Camping in Spring – Campsites with Baby Animals

The Easter holidays are upon us and new life is sprouting everywhere from the abundance of blossom in the trees and hedges to the lambs kicking up their heels in the spring grass.

It is a perfect time to get the children interested in the nature and animals that surround them. Time to go hunting for tadpoles in the brook, to watch the ducklings attempt their first swim on the pond, to grow carrots in the garden. It is also a great time to see baby animals in the wild and on farms.

If you are keen to get camping in spring, there are many campsites based on farms or that have pet areas where children can get involved in feeding lambs, stroking rabbits, giggling at pigs and learning about a variety of animals. This can provide a fantastic extra dimension to your holiday and help cement some magical memories.

For those that are heading further south over the Easter holidays, we have found 5 campsites with baby animals on site where the children can get involved and make new furry (or woolly) friends:

1. Fontmills Farm

Fontmills Farm Campsite in East Sussex is based on a 140-acre family farm so you will be surrounded by green space and fresh air.  Easter marks the peak lambing season for the family with their Blue Texel flock.  This means that lucky campers will get to see the tiniest of lambs over the Easter holidays and see them playing in the fields around the campsite (who needs TV?!)

The Davis family are ably assisted by Floss the border collie sheep dog (when she fancies it), the horses Jonesy and Harry, and the cats – Ethel and Ernie who enjoy the occasional chat with campers.

2. Stowford Farm Meadows

Stowford Farm Meadows in North Devon, is set amongst an incredible 500 acres of rolling countryside and mature woodland providing fabulous views and a safe environment for your perfect family camping holiday.  From there, you can explore the blossoming hedgerows and woodland to find chicks in nests, rabbits, hares and numerous wild animals.

You could also venture into Petorama, their indoor petting zoo where you can see and touch baby goats, piglets, rabbits, guinea pigs, degus, plus lots more.

3. Walton Court

Walton Court is a small working farm in the heart of the welsh countryside. As you enter the site, you will pass by their pond that has an abundance of wildlife: from the regular visiting mute swans, moorhens, wild ducks, a kingfisher, woodpeckers and herons to the frogspawn and tadpoles during spring.

Camping in spring time at Walton Court means that you will see their flock of sheep adjusting to their new little ones, with “lamb gangs” in full force.

4. Petruth Paddocks

Petruth Paddocks offers wild camping in wide open spaces where children are free to climb trees and hide in the hedges, fish for tadpoles in the rhynes (ditches) or take a ride on the back of the quad bike with Jules.

Their animal section includes pigs, goats and sheep and they offer animal tours every weekend during the summer where they encourage campers to come and say hello to the team.

5. The Farm Camp

The Farm Camp in Wiltshire offers something a little different where the family can become truly immersed in countryside living. Over Easter, they are in full swing with “lambing live” and have dedicated staff to offer experiences in farm craft and sheep herding amongst a raft of other activities.

A beautifully rural site, within fields and woodland, this is prime memory-making time for the whole family as you relax into the beautifully furnished bell tents with wood burning stoves to keep you cosy.

Many wait until summer for their holiday, but they could be missing out on some of the magical moments up for grabs by camping in spring. Having a look for campsites with animals could be a great way to get an early holiday in – just remember to take a few extra layers!

10 Reasons To Take Your Family Camping This Year

Family camp at Petruth Paddocks

Those that have taken their family camping before could no doubt think of at least 100 reasons to go again but others might not be so sure of the benefits: Is it worth ditching your usual home comforts? Won’t it be dirty? What if the weather’s rubbish? Won’t the kids be bored?

The thing is, family camping has come on a long way in the last few years. All of the above concerns are now easily dealt with at camp and glampsites that have excellent facilities ranging from washing, kitchen, entertainment, organised activities – really you can find whatever you want. But what is it about outdoors living that is so beneficial compared to just going to a hotel?

1. Fun

When you’re on the conveyor belt of life, you can forget what having fun as a family is all about. Well, camping provides the perfect chance to offload the weight of responsibility and get silly. From singing tunefully (or tunelessly, who cares?) round the fire to riding your 5 year old’s bike (and getting chased by him) or shamelessly beating young children at Uno, there are endless options. Campers are notoriously friendly people and kids will make friends as will you. Who knows when an impromptu game of rounders or football might break out? Or when the kites will come out?  You will find that the further into your holiday you get, the more you relax and regress until everyone appears to have the mental age of 9.

