The summer holidays are just flying by a little too quickly for my liking and we are trying to cram in as much fun as possible. At the beginning of this month we headed off on a family camping adventure with my Brother, Sister-in-Law and two teenaged Nephews.
The kids love everything about camping, the sleeping outdoors, running around playing games, camp fires, sleeping bags, torches, marshmallows and late nights.
We stayed at the St Neots Camping and Caravan Club site which is only an hours drive from us, of course hitting traffic on the way as we always seem to do. Arriving just after 3pm to a very friendly welcome from staff. Luckily there was no one ahead of us at check-in as you park up at the stop sign and head into reception to check-in, you are then shown to your pitch by a staff member on a bike. I can imagine this could take sometime if you have a few cars ahead of you on arrival.
Thankfully it wasn’t raining as there is nothing worse than pitching a tent in a hurry in the rain, and having used our tent a few times previously we knew the ropes and it went up pretty easily – helped by the kids happily playing with their cousins and toys instead of trying to ‘help’ us.
The site, although nice enough wasn’t really young child friendly, with the park area located off site albeit a short walk but meaning we had to close up the tent every time they wanted to go off to play, they also don’t allow ball games on site which when the kids are used to being able to play catch outside their tent or kick around their ball is was a little disappointing.
You could fish there which the kids loved, Emmy has re-found her love of fishing on this trip and spent hours by the River Ouse baiting up her hooks and learning to cast. They managed to catch a few fish between them, only small ones but they were very happy.
One of the things we love most about camping as a family is parking up the car and not having to really drive anywhere, the children took their scooters and we went for long walks. With the park being off site it meant we were forced to head out to amuse the children and let them burn off their excess energy because no one wants hyper children racing around after dark while they are trying to unwind and relax.
The first day we found the park just outside the park, the ice-cream truck which parks up every day for a few hours and the fish and chip van which drives onto the campsite on a Friday for a few hours – we didn’t use the chip van but it was a nice addition for those not wanting to cook. At the top of the road were a couple of takeaways and a shop so everything was rather accessible – the shop in reception was only tiny and only for such a short time we didn’t bother using it.
On the second day we ventured to find another park for the children, this also a short 10 minute walk with a lovely sand pit area for the kids and also a skate park for older children, we wandered around feeding the ducks and the kids rode their scooters.
We also went exploring on the Greenland behind our tent which made for a lovely long walk along the river watching the boats pass by, climbing trees and watching the fish swimming in the reeds.
A thunder storm hit that day so we hunkered down in our warm snuggly sleeping bags kindly sent to us by Millets, watching programmes on the kids tablets while I read a book and drank my Gin in a tin (that’s a camping essential I believe). There is nothing worse than being cold in a tent in the middle of nowhere, which has happened to us on previous trips so we carefully chose thick warm sleeping bags in preparation, and also packed the kids fleecy onesies.
The sleeping bags we chose were the Outwell cardinal single bags, a cross between a sleeping bag and a duvet. I hate the confinement of a sleeping bag, being zipped in is too constrictive especially as I sleep with my legs out of the duvet at home. These are roomier than a typical single sleeping bag. The wide-shaped bag has a unique opening which incorporates an integrated Isofill duvet which can be folded back to control temperature and aid free movement. The Isofill Premium also wraps you for incredible warmth throughout the night. The duvet section of this can be kept in place with poppers or undone for freedom of movement, I found myself tucking it up around myself and under my head for a comfy and cosy nights sleep. You can also undo the foot end to avoid over heating, and to push your feet out of if like me you can’t stand them being covered. It also has an inbuilt pillow. It was so roomy that when Harry woke in the middle of the night – as he always does he was able to jump inside with me and we both had plenty of room – well we would have had we not been sleeping on a single camp bed!
The kids had Eurohike adventure youth 200 sleeping bags which were perfect for them, also wearing their fleecy pyjamas and armed with their pillows they were warm and comfy all night, well except Harry who kept rolling out of bed but he is such a fidget that happens anywhere we go. These are mummy shaped 2-3 season bags with a hood design and a 2 way zip.
One addition I purchased on the second day of our holiday were ear plugs – not something I have worn before really, other than hospital stays in the maternity ward but after very little sleep on the first night due to Paul moving around the tent – he always goes to bed after I do and being in a tent I could hear every movement, the crickets outside our tent and the birds as well as barking dogs contributed to a very bad night sleep that night. With the ear plugs I was asleep almost instantly and slept in until the dreaded night time toilet urge woke me – I never get up to go to the loo in the night but stick me in a dark field with no toilet and then I need to get up every night! I was able to get straight back to sleep though and sleep until Harry woke me in the mornings.
Due to the fact we knew it would rain I had made sure we were fully prepared by packing welly boots for us all. The kids had their amazing Muck Boots – Emmy’s are My Little Pony and Harry has BumbleBee Transformer ones. Muck boots are a little different to your usual rubber style welly boots, they have the usual rubber soles and shoe part but from the ankle upwards they are made from an insulated material which hugs the wearer meaning no air, rain or even snow can get into them. They really do fit like a glove and due to the material top they are more flexible than other styles of boots, the kids find them so very comfortable that they can climb trees, puddle jump and even cross streams without getting wet. Exactly what we needed after the thunder storm we had.
I had my BOGS Boots with me. These are stylish boots a little different from the norm too, these too have a rubber sole and shoe and an insulated and waterproof material top, they are available in different designs – mine are black with a grey flower design over the fabric. I have chunky ankles/legs so sometimes struggle with anything other than ankle boots but due to the material of these boots I was able to pull them up easily and they were very comfortable indeed. BOGS are available in a wide range of funky colours and designs and are all 100% waterproof. Featuring Max-Wick technology which wicks sweat away from your feet meaning they will stay dry inside and out in all weathers and you’ll have no more sweaty and smelly feet! Perfect for all and my family of course are grateful for that.
On the Sunday, we walked into St Neots town. A very beautiful town with lots of shops, easily reached along a very pretty river walk. It took about 20 minutes to get to. We had lunch and wandered around some more before heading back the same way and spending some time in yet another park and riding on the miniature railway.
My parents had driven down to spend the day with us all that day, as had my Sister-in-Laws brother. The kids played together for a while and then mine happily fished for a while longer – Emmy not wanting to stop and carrying on while I cooked dinner for us.
Later that evening my goof friend joined us with her husband and two children with some wine and after sun – yes I have managed to burn myself rather badly while fishing for around 4 hours with the kids that day, but I wasn’t alone as my Dad managed to burn while sitting in the shade.
We had a lovely last evening giggling, catching up – it had been a while since we had seen each other. Claire’s children were keen to fish so Paul and Neil took charge while Claire and I gossiped and drank more wine. The perfect end to a holiday weekend. The kids all played beautifully together and now want to camp with us next time, Neil isn’t as keen but we will continue to work on him (nag over and over) and he may change his mind.
Packing up camp this time around was far quicker than I remember last time around, that may have been helped by having two cars to fit it all into or by keeping the tent tidier and everything in boxes which could just be lifted into the car. We managed to get it all away before the rain hit and cook a final breakfast – with Emmy fitting in a final hours fishing by the river.
On the way home the kids and I extended our trip by visiting a friend for lunch. She lived near us until the end of the school year then moved to Cambridge, we had a lovely time looking around their new home, catching up and the kids swimming in their new pool – I did have to scrub Emmy’s feet before getting in as unlike Harry she wouldn’t use the camp showers (not that I blame her as they weren’t great, Harry and I did but that’s because I have to have a shower to wake up properly).