So after our camping adventures in the garden, which I blogged about here, we decided to step things up a little and take some baby steps to become more regular campers with some more tenting escapades!
My daughter enjoyed all of the garden tenting and was keen to get the 24-hour challenge complete before the end of the school holidays. Our next holiday to Paris was cancelled due to COVID-19 and some friends who are slightly more regular campers had suggested a weekend away in Scotland once the restrictions began to lift, so we needed some more tenting equipment.
The Amazon Basics tent we’d bought really was intended to test things out, but it was pretty clear that wasn’t going to work for all of us (2 adults, 1 child and 1 dog), or at least not with any kind of comfort for a few days away. We also didn’t want to break the bank in case it turned out to be a one-time-only trip, so ended up going with a Vango Lomond II 500 from Winsfield Outdoors.
It’s much bigger than the Amazon tent, but also looked pretty good value and not too expensive. It also has the option to upgrade it with an extra module which can be added if we caught the camping bug (probably for the dog!) and wanted to do more tenting. We bought the matching footprint (which seemed to be recommended on most camping forums) along with various other things listed below:
- Self Inflatable Mattress (SIM) – we’d bought a Vango 5cm SIM for our garden camping, but while it was much better than the large air mattress that deflated during the night, it wasn’t quite thick enough for a decent nights sleep, at least not for me. My daughter didn’t seem to mind the thickness, so she (and a friend who ended up sleeping in our tent) slept on that, and we bought a slight upgraded 10cm version similar to this, which was perfect for the job, if not a bit bulky to transport and heavy to move around;
- Camping table – not quite sure why we ended up buying this one, but it worked fine and we also played the game on top a few times;
- Camping chairs – we bought 2 of these Amazon Basic chairs, which were very comfortable and pretty good value. The only down side is their size, as they took up a huge amount of boot space when we were already pretty tight on space. My daughter bought a much smaller one, which turned out to be too small and I’m not sure it even made the trip back! We need 3 somewhere in the middle!
- Water Carrier – we bought this cheap one from Amazon, but it turned out to be a bit of a star as nobody had taken anything similar and we were a long walk up a big hill from the nearest drinking water. The handle could do with some kind of padding for carrying any distance, but for the money it worked really well and could be thrown up on a shoulder. It’s amazing how heavy water is though;
- Camp Stove – another cheap and cheerful purchase from Amazon, but it worked fine for boiling up some water in the morning. You just need to remember to change the cartridge when it dies and not wait 30 minutes for water that would never boil;
- Cool box and extension cable – we bought this and used it for the 24-hour challenge in the garden, and it worked OK, but it turned out the campsite our friends had booked didn’t have power so we didn’t even take this. I will come in handy for the next trip I’m sure, but can’t really say too much about it yet;
- Crockery and Kettle – my partner bought these things, so no links, but we just went with some pretty basic metal ones that worked just fine. The expandable washing up bowl she bought was pretty neat too
We’d given most of this a test run in the garden the weekend before when we’d done my daughters 24-hour challenge, which went remarkably well. It was a little boring at times stuck in the garden, although we did take the dog for a couple of walks and used the BBQ for cooking dinner (burgers) and breakfast (sausages)!
So with all that packed in the car, along with some food, drink and clothes for a few days away, there was little space for us! I’d planned to take my drone and a model rocket I’d bought (that’s currently a draft blog!) but there was just no space. We had two bikes on the roof (mine and my daughters) and we were off to Comrie Croft campsite, about an hours drive from home.
To be fair, it was a pretty good place to stay and the weather was great (if not a little cold in the evenings), although the area we’d booked made it much more diffcult than a first camping trip really needed to be. We were at the very top of the site, on the top of a pretty steep hill. You could drive a car part of the way up to a small car park, but it was only big enough for about 7-8 cars, so there were staff encouraging people to unload their cars and take them back down to the main car parks, before using wheel barrows to move the camping gear up to the pitches.
What a ball ache, both for setting up and especially packing away. We managed, but somewhere you could simply park a car and get things out as required, ideally with a power hookup would have made everything so much easier and a more enjoyable introduction to camping. That said, we all still had a great time with some great company and lots of laughs. It was nice for my daughter to get away with some of her school pals, and spend some time with them after being in lockdown for much of the last few month.
We did have some discussions about getting away again for a weekend before the schools went back, but just couldn’t find anywhere to stay. We might not get to do any more tenting in 2020, but I’m sure we’ll be using things again in 2021, so it should be much cheaper next time…