Showing posts with label essentials. Show all posts
Showing posts with label essentials. Show all posts

Monday Camping must have - a penknife

Every camper needs a penknife. A good penknife is a knife of course, fun for whittling sticks and making them sharp to use for skewering marshmallows or sausages to toast over an open fire, but a Swiss army style penknife is so much more.

Many is the time my penknife has sliced cheese when I forgot to take a decent sharp knife, or has been used to slice open a tough plastic packet.

But much more importantly my knife has a beer bottle opener, and a corkscrew so alcohol is never denied me when I have finally pitched up. No longer am I rummaging about for a tin opener either as while basic, my penknife has that too.

Tweezers are in a secret compartment at one end, excellent for splinter removal and then there are screwdrivers, and spikes to make clean holes in tarpaulin or wood.

A file for when you break a nail....or possibly for more rugged uses such as smoothing rough edges on pole repairs or fishing rods you have constructed from willow branches might be included, and scissors of course, it really is amazing all the tiny and useful gadgets that can be squeezed into a pocket sized knife.

I have not yet used the mysterious tool for removing stones from horses hooves, but there is a serrated knife/saw type attachment which is good for cutting fresh green wood.

So this week's 'must have' is a penknife. A nice gift for a child too and a good way to learn knife safety. Remember that a safe penknife has a sharp blade, but one under 3 inches long. I attach a lanyard to mine so that it's easy to carry and hard to lose.

Read last week's 'must have' post here

Links are Amazon affiliate links, they will not cost you extra to use, but I will make a few pence form any purchases you make via them. Thanks

Image Copyright: steveallenuk / 123RF Stock Photo

How a new camping table has changed my (camping) life

I was sent a table by Millets recently. They asked me to share with you what I thought of it and to see if it could make camping a real home from home.

Now as you will know if you are a regular reader, I am a 'bare minimum' sort of camper. No electric, not fussed about flushing toilets and shower blocks, happiest in a wood or a field just me, my tent, some beer and a book (and DD of course, my regular camping companion) so how would a table work for me?

Well I picked the rather super looking table with storage under it, and to say it changed our camping lives is not an understatement. One of the reasons Mr Tentsniffer doesn't camp with us (along side having a bad back, and preferring an evening in front of the TV to one trekking across a field to the loo,) is that he hates mess and when DD and I camp, we are messy.

I'm messy anyway, chucking things down and leaving them where they land, and in the tent that soon becomes a royal pain in the bum!
"where is the hairbrush?"
"have you seen the matches?"
"wasn't the kettle here somewhere?"
"are there any apples left?" cue staring at vast pile of 'stuff'...

So could a table save us? Amazingly yes it could! The camping table is 7kg in weight and has a handy carry handle for transporting it when it's folded up - and it folds up so neatly! It opens up into a spacious table and the legs extend to give it height. Underneath are two large storage 'cupboards' with solid flat bases, perfect as a larder for our new 'kitchen diner'. At either end of the table are pockets for anything you fancy, cutlery, magazines, hairbrushes, matches...'stuff'...

The table fitted perfectly in our Cabanon Pyramide IV tent and the best bit was that our storage boxes slid in beautifully underneath it. Sadly these boxes are old and cracked, but I searched around and found some 50L boxes on Amazon that are just the right size to slip under the table, so we have all our regular bits and bobs safely under the table, extra cupboards and a table top too! We managed to keep everything so neat and tidy on our jaunt to the Byline festival that I think even Mr Tentsniffer would have been proud. Just take a look.

Disclosure I was sent this table (and a fabulous box of goodies - see the unboxing video here) by Millets to review but all the thoughts about the table are my own!

Essential camping accessories for a festival

Today's top tips are around festival essentials and are from Rhian who blogs over at Rhian Westbury.

The first time I camped at a festival was Reading Festival in 2008 and since then I’ve done over 30 of them which is crazy considering I was never a fan of camping as a kid. There’s something about being relaxed and chilled with your friends knowing you’re going to be listening to a whole load of music that makes camping feel that bit more acceptable. Over the years’ I have made do with items which probably weren’t right for me, but also discovered some gems for camping at a festival so here’s some essentials you need.

A double skinned tent
This might seem like an obvious one, course you’ll need a tent when camping, but a double skinned one is what is important. UK festivals are notoriously unpredictable with their weather so you need as much protection as possible from the elements. These kinds of tents don’t have to be expensive but it’s worth while if you’re not sleeping in a pool of water.

An inflatable mattress
I managed to last until this year with just a carry mat and every year my shoulders and back would ache like anything but this year I decided to buy an inflatable mattress and it was the best thing I think I’ve ever bought. It was only about a tenner from argos but it meant that sleeping was so much more comfortable and I didn’t have the hard floor underneath me digging into my sides.

