Category Archives: Camping

Tent Success!

Success!

I got a fantastic tent on Friday evening and went on a surprise camping trip with the hubbaganub and the childeroonies to test it out on Saturday morning – it works like a charm!

If you’ve been paying appropriately close attention, you’ll have noticed that the four requirements I had for my tent were:

  1.  Reasonably lightweight
  2.  Easy to set up, easy to collapse
  3.  Some kind of a colour
  4.  £20 or under

Well, after a long, hard search through Black’s, I successfully achieved two of those aims, and a glorious new tent is mine!

I decided on Black’s since it is in Liverpool city centre and I was going to be there on Friday anyway, and they’ve currently got a massive sale on, so the sassy bargain hunter in me was itching to check it out!

As it turns out, that sale is even bigger than I thought, and I didn’t just buy a tent, I nabbed a gas camping stove, a camp kettle, a lantern and a four-pack of gas canisters for the stove – all for £165, total! The tent alone was down from £400 to £150, which with my extra discount code became £135, an absolute steal! Plus, the stove and kettle will make us exceedingly popular when we get up in the morning, since a big bottle of water and a little pack of teabags is no great hardship to pack!

I can’t imagine anything lovelier than sitting out the front of a tent as the sun comes up over the rolling green hills, sipping a fresh, hot cup of tea. Now, we can! The gear is really light and quite compact, so it fits in the back of the car and isn’t a problem to carry to the campsite, and the value it’ll add to the experience is, in my opinion, absolutely worth it.

The tent itself was a monster, as it turns out. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m usually a humble, fly-on-the-wall sweetheart kind of figure, but I do love being the queen of the court every now and again, and this tent is fit for a queen, no doubt about that.

It’s the Buckingham 6-man Tent by Eurohike, which is a huge green tunnel tent that sleeps 6 in two separate compartments at either end, with the middle as a living area/storage area. I took a picture of the inside of it from the door of my room, you can see the removable divide between the two rooms for the kids – Tilly’s old enough now to like her space, and I didn’t fancy her accidentally waking the babba during the night, so they each get a little room of their own! Helps keep the peace, and that’s what camping’s for!

Jin's Tent

Tilly was made up with her little room – the one with the lovely red sleeping bag in the photo. It had its own little nightlight, and a grown-up size bedroll to give her lots of room to kick and stretch and just generally be a little wriggle monster! She took her teddy with her, and I brought a hemp dreamcatcher woven with a strand of my old guru’s actual hair (we are in the wilderness after all, can’t be too careful!) and hung it from the cord above the room to make sure she only has good dreams and doesn’t draw anything out of the woods with a nightmare!

The little man had an easier room setup, with a pad and sleeping bag both used together as a mattress. Joe only sleeps with a blanket anyway and we left his zip-up door open, along with one of ours – he still gets up during the night looking for us, so we were expecting a little snuggler at some point!

The spot we camped was just outside Denbigh in North Wales, and it was just gorgeous. Endless rolling valleys, blistering sunshine and clear skies met rich green grass and soft birdsong and it was just a balm for my soul. We brought along plenty of food and plenty of teabags, and since it was only about an hour and a half on the motorway, we got there in record time with plenty of the day left for setting up the tent, getting our little disposable barbeque going and taking Roxy to explore the campsite.

Of course she was all “let’s smell everything!” but I loved the walk. The sun on my face and my little goldie basically buzzing with happiness was just great for relaxation.

By the time I’d gotten back from the walk, I was a little sunburnt (already! I know! I’m not the golden-skinned goddess of my bikini model years anymore) and the chubster had finished barbequeing our dinner – burgers on cheesy baps with lettuce, ketchup, red onion chutney and wensleydale, with a side of corn on the cob and roasted sweet potatoes. Absolutely amazing, even if Roxy was far too keen to try it!

Afterwards we had a great little digest, I read an Escape, Evade, Survive guidebook and hubbly wubbly lay in the sun with Roxy. Tilly was looking for bugs, if I remember right.

Once the food had settled, we played for a while with the kids, all sorts of outdoorsy games like frisbee and tag and swordfighting, then when the sun went down we toasted a marshmallow each over the barbecue as a treat and the kids went to bed.

Hubladee hublada and I stayed up a little later with a bottle of port, but we didn’t want to get too snozzled – we’re responsible parents after all and this is bandit country.

The next morning went pretty much exactly as I planned it would – I stumbled out of the tent bleary-eyed and achy, set up the camp stove and the kettle and had a cup of tea so incredible that it would put the nectar of the gods to shame. The sun was up, but the air was still cool, and it did my hangover good to just sit there for a while and contemplate.

I wasn’t crazily keen on the idea of driving back home and returning to civilisation, but that’s just me I guess. Who would want to leave their own little slice of paradise?

I think I’ll probably be back soon.

Kisses,

J

xx

Tent Shopping

So, the hubster chubster and I have a wedding to go to next year! My niece Clara is getting married, and I couldn’t be happier for her!

She’s always been a bit different from the flock, too, so she’s going for a really novel wedding idea instead of the usual three-course-meal-and-a-disco fare – she’s having an outdoor ceremony in a forest in Sussex, followed by a reception in a huge marquee and all the guests will be camping on-site!

I think it’s a fantastic idea (and I kind of wish I’d thought of it when Mark and I were getting together, after I put the screws on him. It would have been a great way to celebrate our six-week anniversary to get married under the stars instead of in a little church in Shropshire, but I digress. While it would have been lovely, my wedding was mine and I wouldn’t change it for the world).

Apparently there’ll be a hog roast, and instead of bringing a gift she wants everyone to bring a few bottles of something to drink so there can be an open bar and everyone can share and have a great night at little cost to either them or their guests (another smashing move) so I’m looking forward to a fabulous night’s drinking and dancing under the stars with family, both old family and new family!

