Blogs

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!

Derbyshire Sausage and Cider Festival – Mums on Tour

So, what happened when several slightly over-excited and over-ripened mummies descended on the Derbyshire Sausage and Cider Festival content in the knowledge they had neither children nor menfolk to think about?

Well, we knew things were on the up as we skipped around the supermarket en route belting out a little “Freedom” by George Michael, complete with the odd garland pilfered from our toddlers’ dressing up boxes. A few raised eyebrows from onlookers didn’t even dampen our spirits as we piled as much beige food into our trollies as we thought our bodies could take, feeling mightily rebellious.

On arrival, the strict booze allowance and thorough searches we could see taking place caused a little consternation as one member of our party admitted she had sneaked an extra 4 whole cans into her tent. She is no hardened criminal and admitted to sweating profusely as our turn came. For some reason, the security guard clearly decided we were no threat…possibly the granny trolley, mint tea and full case of cleaning paraphernalia had something to do with it, and after a perfunctory search, we were waved through.

We were struck straight away by the excellent organisation of the site: Main events field being central with camp fields all around meaning walking about was kept to a minimum, well-manned gates meaning continual movement, walk ways roped off and adorned with lights, plenty of CLEAN showers and LOT of toilets (thank the lord!!!)

Whilst we’re on the subject…what were the toilets like? This was, I think, my biggest concern after hearing stories of poo mountains at other festivals and not being 20 anymore. Well, as mentioned, there were plenty at each campsite and in the main events field; and the morning after the first day, we saw the lorry come to empty them, so it would seem they emptied and cleaned them every day. They were certainly much cleaner than I expected and stayed that way throughout, never running out of loo roll.  Derbyshire Sausage and Cider Festival toilet cleaners – I salute and thank you!

Another major concern of mine was food. Always. We were not allowed to bring certain types of BBQs in, ruling ours out and although the Festival had “sausage” in the title, you can never be too sure. The food on offer was actually pretty bloomin’ amazing with a whole row of a variety of artisan stalls offering pasta, pizza, wraps, chicken, pulled pork, pasties, cakes, even strawberries and cream as well as every type of sausage you can think of! The only downside was the stall they put in the actual campsite with soggy bacon baps and general dimwittery on offer for breakfast leading us to eat an eclectic mix of bananas and crisps until the main field opened at noon.

The music on offer was pretty much all covers bands, which isn’t the coolest option, but as I am not cool, it didn’t particularly bother me. In fact “Take This” and Steps 2 had me foot stomping whilst the Oasis tribute were absolutely brilliant, totes taking me back to my student days! If we’re really being honest, by the time we’d had a few ciders (particularly the one with mango in – YUM!) anyone could have been on stage and we’d have been happy!

The cider system was another good example of well thought-out organisation by Derbyshire Sausage and Cider Festival. You went to a booth (again, plenty of them) to pay for a cup token and “apple tokens” which you then took to one of the enormous marquees to exchange for the cider of your choice. The queues moved fast and the choice was brilliant – could have fizzy or flat, dry, sweet, perries, flavoured with various other fruits, there really was something for every palate. There was also a prosecco and cocktails van and lager was also available.

Being the rock chicks we are, we decided we were quite done with the main events by about 9pm and to get back to our camp (adorned with lovely feminine touches like bunting and fairylights which we are not usually allowed I might add.) We took the opportunity whilst camp was quiet to have showers and a spot of mint tea (again, living festival lifestyle to its fullest.)

We were prepared for camp to liven up a little when everybody else made their way back from the main events…and this was certainly the case! In fact, one of our party decided to pop to the loo at around chuck out time and ran back shortly screaming “run for your lives!” Apparently, a sea of folk descended, many on the verge of vomiting, generally shouting, singing, swaying and…collapsing. The volume increased exponentially as they made their way back to camp and stayed that way for a good 5 hours. We valiantly tried to get to sleep around midnight, but most were kept up by the call for “Alan!” making its way round the field, shouting, chanting and singing.

We were not refreshed when we awoke as some tool on the site had managed to keep their 6 am alarm call, and then snoozed it repeatedly. Also, we were expecting it to be quiet in the morning after all the excesses of the previous night…ha ha ha!!! No, they were all up with the lark and ready to start again…oh to be young!!

So, what have we learned for next time at the Derbyshire Sausage and Cider Festival?

  • We will be staying in the “quiet” field.
  • We will take ear plugs anyway.
  • We will keep to the booze limit as we took approximately half of ours back with us.
  • All of us will invest in Trangia burners (look them up – cheap, basic and brill!)
  • An all-female camp is a happy place to be!

We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the Derbyshire Sausage and Cider Festival, found it excellent value for money and are raring to go for next year!

