camping with children

  • Camp Bestival - Thursday

    Dingly DellThis is the first time I have made it to Camp Bestival on the Thursday.  I usually send Pete and Small Boy down on Thursday to put up the tent and I arrive with the girls on Friday lunchtime having deposited the dogs at their Aunty Sue's for a holiday weekend.  On Thursday our friend Grant cooks for everyone.  I love it when someone else cooks so this year I was determined to get there on Thursday so I could sit back and eat his yummy food.

    The lads got there before us and in past years Thursday has been very quiet.  We are in Camping Plus so none of that fighting for pitch and waking up in the morning with someone else's tent pitched on top of yours with a head sticking in your bed room space.  This is civilised.  Or rather, it's meant to be.  I did witness a couple of 'pitch wars' going on.

    1. Where someone had their tent pegs and ropes in someone else's pitch.  It's pretty clear, you pay £120 for a pitch that is outlined in thick white lines and you're meant to keep within the lines, that's your area for the weekend and you've paid for it.  If your tent is bigger than the line you buy two pitches.  This is what we do as we have a massive tent and it won't fit on - actually we buy two and Grant buys one so we have three next to each other so we can sort out the cooking stuff together.  It really hacks other people off when they pitch their pegs and ropes on your territory.

    2.  Someone had pitched in the wrong pitch.   A lady had booked two pitches together and was explaining to the bod that this tent was in the wrong place.  He agreed but said he couldn't ask them to move (why not?  They've pitched in the wrong place, flipping move it!) She explained, without raising her voice (not sure I'd be that calm) that she needed two pitches together as they were pitching with friends and sharing food/cooking stuff and couldn't do this on separate pitches.  Not sure how this was resolved but 3 hours and 3 loads later she was still talking to bods (multiple appearing now) and still hadn't pitched her tent, it was now 6pm and I was feeling very sorry for her.

    Anyway, our tent was up, Grant's tent was up, food out, Grant cooking, wine served, sorted.  Posh new loos on site, with the words 'eco' friendly and 'no water systems'.....worried, I had reason to be.  They lasted all of 10 minutes.

    By 8pm Camping Plus must have been 80% full, we were parked where we parked last year arriving on Friday lunchtime and we got there at 2pm Thursday.  The lads said they'd never seen it this full on a Thursday, the reason they arrived on Thursday is that it was empty with most people arriving Friday, not this year.   The loos lasted until about 8pm then they broke leaving a 20 minutes queue and only 2 loos working for our bit of the site - joy!

    Sitting under the stars with cocktails feeling smug that I'd packed the Bog in a Bag and allocating the area at the back of the tent the 'boy loo' zone we were sorted.  All we needed to do now was yell at any kids who thought they'd try and scoot through our pitch - it's ours, we've paid for it, walk round you horrible lot, it's really rude to walk through someone else's pitch, etc oh, and I wouldn't walk there as that's the emergency loo? See what I mean, pitch wars.

    Finally, Big Girl was left at home on her own for the first time ever as she wanted to come down on Friday by train with her friend Anastasia.  On the basis that she's almost 17 and was very well behaved on holiday we agreed.  This didn't get off to a good start when I had a phone call at 4pm to say that she'd forgotten to take her keys with her and she was locked out and currently at her Nanas.........OK so you're old enough and responsible enough to stay at home on your own are you?

  • Camp Bestival Food - for coeliacs too

    Last 24 hours before setting of to Camp Bestival @campbestival #campbestival, Pete's on his way to Go Outdoors to get last minute camping stuff and we haven't even thought about packing. Still finishing off unpacking from Kos last week so I have that to do before I can start cooking.
  • Camping, cooking and a sand boat courtesy of the Glocks

    We didn't get up until almost lunchtime, none of us, Pete and I were up first at around 11am, children started surfacing from 11.30am, we were up until midnight last night on the dunes trying to see the Perseus meteor shower. As usual Pete saw some, so did small boy, I saw none, typical, however, the moon was full and very bright so it deadened the effect somewhat. The conversation went something like

    Pete - oh there's one

    Beverley - where?

    Pete - over there

    Beverley - where?

    Pete - oh you missed it, oh there's another

    Beverley - where?

    Pete - oh you missed it

    .....it gets boring after the first 20 minutes. Therefore we missed slack tide and no surfing was had.

    Small boy and I did a quick reccy to the local Super U, very disappointing, nothing like E.Leclerc. On the way he asked me what the best thing about camping holidays was? So here goes, 9 year old boys top 5 'best things about camping in France':

    1. The communal bbq - you get free food (that means, everyone takes nibbles and shares their food, so not quite free but from a 9 year old boy's perspective it is).

