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The wonderful world of Bushcraft (with a little help from Big Hat Bushcamp)

The time has come for us to abandon the comforts of our living rooms and tentatively look to the outside world. It might be a struggle to prise children, and indeed adults, away from their most precious digital items and once again sample what actual, real life has to offer let alone think about adventures such as trying bushcraft. But it is time to (safely) get out there.

Bushcraft - den building

The good news is that you do not have to go far to experience the joys of outdoor living with your family. Whether you are simply looking for a dose of fresh air, a glimpse of wildlife or some breathtaking scenery, it is all there on our doorsteps just waiting to be discovered. And if you want to go further afield, from the 4th July, we could finally go on camping and glamping holidays in England, in Scotland from 3rd July for those with their own self-contained accommodation (i.e. own shower/toilet) and similarly in Wales from 11th July. Have a look at our directory for a few ideas of lovely places to go.

Now, homeschooling during lockdown has led many of us to the uncomfortable realisation that we are distinctly average teachers with particularly low anxiety and anger thresholds. From the battles over online classrooms versus YouTube, to the mental breakdown a single sum can induce to the 5 minutes of painting followed by the hour long clean up – we are more than ready to hand the reins back over to the experts and in desperate need of a break. With several months to go until the proposed return of all school children in September, some may be looking for alternative educational opportunities to make up for our woeful attempts.

Just hanging around

 

Well, in the “outdoors classroom”, there are invaluable educational benefits to be found. From the simple and almost intuitive conundrums, like tackling an overgrowth of undergrowth and an obstacle course of fallen trees and puddles to making your own shelters or dens. Children are being inspired by TV survivalists such as Bear Grylls to get outside and give bushcraft a go themselves. Anything that gets kids excited about venturing into the fresh air for a few hours is surely a good thing. But this isn’t about training the next generation to survive the apocalypse (even if it feels like we are in the middle of one), this is about families enjoying the benefits of nature, learning new skills and garnering a deep respect for the natural world around them.

Den building

 

Some parents are happy to give bushcraft a go and perhaps have some distant memories of Scouts or Guides to draw upon, but other families might feel out of their depth and unsure where to start. For those families, a bit of help would go a long way. Ian from the Big Hat Bushcamp is a keen advocate of the full range of benefits that bushcraft can bring citing that “skills of communication, teamwork and leadership flourish” and that “children and adults draw more and more confidence.” He currently offers courses at his Surrey base for family groups – ensuring they are Covid-safe. This could be a great day out whether as a one off or as part of a planned holiday.

Wood whittling

 

Ian has a wealth of experience and is always keen to help, so came up with a few tips to help you get your family started in the great outdoors;

1) Dress yourself for the beautiful British climate. Someone very wise once said “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”.

2) Find somewhere with trees. These places look green on Google maps.

3) As a family, decide on your adventure for the day. Start with something easy, like jumping in every puddle between the car park and the top of the hill, or building a shelter using only sticks and foliage. You can work your way up to actually sleeping out in it and cooking up a three-course meal in a hole in the ground.

4) Find out what’s going on around you. Bushcraft courses for families and beautiful wild camping sites can be found around the country – just check about their Covid-19 booking arrangements. There’s no need to be shy; they exist to help indoor people become outdoor people and tend to be run by some of the friendliest of folk. Why wouldn’t they be friendly and happy when they get to work outdoors?

5) Get on YouTube. Outdoorsy bushcrafty types love posting videos showing how to do all the awesome things they do outdoors.

6) Try all those things. (Note: always check permissions for things such as lighting fires and take the utmost care to put them out fully afterwards.)

7) Let us know how it works out for you; go to the Big Hat Bushcamp Facebook Page to post photos and videos of yourselves doing all the #awesomethingsyoudooutdoors.

Campfire cooking

 

If this has inspired you to have a go, why not contact Ian for more information about his family bushcraft courses?

Thank you to Ian, Big Hat Bushcamp for his contribution to this blog.

Getting Prepared for COVID-19 Secure Camping

Beech Croft Farm

We now know that camping officially starts in England from 4th July – woo hoo! As we went to press, sites in Scotland can open to those with their own self-contained accommodation (i.e. own shower/toilet) from 3rd July and shared facilities from 15th July. Sites in Wales may open on 11th July for those with self-contained accommodation only and are awaiting further guidance about those with shared facilities. Sites in Northern Ireland are already open.

Visit Britain Good to go logo
Visit Britain – Covid-19 Secure Camping

You might have seen this badge (“We’re Good To Go”) popping up on various websites, Facebook Pages, etc. This means that according to Visit Britain, the campsite has successfully shown that they have met Government and industry guidelines, are thus Covid-19 secure for camping and can safely accommodate their guests. You can be sure that this means a lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to update sanitation facilities, mark out pitches, train staff, set out new signs and notices, draw up new rules, etc. So we say congratulations to the many sites on Gone Camping Co that have achieved this including Red Shoot Camping Park in the New Forest, Forest Glade Holiday Park in Devon, Stanley Villa Farm in Lancashire, Beech Croft Farm in Derbyshire to name but a few.

Covid-19 secure camping at Red Shoot Camping Park
Covid-19 secure camping at Red Shoot Camping Park

So, what will Covid-19 secure camping look like?

1. Booking

All bookings will need to be made in advance this year – there will not be the opportunity of “Oo, this looks nice, let’s try here!” as you drive by, so be organised and book in advance. This is for several reasons: to minimise contact, to allow for electronic payments, to ensure guests are fully aware of rules and conditions before arriving and most importantly for campsites to ensure the number of people on site are limited accordingly. This is actually a good thing as it will mean larger pitches and more space this season. As you might expect, prices may have to increase as sites will have less guests and a shorter season.