Campsite with lots of fun facilities: Stowford Farm Meadows, North Devon

2. Freedom

Freedom when camping comes in many guises:

For children, it is the freedom from the usual constraints of four walls – they can roam, run about, be by themselves or make ten new friends, discover wildlife, sing, dance, ride their bikes, basically whatever they want!

Freedom from routine. When on “camping time” you just do what you want when you want. There is no alarm to obey, no work to get to so just do whatever you feel like on that day. If you want to stay at camp, do it. If you want a day out, go. If you’re hungry, eat. Just don’t look at your watch, you don’t need that.

Freedom from electronic devices. These things are a blessing and a curse. I don’t doubt their usefulness in terms of researching, developing skills, etc. But is it just me that feels that whilst they are great for keeping connected generally, they also “disconnect” you from loved ones? Give a 3-year-old an iPad and you’ve lost them to Peppa Pig; give a 10-year-old an XBox and you’ve lost them to Fortnite; give a teenager a phone and you’ve just plain lost them. The good news is that camping allows you to find them again. You can have actual conversations with your teenager, play real games with your 10-year-old and make up stories with your 3-year-old. Your children are free to be children and you can make some wonderful memories as a family.

Campsite that values freedom: Petruth Paddocks, Somerset

3. Food and drink

Now, when taking your family camping it really doesn’t matter if you aspire to a gourmet banquet or a couple of sausages in a bap. I have a friend with a full-on converted trailer/kitchen who cooks up gigantic pots of loveliness for 20 guests and another who only takes pot noodles. It really is up to you. As far as the kids go, every meal is a picnic so you’re winning from the get-go. There’s just something so lovely about eating your meals outside. And the smells that come from a barbecue – bacon sizzling anyone? A lovely treat late at night is hot chocolate and toasted marshmallows around the fire. My main aim with this is to lull the kids into sleepiness so we can chuck them into bed and crack open the wine…works a treat!

Campsite with Farm shop and café: Haw Wood Farm, Suffolk

4. Weather

When the sun is shining, there is nothing better than camping! We had a glorious summer last year and wow, did we love our trips! The children had a feral old time, we did everything outside and everyone was happy.

Then the rain came.

Did it ruin it? Did it heck! There’s something about the rain falling on your tent whilst you’re safe and snug inside it that’s quite therapeutic. You just need to make sure you have some indoor entertainment such as books, playing cards, games, drawing and colouring pencils and away you go. Or you might have made sure you found a holiday park with lots of indoor facilities for when the weather turns. You could also take the opportunity to go on a day out somewhere or just embrace it – get your waterproofs on and get out there!

Campsite will all-weather facilities: Woolacombe Sands Holiday Park, Devon

5. Nature

For most people, the driving force behind wanting to camp out is to be closer to nature and the great outdoors. From drinking in amazing views to breathing in the fresh, clean air, there’s something about it that relaxes, replenishes and re-energises. Little pleasures such as walking through wet grass in bare feet, listening to birdsong, spotting a hare running for cover help to de-clutter crowded minds. Your children appreciate the freedom to roam and will no doubt find that most magical of things – the stick – and think of all sorts of uses for it: a sword, a fishing rod, a magic wand, beating their younger sibling…hmph! But they might also be entranced by a dragonfly, spot the trail of a deer or any number of creatures, particularly if you take them with you for an early morning dog walk.

Campsite for beautiful nature: Fontmills Farm, East Sussex

6. Campfire

A personal highlight is listening to and getting ‘lost’ in a good crackling fire. There’s a certain cosiness that comes with everyone sitting around a fire watching the sun go down. It encourages actual conversations where you remember that your partner is more than the person you order about and get cross with at home when you’re trying to keep to your manic schedule. It is a place to reminisce, to tell jokes and stories, to bond with friends and family and to make plans for your next adventure.

Campsite that hires firepits: Whitlingham Broad Campsite, Norfolk

7. Family Time

With no work, school, clubs, appointments to get to, you will spend precious time together with your family. This might initially instil pure fear into you. However, do not panic! You will warm up to the idea as you gradually chill out over your holiday. You will not have to be a walking entertainment factory – the kids will doubtless run around happily and find their own fun. In fact, you will develop a self-satisfied glow as you watch them having a fabulous time, getting filthy (this is something you will just have to go with if you’re not used to it!) and racing back to you when they’re starving.

As with any holiday, it gives you a chance for days out together whether simply going to a beach, a bike ride, pony trekking or meandering around. At night, you can then snuggle up around the fire, discussing your wonderful day and remembering what a lovely bunch your family is when you aren’t nagging them to find their homework, their tie, or for the tenth time get dressed NOW!

