Camping In Uffington and Truck Festival 2014

Sorry to overshare on my last post and involve you all in my shopping list!

Its about time that I shared our actual camping trip instead of just harping on about the boring, practical side of our future camping trips!

Almost two weeks ago we set off on our first touring camping trip. Truck Festival is a small festival thats only on for two nights and opens on the Friday morning, so we thought that we would make more of a break by camping somewhere nearby first.

Neither of us know the area, so using the power of Google and Google maps (how did we ever manage to do anything without search engines back in the old days, aka the 90’s?) I selected a campsite on the basis that it was near some beauty spot (the White Horse at Uffington), had showers, was near a pub and had a tea room. Basically it ticked all the boxes.

However, the tea room was only open on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays. You should have seen Robs disappointed face! He bemoaned the fact that I did not do my research properly (to be fair, I hadn’t. I am a lazy Googler) and that he had been looking forward to his cream tea for weeks!

But fear not, we managed to eat far too many calories for our own good, despite the lack of homemade scones on our holiday. We had an amazing lunch in a thatched pub in the cutest of tiny villages (Woolstone) and ate far too many sausages and fried food than was necessary!

Cue lots of photos of our time away. All taken by Rob of course. I took my camera, but did not bother to use it as per usual.

On the first night at the campsite we saw an amazing sunset.

On the first night at the campsite we saw an amazing sunset.Then the next day we decided to climb up the hill to see the White Horse.steep steep 1steep 2Boy, was it a steep climb on a boiling hot, humid day. But worth it, as the views were amazing, countryside as far as the eye could see. And Swindon.

The second picture above was included to show how high up we went, showing the portaloos in one of the fields belonging to the campsite, and the third picture is not the best shot I know, but I wanted to share just how steep the hill was that we climbed. Look at it next to the edge of the woods! Yes, we are mental to climb up that on one of the hottest days of the year!skyWhen we reached the the top we had an added extra bonus. Look into the distance in the sky in the above picture. Whats that you spy? Why, its only the the red arrows!

Its not really my thing, but Rob loved it! He really is a big kid at heart who loves anything that has a noisy engine. He even told me that seeing the red arrows made up for him missing out on his cream tea! Bless.

We enjoyed a free air display for around 20 minutes and saw them do their thing like the smoke trails and fly over our heads really fast and close.arrowsarrows 2We walked down the hill the less steep, more sensible on a hillLook its me with the White Horse behind me!

Next we went onto Truck festival. We went last year and had an amazing time. Its a small festival with cheap tickets that we decided to go again this year and had another amazing time (sorry about the amount of amazings in that sentence, my limited vocabulary let me down again. But seriously, it was amazing!)

We rode on the big wheel (so much fun) and saw some great bands. My favourites were the Blood Red Shoes and Andrew WK in the barn.barnThe barn/cow shed is such a great place to see live bands. I love it in there! You can even smell the farming aroma, which adds a certain something to the atmosphere.andrew wkwkI love Andrew WK’s grin! Its so menacing!

More Camping Kit Is Needed Me Thinks

As I said in my last post Rob and I, after years of tent camping, are very much enthusiastic novices when it comes to camping in a camper van.

After each trip I like to assess what kit we took with us, what we used, what we brought with us for no reason and what we need to add to our vans inventory. Much like inside my house I want everything that we take to be useful and to have a purpose. I really do not want to cart around a load of clutter that we do not need. I want us to be well oiled, streamlined, camping machine!

So here is our list of things we need to add to the van to enhance our future camper van adventures –

