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Camping

  • Golden Valley Caravan and Campsite, Derbyshire

    For me, bank holidays are made for camping. An extra night means all the effort of pitching the tent can be enjoyed that little bit longer, justifying it all the more (in case you needed any more of an excuse to get under canvas). This year, after venturing to Hogsdown Farm for the last couple of years, it was time to try somewhere new and so after a quick Google to see which campsites within about an hour’s radius had decent playgrounds, we settled on Golden Valley Caravan and Campsite in Derbyshire.

    I’m not over exaggerating when I say it was the playgrounds that sold it to me – I knew I wanted somewhere that Pickle would just love and with so many picnic benches situated nearby, the optimist in me was excited about the prospect of maybe sitting down and savouring a cup of tea or a gin and tonic in the sunshine whilst he enjoyed the slides. read more

    Camping, Countryside, Lifestyle, UK Travel
    / July 29, 2019
  • Playing on the slide at Hogsdown Farm

    Hogsdown Farm Caravan and Campsite, Gloucestershire

    For the past two May Day Bank Holidays, we’ve spent our weekend at the gloriously named Hogsdown Farm Caravan and Campsite in Dursley, Gloucestershire. I’ve been meaning to write about it after both trips, but imposing work deadlines always forced me to push it to the bottom of the to-do list.

    Where is Hogsdown Farm?

    The farm is not far from Dursley, between Gloucester and Bristol near the A38 and M5 – making it an easy to get to option for families based in the Midlands, the Cotswolds or the South West. read more

    Camping, Reviews
    / April 14, 2019
  • Spotting-a-Dolphin-at-New-Quay

    Our UK Travel Plans for 2019

    This is a collaborative post with Vogue.

    Now that we’re starting to emerge from the depths of Winter, and the bank balance is starting to look a bit healthier after the Christmas bashing, it’s at this time every year that my attention turns to what our travel plans should be for the year. read more

    Camping, Lifestyle, UK Travel
    / March 7, 2019
  • Kampa Paloma 5 Air tent at Hogsdown Farm Gloucestershire over bank holiday weekend

    Did we choose the right tent?

    Almost a year ago now, we bought our first proper tent. Before then, we’d made do with little pup tents – which are fine for the odd night away or a weekend in the summer, but not practical when camping as a family and for longer periods. We excitedly went along to the Caravan and Camping Show at the NEC and came home with our Kampa Paloma 5 Air tent.

    Kampa Paloma 5 Air Tent

    Finding the Paloma 5 Air tent felt like we’d stumbled upon the perfect tent for us. On paper, it ticked all the boxes we could have hoped for, and it was just on the cusp of our budget. read more

    Aged 2+, Camping, Countryside, Parenting, Reviews
    / January 5, 2019
  • The view of the bay from the golf course at Trevornick

    Camping at Trevornick, Cornwall

    We love holidaying in the UK, and although it would be lovely to go abroad one day as a family, there’s something about exploring our own country which will never get old for me. Buying our tent earlier this year has already been such a worthwhile investment and top of our list this year was to start seeing more of the gorgeous Cornish coast. At the end of July, we packed up the car and set off for a super family-friendly site near Newquay in Cornwall called Trevornick, who put us up for a few nights so that we could test out their facilities. It was that good, that we didn’t want to leave. We extended our stay by a couple of extra nights, and would have stayed for longer if we could. We absolutely loved it.

    Journey & Arrival

    As much as I was excited to holiday in Cornwall, I was a little apprehensive about the journey to begin with. I had originally hoped we could find a campsite on the way down to stay for a couple of nights but after LPD (Little Pickle’s Dad) got booked for a hog roast on the Saturday, that was no longer feasible. It all turned out for the best though, as it actually made for the perfect opportunity to stop over in Exeter, visit LPD’s sister and wish her a happy birthday.

    Breaking the journey up meant we only had a two and a half hour journey on the Sunday, followed by an hour and half on Monday morning. We arrived at Trevornick feeling refreshed and raring to go: I’d definitely do the same whenever we next visit the South West coast (which I hope will be soon!). Upon driving onto the site, it was immediately welcoming and fresh looking with lots of gorgeous flowers and such friendly staff on reception. The best bit though? You follow a moped to your pitch! Which was a really nice touch and really helpful for a site of this size.

    Trevornick

    Without a doubt, this is the largest campsite I’ve ever stayed at. There are over six different camping fields to choose from, with a range of pitch sizes, features and Trevornick also has a number of Eurotent pitches for those without tents or who would rather the ease of having a tent pre-erected for you. More time for you to enjoy a gin and tonic!