Covid-19 Secure camping at Beech Croft Farm
Socially distanced pitches at Beech Croft Farm in the Derbyshire Dales

Now, we are great advocates for camping with other family groups as it really can be great fun. However, this year, campsites will not be able to accept such bookings. Beech Croft Farm in Derbyshire has reiterated the government guidelines in their Covid-19 update in that they “cannot accept bookings for more than 2 units together if you are from different households.” This will be standard across the industry for the time being, so it is a case of more time with your family I’m afraid!

2. Checking in and out

All guests have a responsibility to stay away and isolate as per the government regulations if they develop symptoms of Covid-19 in the run up to their holiday. Disappointing though this would be, we all have a collective responsibility to guard against the spread of the disease as of course, the quicker it can be controlled, the quicker life can return to some sort of normality.

A warm welcome and safe conditions at Cotswolds Camping

Cotswold Camping, Oxfordshire are also keen to make sure everyone is safe and have installed a fever detection system to check temperatures thus ensuring all guests are protected from Covid-19.

Checking in and out will also be contactless and outdoors. Alex advises that at Stanley Villa Farm in Lancashire, whilst guests will be greeted on arrival, social distancing will be maintained, and the keys would be left in the door of the camping pod. Similarly, check out would be contactless and guests would be asked to simply leave their pod key in the door.

Covid-19 secure camping at Stanley Villa Farm
Camping Pods at Stanley Villa Farm

3. Distancing

Most campsites have limited pitches available to ensure they can maintain social distancing and rotate facilities as appropriate. Holden Farm in Hampshire, will ensure that only 10 families/households will be onsite at any one time in their wonderfully spacious camping field. This has the benefit of plenty of space to fly a kite, play a game of cricket or just enjoy the fresh air. They will also provide each pitch with a complimentary firepit – perfect for lazy summer evenings.

For Covid-19 secure camping, expect to see more signs than usual, indicating spaces for possible queues or a one-way system where there is likely to be a bottleneck. Signs will also provide reminders for hand washing, use of hand sanitisers and maintaining distances – you may well feel you’ve seen it all before, but as we all know, we have to continue to “stay alert.”

4. Sanitisation

You can expect cleaning of facilities to be more frequent and thorough this year. You may well be greeted by someone in full PPE as you approach the facilities and you may also need to be patient to allow them to complete the thorough deep cleans required.

Holden Farm have the excellent modern camping facilities on-site that you would expect: clean flushing loos, hot showers and good washing up facilities. The small numbers onsite will work to your advantage, thus avoiding the need for queues. Cleaning and maintenance have been increased further to the Covid-19 secure standard. They have also installed perspex dividers between wash basins so you feel safe when brushing your teeth. You will need to bring all of your own toiletries and expect to be given loo roll on arrival as it won’t be kept in cubicles. Furthermore, there are hand sanitisers dotted around the site so everyone can keep germ-free and safe.

Holden Farm
Plenty of space at Holden Farm!

Fallow Fields Camping, Kent are enforcing a 24 hour period between bookings of furnished bell tents, as scientific evidence suggests the virus does not remain on surfaces after 24 hours. They will carry out their customary deep clean between bookings as normal, and use disinfectant on all hard surfaces. Additionally, all furnished bell tents will have an anti-bacterial fogger used – this kills 99.99% of germs and stays active on surfaces for up to 30 days.

5. Sharing Facilities

There are some sites that have invested heavily into their showers and toilets to ensure minimal sharing. For example, Fallow Fields Camping have added additional mobile showers and toilets to the campsite to help with social distancing. They have also employed a local, professional cleaning company to carry out 2 deep cleans per day alongside regular wipe downs of touch-points throughout the day.

Stanley Villa Farm in Lancashire have also added more shower units but will work these on a time slot basis, with cleans between each use.

Some have even gone so far as to allocated specific areas for guests so there would be no sharing. At Longberry Farm in Kent, the reduced capacity on site this season means that guests will have their own allocated kitchen/dining area and washing facilities that will not be shared with other guests. The hot tub option will also be private – how very lovely!

Longberry Farm
Pristinely clean bell tents at Longberry Farm

You may well need to pack more items than you normally do. If the site you go to usually has tea towels, crockery, washing up brushes, etc. it is highly likely that they won’t be able to do so this year, so check with them beforehand and as Mr Grylls would say “be prepared!”

6. Activities on site

Some playparks might be open but you will need to supervise children more closely this year rather than let them go “feral” and insist they use the abundant hand sanitisers before and after use.

But generally, you may well have to become more self-sufficient in terms of entertainment this year. Wonderful additions to your stay such as the “Kids’ Retreat Tent” or “Kids’ Cinema” at Fallow Fields Camping,  simply cannot be available at this time. So pack the bikes, tennis set, kite, football, hula hoop, Connect 4, Uno, etc and prepare to use your imagination to keep all entertained…sort of like you have done for the whole of lockdown really (sorry!)

A beautiful evening at Fallow Fields Camping

At the risk of sounding like a killjoy, it is extremely important that we adhere to the campsites’ rules and accept the changes to our “normal” holiday. These really are “unprecedented times” (had to say it) and the whole situation does not just affect us personally, but everyone around the country. If we want camping to return to normal, then it is vitally important to support the industry this year so that there are still campsites in business next year.

The alternative does not bear thinking about!

Why go Camping in 2020?

Park Foot

Well, 2020 has been fun so far hasn’t it?

Hmm, that might be stretching it somewhat! What with Australia burning, endless Brexit, a global pandemic and mass civil unrest to mention just a few of the fun times we have faced this year, you feel like ripping the year up and starting again at 2021! However, here we are, managing as best as we can with more than half of the year left to limp through. So, whilst Covid-19 is still raging, why on earth would we want to go camping in 2020?