However, there is only one problem with this… I don’t have a tent. I’ll need one if we’re going to camp out after the wedding and get the fabulous night we’re after, so it’s about time I went shopping!

We already have a double air mattress and a vacuum-packable duvet and pillow set, so bedding is sorted, no problemo. The kids have got little foam roller pads and sleeping bags, although they’re a little young for a camping wedding – I think I’ll let them stay with my friend Janice over the wedding itself so we can unwind a little without worrying about whether their little backs will be hurt by the rough ground or whether the noise will keep them awake all night or whether they’ll sneak off and get blitzed on a bottle of Kahlua when we’re not looking.

So with that in mind, all we need is a tent big enough for Mark and I, although we’ll be getting a bigger one for a few reasons.

First, obviously, we won’t just be using it this once. I’m a thrifty frugal mama and I wouldn’t be caught dead buying something that I couldn’t use over and over. The clever money-managing-mama in me would nbever allow it. Therefore, this tent has got to be BIG – big enough for me, the hubster bo bubster, the two kids, and the dog – and that’s big!

Considering that, it’s got to have great ventilation too. With four people and a poocheroony in there, it’s gonna get hot (and stinky!) so I need to keep my eyes open for tents with air vents, unzippable sections and mesh windows that can let some of the heat out.

Secondly, even without the kids or the dog, it would be amazing to have the room. When you’re a seasoned outdoorswoman like me, you know that tents never actually have enough wiggle-room for the number of people they advertise. A two-person tent has enough room for two people to lie down, sure – but only just, only if they lie straight, and only if they don’t attempt to sit up, stretch, or move at all.

So something like a six-person tent will mean the kids and I have room to wriggle and get comfortable, as well as giving hubbly bubbly and I lots of room to stretch, wrestle around and generally have a great time after the wedding.

Those two points aside, the tent has also got to be:

  1. Reasonably lightweight

I’m not saying I couldn’t lug a heavy tent and poles through the wilderness, or up a snow-blasted mountain face. I’m just saying I’d rather do that with a lightweight tent.

2. Easy to set up, easy to collapse

It’s got to be quick to set up so I can do it fast when the rain starts to pour, or in the dark, or in any of the adverse, hellish conditions that could descend on us at any time during a lovely family camping holiday. It’s also got to be easy to collapse again so I can take it down the next day when I’m bleary-eyed and hungover – that is crucially important.

3. Some kind of colour

To be honest, I’m kind of torn here. I want a nice bright bubbly colour so everyone knows that’s my tent and it matches my personality. However, I also want a camouflage tent so I can disappear without a trace and never be found, preferably until I’ve enjoyed some bloody peace and quiet. Like, camouflaged well enough that even government drones couldn’t fine my tent. Camouflaged well enough that when I’ve had a few drinks at this wedding, even I couldn’t find it.

I think I’ll probably get a pink one, though, since that’s my favourite colour and it’s my tent.

4. £20 or under

I may be chancing my arm here, but I want all that for under £20. I’m smart with money, and a very experienced camper, so there’s no point in me splurging money on stuff I know I don’t need. I know what I can get, and how much it’ll cost.

My well-ventilated, tall, easy-set-up, easy-takedown, pop-up pink/very well camouflaged tent should cost £20 or under, and I’m sure a seasoned bargain-hunter like me can find it for that.

Happy camping!

J

xx

Keeping Kids Occupied While Camping

This year seems to be flying by, I can’t believe it’s almost May. I like May though, it gets that little bit warmer yet it’s still fresh and crisp, which makes it a great month to get outdoors (and, as you should know, THAT is something I love to do) I also like May because there are two bank holidays to take advantage of. And after reading an inspiring article earlier this week about making the most of Bank Holidays, I think I’m going to take the kids camping for the first time!

Before my life changed forever (for the better of course) I really enjoyed camping with my partner. We would often go for long walks in the Lakes, stroll back in the sunshine, cook some sausages on the BBQ and have a couple of drinks to unwind. It was great to get some fresh air, and we always came back renewed.

However, when the children arrived, we always figured it would be too much hassle to take them – they’d probably get bored and it would be more stressful than relaxing. But they’re getting older now, and can keep themselves occupied for longer. I’ve found some great camping tips and activities for kids on Pinterest, too. Because although the real boredom busters are their bikes, and the water. No one thing can occupy a young kid forever!

I’m planning on tiring them out during the day, so they fall asleep early and easily at night. All camping with kidsthat fresh air should help too. Here are some activities I’m planning on doing with them. 

Scavenger hunt

The first thing that came to mind was a scavenger hunt. I know for a fact my kids will love this. They are always showing me different things they’ve found, and showing off about who found what first.

I love these types of activities – It’s a challenge for them and makes them look at things differently. I’ll make Tillys a little harder because she’s a bit of a clever cloggs.

Glow in the dark bowling

Now, this is one i’m really excited about. I can’t wait to have a go myself. All you need is six tall, empty bottles and some glow sticks. Oh, and a ball. Perfect for when the sun goes down, I imagine it’ll be fun for us all, not just the kids.

Stick/log decorating

So, I’m hoping there’ll be somewhere we can find some logs or sticks, maybe even rocks will do the trick. But I’ll bring some paints and decorative bits and bobs so we can get a bit artsy while we’re camping. It’ll be fun and requires little effort and energy on my part.

Friendship bracelets

With Tilly in mind, I thought we could make some friendship bracelets. We enjoy doing this at home, and if Joe is napping, it’s something she can do alone. Or that we can do together as Mother and daughter.

If you have any more ideas, please let me know in the comments.