  • A pop up washing basket. This would be very handy, as we currently bung our dirty clothes into a supermarket carrier bag and keep them on the front seats (not so nice if there are any damp and smelly* clothes in the van etc), and then when we travel home we put the bags of washing inside our respective packed bags (a backpack for Rob, a supermarket bag for life for me) with our remaining clean clothes. Yes this is a bit daft, but this how we did things camping at festivals in a tent. Now that we have the luxury of not worrying about the weight of what we need to carry etc, my thoughts are to buy a lightweight pop up basket that we can keep in the awning and line with a bin bag, so when we go home I can tie the sack up, throw it in the van and then back home I can just empty it straight out into the washing machine. Boom. Easy.
  • Bag Clips. You know, these kind of things. Handy to keep half eaten bags of crisps fresh and to stop bread rolls from drying out. One thing that I can recommend that all campers can take with them is one of these, a bacon box. On one trip we had an incident where a half open packet of bacon and a open packet of frankfurters leaked meat juice all inside our Coolbox. The incident nearly put me off frankfurters for life and I wouldn’t wish drinking from meat juice covered cans of beer on anyone. Yuck.
  • A draining board. Handy for drying washing up on. Self explanatory really. Im sure there must be special pop up, light weight, all singing and dancing camping ones out there. I must do some research. Or just buy a cheap plastic one from the pound shop.
  • Fly strips. Its weird, I rarely get bitten. Where as to knats and mozzies, Rob is some kind of gourmet treat! They feast on him! I joke its because I am bitter that they don’t like the taste of me. Ok, I am only half joking about that really! While camping in Oxfordshire last week, boy did we suffer with flies. Well, Rob did anyway, they just got on my nerves. Who knew that Oxfordshire, that landlocked county with no huge lakes and rivers nearby where we camped had such a fly problem? We took our citronella candles, but the little buggers invaded the awning, so we need some kind of proper deterrent thats not a smelly aerosol can full of chemicals.
  • A Kelly Kettle. Last week I was chatting to Rob and trying to describe this kettle thing I had seen on various lifestyle blogs but I could not remember the name of it. I think my words were something along the lines of “you know its a huge kettle type thing that bloggers take to the beach and to thier allotments”. Needless to say my description did not help. Back home, after a quick Google, I sent Rob a link and of course he now wants one. We both do infact! Its not strictly an essential item and its a bit on the pricey side. But hey, it appeals to the boy scout/Ray Mears/Bear Grylls in Rob and it appeals to the aspirational side of me who wants a slice of the good life and is over influenced by stuff she sees on blogs! I wanna have loads of cute photos of me camping in style on my blog too! Yeah, never gonna happen! I am not stylish nor very good at photography!

*After long muddy walks of course. We never drink too much and vomit on ourselves (eyes dart towards Rob).

Happy Campers

Rob and I have just returned from our first ever mini touring holiday in the camper van. Last week we camped in Uffington, Oxfordshire near the White Horse for two nights and then went onto Truck Festival for another two nights.

We had a wonderful time away and I will write about it soon. But for now, I want to write a post about transitioning from tent camping to camping in a camper van (or a caravan or trailer tent).

Over the years I have read many blogposts advising readers what to pack when they go camping (in a tent) and what to take to festivals etc, and to be honest, I could easily write up my own version as I have plenty of experience when it comes to packing for festivals with the amount that I have been to over the years! However, what I do want to write about is my own personal experience of learning how to camp in our van.

I do not want this post to be seen as an advise type post (heaven forbid!) as Rob and I are still learning as we go along the fine art of being organised and knowing exactly what to pack when we go away. After all, we took far too much junk food for just 4 nights away and and no fresh milk for our cups of tea in the morning!

Having always been a tent camper, it still amazes me that we can have electricity on campsites and keep perishables for days in our coolbox. For Rob, it is less of a novelty as his parents used to own a caravan and a trailer tent when he was a kid. I, on the other hand, am still amazed by the fact that I can have a cold beer when I camp now! A COLD BEER! Amazing!

We chose not to put a fitted fridge inside the van as it would take up a hell of a lot of space, they are expensive pieces of kit and they do actually cause a lot of condensation which we did not want, as we spent years repairing the previous damage in our van. Although at some point in the future we may install a gas canister or 12 volt mains fridge. Watch this space. (BTW I totally had to ask Rob for all this information as I know nothing about this stuff!)

So here is our current set up and how we keep our beer cold as amateur mobile home campers.I got the powerWe chose to buy an electric cool box for around £35 which we plug in to our Mobile Mains Electric Power Supply Hook Up Unit with RCD which we plugged into the electric point at the campsite. Most campsites offer electric hook up for an extra fee (we paid an extra £6 per night where we were staying). This is a simple set up which works very well for the two of us and is also handy for charging mobiles and the like. This method could also be used with tent camping. And you could take your hair straighteners with you if you want to. But not at a festival, obvs.PicMonkey CollageIn case you are wondering, when we got to Truck festival we had charged up our leisure battery to power the cool box. But we only have an 80 amp battery which will run the cool box for around 20 hours or keep our phones charged up for the whole weekend (cheers Rob for telling me what to write again!)