Family friendly campsite: Red Shoot Camping Park, Hampshire

8. Exploring

We are very lucky to live in this beautiful country and you don’t have to drive far to explore a little piece of somewhere different. Whether you are looking for sea air, mountains, hills, valleys, vast fields, woodland, there is a campsite that will match it. Discovering new places is fun and refreshing and the change of scenery does us the world of good. When camping, you are always close to walks and bike rides for exploring the local area, making the most of the scenery. But you might also choose to jump in your car and go and find a castle, steam train, theme park or other such adventures.

You might choose to stay at your campsite and explore that thoroughly when walking your four-legged friend or letting the children guide you. They will be keen to investigate the stream, climb the trees, make a den and generally do their best to increase the burden on your washing machine…but heck! You don’t need to worry about that until you get back so just let them be feral and be glad that their immune systems are having such a boost as they wipe their muddy hands across their mouth!

Campsite that is a great base for exploring: Deeside, Aberdeen

9. Peace and quiet

The peace and quiet that comes from outdoor living is totally different to that from behind double glazing. There is a serenity that allows you to relax right down – your mind empties of the usual worries and you can take the time to really appreciate your surroundings. From the beautiful scenery to the fresh, crisp air; it allows busy minds to just let go and rest. You become aware of unfamiliar sounds and start to look forward to them: owls hooting, birdsong, the breeze through the trees, the crackle of the fire, the satisfying sound of the zip. Even the sound of rain on the tent gives a certain smugness when you are cosy in your sleeping bag (and helps to lull you to sleep as well.)

Peaceful camp site: Herding Hill Farm, Northumberland

10. Simplicity

Outdoor living brings a certain amount of simplicity back to daily life. You ditch all the conveniences, routines, jobs and rushing around and strip it back to what is necessary: love, fun and food! Our family camping experiences tend to revolve around food (that might be everyday life too when I think about it…) and mealtimes are so much more social. You will talk more, you will have lots of comfortable silences, you will watch your kids happily without that usual dread that comes with confined spaces or crowds, you might even read! At night, you can watch the sun go down and then star gaze without the burden of light pollution. The usual hustle and bustle feels a million miles away.

Back to basics campsite: The Lost Brickyard, Norfolk

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.

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

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

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

An Affordable Caravan? We Found One!

By Kate, mum of two boys (one of which answers to Scooby) and caravan fan.

I have noticed these days, that people have a tendency to put barriers up that stop them from having a go at things.  When it comes to caravans for example, people think that they will be too expensive, that they are not affordable. It doesn’t have to be that way. You just need to think in a different way.

When I was a little girl, my mum and dad saved up and bought the family a second-hand affordable caravan. I loved it. It was like living in a dolls’ house when we went on holiday. It was old but had been loved and looked after and everything had its own special place where it was kept and it was comfortable. We had years of fun in it, travelling all over the United Kingdom with it. What a sight we must have been:  three kids in the back of an estate bursting at the seams with stuff, a caravan piled with more stuff and a roof rack on the car with a boat on top of it. Not to mention the bikes, scooters and barbecue. We often went to stay down in Cornwall or Devon and enjoyed so many camp sites and made hundreds of new friends.

So when I had my own child the memories of those great holidays flooded back into my mind. A lady I worked with always talked about her holidays in the caravan at the weekend and school holidays and the great adventures she had with her family and friends in her caravan. I always liked to hear about it but never thought I would ever own a caravan as my husband liked to camp in a tent. He said it reminded him of his scouting days. Also, I simply didn’t think a caravan was affordable.

Then one day Barbara at work said she was selling her caravan which they called Green Windows for £1000 and did I know anybody that was interested. Well, this made what I thought was impossible, possible so I did what any good wife would do…started scheming! I hatched a plan with her and managed to convince my husband to visit Barbara and her husband, who by the way had a caravan for sale.

One week later I was the proud owner of Green Windows. I bought her new towels, cushions and bedding. Knives, forks, spoons, plates… the lot and she was ready to go. Barbara had taken really good care of her and she was old but immaculate. “Plenty of life in the old girl yet,” Barbara’s husband had said when we paid for her. And he was right.

We have had Green Windows six years now and have endless amount of fabulous holidays in her. My husband loves going away in her, I love the comfort of her and my son feels like I did when I was small – it’s just like living in a doll’s house.  If it’s raining or blowing a gale it doesn’t matter because you’re snug and cosy inside playing board games, drinking wine, relaxing. Enjoying your holiday!

