Camping. It’s become all the rage of late. We’ve all liked the Glastonbury, Bestival, Latitude and Wilderness Festival pics that those of you lucky enough to have attended have posted. We’ve all lusted after the festival chic on display. We’ve all watched, while singing/mouthing the words, the videos of live music that have been posted. We’ve all screamed (in our heads), “WHY AM I NOT THERE?!” So, when I say camping, I actually mean festival glamping in a bell tent, with a real wooden bed and bedside tables made out of wine crates. And a faux sheepskin rug at the foot of the real wooden bed. And fashion. And live music. And pop-up food vans selling churros and pulled pork burgers. And electricity. Camping in a tent, for no reason other than camping in a tent, is very much the poor cousin. When you tell people you’re taking a staycation in a yurt in St Ives, they’re like “Oooh! How cool! That sounds amazing!” When you tell the same people that you are going camping for a few nights somewhere on the Kent coast, they’re like “Oh. Is everything ok at work?” Camping is still perceived by many as pretty rubbish and, basically, an activity for poor folk.
So, anyway, as you know, last week, I went camping for two nights with two other families. It’s the second time we’ve been and we all absolutely loved it! It was a beautiful site.* We were surrounded by fabulous scenery. We had fantastic weather. What’s not to love?
However, I would still not consider myself a camper. I am not really an outdoorsy person. I like my creature comforts. I don’t do spiders.
But, camping is ace and I would encourage those of you who haven’t done it to do it. There is something so primal about sleeping outside, with nothing but a sheet of polyester to protect you from the elements. I always feel so at one with nature. So, I thought I would pull together an alternative list of things that the non-camper or camping novice should be aware of before they even contemplate a camping trip. This is not to scare you. This is to prepare you, because forewarned is forearmed. And, remember, camping is ace.
1.Bring along a fully charged power bar as there are no electric sockets in tents
I don’t know what I was thinking. I obviously charged my phone before we set off, but I was on social media throughout the entire journey. So, what started off as a 100% charged phone when we left London, ended up as a 67% charged phone by the time we arrived in Kent. Luckily, I brought the car charger, so I detoured through the car park on my way to and from the toilet block, and spent some time sat in the car, while it was running but stationary, scrolling through Instagram and watching the empty battery icon become as full as it could, before one of the kids found me and snitched on me to daddy.
But don’t bring your EE power bar as it is likely to explode.
2. You must pack at least one hot water bottle, no matter what the weather forecaster tries to make you believe
We were very lucky and had glorious sunshine the entire time we were out there. The heat had a greenhouse effect in our tent and it became a dry sauna during the day. The heat inside that bad boy was intolerable. Everything melted. My block of shea butter (if you know, you know) became liquid. I have never seen that sh*t before. Consequently, we thought that the intense heat would, perhaps, remain contained inside the tent – like a storage heater – and provide us with a cosy sleeping environment when bedtime arrived. However, after the sun goes down, the world becomes a very cold place. This is not to be underestimated. We sat around the raging fire pit after our BBQ dinner that first evening, warming our faces, hands and toes. The kids melted marshmallows and dipped them into hot chocolate. The adults drank Baileys/red wine/rum and coke and warmed our insides with alcohol. The longer we were sat out there, the colder the tents became. The tents were cold. Bloody cold! Effing freezing, to be precise. We sent the kids to bed and shushed them when they complained of the cold. We carried on chatting and laughing and drinking until we were ready for bed. We said goodnight to each other and climbed into our bedroom in the wilderness. Our tent was polar ice cap freezing! We had no hot water bottle. We were fools.