Well, the fact remains that camping or glamping are simply the best types of holiday full stop (not at all biased). Many people are so committed that they have even camped during lockdown! No, not by breaking any rules but by the beauty that is…

1. Camping at home

Who else can remember the excitement of camping in your garden as a child? Well, camping at home became a thing this year and looks set to continue through the summer. Whether camping indoors, in gardens, on balconies and even on a trampoline – camping can happen anywhere with whatever equipment you have. Kids find it magical and it’s a real chance for family bonding and fun. You might even break a world record! Our family took part in the Scouts’ #CampAtHome record on 30th April and we couldn’t get the kids out of their shoddy blanket tent for another week!

For those that are desperate to get away from it all when camping in 2020 but simply cannot or do not want to whilst the threat of Covid-19 remains, why not try glamping at home? Tinkers Bells usually provide their gorgeous bell tents for use at weddings, festivals and other large social gatherings, so obviously, their business took a huge hit in the last few months. But have they come up with the perfect solution? After their initial shock, they took stock and diversified sublimely to now provide garden glamping whether you want the ultimate staycation, celebrate a birthday, anniversary or just have a change from your own Groundhog Day. You will be provided with a simply fabulous 7ft bell tent fully erected and furnished to your request in the safe confines of your own garden. Ali and Darren are wonderfully friendly to deal with and you can expect professional, meticulous standards.

Camping in 2020 - Garden Glamping
Garden Glamping with Tinker’s Bells

2. This Beautiful Country

For those that do wish to venture further for camping in 2020, without the pressure to go abroad, it is the perfect opportunity to explore this beautiful country. From the rolling hills of Devon at Langstone Manor Park to the stunning lakes of Cumbria at Park Foot Holiday Park , we are incredibly fortunate to have such diverse landscapes and fabulous campsites to view them in comfort. It might also be a chance to discover new parts of the coastline that you would not normally visit such as the sand expanses of Suffolk whilst staying at Haw Wood Farm. Or you might to choose to venture inland and meander through the picturesque villages of the Cotswolds whilst relaxing at Cotswolds Camping.

Camping in 2020 - Haw Wood Farm
Camping in Suffolk at Haw Wood Farm

It goes without saying that camping in 2020 and any exploring needs to be done particularly responsibly at this time – talk to your campsite owners about different places to go where crowding should not be an issue and report any evidence of the recent mob madness of leaving litter everywhere!

3. Change of Scenery

Most of us are proud of but thoroughly bored of our herbaceous borders, new fence, seats made out of pallets, fairy gardens, mud kitchens and other lockdown classics and simply need to see something/somewhere else. A fantastic site to explore the dramatic Jurassic Coast is The Dorset Hideaway who have come up with a comprehensive Coronavirus policy to ensure the safety of their guests whether camping, caravanning or in one of their fabulous glamping options.Camping in 2020 - Dorset Hideaway

Feeding the ducks at The Dorset Hideaway

Perhaps you are feeling adventurous about the type of accommodation you seek and decide to go for something really different like a Hobbit Hole in Hertfordshire, courtesy of Guilden Gate Glamping.

Hobbit Hole at Guilden Gate
The Hobbit hole at The Guilden Gate Glamping

4. Budget Friendly

David at Yurtcamp Devon, believes that camping or glamping could be the perfect holiday to turn to this year as many will be very wary of travelling overseas, and will be looking for a more budget friendly option to get away. Let’s face it, you immediately do away with expensive air fares and the costlier hotels, not to mention car hire, etc. And although prices may have to rise a little this year to take account of the additional changes campsites have to make, you still get incredible value for money. For example, you can camp in Cornwall at the picturesque Lower Penderleath Campsite for as little as £9.50/night/adult or in Somerset at Withy Water from just £10/tent (adult only).

Camping in 2020 - Lower Penderleath
Cornish camping at Lower Penderleath

5. Less People

There is no doubt that our holidays will look different this year and that campsites will have to limit numbers in order to ensure greater spacing. This is likely to mean that you will need to book in advance rather than turning up and hoping so you will need to be organised this year! The greater space will help to maintain social distancing and thus increase your peace of mind. It could also mean that camping in 2020 might be perfect for those who struggle with places that get too “peopley”.  The spacious site at Hale Farm, East Sussex has no set pitches, thus allowing plenty of space between tents and benefits from a separate glamping area. Similarly, Longacres Camping is set in 30 acres of peaceful Surrey countryside and offers different areas and fields to suit different tastes, ensuring campers can spread out with ease.

Camping in 2020 - Hale Farm
The huge fields at Hale Farm

6. Self-Contained Accommodation

You will be safe within your own family bubble whether in a tent, caravan or glamping option such as bell tent or yurt. Plus, the beauty of camp and glamping sites is that most have their own grounds and facilities. This means campers don’t have to worry about crowding local beauty spots, finding a car parking space and figuring out where to buy food. For example, at Yurtcamp Devon, there are 40 acres of beautiful woodland ready for exploration. You can easily return to your yurt for an open fire cooked feast, or a meal prepared inside your yurt given that you have full cooking facilities as well a cosy log burner. In addition, their onsite Woodland Café will be open for take out at least.

Yurtcamp Devon
Cafe at Yurtcamp Devon

For those with caravans or motorhomes, you might decide to opt for the wilderness of the Yorkshire Dales and venture to Thornton Hall Country Park. Here, Chris and Emma have diversified their onsite Farm Park into a Farm Safari Drive Thru to keep all their guests safe but still provide a change of routine. They also have quad biking available, ensuring each session is everyone from the same household with all helmets and gloves disinfected after use.

7. Mental and Physical Health

The good news about camping is that you will be in the fresh air, which we know lowers the risk of transmission of coronavirus, hence why some schools have adopted outdoor classrooms and why socially distanced small meet ups are now permitted as long as they are outdoors.

For those that need a touch of luxury to assist their mental health, The simply amazing range of glamping accommodation at Longberry Farm in the Garden of England, Kent is guaranteed to help you unwind and forget about your problems.

