Hello, thank you for calling in, especially if you have arrived here via Amy at Love Made My Home. If you've managed to find me all by yourself, you might want to hop over to Amy's blog and see who else is joining in today.
I love, love, LOVE camping - not wild camping, oh no, my bottom line is flushing toilets and hot showers, but I do love a summertime back-to-almost-basics trip with no electric hook-up, no on-site entertainment and plenty of surrounding countryside/coastline. I think this is probably down to my father, a very keen Boy Scout in his day, as when I was a child in the 1970s, summer picnics were spent in lonely places where he would find some sticks and build a fire for us to sit around and if it rained, he would use long sticks and a groundsheet to build a shelter for us to huddle under. We loved it. As soon as I joined the Girl Guides (I think that's Girl Scouts if you are in the USA) I was off camping for weekends, learning to build my own fires, lashing sticks together to make tripods to hold washing-up bowls and sleeping under canvas and I soon earned my Camper and Backwoodsman badges. It was great - except for the latrines, hence my insistence on proper, flushing toilets.
When I was eighteen, my best friend and I celebrated the end of our A-level exams with a camping holiday in Dorset which, being rather literary girls, revolved around the places associated with the life and works of Thomas Hardy. No Mediterranean sunbathing and drinking for us.
When The Teacher was nine years old she asked her grandparents to buy her a tent for her birthday. They thought she wanted a play tent but it turned out that she wanted a tent for family camping! They generously obliged and we have been enjoying camping holidays ever since. Along the way we have learnt things, acquired things and discarded things and so today, I would like to share with you five things which are essential to my camping happiness.
1. A Camping List
There is a lot of equipment and paraphernalia to remember when packing for a trip so we have a list saved on our computer and come the morning, we print it out and tick items off as we pack them. It makes the job run much more quickly and smoothly for us as we don't have to spend any time remembering what we need and many hands make light work as we can all get involved. Mallets? Tick. Six clothes pegs? Tick.
2. A Good Table
This is my camping table -
What's so good about it? Well, firstly, it folds flat, so it's easy to transport. Secondly, it's round, so nobody has to get stuck with legs or corners - this is 80cm in diameter and six of us can sit round it easily. Thirdly, it has a heatproof surface, so I can lift pans off the cooker and put them straight onto the table to dish up. This is an absolute boon as surface space is hard to come by in a tent!
3. A Teapot
Now then, Earl Grey tea is my tipple of choice and I ALWAYS make it in a teapot, even if it's just for me. I know that most people just pour boiling water onto a teabag in a mug but Earl Grey needs to brew for five minutes and I don't like the film which develops on top of the tea in that time, hence my need for a teapot. I bought this one for £5 in Asda five years ago, it's made of metal so it won't break, it's lined (maybe even insulated?) and it's just the right size. It lives with the camping gear and comes with us on every trip. And where on earth would I brew the tea if I didn't have the table to put the teapot on?!
4. A Comfortable Bed
When I was a Girl Guide I slept in a sleeping bag on top of a groundsheet, using my folded clothes as a pillow. With a torch, a book, a gaggle of giggly girls and a midnight feast I was in my element, it was fab. Now, I need my creature comforts and nothing makes me more miserable than an uncomfortable, sleepless night spent shivering with cold. So, we have an airbed, a large, double sleeping bag and our memory foam pillows dressed in proper pillowcases. On top goes a heavy cotton throw, it's not as bulky to pack as a blanket and it makes a massive difference. Snug as a bug in a rug, the only thing which lures me out in the morning is...a mug of Earl Grey!
5. Woollen Socks
Picture the scene, if you will: it's a hot summer day in the British summertime and you have spent the day wearing shorts and a T-shirt, plastered in suncream, drinking ice-cold drinks and desperately seeking shade. The sun goes down, the temperature plummets and you find yourself shivering and wondering why you didn't bring a fleece. Such a day was last Sunday, but I was not caught out, oh no, I was prepared. Well, what else would you expect from a former Girl Guide? As well as a fleece, I had packed a cotton scarf and wrist warmers. Most importantly, I had packed warm socks because as long as your feet feel cold, the rest of you cannot feel warm. There have been very few camping nights when I haven't needed to wear socks, I have some thermal ones but these, 75% wool, are equally good. And in case you are wondering, yes, I did knit them. Before I knitted my first pair of socks I read that once you have worn handknitted, woollen socks, you can't go back. It's true.
There you are, five things which make for a happy camper. I asked the Best Beloved what his five would be and he said, "Good bedding, a table, a chair, wine and good company," which made me feel somewhat abashed: how selfish of me to favour socks over the company of my family and friends. But they are very good socks...
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x