Portable phone charger
While the best option is to take a super old school phone which would hold charge for days on an end, most of us don’t want to do this and still want to be able to Instagram photos of what we’re up to so a portable phone charger is essential. Whether it’s because you’ve drained battery taking photos or phoning your friend during their favourite song you need power in case you’re split up from your party and need to see where they are.

A camping chair
For many people festivals are as much about the social side as they are the music so most people will want to go and grab some drinks and have a chill after the music has finished, There’s nothing worse than sitting on the floor when you’ve been on your feet all day and a simple camping chair can provide loads of comfort.

A headlamp
Festivals can get pretty dark at night and even if you think you know your way back to your tent from the nearest toilets things look totally different at night. A headlamp means you have your hands free (you’ll be thankful of this when you’re trying to hold it while on the loo) and it means you can see those pesky guy ropes on others tents so you don’t trip over.

If you’re planning to head to a festival next summer remember to pack for all weather conditions because you never know, and remember flip flops are never comfortable or fun to wear regardless of how hot it is. Have fun and enjoy yourselves.

You can follow Rhian over on twitter too

How important is the correct tent peg?

When I started camping my tent arrived with a small bag of tent pegs. They were standard looking things, like a straight skewer with a bent over top. And I went camping and they held the guy lines OK and nothing fell down.

tent pegs and mallet on a lawn

I did bend a couple of the pegs when I hit a rock under the soil surface, but I tossed those away and replaced them with a pack from the pound shop. After all, a tent peg is a tent peg, it's just a thin bit of metal..or it is!?

Festival Essentials

When you go to a festival there are some things that are just essential. Everyone's essential products are slightly different of course. Some people favour comfort over weight or cleanliness over food, but for many of us there are just some things that are must haves and even if they are not essential they are jolly useful.

When I started attending festivals in 2007 I had no idea what to expect. I hadn't been as a teen when you can get away with taking nothing except a tin of 'tobacco' and a fiver and trusting to the kindness of strangers, when you are a teen mud is fun to slide around in and wellies are for wimps, but in 2007 I was a grown up with a 6 year old in tow so I had to be slightly more sensible. I needed a tent for a start. I took a tent, beds, sleeping bags, a potty complete with disposable nappies (fabulously handy for a nighttime wee or when the toilets are just too vile to use - (you don't wear the nappy of course, you just use its super absorbent middle spread out in the potty to absorb the wee so you can bag it, and bin it later.) and some food, wellies and extra clothes, I think that was all. Oh and wet wipes.

In the years since then I've attended a minimum of 3 festivals a year and caught up with what we need and what is a nice extra. I always over pack - not helped by the fact we bought a trolley to cart stuff around.

So what are my festival essentials? (I'm not listing the tent and the beds, you already know you need those)

  • Wet Wipes. They clean everything from face to fingers to feet and everything in between. Also great for spills, removing face paint, and wiping the worst grunge off of dishes before washing them.
  • Ear plugs. I am not bothered by the sounds of a festival, I love the distant sound of musioc at 1am and the laughter of children at 6am but the sounds of the fat drunk guy snoring in the next tent FOR 2 HOURS (Glastonbury) or the screaming baby THAT JUST WON'T SLEEP (Camp Bestival) or the loud sex talk from a group of high teenagers (Eastern Haze) those things I can do without - so I take soft foam ear plugs. Heaven
  • Eye mask. My tent lets the light through the canvas, this wakes me too early in the summer so for a good nights full sleep I wear and eye mask. (being this sensory deprived I also sleep across the doorway when DD is with me, and keep all valuables deep in my sleeping bag!
  • Bin Bags. Useful for all camping, at a festival they are great to sit on if the ground is wet, and can double as a coat if you make arm and head holes! Perfect for the kids. And of course they are good for keeping things tidy in the tent, Dirty clothes, rubbish, muddy wellies.
  • Wellies. Get a trendy pair, wear them whatever the weather. Be prepared.
  • Layers. You can't be too warm (well you can but you can always take stuff off) nothing causes grumpiness faster than being cold. Layers, lots, take a woolly hat too

There are lots of nice but non essential things too of course, but those are my essentials. What are yours? Pop over to Twitter or FaceBook and let me know

Thanks to twitter users Alessandra, Ben and V for input :-)

And check these other important considerations over at The Parenting Game!

