Being brought up on a farm, I like to consider myself an outdoorsy type of person. But if I truthfully look with someone else’s eyes at my life and what I actually achieve, they’d probably say “Really, dream on. What camping!”   I think being busy outdoors fits into my parallel life where I’m nearly fit enough to do a triathlon, I cook my family wholesome and nutritious meals 6 nights a week, do yoga in the mornings and have aged so well I get asked for ID when buying a bottle of wine!

So what is camping all about?

Are you into camping already, wish you were and can’t decide which option to take, or firmly know it’s just not for you. If you are on the fence and not sure what would suit you and your family then maybe my personal experience and insight through my family’s business might help. Otherwise just read on because you’ve got 5 minutes to spare!

The Early Years, no tent!

For my husband (who’s ex Army) a tent is useful but not essential, some basic food which usually includes 5 year old ration packs and baked beans, a cooker that I can’t use (you have to pump it up before you light it ) and a head torch, are all that’s required.

We used to camp in the back of his well kitted out Discovery (a 6 week road trip round Europe pre children was great). This system was fine when it was just the two of us, but not really family friendly.

Tenting Options

Fast forward 5 years and now I’ve bought a decent sized tent for a weekend away at a festival with friends.  All good and it’s perfect for the family I thought, there’s room for the children in this one.

So to our first family camping holiday. Picture the scene; a gorgeous camp site on the cliffs near Senen Cove in Cornwall, a dash from school at the end of term, sun is shining.

Let’s put up the big tent I say
No this little one will be fine,
But there’s no room for the kids!
Oh they can sleep in the car!
Really? I don’t think so!

Scene 2:
As I start to unpack the car and keep half and eye on the children,  hubby has already “launched” the 2 man pop up tent, pumped up the Coleman stove and got the kettle on.  I’m determined to put up the big tent so out it comes for the first time in a year.  Hubby watches on with amusement as I struggle and get the poles in the wrong places.  Kids are hungry (so am I), I crack open a bottle of Becks!

But I’m not a quitter.  Luckily there was a cafe on site. So off they go to eat and leave me wrestling with a four man tent which did get put up and slept in by me – I did eventually see the funny side and Senen Cove is stunning if you ever get the chance to camp there.

Sunset in Woolacombe Bay

The next time I took the kids on my own with friends!  Cornwall again, same tent and still a fairly basic set up, roll mats, little gas stove, no fancy stuff.  3pm, we’re sorted, tent up, all settled, happy days.  My friends (dedicated tenting campers) arrived late.  Their tent was like a marquee and took the two of them an hour to erect, then out came the full size kitchen, blow up mattresses, shelves,  the kit just kept coming out of the car!  Meanwhile the kids kept disappearing and we were getting close to missing the sunset over Woolacombe Bay  –  my beer was going to have to wait a while longer.

So my verdict on luxury tenting, great comfort levels and space, but it’s not worth it for the odd night.  I’d need a bigger car for starters and really I’m a short break fair weather camper!

Upgrade to a Caravan

Another friend is a dedicated caravaner (touring caravan). They have recently upgraded their model and head off all over the South West whenever there is time. The key requirement is a willing and competent driver /towing partner. The bit missing from my family is the “willing”, my hubby has more of a Jeremy Clarkson view about touring caravans on the road.

Despite our family not being into towing, I see the huge pleasure these little homes give other people. Many set up their second home at the beginning of each season at their favourite caravan park. Leaving it for the whole summer they kit it out with a everything from microwaves to beer fridges, bunting and carpets. The perfect weekend retreat.

So last year I decided I needed to make the effort to explore the South West more. To be able to set off at a moments notice because the weather looks great, visit friends and not worry about spare beds, drink a cup of tea over looking a gorgeous bay. Visit places that are just outside a day trip. Yes you’ve guessed it, I was lured into the campervan dream.

So I am now the proud owner of a 23 ft campervan (a converted delivery van!)

It’s great, bunk beds for the kids, a little kitchen (tea in bed!) electricity, a lounge that converts into a double bed and even a toilet (no number 2s please). You’re living the dream I hear you say. Well yes and no.

Hubby gets back ache when he drives it and hates the bed, so it looks like it just me and the kids again!

“Mum, when can we go away in the campervan”?
Let’s look at the calendar I say – so, we have a school PTFA event this weekend, then Izzy’s birthday party, then I’m at a wedding, then another birthday party, then dad’s arranged a fishing trip, then it’s a Scout camp…..and so the list goes on.

The poor campervan is feeling very unloved and my great intentions of being an impulsive get away at the drop of a hat person are fading into my parallel life (along with the money needed to Tax, MOTt, Insure and service a second vehicle). My husband will gleefully say “I told you so” but he’d better not.

Anyway I am determined to do it justice this summer and share my camping  adventures with you.

However based on my current record these posts might be few and far between! So if you have a camping story to tell and some nice pictures then let me know and you could be a guest blogger here and I can live my camping dreams vicariously through you!