Saturday, 11 July 2009

Emma's camping guide...

Camping season 'tis upon us. Already we have been camping this year and have plans for even more trips over the summer. We camp in a canvas bell tent which we love, especially with the boys being small, we all huddle up close at night. Camping is having a huge resurgence in popularity at the moment in the UK, which is great as it is the stuff that childhood memories are made from; being allowed to roam further, playing until the sun sets and meeting lots of other children. I thought I would list what I take with me on our family camping trips...

the tent...
A canvas bell tent : : ours is 4 metre diameter
a double self inflating roll mat : : ours is one by outwell and despite a bad back I get a good nights sleep on it 
sheepskins for the boys to lie on : : to keep warm make sure you insulate yourself underneath it's more important than piling blankets on top! 
1 double sleeping bag {which separate into two single ones}
2 single cath kidston sleeping bags for the boys
blankets, pillows, cushions and throws {last things to be packed and I squeeze as many as I can in the car without the Mr. seeing!} to make the tent feel luxurious and give you something to snuggle in as the sun sets
A low table {I am currently on the look out for a tray/low camping table, a tin tray with fold down legs would do ~ let me know if anyone finds one!}
camping chairs
doormat & dustpan and brush for a clean tent and happy mama
tea lights, torches, camp lamp

a camping stove & matches
one plastic tub which doubles as a table with crockery and pans in {I take mismatched china, enamelware and cutlery bought from car boot sales}
camping kettle
water bottle
one cool box with food basics and essentials {it is really important to support local business when you go on holiday, over 90% of people take their own food on self catering holidays which is very likely to be from a supermarket, by eating local produce you are supporting the local economy, plus you can really discover local delicacies such as Cornish cream teas, samphire, fresh fish etc...}
plastic trug for carrying things in and washing up - take ecover liquid to be environmentally friendly
I do take picnic rugs, jam jars to double up as vases and tablecloths too!

note: The Happy Campers recommend taking a homemade cake so that when you arrive at your campsite you can put the kettle on whilst the men put up the tents then sit down and have a cup of tea and slice of cake as soon as it's up and the hard work finished! 

camping fun...
cowboys and indians fancy dress {the bell tent doubles as a tipi}
bow and arrow
paper and pencils in case of bad weather
camera's : : goes without saying!
moleskine journal for creative drawing and writing
cricket set
good story books ~ like Enid Blyton's adventure series
wet weather gear and wellies {always be prepared for all weather's and it won't spoil your fun}

this is the hardest thing for me as I always overpack clothes 'just in case' but I am getting a lot better! I find it best to write out what you need then lay it all out on the bed first before packing. I also write out what the boys need {like this here} and let them help pack as they are always really keen to get involved. 

note: I always take a small first aid set with antiseptic cream, sting relief cream, arnica cream and tablets for bumps and bruises, plasters and antihistamine tablets.


  1. Great timely post. We have just come back from camping in our bell tent at Blackberry wood near Brighton and I didn't sleep well as my cheap blow up mattress seemed to have a leak in the valve. Can you tell me what make your mat is? as I have decided that, that is the way to go. Well we have also found out that our tent will withstand alot (I mean an awful lot) of rain.

  2. Your post has got me very excited, we take our "Bell" away for the first time in two weeks!
    We couldn't get in Blackberry Wood this summer, sounds amazing though.
    The Children keep singing "We got Soul cuz we Got a Soulpad!".
    Will be using your list x

  3. thanks for this timely post! we are off to the Larmer Tree next weekend and the first time under canvas!

  4. Thank you dearly for this lovely post! We are headed to camp in the Rocky Mountains soon and your little lists will add a glint of magic.
    Have fun on your camping adventures!

  5. What a fabulous post -some great tips - thank you so much - i'll file away for summer. Those Bell tents look so lovely....

  6. "We got Soul cuz we Got a Soulpad!" - Love it. My husband sings that too. Could not get into Blackberry wood either this year, I feel like it's a very small world, or we just all read Cool Camping!

    I can recommend these people for air beds, unbelievablely comfy.

    Emma, I too am looking for a low table for the tent, I was thinking something that would fit around the centre pole, maybe two half moons. Can't wait for my next trip it seems like a long time since May.

  7. Thanks Tamara, I was looking at the fat airic at Alpkit and wondered weather to order it, now I think I shall. Yes I found Blackberry wood in Cool camping we also did the one at Holkham beach last year, would not wholly recommend the Holkham beach one though, as tents seemed to be an after thought compared to the caravans. Clippesby Hall in Norfolk is a good one, very well organised and space in the middle of the field for the kids to play in.

  8. Argos do a low table:

    We're going away, camping, as well.. Soooo looking forward to it! Meeting up with my sister, my parents; children playing with cousins/sleeping over at grandparents' (that'll be 3 extra in their little caravan!); lots of swimming, eating, reading, exploring, playing. Heaven.. Here's to a wonderful summer!

  9. I wish I'd taken the time to go camping more last year when I wasn't pregnant! This spring and summer I was already too far along to be comfortable sleeping on the ground (even with a great sleeping pad) and I'm not sure how we'd do camping with a newborn in August or September. I might have to give it a try though! I love your lists, I am definitely inspired by them!

  10. great list - will definitely have to remember this if I ever get up the courage to go camping. I get really sold on the idea, then remember I hate being cold, and I'm not over keen on sharing washing facilities with lots of strangers. But then I see pictures like yours, or hear tales of camping fun (like Ragged Roses) and I think I ought to get over myself and give it a try. One sunny day perhaps...

  11. Hi. I have a blog at where I feature people's posts about camping, and I would like to send my readers your way. Of course I would give you credit for quotes and would link back to your site.

    Thanks for considering this,

    Jean B. in SC (USA)

  12. we've just bought a bell tent (Soulpad 5000 Hybrid) and we can't wait to take it away this summer. Do you have any recommendations for camping stoves? I'm after a double burner.

  13. What a beautiful tent! Very medieval like. I have been looking online for a cool tent for our family, this might be it! I love the picture you took, great angle. Thanks for posting this! :)

  14. What a beautiful tent! Very medieval like. I have been looking online for a cool tent for our family, this might be it! I love the picture you took, great angle. Thanks for posting this! :)

  15. Gorgeous, great post. One niggle though- 'While the men put up the tent'. Women are also allowed to put tents up. It might even go up faster if everyone helps.

  16. Love this post, as I will be purchasing my first 3m or maybe 4m Bell Tent soon. I am a solo camper so I'm not that sure what way to arrange the inside of a Bell Tent.


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