Top 10 essential things to know, do or bring to, Camp Bestival

Top 10 essential things to know, do or bring to, Camp Bestival

With just over a week to go I realise the blog tips have become rather large and unwieldy for the novice festival goer (eg my brother, who is accompanying me this year with his family - an entire family of festival virgins!) So here is a mini list (with links to more detail where necessary) of the actual vital stuff you need to know.

crowded festival tents at camp bestival

  1. First off. While Camp Bestival is a music festival that is far from all it is. It was begun as a spin off of Bestival as a cross between a Holiday Camp, and a festival. They even have their very own Blue Coats! Of course this means there is loads to do, plenty of comedy, films, shows, circus acts, craft
    areas etc for children from as young as babies to teens. This year there is also a teen Den, just for those 13 - 17 to hang out. Perfect for the festival goers of tomorrow to get a feel for festival life away from their parents. As the site is a castle they also have a jousting area and the knights joust for your pleasure at various times during the weekend. On the last night there is a spectacular fireworks finale.
  2. Camp site. It is hilly. You will probably need a trolley to transport all your stuff from the car park. If you don't own one you can hire them at the festival. Take the tent and minimal stuff on the first trip, find your spot (it gets crowded) and pitch the tent. Be polite to your neighbours, make friends, share a glass of wine, you never know when you may need their help! Tents can end up very close together, consider earplugs if you are a light sleeper, I also take an eye mask as my tent lets light in very early! The walkways between the tents are well lit with suspended lights and these stay on nearly all night, it makes a trip to the loo relatively easy but can keep you awake if you pitch near them.
  3. Hygiene and Toilets - everyone panics about festival loos and while they can be bad, they are usually OK - Camp Bestival has very well organised toilet facilities. There are portable chemical toilets in the main camping
    area (these are often emptied, but in the early morning, don't camp too close or you'll be woken by the trucks arriving) They are kept pretty clean. There are washing facilities near them (cold water only). There are also showers and posh flushing loos that you can pay to use. And in the festival site itself there are compost loos, daunting at first (they have a long drop under the seat!) but actually pretty nice to use. Bring your own loo roll, wet wipes and hand sanitiser - make a small pack of these items to carry with you. Personal chemical  toilets are not allowed in the camping areas as there is nowhere to empty them. Ladies may like to consider buying a Shewee. While there are showers they often have long queues and cost extra. For 4 days I tend to just shower before I leave home, use wetwipes at the festival and shower when I get home again. Take lots of wet wipes.
  4. Do buy the programme, spend some time planning the stuff you really can't miss, try and spot times
    that you will be free for meals etc. leave space between acts if you can (unless they are on the same stage) as you need to move around the site, use the toilets and get drinks too! If you are a family, ensure everyone gets to see at least one thing they really love each day. Consult the map to plan travel between the tents/stages. Some tents get filled early so consider that in your plans, if you arrive late you may not get in.
  5. Food. There is lots to buy but it's not cheap. Balance meals out with meals at the tent and take snacks. You can cook on small portable gas cookers outside. Take things that are quick to heat to save time and gas, tinned food is a good idea, baked beans, hotdogs, chilli etc (remember a tin opener!). No glass is allowed on site so no jars of pasta sauce, baby food, or bottles of wine etc. Bringing your own alcohol is allowed in the camping area only (there are bars in the festival site) and not in glass, think bags of wine, tins of G&T and cans of beer. Take snacks (especially for kids)  eg individual cartons of juice (there is drinking water available at lots of locations) packets of biscuits, apples, dried fruit, croissants, cakes (individually wrapped are great!) packets of crisps etc. Don't forget to visit the WI tent for a cheap and cheerful cup of tea and a piece of cake, or maybe a sandwich.
  6. Weather. Most years it has been sunny. So come prepared. Bring light clothing and suncream, sunhats and flowers for your hair too (yes even the men). But be prepared for rain, bring wellies and a waterproof jacket. As it's a festival wellies, especially funky coloured ones, have become ubiquitous, many people wear wellies everyday regardless of the weather. This year with The Wild Things project there may be opportunities for messy play and tree climbing so you may want to bring suitable clothing for that too!
  7. Lulworth Camp Weather forecast ©
  8. Money. There is loads to spend your money on at Camp Bestival, from bubble wands to vintage
    fashion. Flower hair garlands and fancy dress. Try and stock up with the sort of things that will be popular with children before you arrive, it will save you £££s. Things to buy before you go include; glowsticks, bubbles, furry tails, flower hair bands, fancy dress, balloons, diablos, hula hoops, frisbees (soft ones!) and sponge balls. If you run out of cash at Camp Bestival, there are cash machines, they will charge you a fee and there may be queues. Lots of the shops will take cards though. There are both camping supplies shops (for when you realise you forgot the tent pegs) and basic grocers (selling fresh milk, fruit, bread etc) onsite too - they are cornershop prices rather than supermarket prices, but handy if you forget things or run out of anything
  9. Fancy Dress. This years theme is Circus. So anything from clowns to popcorn sellers, bearded ladies to elegant horses, the fancy dress ideas are numerous. You could even dress as a big top! Most people make some effort to dress up a bit. It needn't be elaborate, a red nose, a funny hat, but you may regret it if you don't join in. Some families go to extreme and amazing lengths with their costumes!
  10. Rubbish. There are lots of bins onsite, in the festival itself and in the camp site. Take some binbags and keep your rubbish in it, keep your space tidy. On the last day check you leave your space clean and tidy. It will take you 5 minutes to clean your area up and chuck the bin bag in the rubbish area, Don't leave it for someone else to do. Paying rubbish clean up crews puts festival costs up, help keep prices lower (and animals safer) by leaving just a patch of yellowing grass behind.
  11. Be flexible. Sleep when you are tired, eat when you are hungry. Wee when you are ....needing a wee! Don't stress over healthy food, or washing, or bedtimes. It is (sadly) only 4 days, just go with the flow and have an awesome time. 