Ian from Big Hat Bushcamp, Devon is a firm advocate of the health benefits of nature particularly in this digital age. His business is another that has been hit by the Covid-19 outbreak and has pivoted to offer single-household bushcraft sessions. These provide excellent problem-solving challenges and allow families to develop confidence, teamwork and leadership skills as well as learning survival techniques in the fresh air. And do not fear, as they are run by the friendliest of folk, keen to help you understand and be happy.

After weeks spent at the beck and call of electronic devices, a bit of “cold turkey” wouldn’t go amiss. It would certainly help people’s battered mental health.

Big Hat Bush Camp
Camp fire cooking at Big Hat Bush Camp

With all this on offer, camping in 2020 might not be so bad after all!

Re-opening Campsites – A Possibility in 2020?

2019 at Chestnut Meadow

There is a buzz going around that July 4th might be the official start of camping with the long-awaited re-opening of campsites – I know, the excitement is too much! After weeks of lockdown and confinement to our own homes, many of us are champing at the bit to look at a different piece of scenery – somewhere other than the garden fence would be nice! But we are also sensible people and know that we cannot put ourselves or anyone else at risk by being reckless at this still early stage in the pandemic.

So, is camping safe? And how can re-opening campsites ensure safety of their guests?

Camping mealtime
Missing this!

Well, many camping, glamping and caravan sites have started to gear up for a 4th July re-opening and have thought long and hard about the measures necessary. Luckily camping, in all its guises, lends itself quite nicely to natural social distancing, but there are some issues such as shared bathroom and washing facilities, close proximity to other campers, etc. that need careful thought.

Many re-opening campsites will require advanced booking as they need to limit numbers and thus help with social distancing and sharing of facilities. There are some camping sites that have plenty of space for ease of distancing between tents such as the spacious fields of Willowbrook Farm. This ethical working farm in beautiful Oxfordshire have also installed extra hand sanitising points and are looking forward to showing off their farm in all its glory once more.

Sheep at Willowbrook Farm
The flock at Willowbrook Farm

There are some glamping sites that offer ease of social distancing by the fact that there are few accommodation options that are very much self-contained such as the 2 huge safari tents at Brocklands Farm in Hampshire. These are 100 metres apart and completely independent with fastidious cleaning taking place in between guests. In addition, they guarantee a refund on any bookings that cannot be taken as a direct results of government restrictions.

Tinkers Bells have an exclusive use family glamping site at Field Head Farm in the heart of the Staffordshire countryside. That means your family can have the whole site to yourselves! Well, that certainly solves any social distancing issues! And family size is not a problem as the three luxurious bell tents can cater for up to 12 people. In addition, you would have your own hot power showers, toilet and powder room; kitchen, bbq and firepit area; a huge hideaway tent for you to snuggle up and relax in and plenty of scenic outdoor space.

Several campsites have closed some or all of their facilities meaning that campers need to bring their own. There are plenty of cost-effective solutions on the market such as these from World of Camping: portable toilet and solar shower.

Whilst some campsites have closed their toilet and washing facilities, Harry’s Field in Hampshire have actually increased theirs to help maintain social distancing.

Tehidy Holiday Park in Cornwall has invested in an activated oxygen fogger for sanitizing their accommodation – this effective and natural product kills 99.99% of pathogens present in under 30 seconds!

Some holiday makers may well want to hold back from booking until there is more certainty as they don’t want to risk losing out financially. It is worth checking out with your preferred campsite what their policy is as the vast majority of sites are keen to look after customers.

Some sites such as Fakenham Fairways in Norfolk are allowing provisional bookings to help with flexibility and peace of mind in case of a change to government guidance following an increase in cases. Similarly, Hook Farm in Dorset is taking bookings arriving from the 4th July but will happily change your booking to another date within 12 months of your arrival date. Chestnut Meadow in East Sussex offer refunds for Covid-related issues and have developed a new tool in their website booking system so you can move your booking if necessary, giving you total flexibility.

2019 at Chestnut Meadow
2020 camping might look different to last year at Chestnut Meadow!

Other sites such as Holden Farm in Hampshire and Lanyon Holiday Park in Cornwall guarantee that whilst there is uncertainty, you can move your booking to another date in 2020 or 2021. Also, plenty of sites such as Ruberslaw Wild Wood Camping in the Scottish borders, are looking to the future and offering online bookings made for 2021 at 2020 prices – worth taking advantage of and helps to secure the businesses’ futures.

Camping at Ruberslaw

It is really important to support this industry in 2020. Many campsites including Forest Glade in Devon and Petruth Paddocks in Somerset have invested heavily over the winter season to improve facilities but have already missed half of their peak season and thus income will be massively down. Re-opening campsites need to put measures in place to ensure our safety that will inevitably incur more costs. This, along with a reduction on number of guests expected mean that the second half of the season will not put them close to recouping lost income. The vast majority of these lovely sites are family-run small businesses, not huge corporations and if we want to go camping in the years to come, we need to make sure there is an industry to come back to.

If in doubt, postpone, don’t cancel.

Support British Tourism This Year

Holiday in the UK

Holidays are on hold in the UK while the country is in lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus, so it’s safe to say that tourism is one of the most affected sectors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  It’s expected that small and medium businesses (which represent around 80% of the British tourism industry) will be facing huge challenges. We spoke to the team at White House on Wye Glamping who advised on the many things we can do to help out these businesses:

As someone who runs a small glamping site in Herefordshire, I can assure you that we’re definitely feeling the effects. April is usually one of our busiest months with the Easter holidays bringing in families looking to get to the outdoors. Instead, our tipis sat empty, apart from the few nights we spent in them on our ‘staycation’!

Relaxing at night - British Tourism
Relaxing at night by the Tipi

Although the lockdown is stopping you from going on holiday at the moment, there are many alternatives to help projects and businesses to keep afloat during these unprecedented times. I encourage you to do what you can to do to support the British economy this year. The Spanish beaches will still be there next year, so let’s make 2020 the year where we discover the adventure and beauty that is on our very own doorstep.