    The site boasts lots of features that make a stay super relaxing and easy. There’s a really well stocked onsite farm shop (we once visited it four times in one day!), and also a hire shop (very handy if you forget any of your camping essentials or fancy a go at body-boarding). There’s also a laundrette – which was music to my ears after we decided to extend our stay and needed to do an emergency load of washing, and the driers were really handy for popping our towels in before heading home. There’s nothing worse than the smell of damp towel for the entire journey home!

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    Our Pitch

    I couldn’t have been more pleased with our pitch. We were on the Pond field, which has a series of almost terraced pitches overlooking the fishing ponds and the golf course. It was perfect for us as it meant there was only one direction in which Pickle could run – and he loved having the length of our terrace to run up and down, although, it did cause a few issues when balls and toys were accidentally thrown onto the terrace below.

    Our pitch had it’s own water supply and electricity supply, and even a TV connection and on-site movie channel if we’d have wanted to use it (perhaps a good option for families who are staying a bit longer and run into some rainy weather!).

    The Washing Facilities

    I didn’t want to look like some kind of weirdo by taking my camera into the shower and toilet block, so I’m afraid I don’t have any gleaming photos to share – but you’ll have to take my word for it that the toilet block was just the ticket. It was closed for an hour each day for cleaning (which wasn’t a problem as there were plenty of other toilet blocks to visit during that time – in fact, one of the others I visited had music playing in it! Which I thought was really cool). Perhaps wise that I didn’t go for a shower in that block, as I’m not sure my fellow campers would have appreciated the inevitable early morning sing song!

    Family-Friendly

    There were so many aspects to Trevornick that made it a real hit for us as a family. I can honestly say we didn’t really want for anything during our stay there – everything was so close and well thought out. There was so much on offer that we didn’t even get to try out most of it, and I’m sure there’s probably things we still don’t even know about. But the things that we were grateful for in particular were: the park, the evening entertainment, and the swimming pool.

    The playground is great for all kinds of ages – Pickle was quite happy clambering up the climbing frame, whooshing down the slide and having a go on the swing, but there was also monkey bars and more challenging equipment for older children. There’s also a dedicated ball games field the other side of the campsite which is perfect for older children who want a kick about, a game of rounders or a bit of cricket.

    If it weren’t for our camping neighbours, a gorgeous family from Coventry whose lovely children were such brilliant playmates for Pickle over the course of our stay, we probably wouldn’t have braved the evening entertainment – knowing from past experience that Pickle would much rather run riot than take part in the activities. We gave it two tries: the first was as I predicted! I spent most of the evening going up and down the stairs, back and forth from the dance floor to the amusements arcade next door. He became obsessed with the 2p machines – and he’s surprisingly good at them!

    The second time, it was a much greater success. Pickle had become firm friends with the little girl next door, and was no longer interested in escaping because he was glued to her side. They sat beautifully next to each other, arms wrapped around each others necks watching the comedy magician intently. It felt like a real treat to sit with a glass of wine and chat to our neighbours, getting to know them a bit better and not having to take it in turns to chase around the vicinity! Winner.

    We spent a glorious morning enjoying the outdoor pool. I’m not sure I can remember the last time I enjoyed an outdoor pool in the UK! Feeling very grateful for the sunny weather we’ve had this summer. At Trevornick, there are two heated outdoor pools, a big one and a smaller shallow baby pool, as well as a hot tub spa pool. I was really pleasantly surprised by the temperature of the water, and all three of us had fun in both the baby pool and the main pool – Pickle giggled with delight throughout!

    The changing facilities were really clean and there were plenty of sun loungers available if that’s your thing. The pool allows inflatables so we were even treated to seeing a huge unicorn in the pool! Amazing.

    Eating Out

    Part of the reason we enjoy camping is the option to self-cater. It saves us so much money by cooking our own food, which enables us to spend more money on treats and days out. However, I appreciate that that’s not everyone’s idea of a holiday so Trevornick caters for however much or little you want to cook, with a variety of price ranges too.

    Not only is there an onsite Cafe and Restaurant, Fodders, but there’s also a takeaway option if you’d prefer to eat outside your own tent. I thought it was brilliant that each night there seemed to be a different mobile food stand too. We bought ourselves a woodfire pizza which although it took a while (we were given a time to come back and collect it), it was a nice treat.

    We had a lovely evening trying out the Woody’s Restaurant, which overlooks the start of the golf course. It had a lovely welcoming, homely feel to it, made complete with some scrumptious home cooked food. I had a homemade beef lasagne and it was absolutely delicious – exactly how I would have made it myself at home, and LPD and I both loved the side salads that came with our food.

