At last! The first camp of the year had arrived. After waiting months for the UK weather to clear up it was amazing to finally be able to chuck our camp things in the car, grab the kids after school and head off for a mini camping adventure in mid April.
Where we went
With our favourite local campsites not yet open for the season we tried a new one – Avon Tyrrell in the New Forest – and couldn’t have been happier. Only half an hour from home yet it still felt like another world as we pulled into the site. Sunshine shone through the canopy of tall pines dappling patches of sunlight onto grassy glades. Birds sang, squirrels leaped and woodland stretched away on all sides with biking trails to discover. As an activity centre there were courses in kayaking, high ropes and archery we could have joined.
Our children were immediately busy on the simple wooden play area which we could see easily from our pitch and there were plenty of picnic benches and firepits available.
I had been so excited for days, as we hadn’t camped in months, and was wondering if I was going to be disappointed. Did I really like camping that much? I mused that years ago I’d have only felt that wild excitement for parties and a big nights out, and yet there I was, dashing my camping gear to the car, my heart racing with aniticipation.
I was not disappointed. Sitting among the trees as the sun sank, the fires were lit, cooking and eating together was completely relaxing and lovely. My sister and I hadn’t camped together since we were kids, as she claimed to hate camping. But now she has a husband who adores camping and a two year old daughter who loves nature she agreed to try it again. I had organised the trip and felt a weight of responsibility… Would the new campsite be OK, could I convince her that camping was fun?
In the end I didn’t need to convince her. Just watching our children enthusiastically gathering pine cones for the fire, bug hunting, toasting marshmallows, running about holding hands and giggling in the great outdoors was wonderful.
We only camped for one night as a storm was forecast for the next day so we made the most of the glorious mild evening. It was such a warm night we didn’t need coats or hats and our tent was cosy and snug at bedtime.
In the morning the beautfiul view of the woods on unzipping the tent did alot to disperse the aches of sleeping on a 3cm SIM. We ate bacon, halloumi and mushroom burgers cooked on a single ring stove.
What we learnt
Gear: As for our gear, well my three box system was ideal, and the other adults vowed to copy it! I had forgotten to restock bin liners which we needed and my son wished we still had the lazibed which had been great until it burst half way through last summer. None of the children asked for any screens (which in our house is a miracle) though they did point out I shouldn’t be using my phone either. They had a point but I was inspired to instagram our adventure!
Although I try to pack light I should have gone lighter! I have been striving to minimize our camping equipment and thought I had got it down to the minimum but there still felt like a lot of stuff to carry around. I had brought too many clothes, particularly for my 5-year-old daughter who is inclined to kick off about outfits. I should have left the chairs at home as we used a picnic bench at the site and the little kids chairs we have are useless, one folded up around my 2-year old niece and toppled her face-first into her dinner. If chairs are left out overnight they get wet with dew so we end up chucking them back in the car overnight and its just another thing to do so I am binning them next time!
Mini Camping: I felt genuinely sad to leave and this camp has made me remember I do indeed love camping and it is totally worth it even for just one night. Packing light makes it much more achievable and I am now more keen than ever to get back out there! Minimalist family camping is the best way to get out there more often and more easily.