During the lockdown:

  • If you have a holiday booked, don’t cancel yet. Check your cancellation policies, and if this allows you to hold your booking, don’t cancel it. This will support the business and they will give you an alternative in the case the trip has to be postponed.
  • If your work hasn’t been affected, you can spend the money you were spending on commuting, going out, gym memberships on supporting small businesses instead. Many companies are offering vouchers to use when the pandemic is over, and tourism is up and running again. This will give business cash flow for this year and you will get your holidays for next year already paid with the “quarantine savings”- Let’s get something good from the quarantine! You can also use these vouchers for birthdays, anniversaries and gifts to your loved ones.
  • Book in advance! If you have something planned for 2021, it’s the time to plan in advance! Whether it is a hen party for your best friend who is getting married in 2021 or your parents’ 30th anniversary. You will get very good deals for booking in advance while supporting the sector.

At White House Glamping, we are allowing our guests to reschedule their trip for free, as we would love to see them when restrictions have been lifted, whether it is in May, July or September. We are also creating very personalised vouchers that our guests have been using for Mother’s Day, birthdays and anniversaries. It’s a perfect way to give an online gift (as you won’t be able to make a cake for your mum this birthday) for something to look forward to in the near future.

Outdoor living with home comforts
Outdoor living with home comforts

After the lockdown:

When social distancing is reduced, it’s time for you to discover your country! We know that many people will be avoiding travel, particularly international travel, but camping and glamping offer a much safer trip away from crowds.

Maybe this year won’t be the best time for festivals, massive parties or crowded beaches, so why not find an alternative to all of this? It’s time to reach out to your neighbours and discover Britain’s countryside.

In 2019, tourists from the UK spent £48 billion abroad in different countries like Spain, France, Italy and the USA. So if in 2020 and 2021, we all change our trips abroad from Mallorca or Tuscany to the nation’s beautiful spots like Herefordshire, Cotswolds, Dorset, Cornwall or Lake District the economy of the British Tourism industry will be very thankful.

Beautiful British countryside
Beautiful British countryside

Glamping is a fantastic idea. Avoiding masses, breathing fresh air and in contact with nature but without sacrificing your day to day small luxuries. After all, after being stuck inside for months we can surely all do with a large dose of fresh air. Here at White House Glamping, we are looking forward to seeing you all!

Hopefully, we will still be able to take a fantastic camping or glamping holiday later this year. To discover more gems in the beautiful British countryside and to help support small businesses, check out our directory.

 

Camping Nightmares

Camping nightmares - windy conditions

We are nothing, if not resilient. Seriously, we had a nightmare trip in 2019 that would have turned less nutty committed campers into gibbering wrecks. From storm wreckage to flat beds to wet beds – we experienced all the camping nightmares possible for an average family. We started off with misplaced optimism about exploring the stunning county of Cornwall, taking in a couple of family visits and having a generally wonderful break. First stop South Winds Campsite in the surfing capital of Polzeath:

1. Flat bed

Had an absolutely amazing first day and went to bed full of fresh air, happiness and “isn’t my family great-ness” whilst snuggling into our lovely cosy bed.

Woke up at 2am. Pumped bed back up and crossed fingers.

Woke up at 4am. Wasn’t full of happiness. Pumped bed back up again.

Woke up at 6am. All happiness had leeched from my body along with the ability to move without creaking or groaning.

We spent an hour or so with our repair kit, finding the leak and confidently repairing it ready for the next night. Spent another lovely day and went to bed totally ready for restful and recuperative sleep.

Repeated pattern of previous night.

Bought new bed.

Camping sunset

2. Wet bed

Our dear daughter was 3, but had been going through the night with no “accidents” for 6 months. So, for whatever reason, we decided not to follow our own advice and did not pack any nappies. You can probably guess what’s coming.

Night 3, after 3 full-on days of sea, sand, kites, running, making friends and bucketloads of fresh air, our children were sound asleep in their shared double. So sound asleep in fact that neither had noticed the circle of wetness they were both lying in.

As any parent knows, waking up sleeping children is absolutely the LAST thing anyone wants to do so Daddy and I started a whispering argument about how to deal with this. “Leave them” was Daddy’s wise advice following the path of least effort. I was not so sure and eventually we decided to try our best to sort this without waking them. So, mission impossible began. This involved careful placement of towels on our bed, moving children to our bed and changing them with minimal movement/sound, changing their bed and more placement of towels, moving everyone back.

Well, obviously they woke up.

We bought nappies the next day.

 

3. “Sleeping” Through the Storm

We heard there was a storm coming. “We’re not scared!” exclaimed Daddy in true Bear Hunt style, after all we’d survived plenty of adverse weather in our trusty tent and knew all about double pegging, storm pegs, etc.

Turns out this was a bit optimistic.

It was rather windy when we went to bed, but we settled down, confident in getting a good night’s sleep. I woke up a couple of hours later and it was clear that this was not your average storm. The noise was, frankly, terrifying particularly given that it was the middle of the night. “Are you awake?” I whispered and knew it must be bad when partially deaf husband replied, “Totally!” We poked our heads into the living area and saw the tent bowing in so leapt out to investigate. There followed a flurry of activity – re-shaping, re-pegging, moving the Landy to shield the tent, pacing up and down with our hands on our hips, shaking our heads and finally going back in.

The kids were fast asleep all through this and continue that way until morning. I mean, how?

I did not go back to sleep. Just lay there waiting to be blown to Ireland.

Mummy is tired
Flattering photograph of Mummy feeling tired

4. What’s happened to our tent?

We were due to move to the next campsite the next morning so packed up feeling rather subdued and a little concerned about the rather odd shape of the front of the tent. But with true optimism, set off further down into Cornwall to explore areas we had never been to before, confident our camping nightmares were finished. The picturesque village of Mousehole beckoned with camping at an out-of-season football club, Mousehole Camping.

