyes to watch little people and most importantly, lovely people to share wine with at the end of the day!

Despite all these trials, will we be going camping again next year?

Can’t wait!

10 Camping Activities to Fill your Days

A friend asked me the other day: “What camping activities are there and what do you actually do with your day?”

I initially thought ‘erm…where do I start?’ as we do manage to cram in a few things during our trips. But it’s a valid concern – in fact we had the same anxieties at the start of our family camping journey: Will the children be bored? What will we do when it rains? What should we pack for entertainment? It would be a real shame if people are put off from giving camping a go simply because they fear not being able to fill their day. So, here are 10 camping activities to ensure a well-entertained, contented camp:

1. Friends

 

Children love to play with friends. They don’t like being lonely. The good news about campsites is that they tend to have lots of children about and they very quickly find each other. If your child is a little shy, help them out a bit by saying hello to other families and introducing the children.

One of the best tips to absolutely ensure your child has friends is to go with another family or families. We love doing this! It means that you also have your own pals to help out with any difficulties that might arise, can share equipment and have someone to share the beverages with – winning all round!

2. Campsite Activities

Think carefully about the campsite you are going to and make sure it’s right for the age and stage of your children. If you have young babies and toddlers, not a great deal is needed at the campsite specifically for their entertainment so go for what suits you as the adult (Check out our other blogs Top 7 considerations when taking babies camping. and Camping with Toddlers). As they grow older, you might want to ensure potential for a good range of camping activities such as wide open spaces for riding bikes, woodland to explore, a play area, sand pit, animals to pet, etc. Or you might even go for an all singing and dancing site with full sports facilities, swimming pool, evening entertainment, etc.

3. Meal times

Meal times will be communal and that is part of the beauty of camping. Your family will come together far more than you would at home and meal times do take up a large part of your day. Involve your children in meal prep where possible to help build the “team effort” approach – toasting marshmallows on a fire, for example, is something all can get involved in and is a real novelty and treat that you don’t get if you stay in a boring old hotel!

Don’t let wet weather put you off. If it rains, place your BBQ under an awning, set up a tarpaulin sheet or improvise like we did last week when we realised we’d forgotten ours!

4. Beach

We live in the middle of the country so tend to gravitate towards coastal areas for our holidays as a beach is a guaranteed few hours of pure outdoor fun. It doesn’t necessarily involve great costs and there are a huge range of things to keep little people happy: sandcastles, sand sculptures, collecting pebbles and shells, building stone towers, paddling, swimming, body boarding, sand boarding, exploring rock pools, searching for creatures, crabbing, burying various members of the family, etc.

5. Get into nature

One of the main motivations to get into camping is to spend time outside. So, embrace it. Wherever you camp, a walk isn’t far away – find a nearby woodland, river, coastline to explore and wander along at the pace that suits your pack. Look for things along the way such as animals or their trails and homes, try to identify different trees or plants, listen to the birdsong, climb that mound of earth!

For older children, get them to do a scavenger hunt – give them a list of items to collect and send them on their way. Get them to do a little art with the things they collect – sculptures, making faces out of leaves, twigs and stones, mud pies! (Make sure shower is nearby!)

6. Fly a kite

The thing with camping is you have to go with the weather. So, when the wind gets up, instead of battening down the hatches, get out there with the most classic of camping activities – a kite! You can get them for very little money from your local B&M or other such bargain basement and they take up hardly any room when packing. I wouldn’t have believed it, but our 2-year-old was fascinated by ours for hours at our most recent trip and her cries of “mine!” could be heard for miles around! (Much to the disgust of the older children who all desperately wanted a go but knew better than to mess with the tiny dictator!)

7. Ball games

Some campsites welcome these, some have designated areas and some have lots of signs up telling you it is BANNED! Avoid those.

So, take a football or a couple of tennis rackets and ball, swingball, rounders set, skittles, etc. You can either play with your children or when no.1 is accomplished, they can play with the many friends they have made whilst you read your book that you never get round to – winning!

8. Bikes

Camping is a great opportunity to get kids going on their bikes – it is where ours learnt to manage the balance bike and stabilisers as they grew in confidence on grass after they realised it gave a soft landing. Groups of children tend to have races, engage with lots of bike swapping or just meander around the campsite, all of which helps to foster independence and improve their cycling skills.

9. Games

When they’re tiring of all the running round and fresh air, bring them back in the tent for a good old-fashioned board game or game of cards. This can wile away a few hours and is especially useful as a winding down period before bedtime. We are currently big fans of the card game “Uno” as this is very easy for littlies to grasp, Connect 4, Guess Who and Snakes and Ladders. Jenga goes down well too (no pun intended) although we often end up just building random towers rather than playing the game as it is meant!

10. Rainy day?

When in Britain, we must expect rain to occur at some point. Now, you wouldn’t expect to spend all of your time in a hotel if you went on holiday, so you don’t need to spend all of your time at the campsite either.  So, at the start of our holiday, we usually pinpoint a few potential excursions for times when the weather turns. This can be something simple like going to a local leisure centre for their swimming pool, game of table tennis, etc or a cinema trip to a big day out at a zoo, round a castle or local museum.

