When I was a child, holidays were all about static caravans in the West Country. Only a few hours from home, stunning scenery and everything was cheap as chips.
When I met Michael, we had our first holiday driving through Scotland in 2009 and stopping to camp in the places that looked the prettiest and most fun.
Since then, we’ve been camping in Wales and Devon with Lily’s first family holiday this year in May spent sleeping in the awning of my Grandad’s caravan at Dornafield.
Of course, we also camp at Download Festival every year as well and were infact at ‘Drownload’ over the weekend for our annual trip to Donnington.
It’s not always the most glamorous of holidays, as you can expect, but there’s something exciting and adventurous about making your own little ‘camp’ and sleeping outside with nature just a zip away.
If you’ve never been camping before I would urge you to give it a go – even if just to be completely sure that it’s not for you. It might even surprise you how much you enjoy it (coming from a girly girl).
So, to help you along the way and inspire you (or just make you giggle) I’m sharing some of my memories today from when I’ve slept under the stars…
Tour of Scotland 2009
Oh to be young lovers on your first holiday away together. They say it either makes or breaks you doesn’t it? Luckily, it turned in to something that we look back on with soft hearts and fond memories. It was so romantic!
We started off in Broughtyferry staying with Mike’s Great Uncle and Aunty. They kindly looked after us and took us in for a few days whilst showing us the local sights. Mike’s Uncle was so funny, full of hilarious little stories that floored us and he and his wife were extremely generous.
We then moved on to Aviemore which we happened across and we had a beautiful walk around Loch Alvie and found this perfect, peaceful Church that we’ve vowed to marry in whenever that may be. We’ve booked in twice but life happened (I got run over the first time and we found out we were expecting Lily the second) so we’ve not quite made it yet!
We stayed in the Dalraddy Camping Site which was well-maintained with freshly mown camping spots, toilets and a picnic area with the chance to spot deer wandering around.
The next day, we found Inverness and stopped at the side of the road for an hour or two to admire Loch Ness. A little further down the road, we found a camping spot which was literally in a field with no facilities and cost more than we’d paid the previous night in Aviemore! There was a tractor tearing around the field wildly with no apparent agenda and hitting things and the owners were quite odd so, being the fresh, inexperienced teen folk that we were, we left as quickly as we could.
We drove down to Fort William and found a gorgeous site to stay in at the bottom of Glen/Ben Nevis. It was beautiful with a spooky mist floating through the air and the sunbeams shining through to the ground. We liked it so much that we stayed for a couple of days. We had so much fun climbing half way up Glen Nevis and exploring the river bank at the bottom of the mountains. We’d camped under a tree at the very back of the camp next to a stream and it was just so heavenly.
A few days later, on the way out of Fort William, we stopped at a lovely gem museum called Treasure of the Earth that I adored. So many pretty, shiny, twinkly things!
We headed off to Oban (the Roseview Holiday Park) and managed to have a minor bump in the car on the way which left the wheel arch of our little Fiat Brava (Betsy) a bit wobbly to say the least!
Wary of driving too much and taken in by the fantastic town, we stayed in Oban for a few days as well before finally heading home, very gingerly, at the end of the week.
Neither of us had ever been camping (in tents) before so it was a new experience for us both. We went with a cheap £10 tent and a £10 double sleeping bag that we bought in ASDA (the tent lasted one trip, the sleeping bag finally gave up last year a whopping 7 years later) and we lived out of our car using a tiny camping stove and pan for food.
We spent more on petrol than anything else touring the Highlands and it was the best holiday I’ve ever had.
Download Festival 2016
I expect you’ve heard that this year’s Download was wet, muddy and a wash out? I came home on Sunday night cold through to my bones (we left early to avoid traffic, thank goodness!) as I’d been wet through since Friday/Saturday more or less due to cockyness (it looked sunny when we set off) and poor planning skills!
Don’t get me wrong, I had an awesome weekend and the experience was wonderful, as always, but I wish I’d not packed an hour before we left on Friday morning (yes, yes bad idea) and I’d had something like the Halford’s Ultimate Camping Guide to hand to make sure I didn’t forget anything important and for some tops tips.
I managed to get hold of a copy today and I was pleased to see that alongside location recommendations from Norfolk to The Lake District amongst others, camping stove recipes and a handy checklist there’s also a, wait for it, Festival Survival Guide!
A few days late (sigh!) but I’ve picked up some advice for next year and I was a bit smug to see that we’d already thought of things like pitching away from busy walkways to avoid being invaded by drunken partygoers and, whilst tempting for a shorter journey, staying a good distance away from the toilets to avoid being smacked in the face with an unpleasant stench every time you turn around!
Things I wasn’t too clever about which Halfords have remembered included taking a rain mac and wellies just incase (I left my coat in the car, it was just so hot when we got there and don’t even own wellies), having a flag to find your tent in the dark (I put it on my Festival Packing Checklist but forgot to buy my own, duhhh) and having a power pack to charge your phone (especially my iPhone which always seem to be dead or have low charge).
Having a decent tent is key as well. Luckily, we had a big blue 6-birth tent that we picked up a few years ago (after having our old tent flooded out, been there, done that, learnt our lesson!) You might have seen, however, in my recent post about the weekend, that my poor Mum was in a tiny 3-birth (I think they must have been thinking of Oompa Loompas when they labelled it that) tent with confusing instructions that lasted just one night before giving up the ghost (she ended up in ours, bless her).
We’ve decided to all pitch together for an all-singing all-dancing tent next year for all of us to stay in so the information and advice for picking the perfect tent in the guide from Halfords is a god-send!
It really is an essential guide for anyone looking to camp this year – both new and inexperienced and seasoned ‘happy campers’ will benefit from this I’m sure and it’s free to download here from the Halfords website if you fancy reading it yourself to get ready and prepared.
Were you at ‘Drownload’ this year or do you have tickets for another music festival?
Perhaps you’re off camping with the family this summer?
Either way, I hope you have so much fun making camping memories of you own. They really are ones to treasure forever, I promise!
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