Rechargeable lantern. Check.
Sleeping bags. Check.
Picnic table. Check.
Gas cooker. Check.
Gas. (How much ££)?? Check…
So, a couple of weeks ago, this was me. Writing list after list of what I needed to buy and what I needed to remember for our camping trip. This was going to be mine and our son’s very first camping trip. And my first break in almost a year. I was excited, nervous and anxious. My son was just anxious, and my husband just excited.
Months ago, a family from the home-schooling community had organised this camping trip in New Forest, there were going to be around 30 families, and we were one of them.
Now, the first thing that went wrong was that my baby brain had a moment and I didn’t just double book, nope, not me, I TRIPLE booked. That same Saturday when we were supposed to be on our relaxing camping trip, I booked to go to a concert in the evening, and I said yes to attend an anniversary party in the afternoon. OOPS.
No worries, husband to the rescue (thank God)! We would go on the Thursday night after he came home from work, rather than on the Friday as originally planned, and leave on the Saturday around midday. We’d make it back just in time for the anniversary party and have just enough time to slip away for the concert later. Perfect plan.
So, tell us about the camping?!
OK, so as first time campers, we had to make quite an investment in all the equipment. My husband used to camp quite regularly when he was single in Venezuela so, thankfully, he was able to point me in the right direction, more or less, to what we needed. We have an Argos credit card so that was also extremely useful as it means that our investment can be paid over the next 6 months, rather than all in one go. I used this checklist, http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/expert-advice/camping-checklist, to help me get our things ready.
We went to the Roundhill Campsite in New Forest; from our house in South East London it took us 2 hours and a half – hubby arrived home from work at 7 pm and although we’d packed the car up in the morning before he left for work, by the time we were ready to leave it was about 7.20 pm so we arrived at the campsite at almost 9 pm. Thankfully, our British summer allowed us some light at that time, so it wasn’t pitch dark when we arrived. It was still necessary to use our brand new lantern and thankfully our fellow campers all had their own lanterns and head lights; so together with about 10 other people – whom we’d only just met – our brand new tent was put up.
The moment we arrived, my son was given a head torch by one of the other boys. At this point, all his anxiety, turned into full on excitement. Suddenly he was disappearing into the woods with the other children, jumping and running around everywhere. And once the tent was actually up, that just excited him even more!
By the time we’d settled down, after a kindly offered cup of tea from one of the other campers, it was past 10 pm so we all changed into our pyjamas, climbed onto our inflated airbed and went to sleep.
It was a windy night, and sleeping with my son’s knees and elbows poking into my back, and trying to keep his toes away from my pregnant belly, made it a bit of a sleepless night for me – but that had nothing to do with the camping itself, so seeing as my husband and son slept perfectly, I guess it was a good first night.
The next morning, we were all up at 7.30 am, got dressed and out we came. Whilst we set up our gas cooker, we met our neighbouring campers. After an English breakfast for hubby, Nutella toast for my son and peanut butter toast for me, we went round to meet the other families. The atmosphere was lovely, with the children all playing and riding their bikes in the middle of the field and the adults meeting up in one another’s tents, or welcoming the new families arriving, and our surroundings were absolutely beautiful.
The weather held up until about 4.30 pm then it started to drizzle and that drizzle turned into a downright downpour. And it kept going without any let up. By 6.30 pm, I’d had enough, and was starting to feel chilly, so I suggested to my husband we go to a nearby McDonald’s to get ourselves a hot chocolate and so we did. That hot chocolate felt so good! We came back to the campsite where one of the families had set up a communal BBQ under a gazebo and the children were having the time of their lives skidding in the puddles. We joined in the BBQ – after failing at keeping our own one going – and enjoyed everyone’s company under the gazebo (and the warmth from the gas BBQ!).
It rained the whole night, so yes, you’ve guessed it, another semi-sleepless night for me. As it was the end of our stay, we got up the next morning, packed up and, after saying our goodbyes to everyone – and being offered breakfast by many – we set off back to London.
Being a Saturday and because of the rain, which was still going, it took us 4 hours to get back home! But, just in case you were wondering, we made it to the anniversary party for a couple of hours, and then set off for our concert.
My conclusion about camping?
I’d do it again for a couple of nights, but I don’t think I could do it for any longer than that due to the lack of sleep and, as much as I needed a break, I didn’t enjoy not having anything to do and just idling about. Also, the not having a toilet close by was not my thing! I did appreciate being without a phone though as there was no signal on the campsite so, once we left, I had around 40 WhatsApp messages. The people we were surrounded by made it an enjoyable experience, not to mention our super green surroundings with horses grazing or galloping by.
The minute I got home, I jumped in the shower and it was lovely having my luxuries; hot water, feeling warm, being able to stand upright!
Despite forgetting the cooking utensils and washing up bits for our kitchen things, we had a lovey time and I’d say, all in all, it was a positive experience – one I’d recommend to others and something I’m looking forward to doing again next year with the same group of people!