See you there - say hello, you can buy me a Pims!

Don't forget that while there is a medical tent if you need antihistamines, Calpol or any other medicines it's wise to buy before you travel and bring them with you. Illegal drugs are of course still illegal - even at a festival

Festivals and dressing up a bit

Yesterday I reminded you to bring a few toys for the kids, the sort they would see and desire and whine for. Today I'm going to tell you that even if they say now that they don't want to dress up - they will when they see how popular it is! And specifically there are tails (TellTails make especially lovely ones). Lots of people old and young wear tails and if you buy them at the festival, while I cannot fault their quality, they are £20 a pop! so a family of five has spent £100 just like that! On Tails! The other issue is that they sell out, there are only so many tails to go round! So think about buying a tail or two (or even making one!) before you go. (If you can afford it though the TellTails are fab, why not buy before you go to ensure they are not sold out of your fave) One year DD was a mouse and we made her tail, this year she has a tail prepared, one year we splashed out on a fine monkey tail from TellTails.

The other thing that causes wailing and queueing is face painting. It's great fun but save yourself time and money buy taking a pack of your own face paints, you can even let the kids paint each others faces! (Or yours!)

Last suggestion is flower garlands, we do buy and make them sometimes at festivals but they are very popular and worth taking a few with you.

Looking good!

My Monkey, complete with tail

This post is not sponsored, all tails are my own :-)

Festival Sleep (adults)

So you're at a festival and you've finally staggered back to you tent. You've taken your wellies off, crawled in, knocked over a can of something that you hope was stale beer. Your tent chum is snoring in the corner and your bed looks more deflated than you remember. The lamps that light the walkways in the camping field suddenly seem over bright and you appear to have pitched right under one. The tent next door is filled with crying children and there is a loud beat drifting across the field from the all night party tent.

Sound familiar? Sound scary (if you've never been to a festival)?

Well fear not! You can and will sleep!

Top tips for a good festival night's sleep.

Leave the tent relatively tidy when you go out. Yes you are keen to pee, yes you want a bacon sandwich and who cares where you flung yesterdays jeans and your warm sleeping bag? Well, you as it turns out, when you stagger back later tired out. So leave the tent - or at the very least the bed area - relatively tidy.

Check the bed is pumped up when you leave. (or ensure your camp bed is wobble-free) Chuck away any rubbish (use a bin bag in the tent - bin bags are really useful in a tent!)

Take a sleep mask, yes it's nerdy but the light can be annoying if you are near a lamp, AND the dawn will try and wake you at a summer festival.

Take ear plugs, there are lovely soft disposable ear plugs on sale at Chemists. Buy some, I used them at Glastonbury to save me from an extreme snorer in a nearby tent!

Do up your tent securely. Keep your valuables with you.

Keep warm. Wear suitable clothes/thermals or pyjamas in bed. Consider warm socks and a hat even in the summer.  Snuggle down. Sleep. Hopefully you've been dancing all day and will be suitably  tired. Don't set an alarm (unless there's something on early that you really can't bear to miss')


Festival Toilets


chemical toilet
If I talk about festival toilets now, maybe you'll have forgotten about them by the time the festival swings around. No I'm kidding they are not that bad.

Festival loos are something that all non-festival goers cite as reason they can't do festivals. And I'm sure some festival goers have horror stories too (I know I do) but with a little planning and some ability to be a bit more relaxed around poop than usual (more parents can cope with poop in my experience) the festival loo experience can be fine!

Camp Bestival has two types of loo (well actually it has three but the last I haven't experienced...more about them later)

The first is the old faithful, the portable chemical toilet. Most festival have them cleaned and emptied fairly regularly - don't camp too close to them or the 4am hose down and pump may wake you! They can get gruesome but it's down to the festival goers themselves being disgusting and drunk rather than the toilet itself! They will run out of toilet paper and of hand sanitiser. Take your own of both and wet wipes too - make a small bag for toilet trips containing the essentials.

The second sort is the 'compost' loo. They are a variant on the long drop! They have steps up to them and no water, under your seat is a 'pit' filled with sawdust. You take a cup of sawdust from the bin provided and chuck the sawdust down to cover your poop! They are less smelly than the portable chemical toilets (probably as they are very open and airy) they have no chemicals, but you do see a lot of poop. (Kids love this) They tend to stay cleaner. You may still need your own toilet paper and hand sanitiser.

festival toilets

The third and more mysterious option is the luxury loo - Camp Bestival has a secret land of luxury pooping that I have never experienced...