3. Bring plastic cups, paper plates and bowls and disposable cutlery as life is too short for washing up
Camping utensils, plates, etc can be very cute. I mean, I love a nice slogan emblazoned tin mug as much as the next instamum. But, when you are camping with six other people and taking it in turns to wash up after each meal, you may want to smash those tin mugs over the nearest jagged rock, rather than carry them to the wash area while batting off the wasps that are trying their best to sup on the dried-on bits of cereal and marshmallow-infused hot chocolate. And we haven’t even started to talk about the fact that you kind of need to clean the BBQ after each use to avoid eating insects that get stuck to the fat. In fact, you may wish to pick up a few takeaway menus en route to the campsite. A portable BBQ always looks good in a camping photo, but doesn’t mean you actually have to use it.
4. Crocs and socks. Don’t be a hero. Wear them
You do not really want to be walking your outdoor shoes inside your tent. Crocs are very easy to slip on and off at the entrance to your home in the wilderness. It is true, Crocs are very ugly and they make your feet look at least 4 sizes bigger than they actually are. But, they are also super-comfortable. And, if you step in mud/poo, you can easily rinse them off, which you couldn’t do with a pair of Air & Grace Copeland sneakers in leopard print, although they would totally look effortlessly chic and stylish. No, they would end up completely f*cked. You will also need socks for when you are sat around the campfire at night and the temperature dips to -34 degrees.
5. Bring a travel mug
I know that we all love our hot drinks. Whatever your vice, be it tea or coffee, you probably like it hot. Therefore, I am going to contradict point 3 above. The one exception to using disposable is a travel mug. I cannot count the number of evil glares I got from the other adults while I was sipping my hot tea and they were downing their stone cold coffee. No matter how quickly they tried to drink their hot drinks made from barely-boiled water from the portable kettle, the drinks were always cold within a matter of minutes. Ha! I laughed on the inside and kept my travel mug close at all times. Fools!
6. Bring Headlamps for the kids and save yourselves a walk
Kids love headlamps! Headlamps are like crack cocaine to kids. They will cut each other over a headlamp. I was wise this year and bought one for both kids, as last year I thought that we could all share one. This was an error. Bring one for each child that you have. With a headlamp, come nightfall, the kids can take themselves to the toilet block. They have no concept of ‘not breaking the seal’. They do not appreciate that, no matter the strength of your resolve, once you are face-to-face with a toilet bowl, you will have to use it. They will never understand that after that first release, you and your adult self will be back and forth across that field like a yoyo. Headlamps mean that you can avoid this situation entirely, sit back and continue getting smashed with the other adults. Chin chin!
7. Baby wipes
You will always need baby wipes. This is a universal truth. They are helpful for wiping the sleep from your eyes and the dribble from around your mouth when you first wake up and before you face the world (or, more specifically, the other campers in the shower block). They are also helpful for wiping off splashes of bird poop that land on your camping equipment. Full stop.
8. Don’t bother bringing sausages and crap like that with you
When meat goes off, it stinks. And there is not much worse than a car that stinks of rotting meat. There is also not much worse than having to chuck away a load of unused, rotting meat. So, instead of packing the meat that you will BBQ on your first night, and driving it to your campsite, how about you find a friendly, local butcher and get what you need from there instead. Not only will you save yourself the hassle of keeping the meat cool in your dry sauna of a tent, but you will also do your bit to boost the local economy. This is best described as a win-win.
9. Be like a child
Do this, and you will have the time of your life. Let go of any insecurities. No-one cares if you’re a bit heavier than you would like to be. No-one cares if your hair isn’t immaculate at all times. No-one cares if you don’t come out of your tent with a full face of make-up on. No-one cares if you are grimy and smell a bit, mainly cos everyone smells a bit and is a tiny bit grimy. No-one cares if your kids are making a whole heap of noise at 9pm (after 11pm and you may have an issue). Seriously, camping is one of the few times in your adult life when you can truly embrace having little to no responsibility. Eat, play, drink and sleep. Smile and say hello to everyone on the site because you are all part of the camping community. Simples.
If you haven’t ever done it, give it a try. You never know – you might like it…
* This is obviously not in any way, shape or form a paid promotional piece. However, if you are interested in sampling camping, our campsite details can be found here: http://www.fallowfieldscamping.com/