Loads of the families I know down here in Brighton camp. We are so close to some great campsites that you can be only 15 minutes from home but in the middle of the Downs. However my own camping experience was pretty much limited to guide camp, Glastonbury and a couple of nights in the Sahara and Oz. I quite liked the idea of camping for a weekend away, or a holiday, in theory, but in practice, with my children??? Hmmmm.....
In practice I wish we had done alot more, even when the kiddos were little, this weekend we were in East Witterings at Stubcroft farm and there were loads of tiddlers. If I have another tiny then I'm all for going with a baby, despite watching the endless desperate efforts of dads walking their buggies up and down a field at 9pm in the hope their children would sleep. On second thoughts perhaps it IS slightly more stressful than I am imagining.
Anyway, after testing the idea out with a weekend away last year at Wowo and a borrowed tent, we got a 5m bell tent a few months ago on ebay and will be using it plenty this summer. I must admit we're very much at the comfort end of the camping spectrum - not like the dudes sleeping under a tarp that slept at the other end of our field this week. However romantic I imagine it I like to be warm and dry.
I think it definitely helped to go with other families the first couple of times we've been, it's sociable, you find out what works and I think that that's what put us off in the past, having no-one to go with and neither of us having any real camping history.
This week we went solo and although we were in a campsite where you are very much side by side with other campers it was still very social, the children played while the grown ups chatted and even with all the chattering and festivity everyone slept. It does help when everyone is considerate and happy. It was also our first experience of camping in the rain and I loved this tent purchase so much - we can stand, move around and it's a space you enjoy being in when the weather is miserable. I could also probably be a sales rep for bell tents, it was a bit like having a new baby, the tent got ALOT of attention and both families on either side of us were swayed by it.
We have old quilts from the charity shop in our tent, blankets, duvets and of course some of my crochet. The fair trade mats on the floor are from www.belltent.co.uk
I even got a chandelier!!!! Pretty unnecessary really but very beautiful. This photo doesn't do it justice, lit up at night it looks divine. As do the solar fairy lights outside, I got a bit carried away, the only thing this get up is missing is BUNTING. I MUST get some bunting together for our next trip!
The children love camping, they love being outdoors and quite unbelievably they sleep in until at least 8 - Sunday morning it was 8.30!! A lie in! I just love it because any break from home gives you time to think, review and plan and with less distraction save eating and wandering it's relaxing. Aside I mean from a few choice heated words with ones other half at points but I'm sure that just goes with the territory, like mandatory arguments in Ikea that threaten ones relationship. Providing you expect these little conflicts as part of the experience it will all be fine. And of course the packing, setting up, packing away, washing, unloading, that's not very relaxing, that bit is pretty exhausting.
But it's all good.
I've even been looking at the calendar for 2014 and working out good weekends for next years adventures. We are well and truly addicted!