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Throughout this period of time where the dreaded ‘rona’ has taken over our planet, I’ve really tried to see & embrace all the positives that I can from this blip in our lives. One positive that I’ve noticed is the rise of the staycation, as we are limited in how and where we can travel to, and I’m all here for it! I’m ashamed to say that in my 33 years, all of which I have lived in the UK, I’ve seen very little of this great island that I’ve called home, and my goodness, from what I’ve seen so far, I’ve been missing out. So, in a state of hysteria the world went into lockdown, things ground to a halt & life changed as we knew it, and with that came an inability to travel as many of us usually would. Gradually as things eased, I don’t know about you, but whilst I haven’t been massively fussed about jumping on a plane, I craved a change of a scenery. I longed to move myself from the small area I’d been in throughout lockdown, experience a different view and of course, with the beautiful weather we’ve been blessed with, what better thing to do than pack up the car & head to some where gorgeous and spend a few days in nature, experiencing the outdoors, seeing parts of the UK that I’ve never seen before all whilst, (another first for me), camping!!! Camping in The Chilterns Hills, July 2020I’ve learnt many things about myself during lockdown, one of which is that I love camping! I’m an official convert & I never thought that would be the case!!! Granted on the 2 camping trips I’ve been on so far, we’ve been blessed with great weather so I’ve not had to deal with the possible downsides of camping, such as rained on soggy tents and my staycation partner is a camping pro so I’ve been in the best hands! Our first trip took us approximately half an hour from where we live, to The Chiltern Hills, just at the base of Ivinghoe Beacon. We’d previously been to this beauty spot to watch the sunset and drove past the camp site we later stayed in and we knew it would be the perfect spot to begin my camping adventures. (Near enough to home so we wouldn’t have a long drive back if I hated it!) This area around Ivinghoe, Ashridge & Tring, where we ventured, is part of a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and my goodness they aren’t wrong! We were lucky enough to choose the hottest weekend of the year at the end of July for our trip & with the current restrictions in place for Covid, the camp site was super quiet & we were able to pitch our tent in, what we thought, was the best spot on the campsite, facing a gap in the hedge so we could look out from our tent over rolling endless hills to the horizon. Our home for this weekend was Town Farm Campsite, a stunning location with all the amenities that you would want, including communal fridges & freezers, and super clean showers!!! A massively pleasant surprise for me as I arrived at the shower block with flip flops in hand fully prepared for a shower covered in other peoples remnants of grass, mud, and the worst of all, HAIR!!! Our days were spent hiking in the surrounding hills, (we decided to begin part of a well known walk called the Ridgeway), exploring the area, followed by alfresco evenings watching the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen, drinking gin & tonics & cooking our dinner on our fire pit that we rented from the camp site. This back to basics kind of living & being so at one with nature is exactly what made me fall head over heels in love for this style of staycation. Our second trip, which we have just returned from, took us north to the Lake District, another area which took my breath away,and another Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. I’ve never seen so much rugged natural landscape with imposing mountains, trickling streams & picturesque quaint villages dotted around. We decided to stay at a campsite on the banks of Ullswater, apparently the most beautiful of the lakes, and I’m inclined to agree. A slightly colder experience than our trip in July, however, we were fully prepared with an extra sleeping bag and blanket to add to our, quite literal, bed, (I insist on having a full air mattress complete with duvet & pillows, because, you may be camping but you may as well do it comfortably!) for chilly evenings, and plenty of clothing layers too. During the days, again we were blessed with the most stunning weather though, especially for the day we decided to climb Helvellyn mountain, the 3rd highest in England. We chose to climb it via Striding Edge (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, have a google and you’ll get the jist!!!), and what an experience, that pushed me so far out of my comfort zone, almost bought me to tears at one point, but nevertheless, the view from the top & sense of accomplishment makes it all worth while! On top of the world, in every sense! The summit of Helvellyn mountain, climbed via Striding EdgeLocally produced Lakes gin Again, we cooked alfresco each evening, we came across a locally produced gin whilst doing our food shop that we sipped with tonics & slices of lemon or grapefruit & spent our nights wrapped up on the bank of the lake basically on our own private section of the bank aka, our private beach which we named it, star gazing at the most star filled sky I have ever seen. It was like a blanket of stars that were just mesmerizing and nothing like you’d ever see in the built up areas of the country, just the most special sight to see. Our ‘private beach’ next to our tent pitch, Ullswater So, in conclusion, would I recommend camping? I think we can safely say absolutely I would!!! If you can create an experience for yourself where you can reap all the benefits of being outdoors, being amoungst nature & all its glory, whilst making sure you do it in the best possible way, then I know you’ll have the best time. I was apprehensive as to how much of a ‘faff’ putting together the campsite would be, but i was pleasantly surprised. I think we managed to get our camp site up & together within about half an hour on our second trip. The majority of that time was probably spent arranging the place to look homely & pretty as the tent literally takes about 10 minutes to put up (less if you have a pop up tent). I’ve put together a few tips below that I discovered and may be of use to make sure your trip is done in the best possible way! I hope you find them useful. If you’re a fan of the staycation and have stayed at any fabulous places within the UK then please share them in the comments, I’m on a mission now to explore some morE

My top tips to make your camping trip amazing.

  1. Go all out with your bedding! You may be camping but that doesn’t mean that you need to lose sleep because you’re uncomfortable & cold on the ground!!! So, take an air mattress, I take a duvet, pillows, blankets, whatever you need to be comfortable & cosy on these nights sleeping alfresco!

  2. Talking of air mattresses, take a rechargable air pump. Our first camping trip we only had a pump that connects to the mains and dragging a big double air mattress across the campsite from the electric mains to our tent was just annoying, especially when it deflated a little and we had to drag it back and fourth again to pump it up again! Our most recent trip we took a rechargable one so we could just keep the mattress in the tent and not move it. Absolute winner!!!

  3. Do a really GOOD food shop on your way there. Unless you’re planning to eat out for every meal you’ll need to be well stocked and as you are technically on a holiday, make sure you buy all of the yummy food that you love & enjoy. Again, just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you can’t eat delicious food.

  4. Take a water bottle with you to avoid buying disposable water bottles. Most camp sites, if not all, will have drinking water taps, so stay sustainable and ditch any need for excess plastic!

  5. Take some tea light lanterns to to add some warm lighting when the nights get dark. The candles will stay lit & protected from any breeze in the lanterns.

  6. Take a few windbreaks to partition yourself off from the rest of the site & give yourselves some privacy. This also makes it feel more like it’s your own little space, and designate areas within your pitch to make it feel more homely too. For example, a food prep & drinks making area, seating area around the fire etc.

7. Try to find natural products to help light your camp fire, for example, we found these great wood wool firelighters from B&M Home Bargains. It means that you aren’t burning any chemicals & releasing them into the atmosphere or having them hang around you and your camp site. 8. Finally embrace it for everything that it is. Are you going to be going full on glam whilst camping, I mean you could, but likelihood you won’t. Are you going to be wearing your finest outfits, well your camping finest outfits yes. Your heels, no. Are you going to possibly get a little chilly at night, maybe, but that’s what your fire is for, all those comfies, like duvets and blankets are for. Plus it’s the perfect opportunity to keep warm snuggling up to your camping partner, who if they’re anything like mine who is a human radiator, it’s cosy camping perfection! Happy camping! Xxx

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