I went camping at the weekend … is a sentence I didn’t think I would ever, EVER say. Those close to me know I don’t have a successful camping history, having last camped four years ago and only managing one night at a four-day festival. But, I’ve had just the four years to reconsider … and you can read about why I feel like this in my earlier blog post.
So how did it go? Overall, I’d say it was a success, with just a few things that perhaps need MAJOR BLOODY TWEAKING. (Why does everything I say sound rude?) So first things first, where did we go? We decided not to venture too far in case I needed to do a midnight runner, so we went to Lewes in East Sussex. It was supposed to only take 90 minutes at the most to get there, but two hours later, my man-friend was texting me from the middle of a field wondering where me, and our tent, were.
I arrived. Sweaty. Hacked off. Not in the mood to camp. But it’s amazing what a cooler full of all the alcohol can do for one’s mood! A great hack from a lovely reader, fill a cooler bag with frozen 2 litre bottles of water and shove your beer around it – it kept our drinks cold for 48 hours. Result. So after a beer and a snog, I was revived.
One of the main provisos of me going camping in the first place was that, for once, I wouldn’t have to lift a finger and that he would do all the work. It’s not that I can’t put a tent up, I’ve done it before on my own, I just don’t bloody well want to. I want this experience to be something that I don’t have to stress over, something I can sit back and enjoy and besides, he actually does this type of stuff for a living, so it was no biggie for him to get his big, wooden mallet out. (See what I mean?)
(He’s under there somewhere!)
As I mentioned before, we were gifted our tent by Blacks, as well as the two sleeping bags (I’ll get onto them later), and I literally know nothing about tents, but this was a Vango four-man tent that was perfect for us. We had a big lounge area … OK, I’m embellishing it somewhat, it’s just the right-hand half of the tent where you store all your stuff and chill out, but it was tall enough so that we could both nearly stand up, a massive plus when the last tent you stayed in was a two-man pop-up tent. To the left, was the bedroom, which you could cordon off with a two-layer mesh/material zip-up doorway. Not sure I’m describing it very well, but hopefully the photos will help. It sleeps four, but I’m glad there were just the two of us!
(My country office.)
(Watching the sun set.)
So, this is a little awkward, but I’m in a new relationship, and so … ahem … the bed area was quite important. I wanted to be warm, and comfortable, and I didn’t want to be restricted by a sleeping bag on this occasion. However, the sleeping bags we were given were excellent quality – Berghaus – thick, warm and they even had a hood on them. Sexy? Erm, no. We were lucky with the weather and it was really warm, so this time round, we used the sleeping bags as padding to lay on underneath a blanket, and they worked really well. However, next time we camp, I’m going to look at getting some type of mat from Blacks to make the ground even softer. I didn’t take a photo of our bedroom, but here’s the sleeping bag we had:
One of the nice things about this campsite, and it was very basic, no electricity for example, was that a firepit had been dug into the ground of each pitch, so we bought a bag of logs from the owner, and then MAN. MADE. FIRE. RAAAAAH. He was quite proud of it too, bless him, and like he promised, I just had to sit back and drink Prosecco whilst he got all Neanderthal.
We decided we wouldn’t cook, so drove into a local village in the afternoon for cold IPA and a McDonalds (dead classy), and we then just spent the rest of the day chilling, chatting, drinking and relaxing. Who knew camping was so relaxing?! This was a way of camping I’d never experience before, and I really loved it.
Until 2am that is.
We’d gone to bed at about 11pm as we had a 30-minute shower that threatened to put the fire out, and I slept well until I woke at 2am with a mild panic attack. I have some claustrophobia issues that stem from my previous relationship #CheersAnxiety, and I always need to have an escape route. It’s hard to explain, but I’d pre-warned him about it, so when I sat bolt upright in the early hours scrabbling around for the zip, it wasn’t a massive shock. I got some fresh air, had a garden wee (obligatory with camping I feel), and went back to bed … with the door slightly unzipped.
Did I sleep well after that? No. Not really. I think I woke on the hour after that but that’s really my issue, nothing to do with camping, other than the cow that started mooing at 6am and the kids next door that started screaming at 7am. (We’re going to an adult-only campsite next time. Love kids but …. generally only my own.) But although I was tired, when I woke up, and we unzipped the side door, we were lucky enough to be in just the right position to watch the sun rise, it really was wonderful. We could feel the sunshine warm the tent up, but because of all the little vents dotted around the tent, we didn’t get too hot.
The campsite did have an outdoor hot-water shower, but I’d forgotten my towel, and so we packed up everything and left. I say ‘we’ … I folded up the two camping chairs. We decided to drive into Tunbridge Wells for lunch. We bought a picnic from Sainsburys, grabbed the picnic rug and found a park where they were playing cricket. The sun was shining, we still had a bottle of cold Prosecco left, and it couldn’t have been more perfect. Well, I could have had two bottles left.
So you see, overall, camping was great. That’s because of several things. I was warm, comfortable, for the most part, I had a full belly, a glass of something cold in my hand at all times and a fire to sit around … what’s not to love?