Archive for the ‘Camping’ Category

Each year, we try to schedule a family camping trip. We all enjoy being together in the great outdoors and exploring a new area. The kids like to make new friends and have a greater degree of freedom to play.
This year, we booked a week at a campsite on the Somerset levels, an area steeped in history and legend – King Arthur, Alfred the Great, The Holy Grail and the witch of Wookey Hole. I’ll post a separate note on the camping trip.

Even though we “Glamp” with a luxurious tent, an electric hook-up and heater for cold nights and mornings, it’s generally “harder work” than staying in your house with “all mod cons”. My challenge, after the recent over-training episode was to carry on running but without over-reaching and recovering properly.

Kit

I stuck with the basic kit I took on holiday to spain (see Carry on running… abroad!). I added a lightweight waterproof and swapped the road shoes for trail shoes.

Logistics

As we tend to all be woken earlier in a tent due to the sun rise, early morning runs were out. This made it harder to schedule. I decided to go for an evening run just before our evening meal. I also brought some protein shake powders as usually I had to cook the evening meal and wasn’t allowed in the tent until I had a shower!
These worked well, I chose the High 5 brand that come in individual sachets. Halfords were doing a special half-price offer. I wouldn’t want to buy them at full price!

After a run, I mixed up the shake (using a 99p sport direct shaker) with water. After drinking, I headed to the washing block to wash the shaker out and hit the shower.

Lessons Learned
  1. My running kit dried after a rinse in the tent extension each night. Not sure if this would work in colder, damper weather.
  2. The Somerset levels are not all level! Some short sharp hills were surprisingly hard
  3. Like Spain, running is slow at times due to navigating in unfamiliar territory. The longer runs turned into speed-work and hill sessions punctuated with map reading stops.
  4. The running improved my sleep and rest periods – as did a few glasses of wine or local cider before bed!
  5. The recovery shakes tasted great and apparently helped with carb and protein intake.
  6. A running waist pack would have been a good idea to carry the map, etc.
Carry On Camping

Carry On Camping (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We carried on camping this year with a visit to Gower in South Wales.  It was just a short visit over a long weekend – Friday to Monday. I intended to load up the trailer and get organised on the Thursday, but this proved difficult due to working until late.
We managed to get our personal kit sorted out and clothes, so I loaded the trailer up on Friday morning. Packing the trailer is a bit of an art form. Its just a little Erde 101 with an extension which nearly doubles its capacity. However, the extension is not ridged or robust, so only light things can be packed on top. I usually tray to get the tent, poles and furniture in first as these are the heaviest. Unfortunately, its the tent that we need first!

Friday

Anyway we arrived at Kennexstone Camp Site in the Gower around1400hrs. The weather was brilliant – hot and sunny, so we pitched the tent and got ourselves organised easily. We use a “Royal Hampton 4” tent along with an extension designed to fit it.  We use the extension as a kitchen and bathroom. Because it has no groundsheet its great for taking off wet/muddy/sandy clothes so the actual tent inner doesn’t get contaminated. There is nothing worse than a tent filled with sand, water or mud.

We spent the afternoon exploring the camp site and visited a field contain lots of friendly sheep. The children quickly made friends with others on the site and were soon off playing. Tinned hot dogs for tea with fresh locally baked rolls, tomato sauce and mustard. Washed down with squash for the kids and couple of mugs of Sainsbury’s Merlot for me!

Saturday

On Saturday morning myself and my eldest daughter we went out looking for geocaches, finding three within a mile of the camp-site.The first was in an area of bog next to the site. The next one was in a field where the farmer was using a bailing machine to make hay bales. The third was in another boggy wooded area.

In the afternoon we headed out to the beach at Hillend. After parking in the car park (Costs £3 for the day) we climbed over the dunes to the beach. The beach is massive and has lots of razor shells, muscle shells and scallops. Again it was bright and sunny, but we failed to realise the extent of the winds coming from the south. Loads of people were out flying kites and most people had set up sun tents or wind breaks. We failed to bring any of these items so got sand blasted!

When the children had collected their shells, made enough sand castles and finished paddling in the sea we returned to the car and explored some of the other places nearby. We drove back through Llangennith and up towards Llanmadoc, past the campsite. We then went through Cheriton and back to Llanridian. We had arranged to meet friends of ours at the campsite later that day. We went out for an evening meal at the Greyhound Inn in Oldwalls near Llanridian. The food was excellent and they brew their own beer too. Gower Gold is an excellent pint.

Our friends camped with us on Saturday night. The night was really rough with the high winds we encountered on the beach picking up again. There were significant storms with thunder and lightning. I was glad of the Royal Hampton’s thich steel poles and that I had fully guyed out the tent.

Sunday

We awoke on Sunday to find the tent still in one piece. I went out and re-tensioned the guy-lines and we got ready to go out. The plan was to visit a farm park some distance away in Pembrokshire with the logic that we were already half way there. We took the road through Bury Port, stopping off at the Tesco for picnic supplies.

We had a great day at the Folly Farm and returned to camp at about 2000 that night.

Monday

On Monday morning a heavy drizzle of rain set in. It there’s one thing I hate more than pitching a tent in the rain, its striking (taking down) a tent in the rain. We have little room at home to dry the tent fabric out and it just no pleasant to pack the trailer and car in a hurry in bad weather. We had booked a late departure from the site, so had until 2000 that night to pack up. I planned to leave it as late as possible in the hope that the tend would dry out as much as possible.

I decided to brave the weather and go for a walk around an area near the camp site called Ryer’s Down. This is a national trust area that also boasts seven geocaches. We had found two of the caches on Saturday morning. The others were probably too far for the kids to walk and in any case they were playing with their new friends while my wife read and kept a watchful eye.

I climbed the hill on well-defined paths through bracken, descending the other side’s steep slope. I quickly found the next cache and moved on down a small lane past a farm. Up ahead I could see several cows blocking the lane along with several men with land rovers and tractors working on clearing the cattle grid. After a brief chat they moved the cows out-of-the-way and I continued on. Consulting my GPS, I realised I have gone past the point where the next cache was hidden. Due to the number of “muggles” (both bovine and human) I could not go back and search for it, so I carried on back up the hill again. Back on top, the rain continued but I managed to find the next caches in the series before returning to the camp site.

After lunch, we started to pack up the inside of the tent and the weather gradually improved until it was as hot and sunny as in previous days. I managed to shake most of the water from the tent and the sun did a good job of drying the rest out. We packed up the tent, discovering a big puddle of water beneath the tent’s footprint.

I lit a disposable barbecue and we had an evening meal of cheeseburgers and hot-dogs before setting off home in the car.