I have a love hate relationship with camping. I have such fond memories of going camping as a child with my family, both in the UK and abroad. I remember hot sunny days, making new friends, trying new activities and foods, and spending time together as a family. We had our own tent and we also went to Eurocamp where they pitch it all for you, plus you have your own little kitchen area with working fridge which I totally didn’t appreciate when I was younger, but when I decided to recreate the past and went to the Vendée area of France with Eurocamp, it felt like home from home rather than camping, almost Glamping! I would definitely go again, but we went before the children started school and it gets a whole lot more expensive going in the school holidays.
So once William started school, we decided to buy our own tent and equipment and head off to the UK. We chose an independent park in Devon, and that holiday was a great success, the weather was glorious, the kids loved it, made friends and I was hooked. Camping was for me.
Last year we went to a Haven caravan/camping park in Clacton-on-Sea, which was a little bit different – OK so we had Daniel this time so an added element into the mix, we felt a bit like the poor relations as it was primarily a caravan park with one field for tents. It was enjoyable, the shows and activities were good, but it was hampered by Daniel being ill with conjunctivitis, no sleep and nits!
Since then we’ve been camping again to a local campsite with friends which was great as we could all share the pain, and on mobile home holidays. I haven’t ruled out camping again, there are a few additions to the things I would take though to make it better. Thankfully Halfords have created a handy downloadable guide, called The Ultimate UK ’16 Camping Guide, with sections on popular UK holiday destinations like Devon, The Lake District (take a brolly), Wales (definitely take a brolly) and Norfolk; Beginners camping tips; Camping recipes and more, with a useful checklist on the back cover for camping essentials.
I ended up taking too much stuff, plus missed some useful things – like when we first went we had no camping mallet – essential! Last year we could have done with a camping kitchen, or something to store our bits in, because we were constantly losing things (like the toothpaste) and drowning in mess. If you have a baby, definitely take a travel cot, not just to sleep in but it doubles up as a playpen and safe area for them.
If you’re taking the children, choose your pitch wisely – near the toilet/ shower block, and near or next to the playground, so that you can relax whilst watching them play. Also not too far from the entertainment complex, you’ll be coming back late and mostly in the dark (you can never have too many torches or batteries) so the least amount of fumbling around in the dark is best. We liked having a few adornments like windmills and lanterns, plus it helps you pick out your tent easily – particularly at a large campsite or festival.
Above all, have fun, don’t take it too seriously, you’re building memories for your children xx