Camping 2012

Camping in Brean,  Paignton, Bath, Keswick & Stratford Upon Avon.

High Winds and Rain in Brean

Back in June a group of six adults and five children with a total of three tents of different sizes and designs went camping. Mine was an Outwell Nebraska XXL while my friends occupied a Sprayway and a Hi-gear. We had done this sort of camping before and even though it had been raining , it  had eased off while we pitched our tents on a camp site called Warren Farm.

As the day progressed the weather had turned and  we started to encounter increasingly high winds and rain. In the UK this is not something we are unaccustomed to and we usually just ignore these weather patterns. On this occasion this was an oversight that cost us.

During the night my friends Sprayway tent poles sheared and he had to drag his sleeping son from his tent as it began collapsing. Of course I was sound asleep apparently snoring loudly (according to my children) and oblivious to my friends calls for assistance. The next day I woke  to find my friend had left the site. My other friend who couldn’t sleep in the Hi-gear with its light weight poles bending in the wind decided to leave the site after informing me of my other friends plight. However my Outwell seemed secure.

… the devastation caused by the weather
and loss caused to campers and caravanners
and my email read…”Do you need tent insurance? Apply now….”.  

I decided to have a family meeting on whether we should stay or go home. We decided to be prudent and packed all our belongings away leaving the tent up while we got breakfast. However, as we left the tent I noticed that as the ground was so sodden from the rain the four main pegs were lifting out of the ground by the wind. I ran to hold the tent in a futile attempt to reinforce it while my wife secured the ropes and pegs but the wind was too strong and the tent flipped and folded over on top of me wrapping canvas around my feet and guy ropes around my neck. Luckily the bars didn’t hit my head otherwise it could have been a lot worse. Then in an indignant para-gliding fashion and to the cheer and clapping of my on looking children (okay, I admit it was fun for a while),  the tent dragged me across the field. I managed to get free with the help of a family of five adults and another man from the caravan next to me. With everyone jumping and holding onto the canvas and poles. The tent with the help of the wind continued to pull away from us and snagged onto a fence. We all let it go as it violently hurdled the fence. Again we all pounced onto the tent and finally wrestled it under control revealing huge tears in the canvas.

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Damaged Outwell tent pole – The lower half should be straight

After the experience, which I might add my children found highly amusing, I noted how the site staff who patrolled the site in a four by four were the only ones not to help while the other campers rallied around each other as more and more tents became unstable and began collapsing. Talking to my other friends at a later date they also noted the same lack of help from the staff patrol. I wonder if sites should have a responsibility to aid campers, especially those with young children who get into difficulty as I did .I dread to think if one of my children were still in the tent as it lifted off the ground. Should they warn campers regarding rapidly deteriorating weather so we have enough time to evacuate the site? I might add the sites reception was still pleased to take money off arriving campers as we left while the search and rescue helicopters hovered above. Shouldn’t the site close for campers in extreme high winds?

Returning home the news was reporting the devastation caused by the weather and loss caused to campers and caravanners and my email read…”Do you need tent insurance? Apply now….”.

Unfortunately my tent, my friends tent were not insured. Something I will be looking into as soon as my new Coleman Cabin 6 XL is delivered. And I will be checking the weather reports a lot more closely from now on . Luckily it hasn’t put any of us off camping and my children have a memory they will never forget but unfortunately a costly holiday for my friends and I.

Stratford-Upon Avon

So  the Coleman Cabin 6 XL arrived and it’s always best to test it out locally before setting off miles from home. So after checking the weather on WeatherBug (See Google Play store), I picked up the kids from school and announced that we weren’t going home but off to Stratford Upon Avon for a weekend of camping in the new tent they’d help choose. There was a thunderous approval in the form of screaming and jumping up and down for what seemed like a  a good five minutes..

So the site was small about one mile from Stratford Upon Avon.  The tent  was very easy to put up and gave us more light and living space than the Outwell.  The owner was very friendly and gave us tickets to get into all the museums and attractions in Stratford Upon Avon for free as long as we returned them after use for the next campers. Having three kids this saved me a lot of money.

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Coleman Cabin 6XL
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Actors at Shakesperes birthplace

So we had a great time and the weather couldn’t have been better. Street performers acting out Shakespeare captured my 5 year old sons imagination (albeit he was obsessed with the female actress) and they got to learn about and take part in some archaeology.  So it was a very educational trip for them.