Check out these campsites near to various festivals:

Somerset – Petruth Paddocks Free Range Camping,

Cornwall – Lower Penderleath Campsite

Devon – Forest Glade Holiday Park

Ceredigian – Canvas & Campfires

Pembrokeshire – Bôn Camping

Can’t fit it in your car? Try an easy-to-use trailer courtesy of Venter Trailers UK

Glamping Competition with Round the Woods – The Winner’s Story

So, competitions on Facebook are all fake aren’t they? Well, we can’t confirm or deny for the rest of them, but we can certainly confirm that the competitions at Gone Camping Co are 100% real! In fact, we caught up with Jayne, the lucky winner of our recent competition to win a luxurious glamping holiday with the fantastic team at Round the Woods Luxury Glamping.

Here’s what Jayne had to say:

Gone Camping Co: What made you enter the competition?

Jayne: I saw it on Facebook and just entered it! I wasn’t following Gone Camping Co at the time but thought “oo I’ll give it a go.” I’ve never entered any of these Facebook competitions before and didn’t know if it was true or not!

GCC: Did you think you had a chance of winning?

Jayne: I didn’t even think it was real, so not confident at all! But here I am in the Norfolk sunshine enjoying it.

GCC: How did it feel to win?

Jayne: Really good – when I saw it up on the page, there was my name and I was shocked! It was a real prize!

GCC: Have you camped with your family before?

Jayne: A few years ago, we went with the children when they were small. We went to Matlock which was beautiful. It was quite hard with the journey and all the equipment we needed!

GCC: What about glamping?

Jayne: No, never tried it. When I saw the competition, I thought gosh, don’t they look nice to stay in. I was right! So comfy and…better than normal camping! The double bed was so lovely and comfy, I thought oo I’m going to take this mattress home!

GCC: What did you expect before you came here?

Jayne: I got a good idea from the website – looked at all the photographs and got an idea of the inside of the yurt.

GCC: Did your experience match up to your expectations?

Jayne: It exceeded them really, very happy!

GCC: Are you a glamping convert?

Jayne: Will definitely come again! We sent my sister some photographs and told her all about it so she wants to come, my children want to bring their friends…it’s just so peaceful!

GCC: Would you recommend this or a similar experience to family and friends?

Jayne: Yes, I definitely would! It’s a great thing to do with kids…the space and the outdoors. Better for them, so calming and less triggers for my little boy’s condition.

We are absolutely thrilled that Jayne and her family had such a great time living it up in Norfolk at Round the Woods Luxury Glamping. And even more pleased that Jayne’s experience was so wonderful that she will definitely be going glamping again.

So if you see a competition on this page, have a go! It will be real and we do follow through with our promises!

If you want to experience a glamptastic holiday, have a look at these beautiful sites: Round the Woods Luxury Glamping, Bôn CampingBeavers Retreat,  Becks Bay Camping,  Graig Wen, Riddings Wood Caravan and Camping Park.

Never give up on your Dreams! With Harriet Seddon, founder of Lotus Belle tents.

Hari founded Lotus Belle tents in 2012 (see Lotus Belle) after becoming a single mum and following a difficult start where she was told that her different design concept would “never amount to anything.”  Roll on a few years and she is so happy that she eventually decided to ignore this and push on with her dream! Few “Glamping” sites are complete without the beautiful curvaceous lines of Lotus Belle tents – a unique canvas tent design that boasts all the portability and usability of a standard bell tent whilst affording the roomy luxuriousness of a yurt.

It is constructed from the highest quality components with a high tech 360/380 gram canvas which comes ready with a premium water, rot and fire retardant treatment.

The entire tent packs into a bag 40cm x 40cm x 130cm requiring minimal storage space off-season and it fits easily into the boot of a car. Once pitched the 5 metre model has an astonishing 18 square meters of standing space inside with 1.8m of headroom minimum all the way to the edge. This means it can be fitted out with standard height beds and normal household furniture or standard camping fayre.

It’s also remarkably easy to pitch, literally a one-man job that takes barely 20 minutes.  It also comes at a very reasonable price point, making it accessible to families as well as glampsites and festivals.

Hari was fascinated by tents from a young age. She spent her early childhood making camping furniture out of Meccano or bits of wood she found as well as doing plenty of camping with family and with Forest School Camps. For her tenth birthday she received a Vaude dome tent which she absolutely loved. She would pitch it in her family’s back garden and sleep in it every night throughout the summer.

“To me there’s nothing better than the sense of freedom I get from being outside, I feel really happy being close to nature. Also having a small space that I can keep really clean, and knowing where all my belongings are, makes me feel secure and safe.”

As she grew older, her fascination with yurts and the idea of living within a circular space also grew. She made a Mongolian style yurt, aged sixteen, using sticks from the hedges around her parents’ house. On moving to Falmouth University, Hari shunned the usual student digs and converted a minibus so that she could continue her camping dream on the Cornish coast. In this, she produced a raft of designs for various types of tents or ‘tiny homes’.