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When the weather is great you get all the stuff out: wind break, deck chairs, body boards, crab nets, buckets and spades, kitchen sink and you go off down the beach.  All your clothes are in cupboards or wardrobes so no searching through bags trying to find things.  You can flick a switch and a light comes on. You can make a cup of tea easily and sit and enjoy it while it’s still hot. You can have a barbecue but if the weather turns half way through cooking you can finish cooking it all inside… in a relaxed manner while drinking your wine! When you go to sleep you have a bed to sleep on which is small but comfortable and warm and there’s no danger of getting wet in the middle of the night. You have a toilet in the caravan so in the middle of the night you don’t have to find your shoes, put your coat on, find a torch, take your loo roll and stumble down the field to the toilet. However we do have one very important rule in Green Windows, we are a no Poo zone. All poos must be done in the campsite toilet, Green window’s toilet only accepts wees!

At the moment, she is stored at Anglesey and we have enjoyed many holidays in her there (including this half-term week.) We have stayed at many fabulous sites and enjoyed the wonderful beaches. We intend to have plenty more of that this year and if it rains it doesn’t matter. Because we won’t be damp, cold or soggy. We will be cosy, warm and dry in our luxurious and affordable Green Windows. Cheers!

If you want to try before committing to buying, you can hire from Camplify. Check out their huge range of affordable options from teeny to gigantic, all over the country!

Nice comfy bed to go with it? Bundle Beds are so snuggly! And make it even more cosy with a Jofli Bear to cuddle and share your journey with.

Great sites that welcome caravans: Petruth Paddocks Free Range CampingRiverside Caravan & Camping ParkRiddings Wood Caravan and Camping Park,  Bay View Farmers CampsiteForest Glade Holiday ParkLee Meadow CampingWarcombe Farm Campsite

The Ultimate Glamping Experience? Welcome to the Geodome.

We absolutely love glamping here at Beavers Retreat and are proud to announce the next stage in luxury accommodation – The Geodome with hot tub!

I came up with the idea after wanting to provide accommodation for the early spring months hence the Geodome comes with an indoor stove. I also love the idea of a wood fired hot tub and using timber from Eco friendly suppliers who replant trees as they are cut down.

Now, after a lot of hard work over the winter we are delighted to offer visitors the Geodome alongside our bell tents. The dome can accommodate up to 4 people in a double bed and double futon sofa bed.

This luxury Geodome is the perfect place to get away from it all for a special romantic break or for a luxurious family experience. It is equipped with a double bed with crisp cotton bedding to ensure a comfortable night’s sleep. The indoor wood burning stove adds to the cosy atmosphere in the dome, alongside a table, chairs and a sofa. The dome has an open window at the front to ensure lighting is perfect and you can watch the wildlife from the comfort of the dome. Lighting is provided in the form of candles and LED/solar lights.

​Whilst supper is cooking, you may wish to play a game of Scrabble provided, or perhaps pore over a map to plan your itinerary for the next day.

The Geodome is situated in the same field as 9 bell tents, but is located in a secluded spot with no passing traffic from other visitors. It has a private sheltered kitchen area, and the best of all…. A wood fired hot tub! The kitchen is equipped with everything you need for your stay, and we supply towels for the showers. The dome also has a fire pit as well as a picnic table and BBQ.

Beavers Retreat is run by myself, Iwan, and is set on a small 60 acre working cattle and sheep farm, overlooking the small village of Jameston. 2015 was the first year for Beavers Retreat, only owning a couple of family sized bell tents located in an extremely quiet and secluded field that lays flat at the bottom of the farm hill.

Since then we have now expanded to meet the demand and now have 10 units, but still keeping the privacy, tranquillity, and large distance between tents.

We are extremely friendly and will ensure you have clean and comfy accommodation for your stay. As I said earlier, we love glamping and make it our mission to make sure you do too!

Check out our Facebook Page and Website for more information.

Who Fancies a spot of Glamping? Competition Time! COMPETITION CLOSED

To celebrate the launch of Gone Camping Co, we have a terrific prize on offer: Who was impressed with the inspiring story from the family team at Round the Woods? Well, in collaboration with Round the Woods we have a holiday up for grabs in one of their amazing yurts. The prize is for 2 nights, to be taken any time from season opening until the end of May, for up to two adults and two children (further people may be accommodated at extra cost.) This competition is open until 8pm on 20th March 2018.

All you need to do to enter is to go to our Facebook Page, like this post and comment: What makes this holiday appeal to you?

Then please like Gone Camping Co and share!

Full terms and conditions can be viewed here.