    2. The communal bbq - you get to meet new people

    3. The communal bbq - you get to make new friends as all the children are fetching and carrying supplies, food to be cooked and replenishing wine and beer for the parent who is cooking - usually the Dad.

    4. The communal bbq - you cook yummy stuff and it tastes so much better as you eat it outside. Very true.

    5. The communal bbq - you get to burn stuff - charcoal, pine cones, pine needles, wood, anything laying around the campsite.What is this bloke thing about fire?

    You'll notice that there is no mention of great beach, freedom to charge around on your bike, 7 swimming pools to choose from, no, it's all about the communal bbq. Love it.

    Big girl is well trained, it's 7.50pm and I have just uttered the immortal words 'I do not have a drink', immediately she retorts 'bloody English' followed by 'humph beer or wine?' she's lovely really.

    Small boy's getting agitated as he wants to head up to the bbq for the evening social.....tonight it's salmon (no swordfish at the local fishmonger), mackerel and merguez.

    When we eventually got moving this afternoon we had a very eventful afternoon on the beach. A large boat was dug out of the sand complete with oars, waves, seats and a labrador sitting in the back looking out. As we left we say a little girl, around 18 months old, walk up to the sand sculpture (wow that sounds posh... it wasn't) point to 'le chien', bend down and very gently stroke it much to her father's amusement, it was so sweet, obviously a little realistic too, I've not lost my artistic touch altogether. I must add that digging gigantic structures of out sand is usually left totally to me, maybe it's harking back to my childhood and growing up on Redcar beach but I do like to have a good grot about in the sand, big girl likes digging holes so we integrate our skills, this time it was a large boat with a very deep bilge pump.

    Last day tomorrow before we head back up to the Loire on Monday, I'm going to miss the sea, it's beautiful here, miles of sandy beaches, a deep turquoise see with superb breakers and no houses or building to see due to the sand dunes fronting the beach being protected from development, beyond there are pine forests also protected and after that the houses start but from the beach all you can see for miles is beach and dunes, heavenly.

  • Messanges, South West France - we've arrived

    We left the lovely campsite just outside Tours to start the 5 hour journey to just north of Biarritz, my total focus was to find as massive an E.Leclerc as I could. I love French Hypermarkets, especially this chain, they usually have fabulous fish counters, often with full 7ft sharks and lobsters (not 7ft ones, just plain lobsters) and a wonderful array of in season fruit and veg. Tomatoes that have a flavour, green beans that 'squeak' when you bite into them, once I've done my big food shop then I'm on holiday. So you can imagine my consternation when we drove past lots around Bordeaux on the 'wrong side of the motorway' and end up south of Bordeaux where hypermarkets end, seriously, there are no hypermarkets for 3 hours until you almost hit Spain.

    We came off the motorway to find somewhere with the necessary ambience for lunch, lovely country restaurant and a Super U that the landlady said was 'large', hmm our interpretation of the word differs dramatically, it wasn't quite as bad as the Tesco in Princes Risborough but it was close, the entire fish counter was empty.....first paddy of the holiday, I was not a happy bunny. so stocked up on essentials....beer, red wine (£1.38 a bottle, highly quaffable but really wouldn't travel well), and merguez, dodgy French spicy sausages that taste fabulous barbecued - you have to cook them outdoors, no way would you want them indoors as your house would smell for weeks. This gives Peter something to do of an evening and make him feel like he's on holiday by burning stuff over a naked flame - it's that hunter gatherer thing.

    So back on the motorway with me being grumpy as I've not had my hypermarket fix, but we can see the temperature rising as we head south from 15 degrees in the Loire to 23 degrees, that's more like it!

    Arrive at Le Vieux Port campsite just outside Messanges at around 5pm to meet the extremely young and lovely Eurocamp rep who said that we were the only family to arrive that day who weren't grumpy. Apart from no hypermarket fix we're on holiday, it's 23 degrees, the campsite has 7 pools and is right next to the sea, we have a bloody big mobile home with 3 bedrooms, flushing loo and power shower - luxury after last weekend at Camp Bestival and even better my phone has no service so no one can find me, yes!

    Supper consisted on squeaky beans, dodgy merguez, chargrilled lamb chops and home made chips, deep fried properly, something I never do at home and copious amounts of cheap red wine -a feast. At 10.30pm we all went to say goodnight to the beach, or actually find it, small boy and medium sized girl both saw shooting stars and the sound of the ocean cemented the concept that we truly were on holiday.

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