    It was a real bonus that Pickle was so well behaved – we honestly couldn’t believe it! There was a time not long ago that going out for a meal was a really stressful occasion filled with tantrums and muttered expletives under our breath, but he was so happy just chatting to us and playing with his Bing sticker book. Maybe this is paving the way for some more nice family meals out for us? If Woody’s was much closer, we’d definitely make it a regular haunt of ours. And good news for holiday makers with dogs, as they’re welcome in the restaurant.

    Holywell Fun Park

    I could write a whole blog post on it itself, and I intend to do just that, but I hope to give you flavour of it here too. We spent one of our days having so much fun in the Holywell Fun Park, which adjoins the campsite but you don’t have to be staying at Trevornick to visit it. At first, I wasn’t sure if it’d be particularly good for us as Pickle is just a tad too short for lots of the more ‘exciting’ rides, but he was more than happy going on the little choo-choo train and the ladybird ride. As was I!

    We were given a family pass for the day which meant we had unlimited use of the fun park which we really made the most of! We loved riding these little toddler rides, and we also had a go at panning for gold in the mining area, and had a good old bounce in the trampoline and jumping pillow section of the park. We must have spent a good hour in the maze which we really enjoyed (although, another family almost put us off trying it – it must not have been their cup of tea, but it was ours!).

    The best bit about our day passes and it being so close to the campsite was that when it was getting close to nap time, we headed back to the tent for a few hours so that Pickle could nap and we had some chill out time reading our books, before returning for some further afternoon fun!

    We finished off the visit with an ice cream from Daisy’s Ice Cream Parlour and sat watching one of the fun water boat rides, with the gorgeous views of the coast in the background.

    The Beach

    Although it’s not park of the campsite itself, you really can’t talk about Trevornick without mentioning the glorious beach on its doorstep. It’s only a ten minute walk away, accessible either by a hilly walk over the sand-dunes or a walk along the road (which has a path alongside it the whole way). There is a National Trust car park near the beach as an option for those who aren’t up to the walk – which was recommended to us by our neighbouring family to prevent the post-beach whining from tired children with tired legs who no longer are excited about carrying their buckets and spades.

    We couldn’t resist a visit on our first full day, and had fun building sandcastles, splashing in the sandy puddles and running away from the sea waves. The beach is fairly big, so there was plenty of space for us to set up camp with plenty of options – lots of families were sat along the river that runs from the top of the beach down to the sea, but we chose to prioritise a view of the sea!

    Our Final Thoughts

    Having a beach as beautiful as this just a stone’s throw away is part of what makes Trevornick a very special campsite. What I particularly loved about our stay was that we didn’t need to spend a fortune to have a brilliant time and memorable days out – everything was right there in front of us to enable our little family to spend fun, quality time together.

    As Pickle gets older, even more of the site’s features will become more accessible to us. It’d be brilliant to have a little family golf tournament (Trevornick has both an 18 hole par three golf course and an 18 hole pitch and put) and I wouldn’t mind a few hours of peace if Pickle and LPD fancied spending a morning in the fishing ponds together. Trevornick also has a Kids Club – with Forest School sessions and a Teddy Bear’s Picnic as part of the schedule – which would be perfect for us in a couple of years’ time.

    So many of the families we met at Trevornick have returned after spending previous years’ holidays there, and it’s so easy to see why. We’d definitely come back, and we’d hope to say hello again to the lovely people we met. It was magical to watch Pickle make friends during our short stay, and the delight on his face every morning when we woke up to realise his friends were still right there ready to play.

    I cannot recommend Trevornick enough, and I’d happily try my best to answer any further questions you have about our stay if you’re thinking of booking yourself. Whether you’re in a tent, a Eurotent, a touring caravan or staying in one of the site’s static vans, you’re in for a treat.

    Disclaimer: we were offered three nights accommodation in exchange for an honest review. We chose to extend our stay for a further two nights, which were paid for by ourselves. All content, opinions and views remain my own. read more

    Aged 2+, Camping, Countryside, Lifestyle, Parenting, UK Travel
    / August 21, 2018
  • Cornbury Music Festival 2018

    A Weekend at Cornbury Festival 2018

    As we drove through winding roads and pretty little villages on our way to Cornbury Festival 2018, I felt increasingly more relaxed and chilled with every passing country pub and hanging basket. The sun was shining, our car was packed full with our camping gear and the toddler car seat was noticeably empty. We were off on our first baby-free trip away, and I couldn’t quite believe we were finally getting some time to ourselves.

    Ahead of our Cornbury Festival experience, we debated whether to go as a family or not. On the one hand, I’d read some wonderful reviews from fellow parenting bloggers that made me feel reassured that Cornbury caters very well for the family market, but I also knew how much LPD and I could do with a break away just as a couple. Unlike our time at Timber Festival, there were artists in particular at Cornbury that I would have been distraught to miss – and the one thing I’ve learned in my time as a parent is that you can’t guarantee being present for anything. I’d have cried hot bitter tears of resentment and anger if we’d have missed Marc Cohn’s set, and I didn’t want to risk it. With the offer of weekend babysitting from my parents, it didn’t take us long to make up our minds. We were doing it. We were turning back the clock and going to enjoy the weekend without needing to parent.