If it is still raining when you get back in the afternoon, you could set up a ‘movie night’ via that universal babysitter the iPad to keep them amused whilst you get tea ready. Do also pack some colouring pads, paper and pencils and set up a table inside your tent for artistic creations.

The overall message here is think about the sort of things your kids enjoy or want to try and go with it during your holiday. Camping activities don’t need to be complicated or expensive and you don’t have to be the one providing entertainment at all times. If they come to you and tell you that they are bored, by all means give them some ideas but send them off again as it is really important for their development that they learn to use their imagination and find their own way through it.

And don’t let them play on their iPad every day!

Camping in Somerset? Petruth Paddocks is hard to beat!

Family camp at Petruth Paddocks

If you’re looking for great camping in Somerset, then look no further than the lovely campsite at Petruth Paddocks Free Range Camping right next to the Mendip Hills. We stayed there for 4 glorious nights last week along with another family and were struck by the friendly atmosphere, wide open spaces and sense of freedom for adults and children alike.

The owner, Jules, likes to take the approach of “free-range camping” so you are not restricted by a numbered pitch, but can choose where you would rather set up camp. There are two large fields to choose from, one of which is for those who wish to have a quieter camp. During our mid-week stay, despite being in the “non-quiet” field, there were no issues at night and our children (aged 2 and 5 year old) went to sleep peacefully and easily. Jules explained that during peak season at Petruth Paddocks Free Range Camping, the weekends can get much busier hence the two different fields. He added that he loved the atmosphere during the busier times as you might have some people playing guitars, campfire singing, children having great fun in big gangs. So it would depend on your needs when and where you wanted to stay – whether you prefer a livelier atmosphere or just want some peace and quiet.

Jules encourages children to roam, make friends and enjoy themselves outdoors without the pull towards electronic devices. During our time there, we saw groups of children clambering over the old landrover parked up in the field, much shouting, laughing and chasing as well as ball games and bike riding.

At night time, Jules pops around the campsite offering firepits for those that want a cosy camp feel. We advise you take him up on this as it definitely makes for a lovely atmosphere and it was a stunning site seeing the gentle glows around camp. After he had done his deliveries, Jules offered the kids a ride round on the quad with him which went down a storm! At the weekend, he also takes any kids that are interested across the field to meet his resident menagerie including pigs, ponies and chickens.

At Petruth Paddocks Free Range Camping, there are all the facilities you need for a comfortable camp: plenty of toilets and hot showers, separate sinks for washing up, facilities for charging electronic devices, a fridge and a freezer as well as a small shop to top up on necessities. Jules clearly pays attention to detail as he provides a comprehensive booklet on arrival outlining all you need to know about the campsite and the surrounding area. He also insists on careful separation of rubbish into the various types of recycling which we found refreshing as we can’t bear the big skips of mixed rubbish at most camps all going to landfill.

Whilst we were camping in Somerset, we found lots to do. Petruth Paddocks Free Range Camping is on the outskirts of the lovely village of Cheddar, home of Britain’s favourite cheese and the magnificent Cheddar Gorge. There were lots of lovely places to eat including cafes, restaurants as well as the obligatory ice cream parlours and the chance for climbing, abseiling and exploring the caves of the Gorge.

We ventured further to the child-friendly Wookey Hole to see inside the incredible caves which have to be seen to appreciate their dimensions, stalactites and stalagmites – our children were quite happy and there was none of the whinging and whining that can accompany trips out. It is also essential that our holidays involve dinosaurs in some way and Wookey Hole delivered by way of huge robotic models and an “archaeological dig.”

On the way to Wookey Hole, we took advantage of local produce enhance by the particular “micro-climate” of Somerset and sampled some simply divine strawberries courtesy of Cliff Besley’s strawberries. They were streets ahead of the watery supermarket versions and we are not ashamed to say we scoffed the lot whilst the children were asleep in the landy (well, you snooze, you lose!)

We also sampled cider from local producers and would encourage you to look out for the little businesses as you are out and about – buying local makes such a difference for real people rather than lining the pockets of huge earners of big organisations! And after all, you can’t go to Somerset without sampling the cider!

We were lucky with the weather as it was consistently scorchio for the time we were there. We noticed this when we went paddling/body boarding in the sea at Berrow and Brean… really warm water, actually thought we were in the Med! At Berrow beach, the #2minutebeachclean was in place. This is a step up from pick up 3 pieces of litter each time you go to the beach but really encourages the children to look after their environment and raise awareness of the problem of littering. Our own little miss bossy boots LOVED this and took control of both the litter picker (or crocodile as it became known) and the bag so it took a little bit longer than we anticipated! It also triggered a really sweet conversation with our 5 year old son about litter and he told me how it would affect his beloved sharks and the fish that they eat. This project is gathering apace and you can find out more about it and also what beaches are covered on their website: https://www.beachclean.net/

So, if you decide to go camping in Somerset during the summer hols or if this has made you think about next year, do check out the lovely site at Petruth Paddocks Free Range Camping – you won’t be disappointed!