This culminated in her dissertation which was titled ‘the importance of circular space’ resonating with the sacred Mongolian belief system about a circular space being soothing and embracing, promoting unity, equality and community as everyone can sit an equal distance from the centre and face in towards each other. Hari owned a bell tent at this time for camping trips and loved the look and feel of canvas; the simplicity of the design; how quick and easy they are to pitch and pack away. Her sketches homed in on circular designs marrying together the roomy aspects of Yurts with the ease and portability of Bell tents. Lecturers were less than enthusiastic and told Hari that her designs for the ‘Onion Dome’, as it was originally known, would ‘never amount to anything’.

This was disheartening and Hari left uni to do what many of us think we should do…get a sensible job! She thus completed a PGCE and worked as a textiles teacher in a secondary school in Weymouth. Her passion for tent making never went away, however and she found herself encouraging students in her class to design and prototype one-man tents.

Hari was twenty-three when she had Mani, her first child. Then just before Jago was born, life took a turn and she became a single parent. These were seriously tough times. Hari spent time juggling house moves, changes of jobs and area but realises when looking back, that the sheer desperation of those times forced her to reconsider her path and led her to where she is today.


Then came the rise of glamping, with families wanting to retain a touch of luxury but still experience outdoor living.  The ‘Onion Dome’ suddenly seemed viable and Hari revisited her design. She then contacted the man that she had originally bought her bell tent from who was overwhelmingly positive about the design and invited her to meet his factory where they made the first Lotus Belle prototype. After several revisions and a lot of hard work, a workable model was produced.

Hari took a leap of faith and invested her life savings into getting the first run of twenty Lotus Belle tents made. This was coupled with a realisation that no market research had been done and thus Hari spent a sleepless six months, constantly worrying that they wouldn’t sell. She needn’t have worried as trips to festivals to showcase the Lotus Belle tents evoked great positivity and the orders started coming in – firstly in trickles, then in bulk orders allowing Hari to breathe a huge sigh of relief!


Hari met her partner, Ben in 2013. He was in the process of selling his stage, sound and lighting hire business and was looking to move in a new direction, so he started to help in the business. In 2016, Hari fell pregnant with baby Elowen and they made the brave (plus a few other adjectives!) decision to start working together as partners in business as well as in life. This sharing of the load has made motherhood a totally different experience for Hari this time around and she also has the freedom to keep designing innovative new products like the Air Bud and the Lotus Mahal as well as lots of accessories and innovative new features to the original design like the Stargazer roof system and the Cocoon / Insulated linings.

Hari feels eternally grateful that the rise of Glamping coincided with the arrival of her Lotus Belle tents – the two have become synonymous. But she leaves the last work to her dad: “If you design something good, people will beat a path to your door.”

They certainly did!

Click here to learn more about these stunning and unique tents: Lotus Belle

Outdoor Revolution – Premium Air Framed Tents

Outdoor Revolution’s range of premium air framed tents make family camping as enjoyable and stress-free as possible thanks to their high-quality manufacturing, luxury fabrics and their exclusive Oxygen Air Frame.

Outdoor Revolution’s Oxygen Air Frame is not only the easiest and most efficient system to use, but the most dependable, as it eradicates any issues of over inflation. It incorporates the Dynamic Speed Valve and the patented Intelligent Frame Relief Valve. Inflation is an incredibly fast process with the dual action pump provided, and deflation is simply just a push of the self-retaining button. They are the only awning manufacturer to use the Relief Valve; which prevents damage to the tube by expelling any excess air, which can be caused by either over inflation, or increases in the ambient temperature. The valves are discretely concealed by a Velcro cover, making the Oxygen Air Frame incredibly neat.

Speed is of the essence when erecting an Outdoor Revolution air framed tent. Their largest tent – the Airedale 12 – inflates in around 5 minutes. Once inflated, campers simply need to peg out and tension the guylines (all of which are included with the tent) and then the holiday can begin!

The extremely spacious Airedale 12

Outdoor Revolution’s 2018 range of air framed tents cover an assortment of styles, budgets and sizes – making sure that there’s a tent out there for everyone, whatever their needs.

The Airedale 6 is Outdoor Revolution’s best-selling family tent, with flexible bedroom compartments, large living space and a versatile porch area, its easy to see why! New for 2018, the integrated windowed front door improves the versatility of the entire living area; instantly giving the ability to create additional internal space, with a superb view of the outside world, or an excellent porch area on warmer days. It’s 150 High Density Fabric and is lightweight, yet robust products; allowing a smaller pack size, when folded.

Airedale 6

For those venturing into hotter climates, the Airedale 6 Pro Climate is preferred tent of choice. It’s exclusive, breathable Pro Climate fabric; has the look, feel and breathability of natural fibres and the strength and durability of man-made material. These qualities make the Airedale 6 Pro Climate ideally suited for summer breaks in warmer climes, where breathability and optimum comfort is a prerequisite, as the fabric reduces interior humidity and condensation.

Airedale 6 Pro Climate

As well as this fantastic range of good quality air framed tents, Outdoor Revolution also provide a range of camping furniture and equipment to help make your camping trip just that bit more comfortable and organised. Check out their range here: Outdoor Revolution