So, we started the process of pitching our tent again. Although the storm had passed, the wind was still buffeting us and presenting all sorts of challenges. I was definitely on crank factor 10 following almost no sleep but made the decision to not lose it if at all possible. Daddy had also made this decision and was trying not to shout at the hyped-up children who were running round and losing things in the wind. “Losing it” was starting to win however and in the end, bribery was employed to get them to stand (still please) on tent corners to try and get the job actually done. This was having some effect and we started the muscle-sapping process of pumping up the tent.

It became apparent that all was not well.

The back of the tent/sleeping area was fine but as we got closer to the front end that had taken the full impact of the wind, the shape of the air beams was distinctly bowed as though the wind was still pushing on them. We went around straightening, adjusting the air pressure, umming and ahhing to little effect. I heard a couple of cracks during this time and thought that it was the cricket game that was taking place in the next field. But then heard a couple more cracks in quick succession and turned my attention sharply to the air beam where the sound was actually coming from. I saw a bulge at the corner of the beam and heard a few more cracks which turned out to be the stitching popping and saw that the bulge was a rapidly expanding air beam as it pushed its way out of the popping protective casing.

The inevitable happened.

Bang!

Airbeam down. Now what?

As luck would have it, the lovely proprietor of the campsite offered us the use of a vacant bell tent for the rest of our stay and our holiday was saved!

Camping nightmares - burst airbeam
Pop!

5. Lost items

With a son who is perfectly capable of losing items in his own bedroom, losing things is inevitable.

It felt a little unfortunate that the thing he lost was the only coat he brought with him. Taken off whilst in the middle of an energetic game with new friends and discarded somewhere on the field never to be found again. Probably swept out to sea just as the storm came in.

We conceded that he really couldn’t do without a coat given the mad weather and of course, we just love spending money on more things from our constantly haemorrhaging bank accounts.

It was also a sad time for Daddy as he imitated his son and left his beloved hat of 30 years at some never to be found again place.

At various points, I also lost my patience and sanity.

Camping nightmares - lost items

6. Poo-gate (x2)

Here is a case in point.

First night in lovely bell tent and am woken up in the morning by beloved son who has an urgent need for the toilet so off we set over the 500 yards across grass, tarmac, around the pitch to the loo block.

“Oo, I need a poo Mummy.”

“Let’s go a bit faster then.”

“I really need to go, Mummy!”

“Not far now darling!”

And then the words, every parent dreads:

“It’s coming out, Mummy!”

I mean…what can you do? I thought brazen it out and keep going so half dragging him along, that’s what I did.

By the time we got to the loo block, things were not good.

It was literally all over his lower half including squelching inside his trainers. He was obviously upset so I was simultaneously trying to comfort him whilst not touching him or giving in to the rapidly rising tide of vomit. I pretty much had to hose him off, bin the PJ bottoms and disinfect his trainers. Also had to hot foot it back the way we came to assess the erm, damage left behind. A few doggy poo bags and squirts with a water bottle later and no one was any the wiser. I swerved every time I went past that bit though for the rest of the stay.

The next fun time for Mummy came the very next morning. I woke up before the others and took myself off to get washed. On my return, I saw dear daughter stood outside. As I got closer, it seemed her pyjama bottoms were round her ankles so I sped up with that familiar sinking feeling. As I got closer, it became apparent that I was too late and that she’d “deposited” immediately outside the entrance to the tent.

“Poo, Mummy.”

“No sh*t,” was what Mummy wanted to say.

Daddy stayed sound asleep through both incidents.

Despite our camping nightmares, we are desperately disappointed not to be camping in the next few weeks/months as Covid-19 rampages around this beautiful country. Please stay safe and stay at home for now. But don’t forget to support our wonderful camping industry as soon as you are able to so that we can all enjoy it for years to come. Check out some fab campsites on our directory and perhaps give them a follow or a like to keep them in mind for the future.

Fitting tent into bag

6 Cosy Glamping Experiences

Well, although spring is supposed to be coming, it still feels decidedly cold and gloomy out there! With this in mind, perhaps you’re not yet ready for all-out camping just yet and still want that feeling of cosiness with a few home comforts? If so, why not try the luxury of glamping? We have found 6 gorgeously cosy glamping sites, where you can get your fix of outdoor living whilst relaxing in comfort by a log burner or even in a hot tub before retiring to a comfortable, fully prepared bed (and even have a hot water bottle!)

1. Beavers Retreat

Situated in the beautiful Welsh countryside in the heart of the Pembrokeshire Coast National park, all your worries will drift away at this truly luxurious glamping site where every detail is tended to with the customary care of Beaver’s Retreat.

All family-sized, you can choose from beautifully furnished bell tents or the cosy Geodomes with wood-fired hot tubs! Both options come equipped with a comfortable double bed with crisp cotton bedding for a good night’s sleep as well as sofa beds, tables and chairs. The floors are carpeted adding to the homeliness and each unit has a private sheltered kitchen, full cooking facilities, cutlery, crockery and a fire pit to warm up around. The luxury Geodomes have the added bonus of an indoor wood burning stove so you are guaranteed to stay warm and cosy.

2. Marthrown of Mabie

Within the spectacular Scottish countryside of Dumfries and Galloway, you will find the hidden forest gem that is Marthrown of Mabie. All furnished with wood-burning stoves for a truly cosy glamping experience, you can choose from luxuriously furnished yurts, a Native American style tipi or even a Celtic Iron Age Roundhouse! There is a covered BBQ cooking area, usable in all weather conditions and complete with tables and chairs and electricity for lighting and music. And if you get chilly, why not try the authentic Finnish sauna or a wood-fired hot tub whilst gazing at the stunning dark skies?