5 Things you need at a festival, and 5 things you don't

Welcome to the handy guide to stuff you can't do without at a festival and the stuff that's a waste of time and energy. I'm not talking about an afternoon food festival in town by the way, I'm talking about a weekend style, camp and have fun sort of festival, and I'm assuming you are not a lone teen with nary a care in the world, but a slightly older (like me! haha) festival goer, maybe with children.

First - things you really do need, unless you are extremely hardcore.

  1. Tickets - the average festival, even a free one will need to count people that are attending. So be sure to get a ticket. Some festivals sell 'at the gate' but not all and you could be disappointed. Some planning for this is wise.
  2. Your festival home - Tent, bed and sleeping bag, also some clothes. I like to have a dry spot in case of rain so I go with a tent, if you are camping in an extremely sunny location you may feel an all weather sleeping bag will do - or you may think you will rave all night and sleep in the day. Good luck with that. Take wellies.
  3. Money - You will probably want to buy food and some beer. I know I will. Take money. Many festivals now have cash point machines. Take your cards too but keep them safe. Don't leave valuables in your tent. Sleep with valuables in your sleeping bag.
  4. Hygiene essentials - Toilet paper, wet wipes, anti bacterial hand gel. Festivals start off 'toilet paper rich' but this can dwindle. Water will be available but wet wipes and hand gel will save queueing and allow you to 'wash' in the tent.
  5. A torch - if you plan to find your tent after dark even the best lit festival site can do with extra light, and a toilet can be a scarier place in the dark where you can't see what is 'wet' and what isn't. A head torch is good in this situation.

and now stuff you don't need

  1. lots of things sold with the word 'festival' as a suffix. Like festival emergency poncho - use a bin bag or, radically, a coat. if it's warm don't even bother, just have a dry change of clothes in the tent. Festival shoe covers which are just fancy plastic bags for people that can't be bothered to buy wellies. Buy wellies.
  2. Festival Trolley - trolleys are great, I have one, but you can hire or borrow one at the site, not an essential.
  3. Phone charger - yes it can be useful to use your phone but lots of sites have poor reception, and often they have charging points anyway. If you do bring your phone, why not save a few minutes each evening to tweet/send emails/check texts and just save the battery.
  4. Dry Shampoo, or solar showers. There are showers at most festivals...with queues a mile long. You may be tempted to use them. If your festival is less than a week long just embrace the grunge. Use a wet wipe, stick your head under a tap. Dry shampoo will make you prematurely gray and flaky, a solar shower will just annoy nearby campers.
  5. Drugs - no one needs to get arrested, and if the festival is a good one you'll be having lots of fun without drugs. Don't dull your experience, tune in to the festival vibe, get high on that...and drink some more beer.

Choosing a tent

Various tents at a festival
It's a minefield... figuratively obviously, no one with any sense pitches up on an actual minefield.

There are so many styles of tent, so many sizes, so many prices, to choose the right one for you? Because there are so many types of people too! Those that like natural materials and minimalist camping, those who like space and an Electric Hook Up (EHU) for their TV.

I cannot show you every tent, not can I tell you which is right for you but I can tell you (from bitter experience) some of the questions you should ask, and give you some of my answers.

How long will you use the tent for at a stretch? A festival tent for a single person or a (friendly) couple can be very small indeed. No need for standing room or a space to eat, you just need a waterproof, relatively private space to sleep in. Grab a cheap festival tent for under £20 and you are sorted. A longer holiday or a holiday away form a festival and you will need a bit more space to stretch. If you are spending much time in a tent and don't need to actually carry it with you (tents for hikers is a whole other ball game) you need to be able to stand and ideally have some space outside of the sleeping area. Very Important if it rains and you are stuck inside all day reading.

And light! My first tent (which was free so no complaints) had no windows. Great in the evening, or on a sunny day, but during the day if it rained and all the flaps had to be fastened it was miserable. So I'd suggest a window (or two).

How large is your family? How many separate bedrooms do you need? and remember a bedroom that sleeps 2 will only just fit 2 beds into it, so if siblings are sharing it could be a tight squeeze. There are tents with pods that can add on as your family grows, or maybe you'd like your teen to have his own smaller tent. Keep in  mind that some camp sites charge per person, some per tent and some by a 'pitch' which can vary in size. The Camping and Caravanning Club have recently brought in a new larger pitch size to accommodate the newer larger tents and they charge extra accordingly. Check your 'foot print' so that your 'cheap' hobby doesn't turn into an expensive one.

nylon dome tent sleeps three 3
'Nigel' my nylon dome tent, sleeps 3
What material should you choose? My first tent was nylon. They are light and waterproof. But they can be chilly as they are very thin, or very hot when the sun beats down on them! My canvas (100% cotton) tent is better for temperature control. Cotton needs to weather in to become waterproof, the strands absorb water and swell to close the gaps, don't touch the canvas on the inside or you will wick the water in! (maybe not the best if you have an inquisitive toddler). Canvas smells best.

