Hubby grew up camping on the Isle of Wight as a boy and has a strong and fervent love for all things tenty. We camped a couple of times before we had children, but I was not convinced of its merits. The idea of taking a baby or small children camping did not fill me with joy; in fact, I expected to need a holiday after my holiday should we go camping as a family. Until the Anna was on the way, we didn't even take a regular holiday each year. We both agree that there are some lovely holiday destinations in this country and I'm not a fan of flying anyway. So we have taken a few holidays in England, staying in holiday cottages but the boy starts school in September and taking a family of five away in school holidays would break our bank.
Enter the idea of a tent. Apparently you can camp in relative comfort without crossing over into "glamping". So we went and bought a tent. An enormous, 8 man, inflatable tent (I know, I know, but go check them out, they're pretty cool). We bought the essentials (sleeping bags, campbeds, an airbed, camping chairs) and planned out a strategy. I have some pre-requisites for the campsite; hot showers, flushing toilets, running water. And there's no way on earth I'm heading out for a week under canvas with no run-up.
We tested the sleeping bags at my parents' house a couple of weeks ago. Well, the children in their sleeping bags really. And they did a great job.
This past weekend, we headed out for an overnight stay not too far from home. We packed the car and tootled up to Derbyshire on a sunny Saturday morning. We arrived just before midday and started to make camp. The tent took about an hour to inflate and peg out (it might have been quicker if the children hadn't "helped"). We put out all our equipment and headed off to Matlock in search of a playground (Isaac's request). We wandered through a park, took a ride on a mini-train and spent a lovely hour playing in the sunshine.
We headed to a pub for dinner and ate our amazing steaks out in the sunny garden. We arrived back at our campsite around 7pm with three very tired children. Both the bigs needed a shower, an interesting experience even on a modern, well-equipped campsite. They went to bed reasonably easily that night and hubby & I enjoyed the peaceful summer evening with a bottle of something cold. Isaac slept really well that night, Anna was up a half a dozen times with a cough and Samuel just wouldn't settle in his cot so slept in my arms.
The next morning we got up and ate porridge at a picnic table before packing up all our stuff for the journey home. The tent itself is really easy to deflate, if a little tricky to pack up into its carrying bag. We were ready to go by our midday deadline, which is surprising for us, we're never on time anywhere.
We visited Matlock Farm Park and ate lunch in their cafe. They had the best 'snack plate' for the children; Isaac ate everything on his! The playground and the bouncy castle were the biggest hits but when we dragged the children away, they loved the animals too. I had the best time holding a baby bunny with first Anna and then Isaac. Anna's so funny with animals; she's fascinated and enchanted, until they get within a foot of her, at which point she becomes terrified!!
Unsurprisingly, all three children fell asleep in the car on the way home. Hubby and I needed a good rest but all in all, we had a brilliant time. We're planning our next trip already, two nights this time, I'm getting braver!