Paignton

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Cooking the sausages – Where’s my beer?

Some months later we planned our main family camping holiday. This time I had it in my mind to try  multiple sites to see how easy it was to pitch up and pitch down.

We headed to Whitehills Country Park in Paignton. This is a favourite. It’s got plenty to do with a craft centre, cafe, shop, bar, kids games room, walking trails and outdoor swimming pool and all the other amenities  you require for a family camping trip. It’s a hilly site but ideally placed close (although you wouldn’t know it) to Morrisison and next door to Paignton’s Zoo. The zoo is my favourite although I was banned from going as the kids said they wanted to go to the beach.

The beaches are close, Goodrington sands, Paignton itself and Torquay and with the attractions. We cooked all our own food and only bought from the cafe on the morning we left to save costs. There’s nothing like an Irish stew to warm you up and hot dogs for quickness. Of course as all men know, like BBQ’s the men do all the cooking when outdoors as long as we have a beer in our hands.

So we were on site for a week and as Whitehills always have the animals visit from the zoo’s and horse sanctuaries the kids were sad to leave. But I guess I forgot to tell them that we weren’t going home until we were on the road. The car bounced down the road as bouncing and screaming commenced. Off to Bath!

Bath

I guess Bath doesn’t have to have any introduction but it’s famous for its historical Roman baths and natural spring.

The site was Newton Mill Park which had more RV’s and Motorhomes than I’ve ever seen. We managed to get a huge plot  and parking. The only downfall was the train that ran just behind us but it wasn’t too much of a distraction to this beautiful site.

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Newton Mill Park – Bath
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Newton Mill Park – Bath
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Newton Mill Park – Bath

We opted to ditch the car and taxi into Bath itself due to parking restrictions and I had told the kids this was more of an adult camping trip as it was historical but to my surprise they really lapped it up when we spent 3 hours or so in the Roman Baths. Each of us had a recorded tour (children’s versions for the kids) and I would advise everyone to visit. We will certainly be going again.

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Roman Baths – Bath
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Roman Baths – Bath
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Roman Baths – Bath

Getting back to the site the bar was  very smart. Everyone on laptops tweeting and blogging looking more like a wine bar than a traditional pub. The delivery of the food to your table was painstakingly slow but while we waited a falconry display had started so we sat and watched that. In this case it was all about  Owls (yes, they had the Harry Potter Owl),and we got to hold the owls and feed them before feeding ourselves.

All too quickly three days were over and even though we did try and book an extra night at the camp site it was impossible due to its popularity. The staff are very strict on the times you leave as well and they do their rounds to check you’ve gone.  So be warned, no sleeping in!

We finished off the Bath trip by heading back to Stratford Upon Avon for lunch which was a nice wind down before heading home. But home is where we eventually ended and it proved camping on multiple sites is possible and not much of a hassle.

Camping for the Parents

It’s the end of the season now and as every parent knows occasionally you have to dump your kids with the grandparents and head out for a weekend  alone. I’ve never been to the Lake District so this was one I had to do.

 “Lipstick isn’t the right answer”

Although it was a turn up only site and no bookings taken it was a risk we would get a pitch. Four hours later we turned up at Castlerigg Hall in Keswick. Before I go into the site I must say it was a dangerous journey into the district. The vistas were extremely distracting.  I can’t put into words how the views made me feel but you just can’t help but look at the stunningly beautiful  terrain. It was a wonder I stayed on the winding roads.

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Smaller tents at Castlerigg Hall

The site was luxury. Not much else I can say. You have everything you need. The staff are very helpful and friendly.  Just bring warm clothes  and your walking legs.  So it was the first time into the Lake District and clothing wise we were warm but we took the wrong type of clothes and my wife insisted on taking her handbag everywhere. WHY? We are up a mountain!  It’s a mystery to me. Okay is there a first aid kit in there, a tent, food, water, anything of use if we get stuck up here? Lipstick isn’t the right answer.

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Lake District
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Lake District

We met some very helpful and friendly people on our walks and got some very good advice for our next visit. I must admit I’ve fallen in love with the Lake District but have been told to venture into Scotland for more outstanding views. I’m not going to go unprepared though. I’ve been practising my map reading theory and we need to shop for more appropriate gear including a crow bar to prise the handbag away from my wife. 2013 may be a year for saving and preparing but 2014 will definitely be a camping experience to remember as we go higher and further.

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Lake District
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Lake District
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Lake District
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Lake District
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