3. Yurtcamp Devon

Set in forty acres of beautiful Devon woodland, you can choose from twenty-two contemporary yurts of different sizes and locations from secluded to “village” style at Yurtcamp Devon. All the yurts are fully equipped and luxuriously furnished for cooking, sleeping and relaxing in. Each has access to an outdoor fire pit, for campfires and barbecues and you can be sure of staying warm and cosy next to the log burner, even when it is cold outside.

4. Kiss Wood Cabins

On a family farm in Cheshire, surrounded by breathtaking countryside in the Peak District National Park, you will find luxurious and cosy glamping accommodation at Kiss Wood Cabins suitable for all seasons. Each pods is furnished with a comfortable double bed, sofa bed, en suite bathroom, kitchenette, T.V. and heating so there is no chance of getting cold! Outside, you can cook up a feast on the BBQ provided or simply enjoy the beautiful views from the hot tub with a glass of prosecco in hand!

5. Stanley Villa Farm Camping

Situated in the lush countryside of Lancashire, Stanley Villa Farm Camping offers a total of 24 cosy camping pods. These are all well-insulated with wool and come with 2 good quality single beds and mattresses for a comfortable night’s sleep. The beds can be pushed together to make a double and a further airbed can fit in for the kids. Each pod comes with its own firepit for nights around the campfire and you can hire free hot water bottles for that extra cosy feel. Take advantage of their March Madness Offer for any bookings made before 31st March 2020 for discounts well worth taking.

6. Wye Glamping

Wye Glamping, Powys is set in a simply stunning part of Wales offering a true retreat with mountain views and nature all around. A small family run site with only 5 pitches including a locally built yurt, a beautifully handcrafted cabin and 3 spacious bell tents, every detail is catered for so that all you need to bring are your clothes and food. Each come with a fully made-up king-sized bed, futons and a wood burning stove for cosy evenings in. Outside, there is the firepit and plenty of rugs, cushions, blankets to wrap up in and watch the sun go down over the spectacular views.

6 cosy glamping experiences:

Beaver’s Retreat, Pembrokeshire

Marthrown of Mabie, Dumfires and Galloway

Yurtcamp Devon, Devon

Kiss Wood Cabins, Cheshire

Stanley Villa Farm Camping, Lancashire

Wye Glamping, Powys

How to Prepare Your Caravan For Towing

We all love our home comforts, so going on a caravanning holiday is a great option for many people who prefer to cater for themselves but still want the freedom of exploring what the UK and Europe has to offer. From beautiful seaside towns to warm beaches and green pastures, you can get that little bit closer to nature by travelling in a caravan.

But, before you set off on your next trip away, you may need to prepare your caravan for towing. The experts from SG Haulage have kindly provided some top tips that will ensure your trailer is safe for the journey ahead:

1. Pack it correctly

Packing your caravan in the right way will minimise a lot of problems that could otherwise occur while towing. Always start by referring to your car’s handbook so you know exactly what the maximum towing capacity is before you begin packing. It’s also a good idea to make the nose heavier than the back of the trailer as this will avoid tipping, and only pack the necessities. Unless you’re travelling to the middle of nowhere, extra water can be accessed at your campsite, and groceries can be purchased at your destination.

Items should be packed in the following way:

Heavy items – larger items such as bikes, barbeques and TV’s should be weighed before loading, and always keep the heaviest items as low as possible to prevent unnecessary pressure.

Medium items – next, you should load medium sized items, these can be spread out more than heavier items but should still be stored in the middle and bottom of the trailer.

Light items – small amounts of clothing and lighter items can be kept in the overhead storage.

2. Plan your route

As you would with any other type of trip, plan your route well in advance as some areas are not suitable for caravans, and you may not be able to access certain routes. This is particularly important in this era of the Satnav which can lead you through tricky, narrow roads that are difficult to navigate, so querying this beforehand will allow you enough time to come up with an alternative route.

3. Extra tips

● Be careful when driving – allow extra room around you, more time for manoeuvres and stick to towing speeds.

● Purchase mirror attachments so you have full visibility.

● Use the lightest version of everything you need – e.g. reusable plastic plates and cutlery.

There is nothing quite like the freedom of meandering around our beautiful countryside. And as long as you prepare your caravan for your trip, you can truly relax and enjoy.

If you need more help with your caravan, SG Haulage offers domestic and commercial haulage services across Lincoln. Whether you need your caravan moved across the country or you require international road haulage, go to the UK’s leading haulage company.

And where could you go with your caravan? Well, here is a selection of campsites with excellent facilities specifically for caravans to help your holiday go without a hitch (sorry, couldn’t resist that one!)

Scottish borders: Lilliardsedge Park

North East England: Thornton Hall Country Park

North West England: Park Foot Holiday Park

Wales: Brynawelon Touring and Camping Park

East Anglia: Fakenham Fairways

South West England: Langstone Manor Park

South East England: Chestnut Meadow

Caravan and Camping Shows – Spring 2020

It’s coming isn’t it?

“What?” I hear you ask. Well…camping season of course!

I know, I know…the weather is still doing its crazy British thing, but it really won’t be long and I, for one, cannot wait for our next family adventure.

Before the season gets started, it is a great time to check last year’s equipment: make sure it is all in working order, repair and replace as necessary. If you want to check out the new products and innovations on the market before committing to buying, then you could pop along to one of the caravan and camping 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 dribble over the amazing things you could buy after you’ve won the lottery (a favourite pastime).

Whatever your budget, caravan and camping shows certainly get you thinking about the summer ahead and we’ve put a list together of a few shows that are on over the next few weeks that might just be worth a visit:

16th February – DubFreeze, Stafford

DubFreeze

18th-23rd February – Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show, NEC Birmingham

CCMShow

7th – 8th March, Camping World, Horsham, West Sussex

Camping World

20th – 22nd March – The Yorkshire Motorhome and Accessory Show, Great Yorkshire Showground

Yorkshire Motorhome and Accessory Show

9th – 13th April – Camperfest, Chester

Camperfest

17th – 19th April – The National Motorhome and Campervan Show, East of England Showground, Peterborough

National Motorhome and Campervan Show

24th – 26th April – Caravan and Motorhome Show, New Forest Showground

Caravan and Motorhome Show

Now, some of you might find the idea of going to a camping show too “peopley” but still feel the need to go shopping. I must tell you that I stay away from ‘normal’ shops like the plague but there is one type of shop that I am irresistibly drawn to… the beauty that is a camping shop (jumps up and down with excitement!) One place that is full of proper camping knowledge and an amazing range of products is the wonderful family-run World of Camping in Cornwall.