We chose the 1st option of course and when the battery run out we had our back up option, a bucket of cold water to keep our cans in, which I forgot to take a picture of.

Funny story, this year at Truck we ended up camping two vans away from the family we camped next to last year! The dad came over to say hi as we remembered each others vans and he remembered us turning up in a cloud of steam with a water leak last year! While he was talking vw’s with Rob he had a little look inside to see the work we have done since last year. He was most impressed that we had a bucket full of Pimm’s cans! What can I say, I am a classy lady!

Right lets get back on track, and talk about our set up again. We keep the fridge in our awning shown below.awningIn which we also keep our sink/storage unit. Shown below before and after. We are not the tidiest of campers I am afraid. Sorry about the mess in my photos!PicMonkey CollageWe rarely use the sink for washing up as I prefer to use the campsites facilities. On the unit is our cooker which we keep inside the hinged top of our storage unit in the van (see below)unitBut we prefer to cook outside on our folding table (see below) as we do not want to stink out the van with fried food smells.bbqWe also use a camping gas BBQ for cooking which is much better to use than the disposable BBQ’s and saves messing around with coals and firelighters etc. Please excuse Rob’s foot in the corner of this photo taken by yours truly. What can I say, I am a terrible photographer! And yes, that is an envelope full of sauce sachets half inched from various pubs ready for camping!

It was while cooking our sausages that Rob commented that it would be nice to grill up some onions and peppers to go with them. Of course I had not even thought about bringing fresh vegetables along with us! All I had bought was bacon, sausages, hotdogs, cheese slices and the usual junk I that always take camping like Pot Noodles, cereal bars, Pringles, cheese straws etc. I am so used to packing the usual dry, non perishable, bland food that will survive a few days in a hot tent (and most likely an nuclear apocalypse, with the amount of preservatives in them!) Now that I have a cool box I must try to be more adventurous with our camping food!inside our cupboardAnother item that is worth its weight in gold is our front window cover from Just Kampers below. This has a duel purpose as a curtain and a heat reflector and does a brilliant job of keeping the van cool inside.

front windowOne of the best things about camper van camping at festivals is taking a portable toilet with us. It is the best £30 we have spent! We keep it in the awning (there is no way am I doing my business inside the van next to where we sleep – eww!) Its handy for in the middle of the night wees and for the thing that you really cannot face doing in a festival portaloo.* It is surprisingly easy to keep clean and does not smell, and its Robs job to empty it in the septic tank at whatever festival or campsite we are at. Always take some disposable rubber gloves for emptying and disposable toilet wipes for cleaning if you have a camping potty.

You can see our potty inside the van here.looHere is inside the van with the bed down. Carnage!carnage

As I say, please do not take this post as the right way to do things, we still have our L plates on and everyone has their own preferences and needs. What I love about the VW camper van scene is that every van is unique and has been personalised to each owners taste. I want to express that there is no right or wrong way of camping and you can take as little or as much as you want with you on each trip.

Although maybe its best not to take the amount of Pot Noodles I did, as nobody likes them and they will never get eaten!

*A number 2.

Garden Update

Things are coming along nicely in the back garden, so its time for a little update on here. There is still a long way to go, but things are starting to take shape and show how potentially fantastic the garden will look when its done.

While I have been out working weekends, Rob has been working extremely hard in the garden shifting rubble from one part to the other, building a pathway and levelling the patio area.

Below – from this patio of shamecut your grass

Below – to this, how the garden looked last yeargarden currently 1We had built the timber frame work for the steps, but still had a mound of earth at the end of the patio which you can see to the left, and a wonky, dangerous slope down to the grassy part of the garden.

Below – To this, the gardens current nowAs you can see we have the beginnings of a path! And look, no mound of earth on the patio!

Below – A close up of taken by Rob on his phone of how the path and stepped levels will look. We will eventually have raised vegetable beds on each of the slate shingle steps. Exciting times!garden path