    Arrival

    I never set off for holidays at the time I hope. I have all the best intentions to be fully packed the night before and to set off at the crack of dawn, but in reality, I’m still scrabbling around trying to find clean and dry towels at 11am. This weekend was no exception, but as we headed off less than 2.5 hours after my original target – I’m taking that as a success. With a stop off at Aldi on the way to pick up some basic snacks and stock up the camping drinks supplies (absolutely gutted that they’d sold out of G&T tins… had to settle for Pimms instead), it was only a short hour long drive to the festival. Without having to placate and navigate Pickle, it didn’t take us long to set up camp and acquaint ourselves with the surroundings.

    As it quickly becoming the norm, I pitched our tent on my own. It speaks volumes about the ease of pitching our Kampa Paloma 5 Air that I can erect this beast by myself. God bless the air poles (although, I’m considering getting a battery operated pump as the hand pump is a bit hard work on the old back).

    For anyone interested, this is the camping gear we took with us for the weekend:

    • Kampa Paloma 5 Air tent (with the carpet, but not the footprint)
    • Double blow-up mattress
    • Foot pump for the mattress
    • Double sleeping bag
    • Our two Kampa XL high back chairs
    • Deluxe Kitchen Unit (link isn’t the exact one we purchased last year, but it’s ridiculously similar)
    • Single Campingaz Stove (used only to make tea, currently only £10 on Amazon)
    • Whistling Camping Kettle
    • 2 enamel mugs (used to drink tea)
    • Folding washing up bowl (which we didn’t use, except to store books in)
    • A massive thick scarf I bought from Asos years ago that I use as a rug
    • Our special camping blanket

    Settling into the Vibe

    I can’t speak from reams of festival experience, but one constant with each of the ones we’ve been to is that it takes a while to settle into the vibe of a festival. It takes a bit of time to acclimatise. I felt a little prickly at the start, constantly comparing the size, the atmosphere, the layout to the previous week’s festival before I quickly realised that was completely futile. All festivals are different. They cater to different audiences, and once we’d taken some time to have a look around and figure out the offering, we better knew how to make the most of our time.

    The Kids Area

    We automatically found ourselves in the Kids Area first. Partly this is because it was fairly close to the entrance from the campsite, but also because I really wanted to know what was on offer for future reference. Parents will be parents. The first thing we were greeted with was the sounds of a drumming workshop, and I grinned because I knew Pickle would have loved that.

    The whole Kids Area was riotously colourful, with a very clever kind of rag tent that offered a bit of shade for families too. The crafts tent was open for two long sessions every day, and I was so tempted to go in and do some for myself but feared I might look a bit weird without a child in tow. There was all sorts on offer though: from colouring to cross-stitch.

    The circus section was particularly popular, where all and sundry were invited to give various circus activities a go for themselves – I saw a lot of plate spinning and juggling attempts! There was also a face painting tent (with a range of designs available for just a donation to go towards buying more supplies) and a lovely display called What is Love? that kept being added to over the course of the weekend.

    My absolute favourite though was The Rig: a delightful set up of noise making implements that was keeping children and adults of all ages entertained. I know we could have quite happily left Pickle to play with the pots, pans, spoons and more all day long and he’d have had a whale of a time. We may have even had chance to sit down and enjoy a rest whilst he did so (or maybe that’s wishful thinking).

    The Music

    But what we were really there for, was the music. There weren’t many acts that we were desperate to see – but rather we were really happy to meander between the two main stages, the little Riverside stage and the Caffe Nero tent and listen to whatever ticked our fancy. I couldn’t quite believe how lucky we were when sat, with a milkshake each, under a parasol outside the Caffe Nero tent listening to Joe Slater play a cracking acoustic set. I could have sat there for hours. It was such a treat to be able to take in our surroundings without entertaining a two year old and panicking about upsetting anyone around us with the inevitable tantrums.

    The highlight of Saturday’s line up for us was, without a doubt, Amy Macdonald. Not only did she come across as very grounded, genuine and grateful, her music was just right for me on a Saturday night: upbeat, a bit rocky and with a storytelling core. Exactly my cup of tea, and I really enjoyed listening to the songs I knew, as well as the ones I didn’t. I’ve been listening to her albums a lot since we returned, and I’m so glad we’ll always have the memories of her set to look back on, and I’d love to catch her live again.

    Camping, Lifestyle, Reviews, UK Travel
    / July 22, 2018