What shape tent should you look for? Dome tents with flexible poles are fairly common as are tunnel tents. As the poles are bendy they will flex in the wind, I've seen poorly guy roped tents blowing almost flat in a storm! Though of course they spring back, could be weird in a nighttime gale though.

Cabanon pyramide IV pyramid 4 tent
'Wilfred' my canvas Cabanon Pyramide IV, sleeps 4
In contrast my pyramid style (Dutch style) tent stands up to a real hurricane with out moving, once when we camped a tree blew down near the tent, while we staying strong! There are no guy ropes at all on the pyramid style and I rather favour it's sleek good looks.

So, look for height, can you stand and sit in a chair in the tent?
Materials - canvas is very strong, good for hot or cold but heavy, nylon is light but doesn't 'breathe' so you can get condensation  in the cold, it won't last as long as canvas and can be hard to repair. Nylon is cheaper. There are polycotton mixes available.

Look at style, 
  • Tunnel - gives you lots of inside space. I have little knowledge of how they perform in 'the field' though.
  • Dome, easy to put up, lots of height in the centre, check where the living area is vs the sleeping area! No one needs to stand up in bed, Tie your guy ropes tightly.
  • Pyramid - heavier poles, often canvas, heavy and can be very expensive. Last well, are very easy to erect.
  • Tepee - I know nothing, they look nice, I suspect they would be like the pyramid, though standing room awkward as pole in centre.
  • Bell tent. Terribly lovely. Very expensive and heavy.
bari 3 tent hand painted
'Barry' my cotton Bari3 tent, sleeps 3
Look at space. Do you want a bedroom each? Space for 'living'? and extra room for storage or the kids to play in?
Windows, where and how many. Also how easy is feeding an EHU in if you need one.
Inner tent. Some tents are single skin, except for a few drunken nights at a festival, or for those camping in warmer climes I wouldn't recommend them. I prefer a sewn in ground sheet as it gives some protection from spiders.
Erection (finally you can snigger) some tents erect outside first with the inner hung inside afterwards (my preference as you can quickly pitch in the rain and then sort out the inner in the dry) other tents have an erectable inner and then the other skin is pulled on over the top. It's personal preference but something to consider.

I won't go into extras like carpets...that's for another post.
Are you armed with questions? Full of ideas, go buy a tent!! And feel free to ask extra questions or add your own advice below. Thanks

Planning for your first festival - Festival Top Ten

I know that some people reading this are festival virgins. maybe you have never been to a festival because you are too young to go alone (if so I'm secretly judging your parents! why haven't they taken you?) or maybe you are a coward. Maybe you have never been to a festival because you are a parent and have a baby and babies don't do festivals. Maybe you are disabled, maybe you think you just don't like festivals. I shall assume you at least like camping...or why are you here reading?

Well here's the lowdown, you can go to a festival with kids, and if you are disabled, and if you are old and if you are scared. There are so many types of festivals that you will find one you like if you look. Why not start with E-Festivals, search local, or search by type. Literary festival? Food festival? Beer festival? Beard Festival? Comedy festival? Sci Fi Festival? Kids Festival?  there are not only music festivals! Almost anything you can think of is being celebrated in a field somewhere.

Festivals are great for relaxing and slowing the pace, but also for going crackers and having a blast!

Here are my top ten tips, they won't all apply to everyone but hopefully some will apply to you. You are actively encouraged to add your festival tips in the comments below! Thanks

