It’s been a while, but I’m finally rediscovering my love of camping. All of my childhood holidays were spent under canvas or in a battered old caravan, and after investing in a tent last summer, I’m remembering how much fun camping as a family really is. This week we headed off to Suffolk to meet up with two other families (total six adults, six kids) for a three night stay. It may have been a bit wet, it may have been mighty chilly but we didn’t let that dampen our spirits. Campfires, late night chats, seaside trips, den building, ice cream eating, kite flying and general merriment were all in plentiful supply, and I honestly didn’t want the trip to end, even though by that point I was so cold I wondered if I would ever feel warm again.
On one of my three hideously early morning starts (next time there will be a concerted effort to drape some kind of blackout fabric around the twins’ bedroom compartment or I will resort to taping eye masks to their faces), as I lay cocooned in my four-season sleeping bag, desperately attempting to ignore the ear-splitting sound of the crows overhead and the twins bickering over the ipad, I drafted a brilliant blog post in my head, listing all the wonderful things I deem essential for a successful family camping trip. Of course now I come to write said post, I cannot remember a single one of my witty and insightful must-haves, so I’m afraid these will have to do instead…
Brilliant company – Emily (from Mummy Limited), Kelly (from A Place Of My Own) and I met through our blogs when I first began blogging over three years ago. We have become closer and closer as the years have passed, and we were so proud that we managed to get ourselves organised to go away together with our families for the first time. I couldn’t have asked for better company, the kids just fell in with each other as if they meet up everyday, and spending the time with such a great group of people definitely made the lack of sleep well worth it. Despite knowing my children were likely to rise at dawn every morning (which they dutifully did), I still couldn’t tear myself away from our campfire chats to go to bed at a sensible time.
Bed essentials – eye mask, ear plugs and a hot water bottle (or two). The eye mask won’t stop your children waking at dawn, but at least you can throw your ipad in their general direction, put your eye mask back on and snooze for the next hour and a half. The ear plugs will also help with this, and they’re handy when you’re sharing a small bedroom compartment with a husband who snores like a trooper when he’s drunk too much red wine. The hot water bottle needs no explanation.
A campfire – Despite camping countless times as a child, I don’t ever remember having campfires, except when singing round one at Guide camp. This week we stayed on a campsite where fires were allowed and I’ve fallen head over heels in love. I love the smell, the warmth, the crackle, the cosiness of huddling round it with your camping companions, and watching the flames and coals flicker as darkness falls. I’m not a fan of marshmallows, but fizzy strawberry laces melted in the flames were a more than acceptable alternative.
Baby wipes – My addiction to the baby wipe is widely known, but I can now add camping to it’s endless applications. Brilliant at wiping up mud from the floor of the tent, baby wipes were also the closest thing to a wash my children saw for the four days we were away.
Cake – After raising our hopes with her promise of an amazing sounding homemade rhubarb crumble cake, Kelly forgot to pack it. I will never, ever let her forget it.
Kite – The idea to get the kite out can be credited to Emily’s eldest, and it was one of the biggest hits of our trip. We were surprised how well the older kids could manage the kite on their own, and Fonz even perfected the art of lying on the floor and flying the kite with one hand. Nonchalance is his middle name. All the kids absolutely loved it and we’ll definitely be getting ourselves one of our own as soon as possible.
Bacon – Starting the day without one of the awesome bacon butties Emily cooked up for everyone every morning is going to take a bit of getting used to. A real mood booster, it’s a camping tradition that I hope we stick to from now on.
3G – Get three bloggers who can’t get enough of Twitter and Instagram together in one place and 3G coverage is essential, even if it does result in Instagram being swamped with all our camping snaps. It didn’t take us long to identify the best spots on the campsite for 3G, and we were particularly delighted to discover we could tweet each other from our separate beds in the morning. Our biggest challenge was the constant battle with the phone batteries.
My Instagram camping favourites…