They really know their stuff and can help to find you the right product for your budget. If that’s a bit far to go, they also have a website with plenty of offers available for different products. Check them out here: World of Camping.

Camping Vs Electronic Devices

Redshoot Camping Park

A couple of weeks into the school holidays and come on admit it…how many of us have resorted to electronic babysitters?

Well, we have.

Not proud.

In fact, it raises that ever-present guilt that AGAIN we are failing at parenting to the high-level that seems to be required AT ALL TIMES these days. Whether it is the right amount of screen time, sports time, music time, learning time, playing with your friends time, cooking to a gourmet standard time, there is always something to think about and then feel guilty about because they’re not on the right Olympic pathway.

We are, however, passionate about getting the children outside and off electronic devices.

Now, let me just be clear: we are not one of those smug families that say, “Oh no, we don’t even own a TV, we are so wonderfully wholesome!” I mean, life without CBeebies would not be worth living on some days, frankly. We do have an iPad and obviously, the children love it. I mean REALLY love it. They would give their very souls for a whole day of square-eyed gazing at the pad of power. They would literally merge into the couch, oblivious to any other living thing and probably forget even to eat (well, that might be pushing it a bit.) And that is the problem – it just sucks them in and then sucks the very life out of them. They stop communicating other than the odd screech if the other dares to want a turn or if a nasty parent comes to persuade them to do something a little less mind-numbing.

Kids on phones
Why talk to each other when you can look at a screen?

To be honest, it is pretty much banned in our house now as we don’t really like our children when they are on or have been on it – they just become these whinging, whining empty vessels; devoid of imagination and drive. Pretty much like drug addicts which is exactly what they become…addicts! In fact, a study by Sigman looked into the increasing use of the term ‘addiction’ by physicians to describe children engaging with a variety of electronic devices in a “dependent, problematic manner.” They noted that children are more likely to develop a long-term problematic dependency on technology.

It’s that repetition of the word “problematic” that concerns me.

How have we got to the point where these amazing portals that unlock the whole world have become so “problematic?”

It comes back to screen time. Research published by  the Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, tracked the daily habits of 4,500 children who were then asked to carry out detailed cognition tests. They found that those engaging in more than two hours of screen time had worse results for working memory, processing speed, attention levels, language skills and executive function. All pretty fundamental areas really and scary reading for parents.

It leads us to think about the importance of getting the children outside, away from these hypnotic electronic devices, connecting back to nature and real things.

Camping does allow for “cold turkey.” The change of routine and location can allow children (and adults) to think about other things and kick their addiction into touch.

Think about it – in the morning, you awake to the sound of birds singing and breeze blowing rather than the stark electronic shout of your alarm and that sets the tone for the day. Stuart Lea-Swain of FootArt is an avid camper and agrees that, “You can’t beat waking up in the hills or countryside, listening to the sounds of birds singing, the fresh air and optimism of the day ahead.” This immediately connects you to your surroundings and make you want to stay outside and experience the things around you rather than retreating back to the “eyes down” position.

During the day, the children can set about exploring the play area or thrashing dad at tennis, paddling in the stream or tucking into a picnic. But most likely, they will be making new friends. Jo Smith at Stowford Farm Meadows has observed that “Classic camping memories stay with families forever.  At Stowford we love seeing families, couples, groups and pets coming back year after year and enjoying the great outdoors together. Some families are pitched next door to each other and end up keeping in touch for years – like old fashioned penpals!”

Kids enjoying camping at Stowford Farm Meadows
Enjoying life at Stowford Farm Meadows

At night, it’s time for lovely food around the campfire, games and something that might be tricky at first…talking to your family! The team at Bundle Beds are passionate about camping and enabling people to try outdoor living: “One of the reasons that we set up Bundle Beds was to get more people out and about and exploring, whether touring the world or just camping in the back garden.” They love camping for “the fresh air, for the amazing views, and our favourite bit, the campfires… the endless potential of feasts and treats to cook on them, the huddling around them as night draws in, and the simplicity of just being outside as the sun sets.”

Bundle Bed
Cosy in a Bundle Bed

Without the usual electronic devices, everyone is likely to sleep better at night as well. The usual recommendation is no screen time for 30 minutes prior to bedtime. Well, you can totally nail this one!

When you get back from your trip, rather than slipping back into the old routine, use some strategies from your new routine: Try eating your breakfast outside to set the tone for the day, organising a family game of kwik cricket, get the swingball out or try a boardgame when weather drives you back inside. Just try and break your children’s “crack” habit before they become monosyllabic teens, cos let’s face it, you’ve got no chance then!

Why not try one of these fab sites before you run out of summer holiday time?

Stowford Farm Meadows

Petruth Paddocks Free Range Camping

Forest Glade Holiday Park

Red Shoot Camping Park

Haw Wood Farm

Stanley Villa Farm Camping

Deepdale Backpackers & Camping

Greenway Touring and Glamping Park

Walton Court Caravan and Camping Site

References

  1. Sigman, A. Virtually addicted: why general practice must now confront screen dependency. British Journal of General Practice 2014; 64 (629): 610-611. DOI:https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp14X682597
  2. Walsh JE, Barnes JD et al. Associations between 24 hour movement behaviours and global cognition in US children: a cross-sectional observational study. The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, 2018, VOLUME 2, ISSUE 11, P783-791, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2352-4642(18)30278-5