  1. It's a festival. Get up when you like, sleep when you like, lay about if you like. You might need a watch so that you don't miss acts you really want to see but on the whole a watch is too controlling, go with the flow, eat when you are hungry, drink when you fancy it. Don't forget your kids if you have them with you though! They may be too small to tell you if they are hungry so don't neglect them, but older kids will love the new relaxing of any rules, especially bedtime ones. Let tiny kids sleep in trolleys so you can roam the festival at night.
  2. Take a few snacks and drinks but don't go crazy. There will be food at most festivals and it;s usually pretty good. You will pay a slight premium to have your food served in a field but don't forget most concessions have to pay a fairly high rent to be there.  Buy a meal to share for smaller kids. I usually end up only eating twice a day, a late large brunch and then a large evening supper, sustained by beer and snacks through the day, with the odd icecream.
  3. If you have kids buy or hire a trolley for larger festival sites. You'll see the sea of festival trolleys, tugged by yummy munnies and sexy stubbled dad's, don't be put off that some are elaborately decorated as tiger cages or VW campervans, a trolley is your friend. You can buy them at garden centres or online, they come apart for transport. Some sites hire them out.
  4. Plan where you are going to pitch your tent in advance. You may not find a space where you plan but it's a good idea to have an idea. Do you want the relative quiet of being far from the action so you and the kids can sleep in peace, or close to the centre so you have a short wander back to the tent at the end of the day.
  5. Take decoration for the tent. It looks pretty and there will be a sea of tents. Both you and any kids will appreciate being able to spot it easily. You don't need a flag on a pole but they are fun too. Bunting, solar lights, pom-poms, ribbons go wild - let the kids help.
  6. Don't worry about washing. No honestly, shower before you leave. Take wet wipes. Most festivals are a few days. No one cares if you are sparkly clean. Shower lines are long and boring and can even add extra cost. If you are really worried wash your hair in a bucket of water by the tent. Save time, be hippy. Kids will adore having muddy feet after 4 days and it makes the first shower at home more fun.
  7. Most festivals won't let you take a lot of booze in. Some won't let you take any into the festival site but are happy for you to have it at the tent. Check! No festivals allow glass. Decant any wine etc into plastic bottles or bring boxes/bags. Tins of ready mixed spirits can be bought at supermarkets and are great to pop in your bag (or trolley) for later. Remember to use the beer tents though, it helps the festival revenue and they often have guest beers or fun cocktail options. Also check policies re cooking, some allow open fires - use some common sense - keep a bucket of water near your tent. Some allow cookers, some don't. Ditto disposable barbecues - and whatever you choose take care if you are drinking...
  8. Dress fancy. Just because you are living under canvas for four days in a field it doesn't give you the right to mooch around in jeans and a T shirt. Festival wear varies from year to year but outrageous is always in style, if you have kids make sure  you bring their fancy dress costumes. check if the festival has a theme so you can get a costume ready. Costumes vary form basic homemade, simple fancy dress shop style to elaborate cosplay characters. Don't be shy. Take wellies...maybe crocsif you can bear it.
  9. Talk to other festival goers. It's a festival. You are all there to have fun. Almost everyone is nice. Assume niceness unless proved otherwise, but stay safe. At night keep all your valuables in the bottom of your sleeping bag not near the door of the tent! There is always one drunk person that loses a wallet and would be happy to 'borrow' yours. Don't take any valuables with you that you can't carry around all day.
  10. Toilets. They are both not as bad and worse than you an imagine. One day one they are empty and clean, use them, become familiar with them in day light, soon you will be using them in the dark, when they are urine splashed, lacking toilet paper and 'full'. Take toilet paper, wet wipes and hand gel and carry it with you. Always take it to the toilets. A She-wee is a good investment for a lady, by day 3 you won't want to sit on the seat...
    Consider a potty and some disposable nappies for in the tent (yes even adults) you can put the nappy in the base of the potty and it will soak up the pee for easy disposal, put a plastic bag in the potty first then the nappy then pee, they tie the bag and bin the lot. Perfect for a late night or early morning wee....or when the toilets reach critical mass.
So there are some top tips, of course you will have more, do add them, and also check my camping list and also some camping tips for those with kids  and the tips for dealing with festival mud here.

Camping Gift Ideas

It's coming up to Christmas. It's cold out and most tent campers have packed the canvas away until spring. (not all of you though I bet! and I STILL have 'camping in deep snow' on my bucket list..) So finding things to blog about is not always easy. Then I realised that gifts for the next season would be a good theme. This is not a sponsored post. And it's based on things I own and love and things I don't own but really deeply desire for camping.

