Thursday 18 June 2009

Testing our Tent

We are back from a lovely camping trip to the North West of England and we left our garden in good hands. Thank you Zooarchaeologist and Toddler Boy!

Our little camping trip was really just to test out our new tent. We have gone up market. Last year we went camping in our little Clio with an OK sized 4 man tent and very little else. It was truly back to basics. We cooked every night on a small camping stove and huddled together for warmth in the one bedroom. Our clothes got a bit damp in the porch and Garden Girl was scared of the howling wind which battered our tent.

Garden Boy was only two months old then but now he is bigger and not very good at sitting still. We decided we needed a bigger tent, so that Garden Boy and Garden Girl had room to run about inside if the weather was wet and one which had a fully enclosed porch so Garden boy could not escape, our clothes would stay dry and the sides would not flap in the wind. The result was that we now have a camping palace. Luckily we also now have a Berlingo so it did fit in the boot.

First things first we had to get the tent up. We laid out the canvas while Garden Girl and Garden Boy jumped all over it. Garden Girl claimed they were helping; the jury is out!

While our Little Garden Helpers amused themselves with the canvas Garden Dad and I put together all the poles and pushed them through the canvas. So far, so good. Now all we had to do was lift the tent up and peg it down. Our Little Garden Helpers obligingly removed themselves from the canvas and we pulled the structure up to standing. And then Garden Boy went inside and started to play peekaboo with the door. Neither Garden Dad nor I could let go of the tent to get him out because the poles would have fallen on his head, nor could we start pegging it down as this also involved letting go on one side. Come out... come out... come out... all to no avail. Time to send in the big guns. In went Garden Girl tasked with getting Garden Boy out. No joy. Our arms were getting tired. Then suddenly a flash of inspiration. Smarties. Come out for Smarties, chocolate. Chocolate. And lo and behold two grinning faces appear. We quickly put the tent down, set our little helpers up with a bowl full of smarties and got back to it. The tent was finally up.

It was field day in my home town, so on Saturday we lined the streets and watched, in Garden Girl's words, 'the beautiful lorries and trucks'. She liked the brass band best and her stuffed cow liked the dancing cow best! Garden Boy slept through the procession till the very lasy exhibit, a steam engine which loudly tooted its horn as it went by and woke him with a startle. At least he was now awake to enjoy the field. He was mesmerised by the fun fair rides, pointing in all directions at things rocking, swinging, spinning and bouncing. He loved it. Garden Girl took her turn to go asleep. When they were both awake we let them have a ride on a train and Garden Girl went on the trampolines. With some Candy Floss to end the day, a hit all round, we went to my parents for dinner.

Both our little Garden Helpers were asleep when we arrived back at the tent so it was easy just to pop them in their sleeping bags and enjoy a pimms/beer and book while they slept soundly. It was warm enough when we snuggled down a bit later, but as we were woken by both the little ones it became increasingly colder, until by morning we were all in one bouble sleeping bag cuddling up for warmth. Note to self - pack more blankets and thick roll mat next time. We currently have a blow up mattress, but as this loses air through the night, by morning there is not much warmth left. A cooked breakfast on the camping stove was in order. Yum Yum.

Sunday was sunny so Grandma and Grandad, Auntie C, Uncle C and Uncle H came for tea and lunch at our tent. Garden Girl was very excited to host and helped to make the tea, filling the little camping kettle and putting tea bags in the cups. Then we went to the river to paddle, splash and throw stones to watch the 'plop'.

They both enjoyed this but Garden Boy absolutely loved it and without a backward glance he confidently made his way into the centre of the river. Garden Girl, encouraged by Garden Boy, followed a little more cautiously and was soon jumping up and down to make big splashes. An ice cream helped to encourage them out of the water and then it was back to my parents for dinner again.

It was another cold night but by this time we had added more night time layers and Garden Girl slept through (she has a very cosy sleeping bag) and Garden Boy only woke once. And then it was time to come home. The morning was dry so we had toast for breakfast and packed up all our things unhurridly. This was a mistake because just moments before we were ready to take the tent down there was a huge downpour and everything got soaked. As a result I have spent the week drying things out. But I can't complain really. It was a great weekend and we now know what we need to make our week in Yorkshire later in summer a bit warmer at night and we are very pleased with our new tent.

We are all excited about our next trip but in the meantime its back to gardening. The tomatoes and cucumbers need staking , the peas still need planting and the damaged fence needs fixing, along with a host of other garden tasks.


  1. It sounds like a fun weekend. Where in Yorkshire are you going?

  2. I love camping. Mostly.
    If you put a blanket under the airbed that should help.

    It is surprising how cold it does get. Mine are bundled in layers, hats sometimes and occasionally hot water bottles. Then they're too hot!


  3. Hi Jo, We are camping near Catterick in North Yorkshire as that is where my brother lives.I have to admit we struggled to find campsites that take tents in the area. I guess its generally quite cold up there so there is more call for caravan parks. We will just have to wait and see if the site we found is any good.