What is my idea of a fun family holiday?
Well of course it would be somewhere with entertainment for the kids, good food, a pool and family rooms for us to sleep in, better still an apartment so Paul and I can relax once the kids are asleep.
I’m not really fussed where we go as long as the kids are happy, comfortable and have a choice of food they will eat.
How about camping?
Ummmmm NO thank you that does NOT sound like fun at all!!! No way, never ever ever….
I’m a girl who likes her creature comforts too much.
I like a nice bed, a hot bath, a fridge, hey room service too, I won’t lie.
I’ve tried camping in the garden pre kids and I was indoors again by 2am, tucked up under my duvet nice and snug with no bugs bothering me.
It was cold and I hated the confinement of the tent.
A few weeks ago I was emailed asking if I would like to go Camping in the New Forest with the family on a bloggers weekend away, staying in Holmsley Campsite
. Now usually I would have taken one look at the email, screeched something like NO WAY, and hit delete but something stopped me. We were driving on a weekend away to LEGOLAND at the time, off to stay in a hotel, I was a passenger and while I read the email I glanced back at the children and asked myself “would they like it?” and I knew they would at least like to try, they had been asking to sleep in a tent for a little while now and for them I stepped out of my comfort zone and agreed.
We arranged for a tent to be set up for us as we didn’t have one and were told all the essentials we would need for our weekend.
Thankfully Paul was a keen camper pre-kids so had lots of the equipment we needed such as a stove, sleeping bags and the other things like cookware we would need.
Elaine from Canvas Pretty
was my go to gal too as she loves glamping and goes often with the family so answered ALL my questions on what I would need to take with us.
All that was left was to pack up the car and head down to the New Forest which was a 2 hour 20 minute drive from us. The weather didn’t look good for the Friday but I had told the kids and agreed so off we went straight from school.
On arrival we claimed one of the tents which had been set up for us and were pleasantly surprised to find there were camp beds and sleeping bags already for us (had I known that I would have saved space in our car).
We unpacked and went off to find out who else was there for the weekend. We had preset up a Facebook group so knew many of the families coming along, introduced ourselves to those we didn’t know and were surprised when my brother, sister in law and nephews arrived (they were surprising the boys so hadn’t told us either).
The kids wasted no time making friends, running around and playing with the other children.
We all sorted our evening meals, chatted and then around 10/10.30pm the rain came so we settled into our tents.
I was surprised at how quickly and well Emmy and Harry went to sleep in our tent, no fuss, complaints or demands for stories, milk, anything we didn’t have to avoid sleeping. With the rain coming down fast and little room in our tent it seemed sensible to settle down too. I can’t say I remember much until waking in the morning. I was in a separate sleeping compartment with Emmy and Paul I’m the other with Harry.
Surrounded by tents and other families I honestly can’t remember hearing them after a certain time (there was one tent where the talking and laughing just carried on but I was able to ignore them eventually).
It did get cold in the night however we all had thick onesies on and sleeping bags, we had taken fleece blankets and these were perfect and we definitely didn’t get cold.
We all slept through with the kids and I waking around 6.45am.
It was still raining so coats and shoes went on for a trip to the toilet block, I had been dreading this part of Camping but it was fine, the toilets and shower block was clean and the showers nice and warm. After pottering around the tent for a while everyone started to appear so we joined them – camping brings out a sense of community which no other holiday has done for us yet – the kids were straight off playing with their new found friends, the parents cooking, chatting and mingling together. Some families we had met before, others new to us but it didn’t matter everyone gets on, the kids all play and you find yourselves sitting outside or inside strangers tents sharing lunch/drinks and cutlery etc you’ve forgotten.
Harry was drawn to the puddles from the night before and there was no stopping him – wearing his onesie, fleece and trainers (oh how I wish I had grabbed his wellies first thing) he spent ages running in the puddles and jumping in them with his new friends. There was no point getting him dressed so he carried on happily having a whale of a time.
By 10am the sun was out and we all got dressed – it hadn’t even bothered me that I was still in my onesie wondering around with un-brushed hair and no make-up on, there are few people who have seen me like that but after this weekend many have and there’s photo and video evidence too (horrifying).
With no set plans we all played, explored, got to know each other and I have to admit it I had an amazing weekend.
Seeing the children embrace the outdoors and the freedom which comes with camping was amazing. They knew they could only wonder on their own where we could see them but it meant they could go into the little wood area by our tents alone or with their new friends, go into their friends tents and play games around the tents.
They were all on the go all weekend with no stopping: Playing games such as Tennis, Rounders, Cricket and Football, den building, bug hunting, chasing, drawing and just being children with no distractions of TV and expensive toys – we actually only took footballs, bubbles, their favourite teddies and a couple of cars with us and it was enough.
Not once this weekend did I hear “I’m bored” or “I want to watch…” – it was can I play with my new friends.
We were able to borrow bikes this weekend which all the children loved, I’ve not been on a bike since before the kids were born but loved riding them around in the tandem trailer and on the trail-bike – it was so much fun – I did pay for it after though with not only sore legs but a sore bum too.
We also had great fun exploring the new forest, seeing the horses, climbing stiles, crossing little streams and generally being outdoors all day and night.
When night fell the fun didn’t end either – the kids still ran around with friends with balls and torches and the adults gathered round each others tents to chat and have fun.
So can I be converted?
Hell yes!!!! In fact we are looking into buying a tent now and planning our next adventures.
It was a cheap weekend and one we LOVED, not just the children but Paul and I too.
I never thought I would say that – Paul was convinced I would be finding a Travelodge at midnight but I was fine, by evening I was so worn out I fell into bed and was asleep instantly until morning, as were the kids.
I have to say a huge thank you to Camping in the Forest
for having us as their guests this weekend and for introducing me to a new way of life – you have well and truly converted us and we can’t wait to plan our next family trip, the kids are already missing their new friends so hopefully we can do another bloggers campout again.
Now for the fun and expensive part I guess – we now NEED to buy a tent and kit ourselves out properly!