A Top Ten Gift Ideas for the Camper

  1. A Storm Kettle. I have a Kelly kettle, though other brands are available. Boil water in moments using sticks and other fuel found around. It seems like an expensive item but it will last for ever (barring bear attack, being trampled by herds of wildebeest, meteor strike etc) and saves money by enabling you to cook without buying fuel. It also makes cooking fun, slightly dangerous, and entertaining. Feel like a proper mountain man, and have a great excuse to send the kids off to collect small sticks and pine cones (instant peace). I have just noticed a hobb attachement is to be made available in 2014 - *adds to wish list* A flashy new addition to the storm kettle idea is the (much more expensive and geeky) Biolite Stove, cook and charge electrical devices at the same time - perfect preparation for the Zombie apocalypse.
  2.  A Penknife. I bought a fantastic basic one. I also attached it to a lanyard as I was forever putting it down and losing it. Every camper needs a good penknife. Bottle opener, cheese slicer, cork puller, pointy thing for doing stuff...a penknife is an essential.
  3. Duct tape. Duck Tape is a fine brand. Lots of fun colours. Duct tape is perfect when camping for so many things. repairing tents, repairing poles, temporary holding for things, making dens. Perfect multipurpost fixing stuff! No camper should be without a roll or two, or three.
  4. A Shmangle. A brilliant wearable waterproof blanket. Genius. You can use it to sit on in the day, shelter under in rain, wear to keep warm in the evening, put it under a sleeping bag for more warmth at night. For festivals there is no better item, you could, at a pinch, survive with a shmangle in place of a tent! I have a red one, DD has a blue one.
  5. A loo.  A basic portable toilet. Great for an emergency.  An ideal gift for the long distance traveller too - never be caught short again, and yet not need to carry a bulky toilet around! If the simplicity of a bag is too basic for you - how about a bucket syle?
  6. Solar powered Torch. Yes it sounds like a joke. But why not use your day to charge up your night? Nothing worse than running out of light to read by or rationing torch light because you are far from the shops. Now you can be fully charged each evening. And not have to carry a sack of batteries around with you.
  7. A Camping toaster. I've tried bigger and supposedly superior types but this little beauty is still my favourite. Toasts a slice at a time a side at a time, fast though! Great for breakfast or camping snacks. Works over most camp stoves, probably over the stormkettle too as long as you are not burnign anything too strong smelling (I might not use it over burning cow dung)
  8. Small flexi trug. Multipurpose. Good for storage, washing up, hairwashing, carrying firewood, carting things from the shops...anything really, strong, waterproof (leave one outside full of water as a fire precaution) Would make a nice gift filled with othe small camping bits like food, shampoos, socks etc. Buy them from horse supplies shops, super markets, garden stores or online.
  9. Pre Mixed drinks in a can. Not really a camping thing, more a festival thing but a nice gift anyway. Not the cheapest way to buy a drink but no glass to transport so less weight and no risk of breakages. Ditto bags of wine. Oh and on that note - why not combine a wine box with an actual bag to carry the wine in - a sneaky festival essential! Or a spill proof wine class? Finally a sippy cup for grownups.
  10. Life Straw. For the really wild camper (or one who is too lazy to carry water very far) try a straw that purifies water as you drink. Never be caught out thirsty on a long hot walk again, now every stream and pond and puddle is a veritable drink of pure clean water.
So there you go. Some fun, some weird, mostly useful ideas for gifts for the camper in your life, or add them to your own wishlist - and point your loved ones here if they are stuck for ideas.

Have a Happy Christmas preparing for your next camping trip.

You Dirty, Dirty girl...

Keeping clean at a festival. Ah to wash or not to wash, that is the question...

Many people queue for the showers at a festival. The shower queue starts early and grows as the day goes on. Many people don't mind queueing it seems, especially if they have nothing to go and see during the day, many young festival goers are clubbers in the real world and therefore quite nocturnal! But if you are a parent is it worth the long (and often boring) wait with you kids? Is it essential to shower at all - or even wash, after all most festivals are only a few days. Shower before you leave and shower when you return should suffice surely?

Oxford Playhouse at Wilderness Festival - Bath Time
 Ah but the smell, the joyous aroma of unwashed bodies that have been sweating in a field and staggering through vomit, clinging to a grimy portable chemical toilet in the fading twilight...

Camp Bestival
 Yes maybe you have a point maybe you will need a wash at a festival. But queueing for 2 hours? I really don't want to waste that sort of time! I have in the past washed body and hair in a large bucket of cold water by the tent, and that's OK if you are a) not shy and b) not cold (ie it only really works at a summer festival) So I was happy to try another tactic...The waterless body wash!

I received a free bottle to review from FilthyFox (what a fine brand name!) and the product is cheerfully called Pits & Bits so I think the clue is that it's designed for your, ahem, smellier parts rather than a total head to foot wash. I also had the use of some 'expandable wipes' which look ominously like enormous tablets - don't be tempted to put them in your mouth! (and keep them away for children) as they swell on contact with liquid to epic proportions, much larger than a baby wipe for example.

So on with the review. The liquid was squirted onto the expandable wipe by DD and we waited expectantly, gradually the wipe became the size of a large marshmallow and then Dd carefully unwound it, commenting as she did that the wash smelled nice and fresh.

Washing with the newly moistened wipe created a fine lather and then we dried off. Initially I was concerned that we felt a bit sticky, despite the 'no residue' promise, but as we warmed up and our hands dried properly it actually made our skin feel quite soft as if we had been using hand cream.

Would I buy it? I'm not sure, it smells lovely and works well but is it better that a pack of wet wipes? Maybe I need to get really filthy and stinky at a festival for a true test! It did have a better scent than baby wipes. I think kids would be encouraged to wash with it too as it is fun to watch the expandable wipes grow larger!

The Filthy Fox website has wipes, and also some truly excellent festival survival stuff! They even have a festival kit, with tent,bed and sleeping bag for under £30 Brilliant!

They have a 99p section too for all those silly little essentials. But my favourite item for festival and non-festival camping alike has to be this
This handy pocket sized survival tool is the perfect size for popping in your pocket or bag, with a range of useful tools to get you through festivals! The festival survival tool features a compass, bottle opener, can opener, serrated knife and more. A handy little gadget to keep with you at festivals!

as my husband said "Perfect for the drunk camper that gets lost a lot" Who could ask for more!

If you are off to a festival do Check out Filthy Fox first

Some 'Filthy' Foxes at Wilderness

Disclaimer - I was sent a bottle of Pits&Bits no water body wash for review, but all thoughts etc in this post are my own.

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